‘As a Black Women in the entertainment industry, I’ve used wigs, I’ve used weaves, I’ve also used relaxers. All to create the illusion that my afro hair is more European.’ -Jamelia
….AND SO , THE SPELL IS BROKEN!
Let’s take a minute to digest this and take a deep breath, shall we.
I cannot begin to express how important this video of Jamelia is to me, (to many others also I’m guessing) but this one, in particular, struck a chord with me and took me right back to a time I thought I had forgotten. Far back in my memory of hair trauma. To my time growing up in a predominantly white area of northern Spain, where there are no black hair shops because there are no black people and natural hair wasn’t something I would see or was exposed to, I was surrounded by caucasian hair left right and centre, I couldn’t escape it.
So this young mixed race child with her (then), ‘untamable’ and ‘problematic’ hair came across this image of Jamelia on a product, it was one of these two images:
I pinned it to my mood board of visualizations. I know this sounds sappy but bare with me here – please remember while reading that I was the only child of colour growing up in a predominately white area in an all white household. This image of Jamelia was of great importance to me, I truly believed that if she had hair this straight and this silky and beautiful, then I could too someday, (If I visualized hard enough) and then I could be just as beautiful as Jamelia and above all, just as happy.
Let’s now fast- forward to 2010, I moved on from the visualization mood board stage (when I realised I wouldn’t get that electric guitar and I wouldn’t wake up to my hair miraculously silky straight like Jamelia in the picture). I’m back in the UK and it’s my first encounter with the black hair shops. I felt like a child in a sweet shop, or toys r us, but better. I bought relaxers, hair dyes, the lot. I achieved Jamelias straight hair, but to my surprise I wasn’t happy…
It wasn’t how I visualized myself being or feeling. I’d added to the already damaged hair and perpetuated the vicious cycle of breaking and damaging what healthy virgin hair was left after years of burning it with the flat iron straighteners.
It wasn’t until 2013 I chopped my hair and started all over again. I went natural and learnt how to take care of my hair and nourish my hair and begin my own hair journey.
Back to the present and it’s 2016. I come across Jamelia’s video on my facebook feed. I already knew Jamelia was on her own hair journey for a while now and I did think it was important but this memory I had of Jamelias image on my moodboard on my bedroom wall so many years ago, didn’t really come back to me until I watched that ITV video on this morning.
I’m so grateful she went into the schools and spoke to these young girls, this was a pivotal moment. As it was the same age I was when I found that image of her in the hair magazine and all I could do was hope I would get my hands on a relaxer to look just like her one day. These young girls are seeing a different image to what I was, they are seeing the natural, unapologetic Jamelia embracing her own roots so that they can also feel like they can also embrace theirs. This is why hair plays such an important role in self-acceptance and healing, it’s not JUST hair.
Our Hair Is Our Glory
Jamelia, We Salute You.
If you haven’t checked out Jamelia’s video on natural hair check it out here: http://www.itv.com/thismorning/style-beauty/jamelia-says-embrace-your-roots