My transition to kinky coils

The decision to “go natural” is one I made years ago, but it was only just over a year ago that I finally had the courage to start the journey. Many people opt for the big chop, but that was not for me. I did not want to be stuck with short hair should I decide to give up after a couple of months, and revert to the creamy crack that is hair relaxer. I also wanted to avoid the negative running commentary that comes from the anti-natural-hair-brigade. Few people even noticed what I was up to for the first six months.

As we speak, I am one year and four months into my transitioning journey. I can safely say it was the best decision I could have made. It wasn’t as difficult, and complicated as many people said it would be. It did however involve a lot of research… *high-five to all the natural hair bloggers*. Below are a few pieces of advice that I hope might help anyone else hoping to transition, or even just hoping take a long break from relaxers.

  • Ignore the naysayers.

The best tip I ever came across was to ignore people that have negative comments about natural hair. Some of the negativity will come from people close to you, so you have to be prepared to deal with it. It’s your hair, and your journey. There is no way anything that is naturally meant to grow out of your is head ugly.

  • You need to be organised and always plan ahead with what you are going to do with your hair.

Protective hairstyles are going to be your best friend. Plaiting, braids, weaves and wigs. This boils down to personal choice. I personally survived with braided twists, soft dread, and weaves. By alternating these three, I found myself not stressing about what to do with my hair. Not having a plan, after undoing your hair will make it more likely to succumb to relaxers. With that being said, your hair and hairline need short breaks in between braiding.

  • Say goodbye to excessive use of heat to dry and manage your hair.

I was a previously certified flat iron addict. Though I air-dried my hair, I depended on my flat iron for that silky straight relaxed hair. When I started transitioning I thought the iron would be my best friend when it came to managing my growth. I thought that a flat iron would help my roots blend better with my ends. A really bad idea, I’m glad I didn’t take up.

The juncture at which natural and relaxed hair meet is fragile, therefore you have to treat your hair with extra care. This means avoiding the use of heat to dry your hair. During the early days, shrinkage won’t be a huge problem. However, this is the time you want to start practising how to do twist outs, use flexi-rods, and do bantu knots to stretch, and style your hair. The effects on your transitioning hair will obviously be different from what you will get when you are fully natural, but it’s a perfect way to hide that you have two hair textures.

On days you do need to resort to heat, use low temperature settings, and remember to use a heat protection product. I have to say, that by minimizing heat, my relaxed hair did not break off during my transitioning, I only experienced the normal shedding from the root.

  • Health over length. Trim your ends regularly.

The ends of your hair are also weak. Split ends left unchecked will result in extra hair breakage. By trimming your ends every few months, you are helping maintain the health of your relaxed hair, which in turn means the health of your natural growth. As the months go by, and more of your natural hair grows out, start cutting off longer, and longer sections of the relaxed ends. I am one final chop away from being completely natural. Exciting times!

  • Don’t get carried away with buying new hair products.

While you are transitioning, it is tempting to buy an arsenal of hair products that every other naturalista swears by. If left unchecked, this can quickly turn out to be a ridiculously expensive process. Another good piece of advice I got was to finish the shampoos, conditioners, and some of the moisturisers that I was already using, while slowly introducing new oils and deep conditioning habits. Virgin olive oil and coconut oil were my best affordable friends, but there are other options out there. I rely mostly on olive oil for my overnight pre-poos and coconut oil for sealing in moisture on a day-to-day basis. Pre-poos really need to become a habit if you want healthy moisturised hair.

  • Protect your hair while you sleep.

The use of scarves to protect hair overnight is not new to anyone with African hair. But cotton is not good for the hair because it readily absorbs moisture and oil leaving your hair dry. Now is the time to invest in satin or silk scarves, as they retain moisture, and they are gentle on your hair and edges. I’m a fan of Lavish Atelier’s satin-lined dorags. They are perfect because they come in yummy colours. There are two sizes depending on the length and volume of your hair/protective hairstyle. The LA dorags are a great investment because they also double as daywear for those dreaded but inevitable bad hair days. Check out their online store https://solavish.co.za/collections/all

There is plenty more advice out there, and it is worth taking time to find what works best for you.

