The Short Version:
One day after years of relaxers, I wanted to start over and so I had my hair shaved off.
Once my hair had gained some length and graduated from TWA (teeny weeny afro) to just an afro, I gained a new nickname.
Whether it was positive or negative, strangers took to calling me afro girl. The rest is history; I’ve always liked the goddess Aphrodite, hey presto my blogging name became AphroGurl.
The Long(a**) Version:
About six years ago after meeting my now husband, I did not know, trust or love myself.
As I wrote on this blog’s very first page (About Me), I am permanently having an identity crisis.
Let me explain.
My mother-unit is Nigerian and Father-unit is Swedish. (If you find these standoffish nicknames for my parentals interesting, stay tuned for a post on my origin story, otherwise please just ignore and read on).
Whilst I was born in North London, my first words were spoken in Yoruba, one of the native languages and tribes of Nigeria. Mum had post-partum so off I went barely 6 months old to live with some relatives in West-African dominated Enfield.
Fast forward to eight years old, I no longer speak Yoruba and I have been living with Mum and her new husband (my now dear old dad and only remaining parent) for just over three years. I go to a private school for Vicar’s daughters in Brighton and live in a middle-class neighbourhood.
The years of relaxer I mentioned at the start of this post start now and don’t stop until the bigchop of six years ago. I think initially it was to make my ever-growing hair more manageable for mum to deal with, she herself having had relaxers most of her life after abandoning her sweet TWA of her university days. After a while, it developed into something very different; I continued on in preppy private schools and the straightened hair helped me to fit in and present myself in a more similar way to my peers. Well, sort of.
I walked this fine line where I kinda felt white(as in I felt really similar to my Caucasian classmates) but something was off. I wasn’t comfortable in my skin – my clothes fit differently to my friends, as soon as I had a tan I was mistaken for “a new black girl” and most beaus were repelled, except those with some sort of morbid curiosity or those reducing me to a type, “the black girl”.
Mix all of that together, throw in being kicked out by my mother/abuser and disowned by the other side of the family and you can see how I was a little bit confused about who I was and who I could be.
Cue my knight in shining armour and a whirlwind romance that I am sure I will tell you all about. At the time, I had only been dating my husband, Ali, for nine months or so and since just before we started dating I had been wearing my relaxed hair in weaves. I had been dreading taking out the weave, which made me feel so good about myself, to reveal what the few inches left of my poor, damaged hair after years of depression, alcohol abuse and poor mental health.
Needless to say, I was distraught and feeling so negative about something as superficial as my hair didn’t help lighten that emotion.
I knew I needed to be proactive and as much as I wanted to start fresh, the thought of shaving off my hair seemed too much. If Ali hadn’t stepped in and said “you know, I won’t leave you because you cut off your hair” I may never have done it and started on the path to loving myself.
Okay, that was a little heavy… but! It’s not all doom and gloom – all of that got me to where I am now, living in my happy place rather than dreaming of it.
Thanks for reading. Please comment and share your thoughts, I want to hear what you have to say or suggestions for future posts.