Don’t Mind Your Business: Help End Violence Against Women.

I was asked to speak about violence against women and my brain immediately shut down. This usually happens when a topic or theme seems bigger than me and encompasses the whole universe. It also happens when I am scared to death because suddenly something that is meant to come out of my mouth is suppose to make sense and provide answers.

“What will be your point of view?”

This was the next thing asked of me which fortunately started to unravel my brain and ease my fears. The question helped me narrow my focus. The suggestion of a point of view relayed to my brain that it was okay to pick one thing as a starting place for the discussion that will help end violence against women.

Lo and behold my answer to that same question when it came out was:

“My point of view will be philosophical, psychological, shared humanity, social commentary … if it makes any sense… type point of view.”

Well, needless to say the organizer took a chance which inadvertently caused me to explore the process by which I was allowed to BE and my starting place was from the question, what will be your point of view?

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What should be my point of view?

For those who know me, one of my many life philosophies is to question everything; and being asked about how I planned to explore violence against women led me to think about the questions and statements put to us daily and their effect on us.

So on the day of the talk, this was how I approached it:

I first asked the audience to help me with some insight into something that has been nagging at me for a while, which is also one of the most useless statement ever in life. I asked what brain processes would make an individual, who on seeing another individual that they are acquainted with after a long time of absence, would say to the them in amazement, YOU ARE FAT!!! 

Actually this happened to me one very great day when I was happily taking a stroll, and feeling extremely good about myself. Suddenly this Keke Napep (Rickshaw/Tuk Tuk) passes by me, then a girl screams my name followed by the “You are fat!” statement and for the next two minutes, I stood rooted to a spot not knowing what to do with myself.

After I recovered from the incident, it occurred to me that the girl called me by what my family calls my official name. This means it only appears on legal documents and most people do not even know it is my name, unless, you were in my secondary or primary school. So according to my calculations, she was most likely in my secondary school, not my friend and most likely not in my set.

I finished secondary school at fifteen, some eighteen years ago looking like a scarecrow due to health battles. And here we have some thoughtless and frankly not well-intention person expecting me to look exactly the same eighteen years later. I mean who has finished growing at fifteen?

And as I wondered at statements and questions, relating it to that experience (one of many), I immediately saw something that flies under the radar. It is not so obvious but I now consider it one of the biggest enablers of violence against women. This is the fact that from growing up to adulthood we are constantly bombarded with questions and statements that we are not allowed to engage with. We are somehow expected (without engaging with these statements and questions) to accept them as normal and therefore harmless. We are also to ignore their effect on our mental and emotional health because of that unspoken rule that as a female, you do not respond to such things in order not to be tagged as defensive, angry or aggressive.

9 out of 10 times, when “You are fat!” is said to a woman, she smiles uncomfortably and might even go the extra mile not to be ‘that’ kind of female and say thank you. Some even say, “it is good living,” even though they have been dieting and exercising for weeks to lose the weight they do not like. But God forbid they should own up to being an ordinary human; super women do not gain weight, they are naturally forever thin regardless of their station in life. I find it more amazing when I hear this same statement being said to women who have had kids, I mean what is up with that. To think we are a culture that is meant to mind our own business.

I believe the reason for making these thoughtless statements is because it absolves an individual of responding to the possible call of their words. For example, if after telling someone they are fat, they respond that it is due to depression and eating for comfort; you will have to engage further into the matter. It will be inhumane for an individual to express this to you and you nod and then walk away. This is because like it or not, the call that comes after your statement requires action and you will have to deal with the consequences of your action or inaction after hearing it. So we say thoughtless things and move on because they require nothing of us.

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When you can’t comment in a conversation about you but are forced to be a ‘smiling bystander.

 

Why are women also the main perpetrators of these thoughtless statements against other women?  These are the same people in our culture who will be reluctant or might never engage with a woman being abused because they are trying to mind their business. There is another unspoken rule, that you do not interfere in peoples issues because your interference may end up bringing shame on you. But we have no problem interfering with issues that concern peoples bodies which sometimes does things they have zero control over like expand due to age and genetics.

So why do we keep saying things to women that they cannot engage with in order to decide for themselves how they feel about it. How do we not think this has inadvertently caused women to permit abuse on themselves because when it subtly begins, even though they know it is wrong; they do nothing because they have little experience engaging with wrong done to them.

