No, really, this is a post on hair....written by me.
I used to have an afro and I believe that gives me every right to write a post about hair. It may have been several millennia ago, but still.
We all have hair, don't we? Okay, I suppose we should qualify that and say something like, "To varying degrees". So then this should be an easy post to compose, innit? A look in the mirror, cast my mind back over the last few years, and hey presto, a history of my follicles. It didn't quite work out that way though.
On My Head
So my focus here is hair on the head. I still can't say, "I was fixing my hair" to my friends without raising a laugh or ten. Why is that? Because I don't have enough hair apparently. But who is to say how much hair is 'enough'? Fact: I know when I need a haircut by looking at people looking at me. If their eyes keep flicking up to my hair, which looks untidy as soon as the slightest growth occurs, I know it's time to visit my barber.
I am fascinated by the human attention to hair. Personally, I believe that hair on your head should enhance your look (like an accessory), and should not be the focus of one's attention. Of course, it is possible that if I had more hair on my head I would sing a different tune. But somehow I doubt it.
Let me be clear: I like my current state of balding. I don't understand the numerous 'friends' who are constantly throwing free advice my way about how to increase the rate of growth on my head. And as far as I can tell a lack of hair does not signify a lack of brains. Although sometimes...
I also love not having to look in a mirror when I'm leaving home. Which is just as well, because I don't think there's enough space for both my image and that of my other half. I just go, with an occasional flick of invisible hair.
'Balding' has its benefits. You look older and wiser (!); you look wealthy (!!); you look sexy....in an old kind of way (!!!); you look responsible (!!!!). But it has negative connotations apparently. You look old; you look oversexed (!); you look like too much traffic passes on your pate; you never look trendy; your head looks like a perfect target (!!). But I love the way some women are always threatening to kiss my 'spot' and leave their lipstick 'mark' on me....stop talking and do it!
I look at women and the attention they give to their hair, and I just thank God I am a man. Some of the end results are worth it, I know. And I am not averse to lavishing praise on a hairstyle that just fits (don't ask me to define that). But some results that you see being paraded around...I don't think the carriers of these styles have mirrors in their homes. Or they have very bad friends and families. Or very wicked hairdressers.
I have trained myself not to stare at some of the weird things I see on a head, and instead, pretend to be looking at a particularly interesting part of the sky. But it's difficult! Eish! The thing is I acknowledge that a good hairstyle can drastically alter a person's look, image, even personal brand. I just don't think that people should treat every single hairstyle as an opportunity to alter the skyline of Accra. I'm conservative, but I like a new style as much as the next man (not a woman).
I recently saw a woman I know take a decision to get rid of her nappy hair, and she permed her hair. I prefer natural hair any day, but I must admit the transformation was dramatic, in a good way. She literally looked like a new woman....and I began to get ideas (nothing to do with copying her hair).
The various attachments women place on their heads are beyond me. I am a constant source of merriment to my other half as I fail to identify wigs, weaves, caps, extensions, etc. Every time I admire a woman's hair she takes great delight in saying, "You know that's not hers, right?" I simply cannot tell whether a woman's hair is hers or from another woman on another continent.
I've been privileged to see a couple of friends with their caps and things off. I still like them. The friends I mean, not the hair. But it was fascinating to me, the way these caps are treated as works of art and convenience by those who utilise them. All I know is: it looks nice, it doesn't look nice. I don't generally like intricate hairstyles though; the simpler the better.
I am reliably informed that these wigs (to use a male-oriented generic term) are prohibitively expensive. At least, those from certain countries. People in these countries are known to have beautiful hair, and their inhabitants willingly shear their hair off for a goodly price. And, presumably, grow it again, for another healthy payday. Is that how it works? Then where from the stories of the hair being from dead people, and how one day all the dead (or at least their ghosts) will arrive en masse to collect their hair??
But of course there are also cheaper versions made from horse hair, and other animals too it seems. I tried to imagine which other animals, but I can't think far.
And then there's the whole area of braids, twists, locks, and even cornrow. I still like the old style plaits that were done with the thread....seriously. Especially the ones that stood up stiffly and headed in all directions, looking like a model for an atomic explosion. The old style looks still stand up to scrutiny if you ask me, and I wish more women would realise this. I had my hair braided once, for a lark, in school, and the results were startling. Have you ever seen gari when it has been soaked??
Of course with hair comes...accessories! That's a whole thing too. The various bands, ties, ribbons, barrettes, scrunchies, and others I am sure I don't know, are a whole industry it seems. These add-ons are generally nice, but when you get older and you over-use them you just end up looking like a Christmas tree on cocaine.
What about colour in hair? This can vary so much that you begin to feel like there's something wrong with your plain black hair. Wait, my hair is no longer plain black. Depending on your viewpoint it is sprinkled with white or grey or silver or salt-and-pepper. Of course, the antidote to this is dyeing your hair. May I never succumb to this act of active fakery!! Dye my hair indeed! I leave that to those of you who feel the need to carry a rainbow round with you.
What about other bodily hair? Armpit hair? Philomena anyone? A subject for a whole separate post? No, I don't think so. We need to remember that Ghana is a hot country and thick armpit hair might contribute to sweat and possibly body odour. Apart from that we also need to remember that in some cultures thick armpit hair is considered 'sexy', and therefore be mindful of how we react to the sight of armpit hair thick enough to braid when it's on a foreigner. Wasn't it Madonna who described someone's armpit hair as so thick she thought the person had Tina Turner in her armpit??
Speaking of armpit hair, wouldn't it be interesting if people like politicians and their wives did not shave their armpits...and mounted political stages....wearing sleeveless clothes....and then raised their arms in triumph.
Hair on your chest? On a woman? In her cleavage?? Hmmmm...On a man? Yeah...provided it doesn't end up looking like a deranged gorilla who hasn't visited a zoo salon in a while.
Hair on your legs? Isn't there a whole industry for the removal of this? Or is it only Olympic swimmers?
Speaking of hair removal, I've heard some pretty frightening stories about hair removal from unspeakable places, in a very painful manner. Apparently, this can be done on a regular basis. Some wise guy said when you start this practice early in your life it's like a rehearsal for marriage. Some wise guy....not me.
Facial hair? Beards, moustaches, sideburns, all very normal on men. But available in women as well. Length, depth, width, colour, all very personal decisions. But if it itches, take it off. If you stroke it all the time, take it off. If you keep getting food and drink in it, take it off. If it affects your choice of partner, take it off.
By the by, the timing of this post has nothing to do with a couple of pictures I sent around this week showing a new hairstyle by someone I know á la Erik Killmonger from Black Panther. Pure coincidence.
Do you know there was a time that I thought the slightly untidy hair was attractive on a woman? Just to let you know the perspective from which this post was written...And I still think Afros are cool, on both men and women. If they are kept tidy, and not necessarily with a comb stuck in it.
The number one negative for me concerning hair? Having to visit a salon. My men's salon is excellent, and my guy does a wonderful job, fast, like I like it. But I always consider it time I could have spent elsewhere. But I suppose when I hear horror stories of people who were attended to by a salon worker with body odour, or bad breath...thank God for X-Men and Tanko.
Balding men make better lovers. It says so on a broken key ring I have, so it must be true.
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