Ever have those days when you just feel “blah”? Your hair stubbornly refuses to be part of the team. Your wardrobe looks so drab and ten outfit changes later, you’re are still struggling to find something to wear! Clothes are strewn all over the bed, time is clocking, you should have left fifteen minutes ago and there’s still your makeup to do!
Well I had one of those days a while back. I finally forced myself out the door, battling the feeling that I didn’t look the way I wanted to look. Then I get on the train and notice how attractive, confident, sassy all the other women looked. They all have long straight weaves and extensions. Makeup- on point. Nails – long, polished and perfect. As I look down to my unfiled, crooked finger nails, I am all of a sudden filled with the desire to call in sick at work, head straight to a hair salon and relax my hair or have a weave done, or maybe both! “hmmmm I like that idea! Then maybe a manicure. After that I could head to Zara and get some new clothes. A new bag? Yes a new bag! Dark brown leather.” Soon enough I am visualising me strutting down Fenchurch Street, with my long flowing tresses, perfect nails, in my new dress, high heels and my new handbag… until sensible Oby emerges “Damn Oby slight problem, you have an important meeting today, definitely cannot call in sick today. Besides, you know that is wrong, you would be lying.”
“But I am sick! Maybe not physically but emotionally I’m not in a good place. I need a new look, that is what I need to feel better” I reasoned back.
Sensible Oby: “Ok. Well, how about you book a day off tomorrow?”
“Fine tomorrow I’m taking a well deserved day off and I’m doing this”
I carry on fantasising about the new me, which helped to distract me from my current physical state. I pick my bags up and make my exit off the train, making my way to the office. I’m still deep in thought and excitement about tomorrow. “Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow”
Then I feel the gentle tap on my shoulder, I turn to my left, and there’s a black lady standing to my side. And she whispers to me “ I just wanted to say I think you are beautiful. I have been watching you on the train. I love your hair. I love your style. I really want to go natural. But I have been holding back, thinking it wouldn’t suit me, worrying how I would wear it work, what would people think. But seeing you today, has helped me make my mind up.”
Finding Courage to be Authentic
Isn’t life amazing? Thank God for the lady whose words warmed my heart and brought sunshine to my cloudy day. I’ll own up to the fact that I have days when I feel so insecure and unsure of myself, my looks and my body. I have had natural hair for about 10 years and stopped wearing Brazilian weaves for about 7 years. It certainly has not been an easy transition. It takes absolute courage to choose to not fit into the mainstream ideals of what beautiful looks like. So respect and kudos to women who are on this natural path. Many of us battle with the fear of criticism, being different and not fitting the beauty bill. But we press on because to conform, means denying our authenticity and desire to be true to our natural selves.
Last year, I attended three interviews with corporate organisations in the city, with an afro, having resolved within myself that any company that chooses to judge me by my hairstyle is actually not worthy of my talents. Risky I know, but being authentic to me comes with a price, much less that than the cost of choosing the ideals and values of others over mine. Gladly, it paid off on all counts, leaving me with power to choose the job I wanted. Although that is a different story
Unveiling the mask I’ve been hiding behind
It hasn’t always been easy. My first attempt to have my natural hair out in 2007 was a traumatic experience for both me and my hubby. I decided on New Year’s eve of all days to begin my natural journey. For the first time in years, my face was no longer hiding behind my hairstyle, and all my perceived imperfections about my looks were reflecting back at me as I looked in the mirror. I actually uttered the words ” I am ugly” and a meltdown ensued. My husband of three months watched in absolute shock and disbelief wondering what he had let himself in for. Crazy you might think, but that is what happens when we unveil the mask we’ve being hiding behind.
I reverted back to wearing weaves and extensions, but deep down I always wanted to have my own hair out. For years I had been perfectly okay with weaves and extensions, but I started to question why the hair on my head was not good enough. In 2009 I sat in a hair salon having taken my extensions out to have my hair washed and weave extensions put back in. Whilst waiting for the stylist I remember looking in the mirror and actually falling in love with my natural hair. “I love my hair; I’m going to keep it like this!” The stylist looked at me like I was deranged. But that was the turning point and I haven’t looked back since.
Choosing Authenticity over Conformity
This is not a jibe at anyone, we all have different paths, styles, likes and dislikes. My hope is that after all is said and done, we choose authenticity over conformity. Years ago, a black lady I worked with referred to our hair as a curse. Sadly, there are women out there who believe this. I wish I had back then the confidence, insight and skills I have now. Our conversation would have been very different.
Interestingly as I reflect over my work with my clients this past year, I realise that with all my black female clients, the issue of our hair was a major topic that required in depth exploration and self-analysis. Hair issues were never at the forefront of any sessions with my Caucasian clients. Interestingly again, I noted that as my black female client became more authentic and true to themselves, their hair texture and styles changed. Food for thought, I dare say.
Authenticity coaching is my passion. I would love to help you find true authenticity in a world that dictates how we should live, look and be. I can support you to find healing from unresolved past issues. My signature programme will help you own your story and find the courage to be you unapologetically as you walk in your purpose and re-write your future.