Nappyversary*, shrinkage**, BC***, LOC****. Just some of the many terms that have become part of my natural hair discourse since dumping the ‘creamy crack’ (chemical relaxers) and, literally and figuratively, embracing my roots twelve years ago.
I had started researching issues of slavery, oppression, Apartheid, class and race for my third year mini-thesis “Representations of ‘Coloured’ Women on Stage”. The bigger issues are too much to go into here. But the scales fell from my eyes as I realised that centuries of societal conditioning, no pun intended, had me hating my hair as it grew out of my scalp! I saw within my own community how beauty and worth in women were directly linked to the straightness of their hair and European features, rather than the naturally kinky-curly hair and African/Creole features.
Well, this all kicked off my personal revolution. I ‘returned’ to my natural hair, giving up the seasonal chemical trip to the hairdressers, the weekly rolling in and blowing out of hair, and wearing a swirlkouse at night (pantyhose cut and tied, swirled around the hair and used to hold the straightness overnight). I also gave up being scared of getting my hair wet or even close to mist or inclement weather, lest it mince (frizz)! I started to acknowledge or try to understand all my cultural roots and those of ‘my people’. More importantly, I started to care about what I thought about MY hair, not others’ opinions.
I officially entered the entertainment industry a year later in a tribute show where my fabulous, new afro shouted out my debutante arrival! At castings, I was usually the only brown girl with hair like mine. Walking around my hometown of Cape Town, I’d get asked if I was Brazilian or American – so strange was it to see someone embracing their natural hair. Acquaintances or old family friends would brazenly ask when I was going to “sort my hair out”. Other female friends dealt with family or partners telling them they looked ugly with their natural hair.
Fast forward to the present day and the world at large is seeing a move to people of colour loving themselves as is! The Natural Hair Movement is part of that revolution as more and more women are seen sporting their natural afros and curls, from business to the government. Natural hair salons are sprouting up all over, tailor-made products are everywhere and the myriad of supportive natural hair forums make it so much easier for the women of colour who choose to embrace it.
So, aluta continua, Naturalistas!”
*The anniversary of going natural
**When the curl coils up on itself when it’s dry, making your hair appear shorter than when wet
*** Big Chop, cutting off all chemically-treated hair
****Liquid, Oil, Cream – a combo of products to get the curls popping
You can reach Chantal Stanfield on:
Twitter – @chantalstan
Instagram – @chantal.stanfield
Dear friends, family and other interesting creatures,
During the month of August I have contacted a few woman and asked them to share some of their stories.
Subject choice is up to the writer and I trust you will enjoy this introduction to the special females on my various platforms. If you want to be part of this series, mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy Woman’s Month!
I wish you enough,