Thursday, 27 November 2008

Why do all these african women have receding hairlines?

We were watching a Nigerian film. Then hubby asked the question: 'why do all these Nigerian women (ie african women) have receding hairlines? They are going bald and you can see it under those wigs and weaves...' This from a white man. My daughter and I exchanged looks and I sighed. I didn't want to go into the same old same old topic, hence the sigh. So I just said 'yeah, they just did too much to their hair and the hair got tired... and gave up.' But, I realised, african women have the worst, most wretched, thinnest, tiredest hairlines of all the races. This prompted me to do a bit of research on current African hairstyles. I thought I'd start with Ghana- seeing it's my homeland. Friends, I was in for a nasty jarr. I could find hardly any natural hairstyles - unless you want to count extension braids/twist done over permed hair! The rare 'natural' style I came across was fake hair/weave done over some fried/relaxed hair. Tell me, african sista, what's the rationale in this? You've got your own beautiful afro hair. Yet you blast it with chemicals only to buy fake afro, to put over your own? The self loathing often spoken of by AA women may be far worse in the AW(african woman), than I thought. All those beautiful styles from generations past are slowly fading into oblivion. The practice of braiding, handed down from generation to generation, is barely hanging on. Many children are permed or have a low cut. Back in the day, mothers did their daughter's hair, girl siblings did each others' or if you had no aunt or relative capable, you got the lady down the road to come and braid it for you. Youngsters learned to do each others hair in boarding school. Now virtually all girls wear close cropped hair until they complete secondary education and then they make a beeline for the chemical fire cream and a weave. No wonder a friend made this observation: that african girls no longer know how to do hair. They have to go to 'braiding' school to learn. Even then they can't braid african textured hair, unless it's straightened first. We seem to have totally lost our way. I will endeavour to post some of the hairstyling pics I found -later. For now if you're an african woman, and you're natural,you're a rare sight.

9 comments:

Thandi said...

Rare here too.I wonder if it's the misconception that natural hair is ugly and hard to take care of...

anthia-ofo said...

It certainly is. Africans are sometimes more prejudiced against natural hair. But it's so sad that such a huge part of our heritage is disappearing so quickly. Hopefully, there will be a new generation - like you Thandi, going back to their roots.Most of my generation who have gone natural did so not out of love for their hair texture, but a desperate attempt to salvage what was left of it.

NubianLockedPrincess said...

WOW! What a sad situation! It seems that everyone is fallen into the european culture of having long straight hair! We don`t learn until our hair and scalp is damaged and won`t grow!

Amina said...

well..i am not surprised about receding hairlines. In Senegal, women hide that with wigs, weaves or just continue braiding!
growing up, I've never heard any positive comment on natural hair. In primary school, it was mandatory that we kept it short but later on, they allowed us to come to school with braids. Most of my friends including me got their first relaxers at age 9. Nowadays, 2 years start getting relaxers...

Some women(including my mum) associate natural hair with being ugly, not being feminine or being poor...
it's such a pity!!
let's not even get into the haircare!!!

Amina said...

I forgot to add, since i big chopped in 2006, 1 nigerian woman and another ghanaian woman always ask me what i am planning to do with my hair. every single time i meet her!
It is beyond her that one can wear natural hair..

A week ago, I met her at the gym
then M asks are these twists...a month and a half ago, i run into them at the supermarket and they both told me that my hair has grown so much and i should think about rela.xing it would be longer and prettier...lol

me: i am locking..this is week 3
E: shocked...what will ur mom say
me:she won't be happy but she wasn't happy either when i chop everything
E: almost screaming: I knooooooooow...your hair was soooo beautiful!!
M: yes it was...sooooooooo beautiful...
me: i wanted to laugh out loud
E &M: why did you cut it, it was sooooooooo beautiful
me: it was too much maintenance, treatment, bla bla bla
E &ME: it was sooo beautifuuuuuul

anyways..sorry this is long. Then sometimes i get comments from me having good hair to go natural and they can't!!
recently i heard that i had good hair to lock...

anthia-ofo said...

LOL Amina. The hair situation is pretty desperate amongst the african sistas cos they're so brainwahed about the LYE.)Senegalese do such beautiful twists etc) I could just imagine that conversation with the lady screaming.

Xina - Nature's Parlour said...

Amina, I love the way you described your screamy conversation - I literally laughed out loud on the train whilst reading it!!

It's an odd concept that a lot of diasporans have what we consider to be "African Pride", which includes (but isn't exclusive to) a pride of natural hair and yet that aspect of African pride is not shared by many (but not all) Africans. It's probably comparable to the amount of diasporans who are proud on their natural hair versus those who wouldn't be seen dead with their hair natural (see "white girl flow" : http://tyrashow.warnerbros.com/2009/05/what_is_good_hair_1.php )

I think it's changing though. My sister-in-law is Nigerian and recently came back from Nigeria sporting locs. Two of the best locticians in London are Nigerians - one has locs, the other doesn't but both of them LOVE working with locs and natural hair.

I've seen some West African music videos with more people sporting locs and natural hair now, which is lovely to see :o)

Bisrat said...

This is a very interesting article about an often ignored topic. However, I did have a hard time swallowing one of the points you made in this article, that African women have the "have the worst, most wretched, thinnest, tiredest hairlines of all the races." I am Ethiopian and I grew up mostly among east Africans, who have a variety of different hair types, and I would never describe any of their hair as ugly. A lot of East African women, especially Eritrean and Ethiopians have natural hair, regardless of their hair type. I don't want you to think that I somehow missed the overall message of this article, I didn't, but I just ask that you think before you generalize.

anthia-ofo said...

I take your point about generalization, but I'm sure you would have gathered I'm talking about tightly coiled hair typical of darker skined africans. Their hair is NOT UGLY! On the contrary, it's beautiful. Sadly most don't think so and the 'wretched hairlines' have come about(other than genetics) because of excessive manipulation with extension braids, perm, relaxers..anything to alter/hide the hair. It's not unusual to hear africans with tight coils saying'if my hair was like yours(ethiopian/mixed race) I wouldn't alter it, but I can't manage it' or something to that effect. I hope that's clearer.