Lengthy and Healthy

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by Celine Masheleni

“I like your hair cut!” the first person says, except I haven’t cut my hair.

“Is this how long you can get it to grow?” another, sympathetically, tilts her head,

“That’s right girl, demolish European standards of beauty! Long hair isn’t everything!” I stand baffled, even more so because this time it’s a black girl. She is supposed to understand. The tips of my fingers itch, and I can feel the pressure to prove that my hair is not that short and before I can stop myself, I have grabbed a clump of hair and pulled it up to reveal how long it actually is.

I did not cut my hair! This is 2 years’ worth of growth! And since when is long hair exclusive to only those of European or non- African decent!?

My hair grows, and my hair grows healthy, and my hair can, definitely, grow lengthy. “So then what’s the problem?”, you might ask, “why do you care so much?”

What people fail to recognise is the politics that surround black hair. The lack of access and lack of information on how to maintain and treat our hair. My hair is a mystery to me, a beautiful mystery and a mystery I am only learning to explore now. Sure, there are countless videos on YouTube of which black hair is the subject but -no shade- most of these videos feature those with looser curls or African-Americans who more so than not, have hair that behaves and responds differently to mine. I can’t relate. However, what I have learnt being natural haired for three years now is that my hair does grow, it grows differently, and responds differently. I have learnt that like anything else on my body, my hair requires care, time, and trial and error. This has seen me on the path to healthy hair that does its thing and does it well. My hair is cool.

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