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It was my 10th birthday when I first relaxed my hair and it was my 19th birthday when I made the decision to put down my Dark and Lovely Relaxer Kit and hot comb and vowed to go natural. No heat and no chemicals. I took my student loan and went straight to PAKS hair shop on the high street and brought a wide-tooth comb, Jamaican black castor oil, blue magic and pink moisturizer. 2 years down the line after declaring team natural and my hair had not grown 1cm! The Afro I had envisioned was not the same Afro I was looking at in the mirror. I sat down and contemplated what I was doing wrong, which YouTuber I should subscribe to next, was I ready to do the big chop....the answer was no. So I fast forward 3 years later, my hair is still above my shoulders, 2 cms longer and my struggle bun still standing strong. So today mid deep conditioning I decided that I wanted to cut my hair. I realised that if I wanted to do something, I needed to do it right and sometimes in order to grow you need to start from the beginning. When I first decided to go natural I was not afraid of how I would look, because I was always going to get creative with my Aliexpress wigs and weaves, but I was afraid to lose something that had always been apart of me.

Through my mental health struggles and depression, my hair was the only thing that remained consistent in my life while I watched myself change, not only in my physical appearance but as a person. My hair was a reminder of my womanhood, of my blackness, of my culture, and of my identity. So I keep asking myself, why now? why did I cut my hair? and the truth is, it was time to let go of something I have been holding onto for too long. In order to make space for more things in your life, you need to get rid of the things that are not important to you anymore.

This journey has never been about the dry strands that grow out of my head, but hair for me and many BAME women has, and will always be a political statement. I spent years living in tightly coiled Afro hair embracing all the challenges and complexities that came with it. I remember when I went to school freshly relaxed hair and a clip-on ponytail. I was running in the playground and it fell. I was exposed. I was embarrassed. I was ashamed. I ran to the girl's toilet and cried. Fast forward a few years later, I'm taking off my wig in public to jump into swimming pools. Same person but somethings changed. Hair or no hair I found beauty in myself.

So I leave you with this. In order for you to grow you need to stop watering dead situations. Pain is only temporary but joy lasts a lifetime. Stop looking outside and look inside, what do you need to let go of?

Yours Sincerely

Joan Idowu

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