It has been told that abusers do not just begin with physical abuse. They start first with verbal abuse and then proceed to emotional abuse before they graduate to physical abuse. If women were generally used to engaging with verbally uncomfortable statements against their person will they not immediately know how to engage with it in any kind of relationship and put a stop to it. Instead we smile politely and by extension reward the bad behavior of potential abusers.

My neighbor, a man I do not really interact with, once told me i had lost weight in the same no greeting no preamble “You are fat,” way. And I immediately knew to start avoiding him because yes I had lost some weight but in opinion, it was three not so noticeable pounds. My first thought was how closely have you male neighbor, been looking at my body to notice? I didn’t smile politely but I eyed him disapprovingly and walked away,   angry because i wanted to engage but I knew how fast the script would be flipped on me and it was not worth the trouble… yet.

I am just using one of the more common statements used on women which most times forces them to be silent even though it is a violation and a cruelty to the issues going on in their lives. But there many more examples I could give.

What to do then? Well, be thoughtful and mindful about what you say in a conversation to a woman. Do not make statements that forces her to be silent. Do not ask questions she is ‘not’ allowed to answer. Say things that engage her so she can make a decision and contribute towards the discourse of life, especially her own life. And the biggest one of all, if you do not like a particular woman then please find that humanity in you and leave her alone, don’t pretend to be a friend; because like it or not that side of you will always find ammunition to use against her. We women tend to be each others worst enemies. We need to learn to honestly love each other.

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There are also other kinds of these types of statements which I can give examples of to say how we are also unkind to men and force them to be silent when it would be ten times more helpful if they could engage with these statements, questions and thoughts and this also leads to violence against men…But I will not. As big Sister Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has said, we spend too much time as women talking about men.

It is time we look inward more; there is a lot of work to be done.

 

Images via Flickr: David Woo, Morgan, Ron Mader, Davide Vizzini

W Is For Wisdom As It Is For Woman

The question was very simple and the already confused audience frowned in response. It was a miracle they didn’t storm out of the room yelling, “No! Stop! We give up!”

The truth is Nigerians are used to linear learning and I am a proud rambler. You need to just connect the dots when I am expressing my thoughts on an issue and God bless you if it is something I am passionate about. And unlucky for this audience, on that day, there was going to be no middle ground in my talk.

At this forum where the above mentioned audience was seated,  I was speaking about being a woman in a patriarchal society and the deal was to crack open very closed minds. I first argued with the philosophical side of things then I dove into the Christian side. This is a major crutch for people that do not want equality between women and men; so they twist religion to justify their stand and I was going to challenge that stand.

The first question was, “How many of you have heard preached in your church multiple times that wisdom in the bible was given female attributes, called a she and described as a woman?”

Not a single hand went up.

Then I followed up with, “How many of you have heard preached in your church, multiple times, that the ideal role of a woman is to submit to her husband?”

All hands went up including mine.

After which I asked why there is such an imbalance in teaching about what should be the makeup of a woman, especially when the bible takes time to talk about these things. I also wondered why the church doesn’t see how beneficial it is to use what the bible says about wisdom to encourage women to be wise. And it is more confusing, considering these are the group of people expected to uphold the moral fabric of the family.

It is indeed baffling not only because of the immense benefits of wisdom clearly written in the bible; it is akin to finding life.

Proverbs 8:35-36, “For whoever finds wisdom, finds life and obtains favor from the lord but he who sins against wisdom wrongs his own soul; all those who hate wisdom love death”.

These are pretty strong and set words for embracing wisdom so why doesn’t the church encourage it. And if we are doing things by the book, then why not encourage women to embrace the attributes that wisdom offers especially since wisdom is identified as female.

Another under-told story in the bible, is that of Huldah in 2 Chronicles 34. The good king Josiah had found a book lying neglected in the temple and who does he send it to with a delegation to be verified as the book of the law, the prophet Huldah, wife of Shallum (v. 22). She is basically the first bible verifier/interpreter.

I truly feel if it were up to some pastors, they would rewrite this chapter.

In their version, the story written would begin with Huldah being the good and submissive wife that she was, going to her husband first and consulting with him. She would ask his permission to speak of what she knew; like the good humble wife she was. And he would in turn say, “Go ahead wife, bring honor to my name”, then she would reply to the delegation saying, “with my husband’s permission, let me tell you what I know…”.

Honestly I got exhausted writing that out. This is what some pastors would love to preach but since the bible can’t be rewritten, it is all together an abandoned topic.

