I was doing some shopping and when I got into the hair products aisle, there was a lady who seemed very indecisive about what to buy for her hair. When I approached her, we conversed and she said she was frustrated with how she just cannot find the right hair products that identify with who she is.
While the shampoo that works for all hair types might not exist and while there’s no one hack that can lead every hair type to have perfectly beached waves, there is one hair truth we can hold self-evident: Hair is a huge part of our identities.
For women, hair becomes part of who we are as people. Our hair is something that we have total power over. We can cut, colour, and style it in whatever way we choose, and we can use it to manipulate our identities on any given day. We can wear pink curls out at night, and show up at work the next morning with a high ponytail or deep curl weave. But despite being under our control, our hair also seems to have total power over us and the resulting relationship can be nothing short of transformative.
Over the years, hair has been dubbed to make up part of our identity. For so long, many people have had the confidence of saying that, women who are very rebellious with their hair are most likely to be on the creative side of life. These are often women who would dye their hair either gold or platinum because they feel like it. They are then said to be either poets, artists and or makeup artists. This is because rebellious equates freedom and poets and artists/creatives are free-spirited individuals.
There has also been a debate about what constitutes an African woman. Is it in your curls, non-relaxed hair or does your hair have to be extra kinky? When a woman wears her crown up high, she is seen as proud to be African and she is considered to be in tune with her roots. However, when she wears her weaves and has extensions, she is dubbed to be a slay queen. I say women dress their hair how it pleases them. Not because they want to have an identity assigned to them, but because they already know who they are. Hair, yes, is a form of identity, but it is not a space to assume anyone’s identity.
• Frieda Mukufa’s lifestyle section concentrates on women-related issues and parenting every Friday in the New Era newspaper. She also specializes in editing research proposals, proofreading as well as content creation.