Spare me the lecture on the benefits of going au-naturel, I have heard it all; from the smug ‘that is the way you were created’ to the supposedly intellectual ‘when it comes to looks, African women suffer from a serious inferiority complex’.
I am at my desk, trying to perform an honest day’s work. Then a cocky, self-assured male colleague walks up and quietly examines the mane of Peruvian hair perfectly blended with mine lying in full glory on my back; “Your hair looks beautiful,” he offers. Smiling, I am about to offer the perfunctory thanks when he intentionally blows it; “Is it yours?” He adds smoothly. My mind swells in rage, spoilt for the choicest expletives to bestow on this arrogant male. What bloated gall?! The flaming liberty! Who I repeat, who asks a full-blooded female of African descent such a question?!
Can you imagine the level of kinkiness I wake up to every morning? Can you navigate the rainforest (yes, I meant that) that beclouds my features on any given day I go natural? Kindly note that I can only bring this hair to some semblance of order armed with a wide toothed comb, leave-in conditioner, detangling hair spray and the will only a woman in labour can muster. Finally, I slather on hair crème whose nauseating scent I have to hope does not overshadow my perfume.
Now, understand that this is no monthly or weekly event, but a daily styling nightmare I must undertake if I will ever affix the moniker, ‘natural glory’ in reference to my hair. That, my dear is why we are so few that can carry it virgin as it is.
We weren’t all made to go the low cut route or grow some ‘wikkid’ dreadlocks, just as practically all of us will never see or feel our hair sashay on our waists. We will always regret swimming with our hair because of the convoluted and tangled mass it will inevitably become as soon as it dries out. We will never sit arms spread wide, our hair flying with the wind atop a sleek convertible; instead of looking marvelously tousled and mussed up, we would end up looking like zombies in a low budget horror movie.
Spare me the lecture on the benefits of going au-naturel, I have heard it all; from the smug ‘that is the way you were created’ to the supposedly intellectual ‘when it comes to looks, African women suffer from a serious inferiority complex’. Some men suggest that we borrow too much from western cultures and therefore should reject it and go as nature intended. That is alright if you want to, but you might as well set the pace by giving up all form of western inventions including clothing, deodorant and the clipper because everything western is unnatural, reach into the inner you for the inspiration to be yourself.
Back to the question, ‘is it yours?’ To give an unbiased answer, I very humbly refer to the ultimate test of proof of true ownership:
Question 1: Did you pay for it? Oh yes indeed I did. Whenever I come across hair that looks like a dreamy version of mine, I give in and let my wallet perform its duties; After all, I am not talking about blue or pink hair here.
Question 2: Do you care for it? What do you call shampoo, conditioner, hair spray, brush and a weekly visit to the salon? That is Tender Loving Care at its finest and the hair reciprocates by looking good!
Question 3: Do you have genuine feelings for it? From the first instant I laid eyes on these divine tresses it was unquestionably love at first sight and with each passing visit to the salon for a fix and touch-up the love only grows. I must also mention that I blush deeply and flick the strands whenever a compliment is paid on my hair.
Question 4: Would you give your life for it? Willingly I assure you, but that would defeat the purpose seeing as I would not be present to enjoy it. Let me rephrase, I would guard it with all my heart; these days this is the closest one can come to altruism.
Question 5: Is it easily identifiable as yours? Well, it looks like mine (after the stylist has worked on it), it can only be detached from mine with a razor blade (just like Samson’s hair!) and if it ever caught fire people would shout “your gorgeous hair is on fire!”
Upon sorting these myriad but supremely relevant questions in my head, there is only one conclusion to the conceited question that launched this monologue. I take a deep breath and look calmly and unflinchingly into his eyes, dredging up the most confident and earnest smile ever, and reply sweetly, “yes of course, it is mine” without waiting for an answer, I swivel back to my desk and get on with the day’s work.
This conversation is ended…… absolutely.
‘Oma Areh is an image management and P.R professional who plies her trade with WildFlower PR&Company. Tinted Glasses is her weekly YNaija column. Follow her on Twitter @wildflowerpr
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.