On a side note, Huldah’s husband’s occupation or rank in society wasn’t mentioned but it was noted that he was the grandson of the keeper of the temple robes. This makes me wonder a lot.

What the story of Huldah tells me however, is that in marriage there is a place for submission as there also is a place for independence. Submission probably has to do with the decision making for the family (I’m guessing since I am not married) which makes sense because every outfit should have a leader.

Independence has to do with making the most of the gifts, talents and abilities in you, since you alone are going to answer (and answer you must) for the use or misuse of it. Again, this is not something preached to women because in our society, right next to the fear of hell is the fear of giving women a voice.

The argument is when you give a woman a voice she becomes disrespectful, arrogant and forgets her place. Yep, the word ‘place’ has been used countless times to my hearing.  It is a miracle we do not have women walking about extremely dizzy from being bombared about not knowing their place; all because we have an opinion or want to contribute.

Still, nobody knows where this place is or what we are meant to do there. But one thing is clear; silence built the foundation and walls of this place.

This directly contradicts what I understand wisdom to be according to the book of Proverbs. Wisdom is everywhere calling out, raising her voice in invitation because of the life in her words. She instructs, corrects, rebukes, teaches and gives knowledge.

Even the virtous woman in Proverbs 31 (a darling favorite of Nigerian Pastors) is not a silent bystander, vs 26, “When she speaks her words are wise and she gives instruction with kindness.”

Silence and submission is what as women we are encouraged to embrace as our lives motto but this is not God’s standard for us. He also wants us to be wise, kind, full of knowledge, gracious, loving and a host of other things. Most importantly he wants us, male or female to make the most of the gifts he has give us.

Light is meant to be on a lampstand and shine for the world not hidden under a bushel; it has no function in that manner… under the bushel – Matthew 5:14-16

This is my understanding of who I am meant to be as a Christian woman and I am sticking to it .

 

You may also want to read my long post on How to survive a patriarchal society as a woman and get the picture of the other side of things.

 

Sanity Rattlers aka Pet Peeves

Why is it that you can be having a great day, a really the-sun-rose-up-and-personally-smiled-at-me glorious day; then that one thing happens and casts a dark shadow over the day. And no matter how brief, it just puts a blight on the day.

In that brief dark moment, you feel as if you are just a toe nail away from losing your mind. It may not make sense to anyone why this thing makes you (a known cat lover) want to grab the nearest kitten and pull all its hair out; because it doesn’t even make sense to you.

But here we are and life must be lived and pet peeves must be had. So I am going to share some of mine because I want to hear some of yours.

Let’s do this…

1} People that cannot sit properly and systematically in a Keke Napep (a rickshaw):

Rickshaw Illustration

Mr Green, Mr Blue and Mr Purple in the backseat of a Keke.

Disclaimer about illustration: This is my first ever attempt trying out Microsoft Paint and it may be my last. 

Let me translate briefly what the people in the keke are saying.

Mr Green: I will lean back because it makes sense to keep my shoulders away from Mt Blue.

Mr Blue: I will lean forward for the same reason as Mr Green.

Mr Purple: I will lean back for the same reason as Mr Blue and also because it is impossible for my shoulder from this distance to be anywhere near Mr Green.

See! It is a win-win all round.

So tell me why there is always that genius in a Keke who can’t make up their mind and lean forward or backward. Instead what they do is place themselves in whatever position the person next to them is in; and if the person alternates, they immediately follow their direction. And God bless your fragile heart if you are like me and sometimes find yourself sitting in between two of these geniuses.

Amateurish personality assessment verdict: These kinds of people do not make great team players because they are forever lost as to their place on the team.

2) People that hum loudly to a song they are clearly hearing for the first time or a song they clearly do not know the lyrics to:

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Blending in while standing out.

Seriously, who are you try to deceive. And just how are you meant to get away with that deception when your very attempt at deception sells you out. Why not just do like normal people do when they hear a song they like; which is move to the rhythm of the song with their heads or bodies.

Amateurish personality assessment verdict: Do not put these people on the front lines of anything. They feel they can outsmart everyone without doing the necessary homework.

3) People who steal your words or ideas and repeat them verbatim to others as though it is their original thought, right.in.front.of.you.

How do you know it is your own thoughts and ideas? Well, because you had the same conversation with them the day before and they had no thought or idea about the issue. They even asked you what you thought about the issue. And it is those same exact words that are being repeated to another person while you watch them take credit for it.

