I am not JUST my hair - (Citation: India Arie) and I am not a natural hair blogger.
In fact I am not really a blogger either. I'm a woman who loves to give her opinion, encourage personal growth; whilst doing this through my profession of being a therapist and training psychologist - oh and I just happen to have natural hair. Hair that becomes a conversation starter with strangers when I go to public bathrooms, hair that makes teen girls develop an automatic liking to me. Hair that surprises people when I walk into a job interview. Hair that pulls people to my attention who are pre-judging me. Hair that makes other girls hate you or admire you (trust me there really isn't any in-between). Hair that means that questions that should be under the heading of general chit chat quickly become political conversations - How is your career going? How are you doing? How was your holiday? - suddenly become centred on how difficult my career, my self-esteem and my travels must be whilst "managing" natural hair - more specifically dreadlocks.
I have always worn my natural hair with pride. I never had a weave, I never had a relaxer, I never had to "transition" I never had to unlearn a lot of unhealthy habits that damaged my hair. That just isn't my story - but it is pretty much the assumed formula for being a natural hair blogger and whenever I posta picture of myself - Kamaria who happens to have natural hair, I am inundated with questions about what I did, what I used, who is my stylist (Madame Moi is - just to answer that once and for all)and where I bought my products from.
I have 3b hair (blogger terminology), which is "coolie hair" if you are Caribbean. Hair that "shouldn't be locked cause it's so pretty", hair that gets idolised by men who want to make "black babies with nice hair", (i.e. biologically Black babies that are perceived to be of mixed ethnicity - you know Black pride of the privileged kind), hair that makes me a "fetish" or "pretty for a dark-skinned", hair that makes me feel like I'm keeping a secret or withholding information on the "magical ingredient" that makes my hair the way it is; despite honestly telling other women that all I use is shampoo and coconut oil. These scenarios have plagued my life and with them comes an array of emotions and feelings consisting of the following:
1. Feeling rejected by other women who question my ethnicity and have stupidly placed me in the "not fully black" box(waits, pauses, waits - you just looked at my photo at the top of this blog right? Ok, now you are as confused as me - at least you share my sentiment).
2. Feeling uncomfortably idolised and fetishized by men who want babies with "good, pretty hair" or just want to "run their hands through the length of your locks" (thanks for the insight Richard my friend). Then comes the worry regarding whether a person genuinely loves me for being Kamaria and they are not just hanging around waiting to reap the rewards of this weird idea of privilege that they believe will manifest from impregnating a woman like me.
3. Feeling insulted that people are surprised that I am actually intelligent. Sorry, despite all the positive images and increase of celebrities and successful individuals choosing to lock their hair - apparently I must still be some part of a negative stereotype of being an unemployed bum who smokes marijuana from dust till dawn whilst listening to reggae music. I don't care if there are national holidays named after Martin Luther King Jr, many people STILL judge people by the colour of their skin - AND the way they wear their hair, before they judge them by the content of their character or their qualifications and ability to do a job.
4. Lastly - feeling ANNOYED that before I am asked about ME - my day, my feelings, my interests, my workshops or my travels, my hair takes precedence over the person that I am. I love natural hair, I love creativity and I love fashion and I love self-care. But I love psychology more. I love helping women and girls more. I love travelling more. I am a feminine psychology and personal growth writer, pioneering a platform of positivity for women of colour. I just happen to have natural hair.
Stop marginalising me based on my mane.
I am about getting past the hair and into the mind of women of colour, to understand how our life experiences impact on our wellbeing. Sometimes on my platform that may include our hair stories but most of the time it doesn't. Hair is just one small fraction of who we are.