Hey Ladies (and gents).
Why did you decide to go natural?
My reason to revert back to natural was that I was embarking on a journey of self-discovery, which you can read about here.
I recently found a website, un-ruly.com, which is currently running a series: “Hairties: A message from this generation to the next”. Throughout this series, women tell their stories about the people who influenced the way they view their natural hair. Watching these stories made me think of Kelley Felix, this week’s feature and the way she views natural hair.
“The more we share our stories of loving our hair the more young girls and boys will start loving themselves and the skin they were born in.”
Kelley has an exceptional story to tell. She accepted that the bushy-ness, curliness that is her hair will not be tamed and decided to wear her hair with pride.
When Kelley was younger, she needed to wear her hair straight, because it was considered neater.
“I must say I have always considered myself to be natural but during my high school years, I was “forced” to wear my hair straight to appear ‘neater’. During my first year of varsity, I realised an amazing thing: I could wear my hair any way I wanted.”
Big hair, big personality
Despite the compliments she received for her big bush of curls, there were always a few negative comments from naysayers.
“I reverted back to heat, relaxing once or twice and hair dyes. My hair was big no matter what I did. I had two big chops in between but it wasn’t until recently that I decided: ‘no more horrible treatment of my curls’.”
So in celebration of her 30th birthday this year, Kelley decided to big chop again.
“I am excited about the ‘new’ and being 30, so why not start it with healthy self-loving actions? A new adventure spurred me on ‘to go natural’ once more and finally sticking to it. It’s been about 2-3 months since my big chop and no heat or sulphate has touched this head.”
I met Kelley a few months ago at Port Elizabeth’s first Natural Hair Event, hosted by the group Curl Talk, of which she is a part. If you’ve known Kelley for a while, you would soon realise that this friendly loving soul is a free spirit and is comfortable with herself in her own skin.
“I love being able to just be and not worrying about hours of blow drying and making sure my hair stays pin straight in whatever weather. Being able to exist in my brown skin with a wild bush of hair that adorns my head, I almost feel like I’m not pretending, you know? I don’t even know if that makes sense. There is something subtly wild and free about natural hair.”
Natural hair negatives
But because the natural hair movement is still fairly young in South Africa, there are also some negatives, she says.
“The minds of women and men of colour are still colonized to believe that straight hair is equal to beauty. That is such a big misconception and many young men and women, therefore, cannot see themselves wearing their hair in its natural state. Without thinking they straighten their hair with harsh chemicals or damage their edges by wearing weaves etc. It is within workplaces that people assume that wearing one’s hair naturally that it is not professional or untidy. When one aspires to “professionalism” and neatness it
“It is within workplaces that people assume that wearing one’s hair naturally that it is not professional or untidy. When one aspires to “professionalism” and neatness it is assumed that you should aspire to ‘European standards of beauty’.”
Kelley explains that loving yourself and self-acceptance should start with teaching our children.
“We should teach our children from a young age that the hair and skin that they are born with is acceptable. People of colour should make sure that they educate themselves on their heritage and take pride in their skin and appearance. Straight hair and fair skin do not equate to beauty, professionalism, intellect, talent, neatness etc. Educating our youth on self-love will eradicate the negatives surrounding the natural hair movement within South Africa. Black women have been fighting for years and years to “normalize” wearing natural hair in South Africa and destroy societal ‘norms’ concerning who is beautiful and who is not. Take Thandiswa Mazwai, Lira, Lulu Dikana, etc. for example.”
Kelly has some unique views on the future of the movement.
“Unfortunately, as always, capitalism ruins everything and companies are exploiting consumers more than ever. They are coining it with all these products they are selling to consumers at ridiculous prices. So you still need to buy high-priced products even though you’re natural? It’s a shame. I hope 10 years from now there would’ve been a natural hair revolution that has been all-inclusive. (Oh, and I also wish that the products would not be so expensive. And that natural hair would be seen as the ‘norm’ and not a money-making-thing.)”
Thanks Kelley for sharing. Follow her on Instagram
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