15 May 2011

Natural belle of the Week: Calamity Jane

Much to my surprise I was asked to feature as Belle of the week. Honoured, I set about reviewing the plethora of hair styles I had sported over the years. Massive afro, shaved, curly perm, braids, relaxer; they all had one glaringly obvious commonality – EASE! You won’t catch me rocking a style that requires tonguing (why is it this instrument is only used by blacks? Ask a white person about the tong – and they look at you bemused – probably staring straight at your forehead where the blasted tong burnt the black off your face that very morning), straightening or any degree of real care. My notion of a hair regime is creaming my scalp every few days, attempting a headscarf (if I can ever remember where I left it) and on a rare occasion brushing it rigorously to ascertain some kind of style.

It is unquestionably clear that my chosen hair style has less to do with fashion and every thing to do with five more minutes in bed. I am not, nor have I ever been the type to wake up early to blow dry, straighten and style my hair. I admire such women from a far, when I see them with their perfectly coiffed hair or braids twisted pleasantly into a sensational style. If my hair can’t get up and go, then I’ll create a whole new look around whatever comes from a night (headscarfless) in bed. Knowing my failings I chose hair styles accordingly; picking hair that makes a statement in itself and requires little effort from me to do it justice.

The Mohawk
This braided Mohawk was a wonderful edition to the catalogue of my hair. The curly strip down the centre meant no tonguing just a quick run through with my fingers and I was off. The tiny intricate cornrow required little work, and due to their microscopic size it was some time before they became messy. I was able to maintain the style for about four - six weeks at a time. Plus the style made me look young. Not sure whether it’s because it accentuated my youthful features, or rather because it was a young style and I was too old to be wearing it (my hairdresser thought it the later and felt nothing of telling me and charging me for the pleasure). Ah well, c'est la vie.

Rhi Rhi
So I did it! I went for the Rhi Rhi side chop and it was truly a breath of fresh air (literally - as with the side of my head shaved, I felt the breeze). It wasn’t exactly intentional, but thank goodness it worked out all the same. After a bout of weaves and tiny Ghana braids for well over a year, I found my hair thinning. I went to have it relaxed (mistake I know) knowing a trim would be required, only for my hair dresser to hack it all off, saying, and I quote ‘it’s dead, there’s nothing that can be done. Best chop it off and start again’; thus Rhi Rhi was born.  I had to customise the style for my naturally thick hair, as there was no silky hair falling gracefully over one cheek, mine stood high and hard, more punk rock than sultry r’n’b.  

The afro
This has become my signature look, a strange part of my identity and the defining characteristic by which many remember me. It began large, hit enormous about a year ago and has slowly deflating to a more human scale. I’m most comfortable with this look, it’s me and I love it. Big, gregarious, out there, easy to maintain (no headscarf required) stylish and fun. It’s me and I am it. Plus it’s braided (pick and drop), which I much prefer to a weave, so my hair is free and intermixed with the extensions. For those interested in the style, pick up a pack of the afro bulk hair that is normally used for twists and use that to braid. At £3.49 a pack, you can’t go wrong.  

Submit an entry for Natural Belle to naturalbelle1983@gmail.com


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