*I started this post September 1st when I made up my mind to do it and finished it September 2nd once it had been done.
A few hours ago, I decided that I was going to be shaving my hair off tomorrow (September 2nd). Going completely bald. I had only just finished braiding my hair too. It took me two days and I was so proud of it. Yet less than five days after I knew the hair had to go. Sofi better known as @the_oddity really inspired me. I saw her latest video and thought this is it. I need to do this. During the August New moon I surrendered. That was the only intention I set. And then during September’s full moon in Pisces (which is when you usually reap), I decided to do the ultimate surrender. The spiritual meaning was not lost on me.
Having sat with my self for a few hours, I have been able to really delve in and analyse the process, exploring why doing this means so much to me. As a child, I was always called ugly by uncles and aunties because they said I had no hair- so I was an ugly child. Hair equals beauty right? I remember being told that an aunty said I was an ugly child when I was born- ironically this aunty and I look like twins. I used to be upset at that when I was younger but at my age now, I also question the relevance of relaying that back to me at such a young age. Another uncle as if to reiterate, saw me at 16 and said ‘wow you’re so beautiful now and you were such an ugly child, who would have known.’ Yes he said this to my face with all seriousness. By 16, I was already wearing weaves and relaxing my hair. (So of course I looked more appealing to them). The shame of natural hair was already too far embedded .
Let me take it back a bit. I was born with no hair, I had only a Mohawk for the first few years of my life. Everyone used to call me Mr.T after the rapper lol. I remember it was always a running joke then. I felt like I must have been a unique case. At my age now, I realise it was perfectly normal. So many babies don’t grow hair till about 3. And then they go on to have healthy nourished hair if well looked after.
Anyway, my hair had barely grown in.. finally, when it was first relaxed at age 5/6. So of course that completely stunted the growth of my hair and destroyed it. The notion now stuck that I just “didn’t have hair” , and it became the butt of everyone’s jokes. I truly believed it too. I mean I just wasn’t “blessed” with hair. My mum used to joke that when God was handing out hair he said, “Teso wait wait come and get your hair“ and I said “No! I’m going to earth now, I’m not waiting in line!”, so that’s why I have ‘no hair’ and was a few weeks premature. Anyway we would all laugh at that including me.
But the truth is, my hair just took a little longer to come in than some babies. And when it did come in, it was instantaneously destroyed with relaxers and not taken care of at all. Tight braids forced into badly burnt relaxed hair. In fact I remember wearing my first weave at about age 4/5. I was the little bride for a family friends wedding. I remember the hair dresser telling my mum “she is too young she shouldn’t be having this”. And of course young me glared at her, I couldn’t believe she was trying to ruin my lovely gorgeous long straight weave. My mum shunned her and said, “its only for one day she ‘ll have it out before school starts on monday”.
So that was when and how I got my first weave. The emotions came flooding out as I typed that line. Phew. A dam burst. A realisation and release. The kind of psychological damage that does to a young child is a lot, and we don’t even realise. For as long as I can remember, my hair has never been good enough. I was always encouraged to hide it or alter it but never shown how to love or nurture it, how to look after it in its natural state. Now I realise it’s because my mum didn’t know how to either so she was just doing what she thought was best.
My dad cut my hair off twice, low cut, and each time I saw it as a punishment. Yet, he was doing me a favour and I didn’t realise it. He would say, “No what is this?! Her hair needs to grow naturally”, he would get the clippers and cut it for me. I was 7/8 the first time. I remember him snipping away at the straggly bits of my hair and complaining about the relaxer ruining it and that it has to be removed to grow back stronger and fuller. But my young brain couldn’t comprehend it. I saw it as complete punishment.
Shortly after, I remember being in Brixton market with my dad and my two brothers. A guy on the fruit stall said to my dad “ahh what lovely boys you have there”, my dad was bemused lol and of course my dad and brothers laughed, I laughed too but I was embarrassed. I felt ugly. My beauty was attached to my hair.
The second time my dad cut my hair was just a few years after, he did it for the exact same reasons and this time I was 11 and in year 6. I was so embarrassed to go to school, I couldn’t take it. My brothers would also tease me endlessly as kids do. (They’ve even pulled off the extension piece at the back of my 13 year old head and thrown it at the back of the church during service once. Mortified wasn’t even the word.) I certainly did not want to start secondary school with my hair cut low. So a few months later when it was time to start school, my mum told me “don’t worry it’s long enough to be braided now”. I was so relieved!
