Seeing the truth: The pitkrul’s journey

Seeing the truth: The pitkrul’s journey

My natural hair journey started way before I actually decided to go natural. I had thought about letting my hair revert back to its pitkrul state for quite some time before I decided to put that relaxer down and deal with what the Good Lord gave me.

Being natural has opened my eyes and my mind to so many things I had never noticed before. Not only the good things but the really bad ones as well. But before I get there, let me tell you how it happened.

In January 2015 I turned 30. That year was THE worst year in my adult life. Without divulging too many personal details, I can tell you that my personal relationships were falling apart. And through all this, something kept scratching at my consciousness. Something that told me that this would not have happened if I had known exactly who I am and where I came from. It doesn’t make sense, I know, but that is the best way to describe it.

 

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Still with relaxed hair

 

I found representations of who I was supposed to be – how the media and society pinned me – too restricting. And it terrified me that the media was depicting the men of our heritage as either gangsters or unsavoury characters, or having no front teeth and the butt of all jokes (bear in mind this was still in 2015. How things have changed in only 2 short years). I thought at that moment that what they are depicting is a box my son will fit into one day. NO NO NO.

I started to research where I came from. Me, specifically. My family tree. I did not know it at that moment but that was the start of my journey of self-discovery and natural hair. I only learned a few things of my family’s past at a time. It was as if it was erased or forgotten. As if people around me had swallowed a “cup of amnesia” as Elizabeth Acevedo, puts it. But this kept me motivated to learn more.

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
― Søren Kierkegaard

Fast forward to around June 2016.

The idea of going natural had been playing in my mind a while. I wanted to get rid of everything that made me not-me. If you understand what I’m saying. Straight hair is what is expected of me to have. But it’s not me. Long flowing locks blow-dried to perfection. A woman’s hair is her crowning glory. And I wanted my crown to reflect a part of me that people wanted to erase.

 

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My transitioning time. I had no idea what to do with my hair.

It was then when I went to buy groceries or toiletries at the end of the month, I would walk on the other side of the isle and avoid making eye contact with the woman on the relaxer box. I wouldn’t let her alluring smile and the promise of long lustrous locks tempt me. I refused to let the blow dryer even close to my head. And little by little I saw the truth starting to emerge from my scalp: small little coils. I felt victory every time I looked at them. This was my truth.

To make a long story (which this has already become) short, in August 2016 I cut off all the relaxer ends. I just couldn’t deal with two textures at the same time. And my teeny tiny little afro was my crown. It signified the end of society’s limitations. It was liberating. But it did not come without its own negativity.

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My hair just under the BC

The bulk of this came from people who I thought would support me in this. But I pressed forward. I’ve had to endure snide remarks, confused looks, avoidance of eye contact etc. Recently even, I’ve heard some colleagues (although they are in the minority) think I don’t care how my hair looks. I think the word they used was deurmekaar (do they know how long it takes to do a twist-out?!)

But this is not their journey. It’s mine. And it’s not over. I’ve only been natural less than a year. I’m still in the beginning stages of my book. And although I’ve seen progress in how the media has been depicting my people, we’re still not quite there yet.

 

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Eight months down the line

 

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