BY RIAN DE LA TORRE. PHOTOGRAPHY BY Deun Ivory.
Many times, I hear people say that 'they are not their hair' or that 'hair is just hair' but the truth is our hair represents us more than what we think because it´s culture and heritage.
My journey to join the #teamnatural started 3 years ago and since then I haven´t looked back. I decided to stop relaxing my hair because I started questioning the surreal and imposed western ideals of beauty under which almost no woman of color seem to fit under. I couldn´t really see my own beauty because for a long time I internalized the oppressor's point of view. My subconscious being was wounded because generations and generations of black women, under colonial madness rules, were inflicted a beauty dictatorship to control their minds and torment their bodies. But as I once heard “they buried me but they didn´t know I was a seed”.
This beautiful struggle of becoming natural has given me more than self-esteem, pride, and awareness. This journey has healed “my mother wound,” freed me and reminded me who I am in a deeper level and connected me with my history.
As a matter of fact, this year I have had the pleasure to make some subtitles in Spanish for a video made by Yejide Orunmila (that you can find in youtube) called African Hair and it´s significance where we can clearly see that our hair is connected with our spirituality.
Yejide, trough research, talks about the fact that African people have been “manipulating, loving and locking their hair” since immemorial times. There are sculptures and images in the walls of our ancient cities of Kemet, Ta Na Hesi or Nubia and Kush that show how the hair was relevant for our ancestors. She also states that in many African cultures hair is seeing as a pathway to the soul because it´s the highest point on the body and therefore is the closest to the highest. That´s why, still nowadays, some Africans and afro-descendants have their hair made by a trustable person such a family member or a friend, because if your hair is in the wrong hands it can cause you harm.
Some African communities take special care of their manes not just for an aesthetic reason but for spiritual purposes too. Hair for us is also art, we decorate it (with bead, shells, stones, colors) protect it (with sea butter, palm oil, hair extensions) and, depending on the hairstyle you wear, it can even represent social and marital status for some ethnicities such as the Wollof.
Our hair, untamed as our souls, is a divine design and it meant to be that way for a reason.
For me, this “Good hair vs Bad hair” battle had to die because it was something that was imposed on us to separate us and therefore weaken us.
The 'no simple act' of taking care of my natural hair has made me rediscover myself and my roots (now more than ever that I´ve moved to live permanently to Kenya) and I´m grateful for that. I feel as if I´ve been awakened of a long dream to open my eyes to connect with my inner wisdom.
Our afro is a divine antenna or receptor that tune us - not just into the reality that surrounds us and our communities - but also into our inner beings .
“According to Yoruba theology, although the physical head is highly valued because of its social and biological importance as a site of perception, communication and identity it is regarded as no more than the outer shell for the inner head. It is also called Ori Oje or external head. The desire of the harmony between the two aspects of the head is expressed in the popular prayer Ori inu mi ko ma ba ti ode je, may my inner head not spoil my outer one."
So as you can see hair is not just hair for us.
By celebrating ourselves and our crowns we also accept the beauty and the power that lies in our uniqueness.
Personally, since I´ve become natural again, I feel like now everything falls into place. My creamy crack painful days have been replaced by more inner peace and the certitude on the fact that becoming natural has been one of the best decisions that I´ve ever made in my life because it has given me the freedom of becoming my full self again and connect with the spiritual purpose of my journey.
Rian De La Torre is a Holistic Heath coach and writer. She contributes to Om because I feel happy to become part of the holistic black sisterhood. For now, she spends half of the year in Uruguay in the countryside and the other half in Formentera (Spain) which is the last paradise of the mediterranean sea. Rian's go-to self-love practice consist of eating healthy (vegetarian) and hiking, yoga and journaling.