I never thought much about hair growing up. For me it was just something that needed washing every Sunday as my mother counted us down as to who was having their hair done first.
Then I had a daughter and everything changed. For the first year I let her run around with a “bossiekop”, unashamed and oblivious. I got passing remarks like “you should tie that up” or “try argan oil, it will take out the kinks”.
I ignored them, because to me, her hair was the most beautiful thing in the world. I loved the way her curls shined in the sun and the way they framed her oval-shaped face.
This year she turned 3. Gone are the curls and carefree way she’d tuck her hair behind her ear. Now she wants to look like a Disney Princess.
Her 3-year-old mind can’t comprehend why she doesn’t have long, sleek hair like Rapunzel or Frozen’s Princess Anna. And I am frustrated because no matter how hard I try, my pretty little wisp of a girl would rather cry that she wants hair she will never have instead of embracing her beautiful curls.
Blogger Amanda Cooke knows all too well that the struggle is real.
She started her blog The Mandy Expedition about three years ago, and now she’s come full circle with www.capetowncurly.com.
Her daughter Caitlin was about 8 years old when Cooke embarked on her own natural hair journey. “During that time I was going through a transformation of being a single mom,” says the Cape Town mom.
“We were actually at the hairdresser waiting to have our hair relaxed, and then I started chatting to the hairdresser and she told me she doesn’t feel that she wants to relax her daughter’s hair anymore.”
This got her thinking that maybe she should research going natural. What she found is that many people in Cape Town weren’t doing it, but there was a whole natural hair movement in the US. “I spoke to my daughter and asked her how she felt about having an afro?”
Cooke then made the decision to cut her hair first. “I wanted her to know that I was confident in my new look, and in turn, I became confident,” she adds.
Over the space of a year, she encouraged Caitlin by pointing out other girls who looked similar to her that wore their hair naturally. “In that way, she started embracing her natural hair.”
But Cooke also adds that she set the wheels in motion from a very young age: “I made sure she embraced being different with having a Coloured mother and Black father. I wanted her to know that she was beautiful, no matter what.”
Now 16 years old, Caitlin has completely embraced her natural hair, and has an afro, just like her mom.
“She insists this is who she is. She loves it and knows how to maintain it on her own.”
Like Cooke, many women are joining the natural hair movement. But the big question is where to start?
Children’s hair differs to adults, and harsh chemicals found in store-bought brands can do more harm than good.
James Molebatsi of premium haircare brand, Caivil, says because kids’ scalps are more sensitive, they need softer products.
He mentions Black Chic Natural Kids: “These new products are sulfate and paraben free range, consisting of avocado and coconut oil with light weight formulation.”
Afro Botanics also stocks a range of kid-friendly products. Their kiddies 5-in-1 spray detangles, hydrates and softens each strand.
There are a plethora of proudly-South African products out there, specially formulated for naturally curly hair. The best advice is to research blogs, join Facebook communities and ask questions.
* Visit Amanda Cooke’s blog: www.capetowncurly.com