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  • thandisebe

Personal Growth > hair growth

I recently lost my hair. Pretty much all of it. Well, not quite all, but those on my head at least. I lost the hair we like as opposed to that which we don’t: the hairs on my legs and privates, those ones remain, unphased by what is happening up top. But on my head, those individual hairs that held on tight looked dangerously lonely and so a week ago, I decided to shave it all off. It is not the first time for me to lose my hair. About 8 years ago I lost my luscious locks for the first time. Back then, it was more than a nightmare, a truly traumatic experience; I did not know what was happening and I felt completely helpless watching bundles of hair collect in the drains, on the floor, in my hands. Back then too, I decided to shave my head. At the point I made the decision to shave it, it was really just one tiny bun-turned-dreadlock at the top of my head, with hairs that had long divorced themselves from my scalp trapped in tangles – I had been too scared to comb for weeks. And so, a friend helped me to cut and shave while I sat in the bathtub shaking and crying. The following years were tough. I felt as though along with my hair I had completely lost my sense of self, my self-worth. For a black woman growing up in a white space (or any space, to be honest), growing to love my hair was such a difficult process, but I had finally arrived there: proud of my hair, proud of the curls, proud of my „kroeskop“. And now, just like that, my crown was gone. I felt an incredible shame, and again, like in my early teens, I felt ugly, felt like I had lost my desirability. I dreaded leaving the house. It was a lonely time in my life: I didn’t want to be around friends, barely wanted to be with my family, but most of all, I did not like to be around myself. Since childhood I have suffered from eczema and my hair had helped me to cover the skin on my face and on my neck. I used my hair to cover what I did not want others to see. When my hair finally grew back, only then did I feel like myself again. Losing my hair again today definitely feels like a setback, because recently I thought that finally I was on the “right path”. This year has been an interesting one so far. Interesting, not always good. But also good. When it came to work, Cape Town – despite being a „dry season“ (in terms of rain but also in terms of film productions) – was good to me. I shot three commercials, was lucky to have a main role in a feature film, wrote a film treatment and did some voice work. Much of that work I can say with certainty I was able to book because of my look. And my look is: „brown“ (or a synonym therefor, some more or less racist) and „afro“. Most of the commercial castings I went to I would sit in a room with dozens of other black and brown girls rocking ‘fros, short and large, loose and tight. Losing my hair of course means that I am scared of losing those opportunities. But this time around, unlike 8 years ago, I am trying actively to see the positive, and seeking opportunity in this loss. I am trying to choose a path of the least resistance. And, unlike back then, I do not hate looking in the mirror. It is fascinating, really. Now at 30, I can look in the mirror and look at my face, sans hair and I see my eyes, and I see my lips and I see my cheekbones and I see all these features that I did not really see when I had hair and I am actually learning to love my face! Much of this is possible – as banal as it sounds – because of the beautiful woman of Wakanda that showed the world bald beauty, and the equally beautiful women of South Africa that have been rocking shiny bald heads for years! Seeing more and more women, on and off screen showing off the curves of their heads helps me to see beauty in mine. Of course, I will not pretend like I am not eagerly waiting for my locks to return (Is it not strange? While I shave the undesired hair on my legs, meticulously trying to rid myself of every hair on my toes, my legs, under my arms, I truly treasure every tiny hair that I see sprout on my head, call on it to stay strong and keep going. Lol. Humans are silly, really) but I am enjoying this process of growth, both internal and on my head and I am no longer scared of change, neither on my body nor in my life, because I am coming to realise that each era, each path, can bare beauty. Of course, tomorrow I will lie in bed crying, wondering what the fuck I am doing here and why the world could be so cruel and unfair to take the one and only thing I have in this life. lol. It’s all a part of the process. But there is no denying, quite objectively, that Personal Growth > than hair growth.

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