Things I Tell Myself - My Hair 0.4

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Shooting with my natural hair for Joshua Pestka - hair styled by Paul Warren, NYC 2016

I wear wigs now because of two reasons. I like to change my look as I get bored quick, I like options and secondly I wear wigs because of my past experiences dealing with individuals who didn't know how to treat and work with my natural hair. 

I applaud the hairdresser on set that openly admits their lack of knowledge regarding Afro hair textures and are open to learning and exploring with it. There's nothing to be afraid about. 
There is nothing more fearful for a black model than dealing with a arrogant hairdresser that refuses to listen and treat their hair right! FACT

Wigs for me are versatile but so is my natural hair. I had it short, cropped, curly, straight, shaved, relaxed and coloured. 
I started experimenting with hair when I was 13 and started to work at a Afro hair salon from the age of 16. And it has helped me explore the different types of Afro hair. 

I now prefer my hair it in its natural colour and natural fro state. But hey that might change as I get older and explore more about myself and life. 

Chiling in NYC - Shot by Phil Kwao , NYC 2016

Chiling in NYC - Shot by Phil Kwao , NYC 2016

I remember moving from Holland where at the time I mainly had my hair in braids. We then moved to London. And based on the hair trends at that time. The black girls had their hair relaxed and slicked all the way back in to a tight pony tail or two. Baby hairs that were slicker than slick on the side of their heads. 
I remember my dad telling me off because he thought my edges would break off due to excessive brushing and pulling. In my case - He was right!  

We then shortly moved to Southend where I think I was quite lucky. Being the only black girl in my year. I created my own fashion and looks. The kids were more curious rather than mean. Well at least in front of my face hah! I got the odd comment here or there but people always asked permission before touching my hair. And even that hardly happened. There was one situation when my hair was relaxed and one girl said that it reminded her of candy floss and when its curly it reminded her of a sponge. X_X 

Moving along in the years in to secondary school back in Southend I had these chunky light brown braids that weren't fully braided till the end and then slicked in to a ponytail (yah.. I don't know what look I was going for).  But I remembered being called up to the head masters office. She felt that my hairstyle wasn't natural. Now the brown in my hair wasn't super light - more of a no.2 (in the weave colour chart) so quite natural. I must have been 14 and telling her there and then that braids are a natural hair style in my culture and my country. However I wanted to stay in school and offered a compromise. Where I could possibly reduce the amount of brown braids. I took out three 🙃


Each hair style for each person is personal. Some use it to express who they are as individuals. So I don't encourage anyone to stick to just one type or style. 
I also wear wigs because I found that it's just easier and pleasing to everyone on set. que in eye roll I know! In a ideal world everyone would know how to work with it and deal with it. However I am quite pleased at the moment to get home with a full set of UNDAMAGED hair - thank you very much.

I don't have to deal with the "fear of Afro hair" or the fear of the inexperienced hairdresser. I could just get on with the main work at hand and go home - safe.

Sometimes clients get excited about my fro. Which is fine - I love it! However. I do give them a slight side eye because they can get TOO over excited.  And you get there with a fresh fro but the serious lack of creativity, so I would end up with my fro being padded "moulded" in to a uncombed round shape - never again please. But at leased there's no heat applied to it. This time 

My hair straightened with regular GHD straighteners in 2014

My hair straightened with regular GHD straighteners in 2014


Some of my experiences and horror stories 


Location: Southend. 
Year: Early 20...something. 
Style: Grace Joyce-ish

There I was. Young and eager. Ready to model this epic look. After being told that my sides were going to be braided down. Cornrowed. 
I sat down and had my hair coloured purple with a semi perm dye. So no bleach involved. I think. Great. But before I knew it. She got the clippers out and BYE BYE SIDES.
I was in shock but didn't cry. I just looked at myself in the salon mirror and said: "Hair will grow back".
Did the shoot the next day and just carried on rocking this short hair do for a little while. 

Which then resulted in being relaxed and styled by the amazing Michelle Thompson and used for the Keracare campaign. So win win. 

Location: London
Year: 2007
Style: Long Weave for the Miss Ghana UK

After the big chop I remember going to the hairdressers and asking for a weave. Just to be publicly rejected by her as she shouted that my hair is  "too short to grab". I held my head high as I walked out of the busy salon, looking at my fellow contestants getting beautified.  
And btw this was way before the lace wigs evolution and youtubers to guide me. So I had to make it work. I managed to find a way to get my hair done by using a weaving net. I was able to cover the side and nape areas. Final evening came round and I walked the stage with a head of long hair and loved every minute of it. The hairdresser was there that night too - shocked that I was able to get it done. I went home 2nd place :) 


Location: South Africa
Time: 2009
Style: straight weave (last minute change) 
I believe this job changed it all for me. 

