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  • Aaliyah Iona

#BlackGirlMagic: Re-learning the love of your kinks and curls

I'm aware I’m late to the “natural hair care” party, however, I’m sure my friends and family will agree that being late isn’t out the ordinary for me. I never felt the need to join the trend before because I was reluctant to accept just how lazy I had become when it came to taking care of my hair. In my mind, I had created a multitude of reasons as to why tending to my natural kinks and curls were “long”. In reality, I accept I had subconsciously decided my hair wasn’t worth looking after. Like so many other women, I injured the sensational burning of a relaxer treatment as a child as I awaited bone straight tresses. Each treatment I would wait longer and longer as I told myself it would be worth it, be it for a special occasion to style my natural hair or to allow my mom to easily comb through my hair as she plaited it, I truly felt without any chemical manipulation my hair was better hidden, this was until I had my first weave. I think I’ve worn a weave for nearly 10 years, with box braids a maximum of twice a year in between. I remember my first weave was with some leave out as a treat for my 14th birthday and it was my schoolmates' reaction that resulted in me never wanting to look back. Aforementioned, my Secondary school was predominantly White. I remember my new schoolmates looking at me in horror when I explained I had previously attended a school in Aston, Birmingham. One boy suggested I was “Ghetto” and it was at that point I remember noting that these kids really had no clue; just to clarify I am far from Ghetto (no way near).

Finally, I was 14 years old and for the first time ever I had received compliments on my hair beyond a few close friends. They hadn’t noticed my beads or gold cuffs, but sure enough, they noticed my straightened hair, with Sleek Fashion Idol; it’s ironic when you consider that every September I would watch the majority of girls in my class return from their family holidays with half-a-head of canerows etc. and everyone would comment how "cool" it looked. Until this point, my hair was alien to them, I even received compliments from boys, please note: like my braids, I too had gone unnoticed.  My bum got the odd mention from boys in the year above, but on the whole, the boys in my school were not checking for me, and to be fair, I wasn’t checking for them either. No-one ever said “it's because you're Black”, but, I knew, in the same way,j that I noticed the handful of Asian girls in school never made it to the list of “Fit girls”. There were a few that were really pretty too, still, none of us made the cut.

“You should keep your hair like that, it looks a lot better!”, I was told and I did. I didn’t necessarily want male attention, still, it beat being ignored. It meant during sleepovers when we woke the next day I would have something to do too. Something to fix and style. It’s sad when I think about it, but, it’s the truth. Sadder still is every time we caught news of a new girl starting school, I’d hope she was like me:Black; someone relatable. I could go on, although, by now I'm sure you can gather why I fought so hard with my parents to attend a college back in Birmingham when I had the chance. I dreaded the thought of dealing with the repetitive ignorance concerning Black culture, how frequently I decided to wash my hair or my insistence to wear a headscarf at night. I’m sure you can also gather why my Blackness means so much to me and why I’m so happy to see it celebrated publically, and unapologetically. I took solace listening to ‘The Receipts Podcast’ recently,  both Audrey and Tolly T admitted experiencing colourism and feeling sub-par having attended predominantly white schools in Essex, after all this time I had thought it was just me. As I've said before, I'm not banishing weaves and wigs from my life. The difference is I now love what lies beneath.

To an extent, I feel I always knew what my worth was. The difference is now I don't care need to stay quiet about it. I can proudly shout Black girls rock and hashtag, #BlackGirlMagic to my heart's content, and you just can't tell us any different.

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