I appreciate the hair movement and the empowerment of owning your natural mane. But lift up your hand if you feel like your outfit isn’t complete when you have your natural hair out. How about feeling as if you need to compensate for your incomplete look with loads of makeup to draw focus onto your face, and away from your hair?
How many news anchors or celebrities in Kenya do you see rocking their natural hair in the open? Can you imagine seeing Kenyan female artists rapping in their fros? I would like to see that but wait, here’s the deal.
4c hair isn’t what people think about when they imagine beauty and panache. However, it is what comes to mind when they imagine bold. You are so bold to go out with that hair. Why would you waste your time on hair that’s so hard? Do they even make products for such hair?Aren’t there products to make it curly/straight? You are so bold for wearing that hairstyle.
I have heard loads and perhaps you have too. But first, I’ll tell you my 4C embarrassing moments and you can tell me about your experience in the comment section.
I discovered I’m at the bottom of the hair chain
4C is the literal sense of this phrase; diamond in the rough. So first you will go on a journey of hair discovery down to the basic steps including learning how to comb it. After watching hundreds of videos of people with 3C, 3B (and going up the hair chain) cause that is what will attract your eyes first, you will come to realise you cannot use products used for that curl pattern and expect your hair to be manageable. However, you could own your coils and moisturize them until they behave.
That was me 2 years ago. I would look for videos and blogs illustrating super-defined curls, and buy the exact products these influencers used, following each step they did to a fault. Until the day I dared to go out in my natural hair my brain was convinced that I could pull it off. No words can define that experience. Everyone I met seemed to be looking at my hair in some type of way. I remember my aunt asking, “so this is how you kids do your hair these days.”
“Well, I mean not comb it and have those kinks out like that.”
“what do you mean?”
“I mean, how do you know when it’s done? Don’t you need to comb it some more?”
I had to get saved to develop the tolerance and the patience needed to address such questions. Tell the devil not today and unlearn all the myths I grew up hearing about my hair. The best decision was when I started treating my hair like a baby. After all, it was. I had no experience and had just started discovering my hair’s potential and what it likes. Therefore, my advice to you is: follow people with your hair type. Learn tips and tricks from them. Scour the internet and beauty stores looking for what your hair needs and deserves and most importantly handle 4C hair with the gentleness it deserves.
“Baby hair, that’s the only good hair you have”
Said someone bent on playing with my self-esteem like a bad joke. But they had a point. This is the only hair that at least tries to respond to your touch after hours of grooming your natural hair. Sometimes it doesn’t. However, what’s embarrassing is how you feel holding on to countable soft strands when the rest of the hair won’t conform. On the other hand, we do know what happens once you go natural and set aside those tight braids/weaves and bonding glue. You will always notice and yet wonder if people are perhaps talking about how your edges are fading in like a powerpoint slide.
What is that on your head?
Not the question they asked during my interview. But it is what someone asked me after. I don’t know what he thought the white thing on my hair was, but basically, if you try mixing creams and gels without knowing how effective they work together, you will learn the hard way. Then there’s always the emotional crises when you are not confident of how you look. Such that if you’re not busy looking for a mirror to suppress the unnerved and insecure way you feel then you are busy fishing for validation.
Ironically the guaranteed safe space for naturalistas is in church. Here, everyone can’t stop praising you for being natural and you will get all the esteem massaging you need even without having to fish for it. I know this from experience.
When I didn’t know about Humidity
Isn’t it amazing how immediately after you unravel your twists on your hair you become clueless on what to do next? Personally, after I do, slowly but surely my 4C changes to a bush in my failed attempt to fluff it out. This metamorphosis though doesn’t happen instantly. The hair waits until I’ve gone out, my day has gone by, only to come back in the house and look in the mirror and the magic would’ve happened. I can’t even talk about how dry and kinky the hair feels. Then there’s always that one or two twists that remain twisted. So for the most part of the day, I realise that I walked around with indentations on my fro which are usually at the back. No one mentions a thing. Perhaps they think it’s one of the shaggy hairstyles naturalista’s wear.
The shrinkage is also another thing making people wonder why you spend money on stunted growth. Cause I tell you being natural ain’t cheap and your hair won’t flaunt the milestones either.
I cannot forget that one time my mother volunteered to take me to the salon.
Satin is a night look
Well by now you may have noticed that “I woke up like this,” is more of Beyonce’s song than the reality of a 4C hair naturalista. Unless you know the art of cornrows, twists, braid outs, or you can slick that hair out without your satin bonnet coming off at night, you’re in for something else the following day.