Keep Leaning In

I woke up to what I can best describe as a BS study that concluded that when women negotiate too hard for their salaries, they end up earning less. The take home message of such a story is probably that women should simply be grateful for whatever peanuts patriarchy in the workplace awards them. Also, that women’s negotiation skills leave a lot to be desired. I beg to differ.

I think my kick-ass professional role model, Sheryl Sandberg summed it up best when she said “Lean In”. I didn’t know Sheryl before I watched her Ted Talk, “Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders”. That talk changed my life and became one of my top 3 favourite Ted Talks. I should probably get round to reading her book. It is one of those books I was so eager to acquire but never got round to reading :(.

Sit at the table

As women, we need to sit at the table, even when we are not expressly invited. If it means standing at the table because there are no free seats, then we need to do so. A lot of the time we quit the race before we have even begun. We write ourselves off before any one has a chance to do so. Not applying for promotions because we think our colleague is more qualified, or that they are friends with management. I used to repeatedly write myself off wrt scholarship and job applications. I have since forced myself to not take rejection personally. I have learnt how to keep at it, even when that voice in my head is saying I’m not what they are looking for.

Ask and you shall receive

One thing my supervisor always says is “If you don’t ask, you won’t get. And if you do ask, it doesn’t mean that you will get.” As someone who for the most part expected him to know my needs..because some things seem obvious…I was eventually forced to ask. I haven’t quite perfected my face-to-face requests for big things, but emails have been a good start. There have been many nos,  but the few yeses have been huge and worth the countless nos.  I am constantly working on my sense of “White male entitlement and confidence”. Faking it till I make it. The only difference is I obviously have to work 10 times harder as a Black female, but that’s okay. We have been at it our entire lives anyway 🙂 .

Museum Week (Museum Island)

This is my second post on epic museum visits in honour of Museum Week. My guest of honour is Museum Island in Berlin. Museum Island would be a reason enough for me to move to Berlin. Museum Island is basically what the name implies; a museum on an island (Spree River). It is technically a collection of five state museums. Unfortunately, I only had one day to visit Berlin and couldn’t miss the Berlin Wall.

DCIM160GOPRO
I love this building. The Altes Museum, a part of Museum Island, Berlin. 
DCIM160GOPRO
View of Berlin Cathedral from outside Altes Museum
DCIM164GOPRO
View of Berlin Cathedral from Spree River

My one choice of museum to visit out of the five was obvious. I had to go and see my historical #BlackGirlMagic crush, Pharaoh Neferneferuaten Nefertiti. Nefertiti was an Egyptian queen and the Great Royal Wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten. She is unarguably for me, one of the most beautiful queens. She was also revolutionary in her rule of Egypt and it is suspected that she continued her rule after her husband’s death under an assumed male identity .

I had a crisis of conscience about this visit, because if I had to visit Nefertiti’s bust I’d expect to do so in Egypt and not Berlin. I am a firm believer that archaeological remains that were STOLEN by colonialists should be returned to their homes. This archaeological treasure is still a diplomatic sore point between Egypt and Germany. For all the wrongs that former Nazi Germany has been trying to right, this should be one of them. I take this so seriously I got into a tense “discussion” with my boyfriend about this. He is German, and weeeeell…he didn’t quite see it the way I did :). Anyway….

Nefertiti is housed in the Neues Museum, which is all-round an impressive building. It has a wide collection of Egyptian artefacts, amongst a range of others, including Greek and Roman. I basically worked my  way through the rest of the museum to get my money’s worth first.  Truth be told, If I had gone straight to the main attraction, I would have left soon after. The most unfortunate part is that visitors are not allowed to photograph Nefertiti. She is housed in a small room with guards standing watch, so I couldn’t even do the classic “pretend I am reading a message but sneak a photo move”. It is bad enough these people won’t return this artefact, but they just had to raise the douchebaggery to another level… *sigh*

 

The bust is smaller than I expected but still breathtaking. Her long and slender neck. That bone structure! She has a chip on her ear and a missing eye, but she’s still a sight to behold. Nefertiti is definitely another artefact I would steal. I swear this is why the Universe hasn’t made a billionaire yet 🙂

 

Museum Week (Galleria Dell’Accademia)

I looooove museums and Museum Week is upon us. Before it ends I thought I would share some pics from my most memorable, life-giving visits.