As someone who likes to share knowledge and learn from others, I know how it can feel when something resonates with you. It almost feels like yours but you know that before you heard or read it, you had not thought or spoken it out loud. Maybe it was buried in your subconscious, but face it, it never got let out till someone else said or wrote it.

Now to take all the credit and be shameless about it right in front of the person you heard it from, that just shakes my core and makes me think never to trust you with important things.

Amateurish personality assessment verdict: These are the potential murderers who haven’t found the right motive yet.

4) This happened a couple of days ago and I don’t know if it qualifies as a pet peeve but it did annoy me.

In church, the girl sitting next to me kept running commentary on everything going on from the singing to the pastor’s message. And to make matters worse, she kept poking me in the ribs with her elbow so I can acknowledge her comments and spontaneous laughter.

I almost lost my mind.

Usually I am a good sport  when a stranger pulls me into a conversation. I feel it is a symptom of loneliness, plus I can distinguish between a lousy talkative person and someone interested in good conversation; so I usually indulge them.

But this Sunday, it felt like I was being dragged by my hair and with the constant elbowing… it was too much. Unfortunately, there was nowhere to run to.

Amateurish personality assessment verdict: *I haven’t decided yet.

Bottom line, the things that get me may seem ridiculous to you and vice versa. I have no logical explanation for my annoyances and I am sure neither does any one else.

Even the name pet peeves is comical if you really look at it. I just believe this phenomena is in every one of us to make us a little weird. And in my opinion, life is more interesting and colorful when it is  little weird.

So what rattles your cages?

 

 

Some images via flickr

Embracing The Dark: On Loving My Skin.

Poetry is not my strongest suit. But, like most things that pique my interest, I gave it at least one or two attempts, just to know I can. However, not all things get that one attempt no matter how much I am burning with curiosity.

Sometimes what ends up happening is a dance around the interest. This is like when we were kids and played ‘Ring a Ring o’ Roses’; we went round and round then crumpled down to the ground.So in that same way, one of the things I danced around but never did, was bleach my skin. And we will get to that before this post is over.

Let’s  start from the end of the discovery and it begins with an attempt at poetry. I wrote a poem to capture my moment of clarity titled ‘Embracing The Dark’. And it goes like this…

Heart racing, Palpitations
Twitching eyes,  Shaky hands
Ah! A new day has begun
Morning has come…

 

Yesterday, I was reminded once again
That progress moves faster in the light
I mean for the light
Or is it to the light

 

I always get confuse
And I try to rationalize
This is what leads me to my pathos
This is what leads me to my pawn broker
And our constant trade in unused jars
Of lightening cream

 

Throwing out and then replacing
And throwing out some more
And then replacing… some more

 

I stare at the jar on the table
and it snares back at me
beckoning, gleaming with a vague promise
I still do not understand
And another new day I resist the urge
Today will not find me slipping
Today will not find me dipping

 

Now I am good, I am dressed
I am ready to go
Opportunities abound, my goals are clear
Reality slaps me once more not to forget
Not to forget my mantra
It makes me believe in myself
For my children
And their children’s children
That is what this is really about

 

My mind clears it throat
let’s begin it says

 

Black is beautiful, I must not despair
Black is beautiful, Love without unnecessary compromise will find me
Black is beautiful, Black is my identity….

Let’s go…

 

Please don’t judge the quality of the poem, it was written six years ago and I probably broke a hundred rules of poetry. But hey…  I have learnt when inspiration strikes, you must run with it or lose it forever; so I took the chance.

 

But now we must go back to the beginning, where it all started.

In childhood being the darkest of my sisters. my mum decided to honor this fact by constantly referring to me as “the black one”. This wasn’t a problem while growing within the confines of my house, drenched in so much love that my ‘title’ was a special bond between me and my mum. But once I started school, black came with the understanding that it meant ugly and sometimes unwanted, outcast, unsuitable and a plethora of other things that really does not necessitate journeying to my Primary and Secondary school memories.

Thankfully, I’ve realize that there is a  confusingly merciless and unthinking part of our culture that gives people a pass to say whatever comes to their head; without fully weighing the consequences. One part of our culture I can’t stand.

Anway, what changed or helped?