Also, prepare to introduce your boo to your silk bonnet. For its technically part of the night look.
It’s not for Instagram
When I mentioned insecurities, 4C is that type of hair that you can’t flip anytime you feel like people need to notice how you meet suave with finesse. This means that when taking pictures playing with hair is out of the question. If you’ve managed to build volume you are in another category. If not, you will always feel odd making an appearance on the gram. Especially when taking pictures in the midst of people wearing butt-length wigs. How do you compete with that when your hair grows upwards instead of downwards?
Whenthe hairdresser, “knows” it all
I have been asked questions like, “With your skin colour how come your hair is so hard? Someone would expect you to have curly or straight hair.” (The ideal natural hair) “How about we have it blow-dried first? 8 reasons you should change your hairstylist.
I rarely use heat on my hair. Hence when I resist, I get questions like, “Is there any possible hairstyle for that type of hair?” ” I don’t think so. Especially that hairstyle you want. It won’t come out as you hope for. Between disbelief and embarrassment, I cannot choose the exact emotion to express in such contexts. But wait, what’s more, embarrassing than someone telling you to revise your hopes because apparently, you’ve confused yourself into thinking you got good hair?
It is not official hair
This happened 2 years ago when I went to work rocking my carefully braided hair after getting some tips from Sheila Ndinda, A YouTuber on natural hair. Even though my twist didn’t come out as pretty as hers, I had mustered the courage to wear my hair out in its natural form and I wasn’t going to let any social conditionings break this spirit.
I was breaking the myths and brazing my complicated hair journey one step at a time. Only to reach the office and notice the impression my boss put on immediately after he saw me. He just couldn’t hold in the words and wisdom. After a second he blurted. “You millennials jinx your chances yourselves. This is the hair that’s making companies deny you jobs. The dreadlocks and the kinks don’t make you look smart, rather you look like thugs and weed addicts.” I could only reflect on the effort and time I spent detangling and twisting that hair. With no response, I just found my seat and went to work.
I can’t tell if He thinks I’m less attractive
You don’t know your man until you see his attitude towards your 4C. Like my boss up there it is the men who have the biggest issue with 4c hair. They want to see it when it’s voluminous and bouncing in curls but not during the making process. Have you met the one who tells you to just let your hair out and after doing so they tell you the African look is not for you?
Don’t be surprised when he goes mum after you show up for your date in your natural hair instead of a wig. Isn’t this the part you start wishful thinking? Please tell me I look good. That I resemble an African queen. Say my hair is the right texture. Unfortunately, this line of thought only ends with perhaps I should’ve worn a wig.
I did not look good in bed
Bless your mind if you got dirty thoughts upon reaching this paragraph but I mean from wearing scarves at night to having to twist it before bed, 4C is the hair that keeps on asking. (And neither does it look good after swimming. Rather it resembles a wet mop).
The ideal bed hair is silky straight hair and weaves. 4C, on the other hand, doesn’t even budge when you move. It just follows you stiffly and flattens if you happen to sleep on it. In addition, it requires maximum effort which you might not have on lazy nights which are almost every night.
The embarrassing part is how you look in the morning. I mean if you expect to wake up looking like you just decided to rock the cute shaggy look, with 4C hair know that you got another thing coming. For until you master your craft, you will always have hair as stiff as a board and looking like you just fought the ancestors.
Which 4C naturalista can’t relate to this transformation? #nightndaytingz #beforenaftershenanigans #aftereffects
Therefore, here’s a message for you if you are starting out on the natural hair journey. Please pack yourself some of these, for you will need them once or twice a day. self-acceptance, self-awareness, self-love and a chill pill. You might need to replace the self with hair from time to time as the voyage is as real as your hair gets. You will learn to defend the dead (your hair) and ignore the unEDGE-ucated. For a while, people will not see the natural hair you envision and healthy kinks. Instead, they will be seeing an ignorant bold woman with unkempt hair.
However, as is life, 4C hair is the best school of experience. On top of this after the hard part, which is usually the first stage, then comes the reward. Never forget that healthy hair starts from within.
I am a writer with interest in hair, beauty and fashion. I also like telling stories, but most of all I enjoy listening and reading them. If I'm not doing any of the above, I will be trying to crack a game of chess or monopoly. My biggest fear is being ordinary.