Ghanaian celebrity Joselyn Dumas has recently joined the slew of women who have decided to go natural and stop processing their hair with harsh chemical. I was prompted to write this piece because of something she said in a recent Instagram post. She spoke about the various comments she recieved since going natural. Everything from looking great to somone who told her she no longer looked ‘glam’. The one that surprised her the most was someone who told her she looked poor.
“but the one comment that surprised me the most was “you look poor” 😳😳😳. What does that even mean?? My beautiful black hair makes me look poor??” – Joselyn Dumas
That did NOT surprise me at all. Back in 2012, I was writing a blog documenting some of my experiences in Ghana. I had written a couple of pieces about having natural hair and its challenges while living in Ghana. There was one incident that stood out to me and that was a meeting with a young lady at the Nbuke Foundation in East Legon, Accra. I was drawn to her simple beauty and the fact she was wearing her hair natural. Not many adult women in Ghana were doing that. When I asked her what made her leave her hair natural when most women in Ghana don’t she told me it was less expansive and easier for her. I also had the nagging question about why many women don’t do it. She responded to me by saying,
“You see in Ghana there are many people concerned with looking a certain way. There is also the notion that if you have your hair done, it shows the world you have money. Status and class is such a big thing here and changing your hair often can show people you have it.”
I couldn’t believe it when she told me that. So people were concerned about social class, status and didn’t want people to think they had no money. So when Joslyn Dumas said that it surprised her someone said she looked poor, I wasn’t surprised at all. Now I don’t agree with this school of thought at all. I think it’s a real shame when Black women will associate the way our natural hair grows with looking poor.
I remember people in Ghana making fun of me for keeping my hair natural back in the late 90s and early 2000s. It wasn’t popular at all. People would say that if only I relaxed it then it would be so long. I’m so thankful that since I went natural many years ago, many other women have been doing the same and it’s become more normal. Who would have thought that allowing your own hair to grow in its natural state wouldn’t be normal.
I’m not someone who looks down on women because they have chosen to continue relaxing their hair, use weaves or wear wigs. In fact, I wear wigs sometimes just because I like change occaasionally and see them as accessories. I do think it’s all about choice. I also think it’s important to embrace the natural and not look down on it. After all it’s the Euro-centric beauty ideals that has made people with naturally kinky hair think it’s not attractive. We must embrace all forms of beauty and not shun our own.
I’m glad that another high profile person in African media has made the leap. Perhaps Dumas will inspire more women to do the same.