Some truths are easier to accept than others. Then there are those we’d rather keep wrapped up or tied up- (like my hair)….
For a large portion of my existence, my hair has been loc’d. And despite the notion that locs can be freeform and acceptable at the same time, back then, I guess a part of me didn’t want to appear ‘messy’ or ‘unkept’ by the world’s standards. So, I’d tighten my hair at every sighting of new growth. Then, I’d pull the strands into tight ponytails so they wouldn’t get into my face, or in the way of others.
Soon enough the constant pulling at my tender scalp made way for my hairline to do a disappearing act that would eventually take years to recover from. Quickly, headwraps became my go-to. I loved how regal they looked, and most importantly I was happy that it could cover up what I deemed as the ‘ugliest part of me’.
Traction alopecia – that’s what I was experiencing. At the time I didn’t have the language for it nor an ally, so, I beat up on myself constantly. When it became more noticeable, I began wearing my locs out so it would cover the patches. I tried countless black hair dyes , hair growth products and so on and so on, but nothing seemed to work, nor did it change the way I felt or how I saw myself. I hated my hair!
Online, I would see all these braided and short hairstyles that I secretly wished I could try. But with my hair complications I convinced myself that it wasn’t possible and that I would forever be a ‘headtie girl’.
Then, as if things couldn’t get any worse, the very locs that I hid behind had to be cut due to chemical damage. Sigh!
It took a while to come to terms with my new reality. And at first, tying my bald head was manageable. I wore hats/head ties and I carried on with life as usual. But sure enough my hair started growing into this thick afro and concealing it became a bit challenging.
For days at a time I wouldn’t want to leave the house. I began obsessing over what to do with my hair. I decided on loc extensions because that was my comfort zone. But after having tried that, deep down inside, I felt like a coward. I was running from exploring other options with my hair. I was limiting myself because of fear.
I found out about House of Malkia and I saw all these braided styles that fascinated me. I recall messaging her page and explaining my dilemma. I reluctantly made the appointment and in no time at all, I was in her chair unwrapping my head tie.
I can’t begin to explain how nerve-racking that moment was for me, but I can tell you that at no point in time did the hairstylist make me feel uncomfortable. She treated my head like a crown. Not only doing a protective style, but using her own scalp and growth oil products to treat it. And over the next few months I explored several braided styles. Here I was having healthy fun with my hair! Me? Imagine that.
Out of these new experiences with my hair I can say that I’ve learnt to embrace all of it. There is nothing to be ashamed about. And believe it or not, so many others are experiencing or have experienced the same hair issues. My hair tells the story of a journey that I am proud of – A journey of pursuit, of challenge and of triumph.
I wear my crown with pride. So whether it’s my afro, a braided style, a head tie or locs, I am no longer hiding, but holding my head high, for I am a ‘Malkia’ – a ‘Queen’, as expressed in Swahili.
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