“A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life” said Coco Chanel, the French, prolific fashion creator. Celebrated hairstylists Owen Gould took it further; “Hair holds so much more energy than most of us are aware of. Some women use it as a security blanket whose purpose is to shield and protect, while others use it as a secret weapon to tease and entice.”
True as it sounds, for every 5 women you spot, 1 must have cut her hair. Yes, in the day of our Lord 2017, women have brought their A game right into the man’s doorstep by taking the leap of faith in matters hair politics and thereby basking in the amazement that comes with a clean, neat and fresh hygienic hair. No pun intended to my feminist readers already wounded by blogger C Nyakundi whom I sharply disagree with, on his sentiments regarding the ‘suitable age of marriage’. That aside, from the millennial girl next door to the typical lead soloist in a non-conventional church in her early 40’s, both seem to be harbouring the same taste of a trending short hair look. That the contemporary sophisticated woman, bullishly encroaching the tomboy look so aggressively is no longer a shy attempt but a reality that is creating goosebumps to the gentlemen kingdom. A good number who are in the school of thought that deduce everything from a value-for-money point of view, are laughing all the way to the bank citing savings and the peace of not being bombarded with money-for-salon cliche. On the other hand, where the majority sit, they are offensively disturbed by the deforestation of the iconic black hair. While it’s hard to reconcile the two divides, the fact is, there has been an influx of women donning short hair which by the way is not a coincidence but a deliberate effort. That said, virtually every woman goes through a cycle of cutting down her hair at some point in her life all for various reasons.
Whether it’s to signal the end of a relationship or a new promotion at work; there is usually a direct correlation between what’s happening on women’s hair and what’s happening in their lives. And this correlation can be attested by Kageshi; she cut her hair in her second trimester of pregnancy when juggling between work, pampering her uneasy body and dealing with styling her hair every morning which clearly became too much. Moreover, I was made to understand that the baby didn’t like her mother’s hair while in the womb and so she had to cut it. And when she persistently placed the question of facing the cut, I was left with no choice but to join the bandwagon. I chose to be open-minded and took the high road of diplomacy. Boy, what did I do? I accompanied her to an estate barbershop and perched there in disbelief watching her glossy hair get trimmed and fall off her shoulders helplessly.
That aside, women who cut their hair belong to a faction of the society that believes in risk-taking, boldness and self-assurance. And with short hair, it becomes healthier, easy to maintain and very convenient. By the way, Kenya exported short hair to the heart of Miss World 2017 beauty pageant securing the top 5 position beside reigning and easily securing the Miss World Africa -2017. How beautiful can that be? Standing out at such a coveted podium where the woman’s beauty is put at the global focus and to the sharpest of scrutiny. This happened to one of our very own Magline Jeruto, with her hair off.
A lot has been documented about the woman’s beauty and the icing on the cake has been her hair. The glamour that has been sold to us of course, has been about the free-flowing, wagging, woman’s hair dropping all the way to her back. However, the contemporary woman is risking it and shaking off our conventional attitudes towards natural black hair. Is it a hit or miss? Is it enough of a stride? A majority call it modern day transformation all in the attempt of crossing the path of black hair politics.
Speaking of black hair politics, hair pundits will confirm that black hair is thicker, curlier, and often frizzier. That notwithstanding, esteem issues manufactured and instilled by the Western ideologies has unfortunately weakened it through the excessive use of ‘chemicals’. Clearly, the journey of black hair has been rather uncelebrated and rocky. As a matter of fact, the entry of weaves and wigs was a slamming game changer since their only major purpose was to camouflage the black hair as to be long and pro-west with less maintenance cost. The media has penetrated a narrative that black natural hair is no longer ‘ideal’ and in fact, that the way to go is by embracing very long, silky, wavy-flowing and mostly blonde hair. What the promoters of weaves and its cousins fail to inform their audience is that there is grave scalp damage, lack of hair growth, breakage, hair loss and weakening of the hair follicle as a result of embracing artificial hair in the long run. This, therefore, begs the question; when was the last time short, curly, kinky black hair was celebrated or promoted as equally beautiful? This question was asked by Cherly Thompson when she penned an article dubbed – Black Women and Identity: What’s Hair Got to Do With It?
Perhaps, with the influx of Kenyan women moving away from the norm, that is weaves and wigs that has taken away the beauty of black hair, and consequently ‘going natural’, be it by initially cutting it to size, is part of a long process to heal the wounds of hair colonization for the native African woman. We are at a point where black hair is relearning the process of embracing its God-given beauty and unashamedly wearing a face of optimism and showcasing to the world that it is just a matter of time black hair triumphed politics that have rocked it.
That black hair politely brags about rich authenticity which unfortunately isn’t glamorous enough to match the artificially sewed human hair fished from horses’ tails is rather a sad affair. Come to think of it, white hair is thinner, dull and weaker. It’s time the African woman, walked shoulder high rocking the Afro kinky or whatever they call it and before we fully relearn and overcome our century-old black hair politics, let’s start with embracing bob-cuts and natural short hair.