Well…

First of all, growing up, my head was always in the clouds dreaming up all kinds of wonderful alternate realities. This means most things registered but didn’t stay with me. And at the end of every school year, I noticed all shades, complexion wise in the top and bottom according to our exam result. Immediately dark meaning dumb (a word we use here to mean unintelligent) lost all truth plus it helped that I got a lot of double promotions and recommendations to skip grades.This gave all the evidence that I wasn’t even near dumb or unintelligent. So… victory number 1.

When the boys started coming by, they were in all shades. From really light skinned to deep dark skinned. I always joke that it seems like I had dated the United Nations, not in the number of people but in the variety. But In all honesty, two things really changed my view of relationships as it pertains to skin color.

The first is, whether white, black or mixed, it really didn’t take long for me to ‘forget’ what they looked like. Somehow, skin color and complexion gets pushed back into my sub-concious mind and the individuals character and personality comes to the fore front. It is really hard for me to explain this but when I realised that, I chose to believe it was the same for them as for me.

The second thing and person, whom I have to give a lot of thanks to is Halle Berry.

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And it was the moment in her life that she was treated so badly by a man. I was extremely unhappy about it because like most people I felt and still feel she is a beautiful person. But her moment came with clarity for me; and if this can be done to Halle Berry a world(media) proclamed standard of beauty, then if the guarantee for happiness in a relationship is solely based on looks, no one will be spared from bad times.

I have reached my destination of total acceptance of my skin complexion. But I would be lying if I say there aren’t days I do not wish for a lighter shade. This has to do with my hair texture which some people naturally associate with being mixed race. I really could do without a day of inquistion. You can read all about it Here to understand what I mean.

However if the many Ethnicity tags, Mixed girl tags and the numerous ‘Where am I from?’ tags floating in cyberspace are any indication; it is safe to assume that if you do not totally fit a stereotype, people are going to have questions and opinons. Just the way of the world.

Bottom line, I have learnt through actively seeking to love all I have been given that, having the most widely accepted or favored skin tone comes with ZERO guarantee for a happy, fullfiled and purposeful life.

If you are unhappy and miserable about your life then no matter the ‘passes’ the world gives you, you will remain unhappy and miserable about your life.

And the world’s standards do not have to be yours. End of story.

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Silly poetry sometimes carries a ton of meaning.

 

So do you feel having your type of skin tone has helped or encumbered the quality of your life? I would really love to have as many perspectives on this as I can, if you would please indulge me. Much thanks in advance

 

 

Images via Flickr

The Rewards of Rejection.

Rejection is a phenomena ( I use the plural form because of its multiple and continuous occurring nature) that happens to everyone as long as life runs through you. Funny enough, it is also one of the most rejected, pun intended, things in the world. And we all react in different ways, the range is from…permit me to describe it conversationally.

Visceral self to Rejected self: “How dare this rejection thing happen to me, I am the most undeserving of it. Everyone knows my kind must never be rejected. I mean what exactly do I lack not to  qualify ”

To:

In- Denial self to Rejected self: “I don’t think this has really happened. Probably just a bad dream that I would wake up from sometime never; either ways, this thing must remain in the dream or subconscious realm, never to be dealt with”.

The first extreme in my opinion is a crowded group mostly filled with men who got rejected after confidently walking up to a woman they felt would be easy to get. While the second group is cramped with women dilly dallying in a relationship that they were aware ended a long time ago because they were no longer wanted. These are women that hang on tight and refuse to give in to the demise of a relationship.

There are other people facing different kinds of rejection in both groups which are not relationship based but like I said, in my opinion, these are the people that I believe populate both extremes.

The middle ground, Acceptance, is the most beautiful spot to be in any case of rejection.

Accepting self says to Rejected self: “We have been rejected, let’s acknowledge that. This hurts to the high heavens because it was not the expected outcome but we’ll take a minute or two to let this pain rightfully pass before examining this thing that has happened.”

And it is at this point, after the pain has passed and associated emotions have subsided to reasonable proportions; then and only then can a person begin to reap the rewards from the rejection.

The main reward of rejection is actually opportunity. But with opportunity comes a myriad of associated rewards.

So therefore, rejection leads to:

  1. An opportunity for examination: Unless you are the kind of person adverse to thinking, one of the first things that should happen to you after being rejected is to examine the situation. In the zone of acceptance, when starting this process, you automatically get an open invitation to be strictly honest with yourself. Take that invitation; it is best thing you can do on this journey. Honesty helps to be rational and immediately kicks out the victim mentality which loves to creep up in these kind of moments, mainly to stop or stall progress.

