Three weeks ago, I shaved my head. I went to a barber, bullied him into starting his generator and told him to have his way with my dreads. I could say I did it because I feel I’ve reached that wonderful and comfortable place in womanhood where I no longer depend on hair, books or looks to define me but I’d be lying. I’m still a kid, people; a very lucky kid because I actually look gorgeous without hair.
I’m bald. Is that why people are gawking at me as if I have a latrine in the middle of my forehead, or as if a kilo of beans just poured out of my nose? Am I imagining that slight gasp that casual acquaintances try to swallow when they meet me in the street? And is there a name for that odd look that I saw in my EX’s eyes, a mingling of shock, horror and amusement that made him look like a lecherous grasshopper?
I’ve also encountered people who angrily demand explanations saying, “How, eh? Why did you chop? The dreadlocks were nice. You’re fake! Hair is supposed to tweak the appearance. You’re…you’re…UNTWEAKED!” And then they jeer. Goodness me. It’s my (emphasis on MY) hair, not my legs that I chopped off, people. Don’t be dramatic.
On one of the blogs that I read religiously (mbabaziannet.blogspot.com), there’s a post about a hair revolution. Apparently, a lot of women, mostly those of color are putting their stilettos down and deciding to wear their hair in more ‘natural’ styles. Many women are bravely chopping their tresses off.
What? How dare they? Just when I decide to go bald is when the world kicks off its hair revolution? Am I now to be grouped with the yuppies? Are my peers and the people in my head going to be justified in calling me an abominable follower of fashion? Argh! This is exactly what happened when I went wild about blue hair in my second year. Two months later, blue braids were all the rage. To birds and passengers in planes, Makerere must have looked as if cheeky aliens had tipped a bucket of blue paint on all the campusers’ heads.
It also happened when I got obsessed with ribbons. When I’d just twisted my wild afro into dreadlocks, I was deathly afraid of looking too ‘rough’. I felt I needed something pretty to somehow soften the look, which is when I stumbled upon the prettiest little clip-on ribbons in Harvey’s, an accessory shop on top of Quality supermarket in Ntinda. I bought six of them in different colors and was quite proud of the look I achieved. Whenever my girlfriends would demand to be taken to my accessory shop, I’d yell, “No! Feel the nugu. Feel it!” Despite all my efforts, ribbons became widely owned and extremely popular 5 months later.
To my complete and total dismay, every dress, shoe, bag, hair accessory, name it, had a ribbon. What makes the whole world obsess over one thing at the same time? Is it aliens? Whenever I try to direct my obsessions at ‘different’ things, the world starts wearing the same stuff. Is it the moon? Are aliens controlling us, beaming tastes and preferences out at the world? Not cool, Aliens.
So back to hair matters. Dear people who gasp all the air out of the atmosphere and into your noses and gesticulate as if you’re are having terrible fits when you see me, I’m tired of flashing a nice-girl smile and saying, “Long story” when you ask me what happened to my hair. Don’t mention my head, hair or lack thereof unless you’re going to tell me how gorgeous I look. Deal?