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  • June 8, 2014

    Afro and Me

    For the past 2 years I have been making the transition from having relaxed hair* and wearing weaves ** to wearing braids *** with my natural hair protected underneath. It has been such a challenging time as I am someone who LOVES wearing a weave and relaxing my hair because it is easier to manage with my busy schedule and it just looks good in my eyes.

    However, my hairline would tell you something different! All of the chemicals and pulling on my scalp with the weight of the weave has taken a huge toll on my hair with the result being a very thin & weak hairline! I am on the edge of death! The last weave I had was at the end of April 2014 and it made me question the damage I have been doing to my hair. I decided to take a break from wearing a weave for now and have gone back to having braids again.

    Last week a friend of mine (who has the most gorgeous natural afro hair I have ever seen) and I decided to try out some 100% natural hair products to see if they would help with hair growth and strength as we want to be healthy and not use chemicals on our hair.

    I purchased 3 products from Zara’s Hair & Beauty on Walworth Road and they are listed below

    100% Coconut Oil £2.50

    Coconut Oil

    100% African Shea Butter £3.50

    photo 3

    Shea Moisture deep treatment masque £12.99

    photo 1

    Dealing with my own hair dilemmas got me thinking about the struggle young black girls must go through today as now there is so much pressure to have perfect long hair. You only have to turn on the TV or log onto Twitter and Instagram to see the Kardashian girls with their perfect luscious locks to Beyoncé with her golden blonde lace front wig. That is what society and the media constantly shove in our faces as the definition of beauty. It breaks my heart when I see young girls in my family and those who I work with begin to wear a weave when they are under 16 years of age because that is what they feel is beautiful.

    I am not saying I will never wear a weave again or that there is anything wrong with a woman who decides to relax her hair. I love the variety and I probably will experiment more with wigs and braids but I have a problem with the pressure that we put on ourselves to conform at the expense of the health of our hair.

    So I have decided to champion my natural hair and have decided to start with a picture below of me with no chemicals, no makeup, just me with my afro! I have only shown this picture to one person and my mum! If I am honest I felt a bit apprehensive about putting this out there because I was not sure how people would take it.

    Me and Afro

    My wish is that more of us older black women or even young black girls show that our natural hair is just as beautiful and embrace it with extended periods of time- 1-2 weeks- where we give our hair a rest from all the chemicals and after effects of weaves & braids. It is during this time that we should feel proud to rock our fros!

    #afroandme is the tag if anyone wants to get involved and share any pictures of their own natural hair.

    Love Vanessa

    @msvanessas

    * relaxed hair: hair that has been chemically treated to remove all curls and waves

    ** weave:  hairstyle created by weaving pieces of real or artificial hair into a person’s existing hair, typically in order to increase its length or thickness.

    ** braids: a length of hair made up of three or more interlaced strands

  • 4 thoughts on “Afro and Me

    1. I personally don’t believe in the argument that if you wear a weave then you’re trying to look westernised and don’t embrace your roots. Espesh when guys say it (and they’re not exactly the first to shout Beyonce isn’t pretty) I think it’s silly.
      A white girl can dye her hair, put in extensions, cut her hair into different styles and no one says they’re trying to conform – it’s really out of wanting to try out different looks and what u PERSONALLY feel most beautiful in. If a white girl braided her hair you wouldn’t say she’s not proud of her western roots and is trying to be african? Personally, I’ve had braids, weaves, relaxed and natural – all since i was 7, and honestly it’s out of what i feel suits me and the style I liked.

    2. I think this argument started long before us and, unfortunately will continue once we have gone. The real issue is that there are not enough natural women in the media period! It is very sad that ‘fake’ beauty sells. it is difficult to maintain afro hair to meet the corporate standards for the boardroom. I would love to have more information about maintaining and styling afro hair for the corporate world. I think this is a worthwhile campaign honouring the brave women and encouraging others who are not afraid to be REAL.

    3. A lot of people would say that when a white girl grows dreads (or puts in cornrows) it should be considered cultural appropriation…

    4. Vanessa, I just wanted to let you know that I am loving your natural look. Our world has taught women that long straight hair is what is acceptable, professional and the epitome of beauty and so now we have women of all colours rejecting their natural hair in favour of someone else’s. We all have choice, we can wear our hair how we want, however, education is important. Three of my sisters have had massive hair and scalp problems due to the various processes that is required to keep our hair straight with chemicals and heat. I’m an advocate of natural hair, even though after six years of being natural I put the creamy crack back in and low and behold my hair is receding in places and had become thin. I shall be cutting it out and going back to my natural hair.

      My children aged 12 and 16 have both vowed themselves to natural hair, not because of me but because they value their natural hair and they don’t lie the idea of weaves, extensions or relaxer. I’d like to see more acceptance in our world of natural hair and what I mean by that is all types of hair wavy, curly, thick, straight, thin, big, long, short. Where we are not expected to look one way but to be accepted as we are for who we are.

      Keep going Vanessa you look fabulous! xx

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