The main thing however, is to keep it simple by examining one thing and one thing only; the feedback. Did you get any, or was it just an invisible cold steel door slammed in your face. If it was the latter, take a moment to acknowledge that all shut doors are not meant for you at that time. But, open yourself to the possibility of those type of doors might open at a different time; and then move on.

If you got feedback about the rejection and you do not quite agree with it, then move on to the next step.

2. An opportunity to explore: Make a list of the reasons you do not agree with the feedback and then find ways to explore if you might be right. For example, if it is a rejection for a story that didn’t make the cut in a competition, but you think it is an amazing story, send it to other qualified people and see what the response will be.

After you do this, it is either going to be evident the story is great or you find great tips and ways to make it better. One way or another, it is a win for you.

Exploring your feedback means you do not stew in it and go crazy imagining things that were or weren’t said and what those things might or might not mean. To explore your feedback is a constructive way to move forward and make new discoveries along the way that will be very helpful.

3. An opportunity to change and improve: This is also linked to receiving feedback but does not necessarily depend on it. Rejection can help you change and improve your way of doing things because it did not yield expected results.

There is not much to say about this except quote Einstein, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

And I will just add that there are people that have lost their minds due to continuous rejection. Do not be one of them, be willing to change and improve.

This is probably the most important opportunity in my opinion.

4. The opportunity of building an incredible support system: In the zone of acceptance, there is no shame but a beautiful vulnerability which makes you open to sharing the experience of rejection. And if you have already accepted honesty’s invitation; what you end up doing when sharing is encouraging others to be open about their own experiences. Suddenly you are gaining new perspectives, followed by support and encouragement because remember there are no victims in the zone of acceptance.

So let us try this…

What reward(s) have you reaped from rejection? Let’s know so we can learn and be encouraged.

 

 

What does ‘nice’ really mean?

There is a popular Nigerian saying, ‘one man’s meat is another man’s poison’. I don’t know if this saying has it origins here but we use it quite a lot. And it has never really held any true meaning for me until recently.

Apparently in this part of the world, nice means different things to different people. When someone tells you a person is nice, take it with a grain of salt and do not assume to know what that entails. If you think there is a blanket meaning for ‘nice’, you would end up being totally disappointed; like I have been on many occasions. Allow me to tell you about two of those occasions.

The first time was when someone told me, “you should get to know him, he is a nice guy.”

This “nice guy” on our very first day conversing, spoke to me like I was some property he bought at the market. He didn’t bother to introduce himself when I picked up the phone. He just plunged into questioning and wondering why my phone was engaged for as long as it was when he tried calling me earlier. I stared at my phone in confusion as I wondered if it was one of my friends playing a prank on me. This must be Muhammad I thought, he is always putting on fake accents and mannerism just to get me. Alas, it wasn’t him.

Naturally, that was to be our second to the last conversation, for which I was attacked.

“You should have given him a chance, he is a really nice guy.”

Nothing about his manner of approach was nice but I felt, I may have missed something. So I asked and explored, what made him nice, in the other person’s opinion and it turned out, nice, disappointingly meant generous with money.

The second time happened quite recently.

Another guy was given my number (unfortunately I have do-gooder friends who seem not to know me at all) and I was told we would really click. Five days into trying to get to know each other, he says to me on the phone, like I am an unintelligent being, “You sound like you may be petite, send me your picture. Don’t send any face shot o! Send me a full bodied picture”.

My very first instinct was to say no. As a matter of fact, I thought to say a huge “No, I will not put myself up for your assessment.” but instead I said, I would check. As I was going through the little pictures I had, a lot of angry thoughts were going through my mind. Squashing them was hard but finding that I didn’t have a picture that showed me from head to toe, provided some relief. So I sent one that showed me from the waist up, at least I behaved ‘normal’ and didn’t give a lecture like I wanted to.

This relief was temporary as I instantly got a reply, ‘This is just a face picture, I want full bodied o!’. This was accompanied by four baffling crying emoticons and my reaction was  immediate disgust. My reply was an adamant ‘that is not going to happen’ and I refused to give any explanation. I wasn’t going to waste my time on someone of that character.

This is what I told my friend ‘the connector’ who said I was thinking too hard about it because it wasn’t that bad.

Honestly, I do not have any thing against a person who owns their truth and shows they are only attracted to certain people. Lord knows, I would rather be friends with that person than a hypocrite who claims to be attracted to just about anyone and also sees beauty equally, yet seems to have only one type.

