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It all began when I graduated from senior high school. Like any other fresh graduate in town, my only desire was to get my hair done. Having silky, straight, bouncy hair was my ultimate goal. This is what propelled me to buy my first relaxer. “Your relaxer choice is the best brand”, uttered my stylist. My stylist at that time highly recommended “box relaxers”. She said they were more gentler on the scalp and hair. I was full of excitement. I couldn't wait to experience what it felt like to be out of the relaxer free hair zone. With her assuring words echoing in my head, I patiently waited to make my own discovery.
On the appointed day, I made it early to the salon. I sat and watched patiently how she mixed the chemicals. She later sectioned my hair into four (4) parts and carefully applied the mixture to each section. After the application, I sat for about fifteen to twenty minutes for it to take effect. Within those minutes, she constantly checked if my hair had softened. Thirty minutes passed and my kinky hair was still half processed. I felt tired of sitting. I started experiencing scalp burns. Soon my burns grew unbearably.
Eventually, I requested for a wash. She immediately moved towards the direction of the washing basin. I hurriedly positioned myself and my head on the sink. I then felt a soothing relief from the running water but screamed when a neutralizing shampooing was applied. Soon I came to the realization that my bruises were more than I had anticipated.

The ordeal I went through left me in utmost shock. I wondered if there was no other way of getting my kinky afro hair to be relaxed and managed. With red teary eyes, burns and half processed hair, I walked out of the salon. The worst part was sitting under that dryer with my bruises. It was just terrible. I asked myself, should it always be this painful and stressful?
I had so many questions but found little answers. I gave myself ample time to adjust to the cycle of retouching my hair with the appearance of new hair growth but it was not working. I switched from one expensive box relaxer to the other with the hope of finding the right one but to no avail. All these exercises ultimately proved futile. I had no option than to finally give up. I resolved to desist from trying to be who I wasn’t. I gave up on chasing what didn’t exist. I disabused my mind from accepting society’s fanciful ideal of how a lady’s hair should look like.

This decision paved way for the transitioning from perm to natural hair. I visited my barber for a new hair makeover. Mind you, It wasn’t easy. I had to exercise a great deal of patience for both family and friends to get use to the new me without any sort of criticism. I fell in love with the new me. The “Daavi”(a name given to women from the Volta Region of Ghana) in me had been awakened. This brought out the best in me.
Beauty is not equal to how much hair you have on your head. True beauty begins the moment you fully accept yourself.
While others praised my courageous act others condemned it. Well, criticism is a necessary part of life. In fact, I am of the strong conviction that if you are not criticized, then you may not be doing much of a difference in society. I believe I am making a difference and so I take criticisms in good fate. Waiting for peoples approval to be who you truly are can be time wasting. You may never get it.
Like Lao Tzu, an ancient Chinese philosopher said “care about what people think and you will always be their prisoner”. I endorse myself. I encourage all women to do same. It’s about time women embraced their kinky coily natural hair. That is what we were born with. Relaxer free hair is what we must fall in love with.
BY: Barbara Aessie Kportufe
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