Now again, if at that point I was encouraged to love it in its natural state. I may have over come at that hurdle. But the message that my natural hair was sub par was reiterated. Natural hair wasn’t something any one in my immediate family heralded. So of course I would just relax my hair again through out my teenage years.
In secondary school, aged 13 or so, after my mum had sewn a red braided weave on for me. I got to school and the older girls teased me- now I’m a strong girl. Always have been. But this touched me differently. I cried and cried and cried. Normally nobody could get to me. Those girls used to say all sorts of things to me and it would roll of my back, but this particular incident-my little heart broke. Of course I went home and again no one really reiterates why it’s important to love your natural hair and how it can be on the frontline going forward. Instead I was blamed for being bullied and then blamed for “asking” for the hairstyle.
When I cut my hair off again at 23-it was only because my hair had become so badly damaged from relaxers, hair glues, lack of care and constant manipulation, that I had no choice but to get rid of the relaxed bits and do a low cut. Through out the low cut, I wore a wig and within three months I was attempting to manipulate the growth into canerows. So I could start laying down my weaves again.
I remember considering going bald and putting it on my bbm status (old school) and a few people responding “don’t you dare Tes”. I remember thinking, “really it’s not that bad, I mean if Amber Rose can do it. Why not me.” Anyway, on I went, with now ‘natural’ hair, no longer relaxed, but still a source of shame. Constantly hidden under braids, weaves and wigs. Even at the hair salon, I have had hair stylists, say “let’s see her hair”, then they’d take off my weave and snigger, as if pleased that it wasn’t long and thick. People are so insane and they don’t even realise it.
Another significant incident happened maybe three years ago. I was trying to feel out wearing my natural hair out more. So in between weaves, I decided to have my hair out for a day whilst shopping instead of hiding it under a scarf or putting a piece at the back. The only style I could do was a high puff and I remember being so pleased that it actually didn’t look so bad. So I went grocery shopping, feeling super conscious, but did it anyway. I got back and my mum laughed and said, “why don’t you put a piece at the back?” I was hurt. I said, ‘no mum it looks fine’. I realised then that she was projecting her beauty standards, (a lot of our parents were/are heavily indoctrinated and influenced by western culture) but I put my weave back in the next day.
It was a struggle for me to finally let go of the hair mask and just own my natural, beautiful, brown type 4 hair, as I wrote about in Showcase and in Reflections. I mentioned in one of those posts, that even when I had kinky braids in, guys would tell me, “urgh no this doesn’t suit you, put your weave back in.” Since as far back as I can remember, I spent so much time and effort on “slaying” my hair style. But never my natural hair. My hair always had to be done. So much importance given to it. So many days feeling insecure.
This past year that I ditched the weaves and wigs, I learnt that there’s nothing wrong with me. My hair can grow, I just wasn’t taught how to look after it, but I learned. My hair was not “terrible”, I wasn’t “cursed” with bad hair. Black girls CAN grow hair. Every single one of us. It just needs to be watered and hydrated and loved on. A good routine does wonders. I saw huge progress in one year. I think everybody was shocked. No more jokes about Tes not having edges or having hair. My little hair showed out and I was loving learning all about it.
But having recently started seeing Sofi (@the_odditty )on my time line and a few other bald women I knew it was time. I decided to shave it off because for the first time in my life I understood that I was beautiful without it. And why not start again (especially now that I know that hair truly can grow), but this time with love, care and understanding of my hair and myself- just a fresh start. No shame, no low self esteem, no lack of confidence.
Your hair is powerful, handle it with love and affection.
I went on an internal hair journey to all the significant moments in my life that have shaped my hair journey thus far and was able to understand the trigger points and move past them. I do not attach my beauty to my hair anymore. I finally realised that my hair does not make me beautiful I am beautiful period. I truly firmly believe it. My hair style doesn’t validate me. I validate me.
This is why it felt even more sacred for me to be shaving my hair at this stage in my journey. And from the minute I made the conscious decision to shave it, I was so happy. I couldn’t stop smiling and crying even the day before. It was a beautiful full moon ritual. I had my crystals, incense, herbs, present awareness and positive vibes.** Although, I’d never used clippers before, it was important I do it myself. I feel so completely free. A deep sense of peace. Dissolving all baggage. All feelings of shame, fear, trauma. Projected beauty standards and worth. I have shed them and will continue to shed them all.
The unravelling of my higher self.
Radiate outwards cosmic being.
Inherently, you are beautiful.