I had a fresh, big and beautiful full natural lace wig that I wore to the casting. It all went well and I booked the job. Yes! On my way to South Africa for this amazing job. 
We arrived and met up with the team. The hairdresser looked at my hair. Touched it. Didn't say a word. Dragged me to the client and said: "I can't do anything with this hair. It's acrylic and if I add heat it will burn". 
My mouth drops open. I freed my arm from her grip and told her that my hair is 100000% real. And it can withstand any heat. in my head: I Didn't pay £££ for nothing! This is quality darling!!!! 
Her comment made the clients nervous and before you knew it we were on our way to a hair salon in Capetown. 
They found one in a mall X_x.

Where they had to convince me to A) get my hair done and B) to have it relaxed. After a brief direct call to my agent in the UK. I agreed to have it done. 
I sat there thinking of all the UK salons I could have gone to and had my hair done at a place I felt comfortable and confident in. I left the salon heart broken. The hairdresser also convinced the client to pay for hair that was clearly overpriced. The pain! The trickery! 
I left the salon with new weave and with my fro now being half relaxed. Only the edges and top of my hair was relaxed. The pain.  And to add to the story the clients weren't European or white but African just like myself. They believed the German hairdresser - who in my experience at the time and now looking back - had no experience regarding black/afro hair. " for lack of knowledge, my people parish". Always important to educate yourself whenever you can because you cant always rely on others to know.  

The story goes on...
On set. Refusing to listen to the client, myself or the other black model. She insisted on combing my now relaxed baby hairs with a fine tooth comb but didn't understand why it wasn't laying flat. Refusing to use products that she had and that I recommended.
She moved on to the next model who in fact did have a synthetic short curly wig.  She tried to tong her wig with a heated curing iron. On regular heat. And yes a bit did burn off. 
I felt bad for the hairdresser at first however her approach and nasty behaviour made me unable to sympathise for her. 

The end result was basic and I took it out the moment I landed back in London. 

A few weeks later I noticed my hair chipping and breaking off. I found it hard to take care of a hair style that I didn't like or was used too. So without announcing it I decided to do a big chop. Leaving a inch or 2 of hair on my head. 


I remember a video I saw online a while back of a black teenage girl in high school confronting a white guy because he had dreads. NOW in my option . Instead of physically intimidating and pulling him and telling him that his hair style was "wrong" and "offensive " I wished they would have educated him on where the style came from. 
People will be interested in your culture regardless. And they will try and imitate it. Eg Kyle Jenner / Kardashian and her cornrows. Again. I personally have no problem with that. But I do have a problem with magazines calling it a "new trend" and giving it a new name than the original name. I would rather you give credit to those that deserve it and where it originated from. Credit to the style that were here before it got westernised and "popular"  and "mainstream". 
It still hurts me when I see young black girls and boys being teased at school for wearing braids and being told by their teachers that it's not proper school uniform. Because It used to happen to me. 

Conventional beauty isn't conventional - opened a can of worms with this one. But hear me out!. Each culture has their own version and standard of beauty. Which makes the world so beautifully divers. However. Within that standard there is another standards. And so on.

For example. Fashion models. Eg black model. You hear that and think: Tall. Then slim sometimes darker or lighter  And so on.  Same with the west. white model. You think. Blond. Blue eyes. Tall. Slim. And so on. 
This can lead to a whole new chapter that I may or may explore someday.  Going back to hair 

In some places in Africa when you go to school you have no hair because they shave it.  Take my home country Ghana for example.  It's just the norm for young girls to have short cropped hair when they go to school. Up to a certain age. and they do this for many reason so name a few;

  1.  For girls don't focus to much on their outer beauty so much but rather their school work.
  2. To show that the girl is not of age so off limit for older men ( ideally) 
  3. No bad hair days or stress about latest hair trends. 

and many more reasons that I am sure I will get Dm's or emailed about. 

But do it in Europe and there's a reason to be picked on.
Overall wouldn't it be great if we could get to a place where we could educate one another and explore instead of dividing each other due to our differences?

We could possible open up a door way to many more things in this world

just food for thought

Shrinkage embraced - shot by Phil Kwao, NYC 2016

Shrinkage embraced - shot by Phil Kwao, NYC 2016


Until Next Time