The Galleria Dell’Accademia is an art museum in Florence, Italy and it is most notable because it houses Michelangelo’s David. To be quite honest, this was the main reason for choosing Florence as my first Italian city over Rome. I generally have a deep appreciation for marble sculptures of the human form, more specifically ones from the Renaissance. It was therefore fitting that I would visit the city where Michelangelo learnt his trade.

Upon entering the section of the Accademia that houses David, there is a great feeling of suspense. It is essentially a very long hall. There are impressive sculptures that Michelangelo did not complete at the one end, and David at the other.  There might have been paintings along the  walls, but I was so distracted by David at the other end, I honestly cannot remember.  For the first time I got an impression of just how tall David is. Google says he is 5.17m tall on his own, and when combined with the pedestal which I guess is about 2m tall, David makes an impressive figure. The great thing about the set up here is that one gets to see him from all angles, and from varying distances. And because he is so high up, noone is ever in the way of a good photo.

IMG_0278

I previously had a fair idea of how impressive David is, but NOTHING…nothing prepared me for the feeling of awe. David is LITERALLY the most beautiful inanimate man I have ever seen. The attention to detail that Michelangelo put into him is amazing. If I was a weeper, I would have wept. For the first time I understood how people steal artwork. If I had a mansion on a small island that isn’t on the map, I’d steal David. Only my favourite and most trusted people in the world would be welcome in my home…for obvious reasons :).

IMG_0285

So slightly funny, slightly awkward story.  I wanted a photo with David, so I asked an old French couple to take a pic of me as one does at these things. And, like most tourists they were more than happy to oblige. The moment I was striking my pose, which was actually just me standing awkwardly with my handbag, the husband says…”Oooh…ébène et ivoir (ebony and ivory)...so beautiful.”…And then they both start oohing and aaahing. Errrrm….WHAT? lol…The fetishization never stops fam…it never stops.

IMG_0287

 

IMG_0301

For those who don’t share my obsession with David, there is more to the Accademia. There is a section that houses the original plaster models of a lot of the most prominent sculptures by Florentine masters. All in all, it was an incredibly humbling experience to check such an epic item off my bucket list.  I will definitely be back for more adoration of my marble bae.

My authentic self

Am I who you propose I am? Or am I who I decide I am?
Is the me I project to you, the real me, or the part of me that I want you to see and is separate from the me I truly believe myself to be?
Is the me you see, really me? Or is the me you see actually a reflection of you and your insecurities, fears, hopes or dreams?
I am surrounded by people who are constantly trying to colour everything I am and do using a tainted paintbrush soaked in the paint of their own narrow-minded experiences.

I have been struggling with the whole idea of self for a while. This Ted talk by Thandie Newton is a must watch >> “Embracing otherness. Embracing myself.”
She talks about how she struggled growing up as a biracial, atheist child at an all white Catholic school and how her ‘self’ is always changing. I totally agree with the idea of losing your ‘self’ in order to feel more connected with others. But I find it very difficult to do so in a world where people are so self absorbed and reject anything different from them and what they know.

The first cut is not the deepest

A month ago the moonlight spilled across my pillow.

My face bathed in its glow and I felt your kiss on my soul.

Tonight that same moonlight falls upon my pillow.

Tonight I see it for what it is.

A cold reflection of a light that burns for another.

They lied when they said the first cut is the deepest.

Your dagger of deception has ripped through the scars of the same cuts you healed.

It hurts a hell of a lot more.

I wish the earth had split open the moment before we kissed.

I wish I had taken a step back into another dimension.

That is all.

Memories of Cape Town

A deep blue twilight sky scattered with equally dark cumulus clouds, like a Renaissance painting of a foamy sea. 


Early morning warmth defies the stormy image the sky presents. 


The refreshing smell of the ocean becomes stronger the closer I get to the harbor. 


A large cargo ship recently docked and the tell-tale vesicles of oil and polystyrene waste are afloat in the quay. 


Across the water, I see a beautiful silver catamaran with white sails set against a backdrop of a 19thcentury Dutch style building in 21st century Africa. 


Behind me is the magnificent Table Mountain devoid of her tablecloth. 


Moments such as these make me forget all my tribulations.