My name is Ola, twenty four years old, Nigerian studying and living in Germany. I’ve been natural for three years. Before deciding to go fully natural though, I was always switching between low cuts and growing my hair out only to cut it off again. I have an androgynous identity on the gender spectrum so growing up and having to conform to the beauty standard for girls in my birth country was really hard on me. I was buying expensive wigs and changing hairstyles every month. Instead, I preferred to wear a low cut.
I started growing my hair out again in 2014 after chopping it off earlier and didn’t know what to do with it… so on a particular day, I went on YouTube and stumbled upon black youtubers with natural growing hair. Well, I was amazed and taken back at what my natural hair could do, the curls, twist outs etc. I wanted hair like that so I decided to never cut my hair and instead grow it out.
I must say this that hair for us in Africa was never a political issue as compared to USA Europe with the compulsory conformity to white standard imposed on black bodies etc. Conformity to Western standard of beauty was more subtle as a result of the influence of western norms and media gibberish on our perception of bodies and beauty. It wasn’t quite easy to see a young girl with her natural hair except for some of our mothers who we considered old-fashioned anyway. The rest of the girls who grew their natural hair were the religious ones who did it for religious reasons. We didn’t wanna look like them of course, we wanted to look pretty, so as soon as we could, we applied chemicals on our hair, bought wigs and flaunted different styles of hair.
So ja I was shocked when I saw on YouTube girls who were very beautiful with full head of afro, all twisted out and curls. I wanted that. What we simply lacked was representations and education. I sat to gulp them all, very excited about what the future had for me. Before this, I was always very self-conscious about beauty standards etc. Well these beautiful representations gave me wings to fly. I did the different styles I watched on YouTube with my hair, I looked at myself and began to see a different image, a beautiful self-confident one. I began to get very comfortable in my skin, and stopped wishing for straight hairs.
Fast forward to 2016, I decided to convert my afro into locs… so now I have locs and this is absolutely the best decision I have ever made. Ja I loved my afro but I don’t miss it either. I’m the simple one style kinda person who doesn’t care too much about switch ups and all. I also love the fact that I can wake up and in seconds step outta the house. My locs gave me the freedom that my afro never did. I remember my friends telling me wtf Ola you spend lots of time on your hair, because of course I had to twist my hair into three to four strands before sleeping and then untwist them every morning to comb out. I loved and enjoyed every bit of it because it’s my hair and I won’t have it any other way, but I love my locs more. I’m more comfortable in my body with my locs. I even stopped using makeup because I really do look in the mirror and say wow I’m beautifully made. My locs gave me that perspective and I’m forever grateful.
My advice for anyone trying to go natural is, it’s your hair. You cannot be comfortable if you don’t accept yourself. You would always look at others and the comparison will never end. Beauty is a state, both internal and external, it is what you think of yourself when you look into the mirror. Do not let society define you because what society does best is reduce our body into sites for the production and display of power, carve us into pieces of jellyfish forever needy of validation. The problem isn’t our difference, the problem is the interpretation and perception of our differences and how we are narrated as not good enough. That’s always the way society works. The one who has the power is able to wield it in whichever way and narrate the story to suit him. So, do not let society own you, own yourself, shine so bright it dims the one who tries to stifle you.
I’m actually not a product person, I’m too lazy to sit and go on a quest for hair products so I basically just use simple shampoos and moisturizer with coconut oil. Coconut oil I’d say has been one of my consistent product. Now that I’m locd, I use Avalon organics Zitronen shampoo and coconut oil to oil my scalp after every wash. And I semi free form so I don’t retwist and all. Simple and light-hearted… I am more than happy to finally have to grow my hair just like white people. I constantly say, why should mine be different, you leave yours in your own way, I leave mine in my own way. It’s not even up for discussion. It isn’t something we are supposed to sit and have a discourse on, going natural or not, but since history has made it so. Then ja we gotta keep talking about it and also show our kids undiluted images so they love and embrace every part of their black bodies unapologetically.
My favorite natural go to style is just letting my locs grow full all over my head. I love the full natural locs than retwisting regularly to give them a defined look. So, I let my locs do whatever they wanna do. All I do is separate the roots after every wash and continue with living life.
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