BUT, what I won’t make ‘normal’, is the presenting of myself to another human being to judge and assess whether I am worth their time, resources and energy simply by the way I look or by my body size.

So I decided to break down my thoughts and analysis of the situation to my friend. Then I gave her the messages the guy sent to read the kind of words he used, as he insisted on seeing a picture as though his next breath depend on it. She was more pissed and disgusted than I was which was so funny because moments earlier, she had said, “Eya fa, you are being too hard, he is truly a nice guy”.

This basically means he doesn’t behave like the typical Lagos guy; I won’t even go into what this means.

For me, a nice person is a very thoughtful individual who puts another’s interest, comfort and happiness before their own. The people I consider to be nice, do not assume they know what another person needs based on their own assessment of what they would need in any situation. I also consider nice people to be wise and mature. They do shockingly good not irritating things.

Maybe there is a new nice and a new normal and I missed the memo. Either way, I would rather remain uncivilized than acclimatized.

Tell me, what does nice mean to you?

 

 

How To Look Better: The Expansion Theory.

The New Year has rolled in, diets, exercises and cleanses are underway. Even though for some of us, these measure are done in thought but not quite in deed. What can I say, sometimes these resolutions are made at low moments, when the spirit seems willing. But come the morning, when light and tranquility flood in, we decide we actually want to love ourselves rather than meet society’s set definition of beauty. So we eat the remnants of our cakes, brownies and chin-chin because life is too short, God is too good and we are already way too blessed to be stressed and … well the left overs taste better anyway.

You know by we, I mean I right? Okay, let’s continue.

So, I asked myself this question, “How can you look better in a way that is truly satisfying to you and no one else?”

And it wasn’t really hard to find the answer because I already know the things I place value on. Some of which are: knowledge, intelligence, character-defining experiences and authentic friendships. And I know in the new year I want more of these things. I want to add to the ones I already have and grow bigger and better. So to expand on what I already have, seems to me the answer to how to look better in 2016.

The twist to my answer however, which was painful to admit, was that I had stopped looking good to myself because I had lessened or altogether stopped doing things that felt very natural to me. Growing up, had made me adjust in a way that does not feel right. But its a new year and so we will renew ourselves. Once again by we, I mean I.

These are the ways I plan to add and expand myself more beautifully and be blindingly gorgeous before the year is over. I plan to:

  1. Be eager for new things and then be open minded, just like a child: but the great part is as a grown up, I now have filters and a mind of my own.
  2. Be attentive and present; it will enhance strong self disciple in this distracting world of ours. And increase my chances of getting a satisfying reward in whatever I do.
  3. Be studious, no more cursory glances but in depth study of the things that grab my attention and excite me. I believe this is how innovations happen, among other things.
  4. Believe in myself and what ever contributions I have to make to this world.

The last one is the hardest to do, because we mostly feel the need for others to validate us. And I will be bold to say, by practicing the first three things, I believe it will be easier to do the fourth.

This is because there would be such an expansion within yourself, that you might just be bursting at the seams, eager to share, create or just do something worthwhile.

There are seven billion people in the world and you are but one dot in a sea of people. People by some degree are different from one another. And dot that you are, I believe the world needs your special contribution in it.

Its true the world will not crumble without you but it will definitely be missing a piece that is yours to give.

Plan to be big enough, expand yourself and be visible. Most importantly believe you are too important to be left out of making a mark in the world.

And lastly, once again by you, I mean me.

How do you plan on looking better this year?

WHO WILL MARRY ME?

The night was deliciously cold as usual in Kampala and as always, it reminded me of my hometown, Jos, but I couldn’t savor the feeling because I had made a grievous mistake. Little did I know, the oncoming morning would bring me to a philosophical stand still about an issue i thought I was decided on but you have to get to the end of this post to fully understand what I mean. I wish I could tell you the story directly but unfortunately all stories are a series of events and one must come before the other; starting with that night.

My nephew AT was up and running amok because I had mistakenly allowed him to fall asleep, exactly at that window of time that you do not allow kids fall asleep. If you are a parent or have been around kids, you would know what I mean. If they aren’t given a regimented sleep schedule then they would probably be up all night when they should be sleeping; as my nephew was.

What had happened was, I was packing because I was leaving Uganda for Nigeria in the a.m of the next day. so I was a bit distracted. AT was running in and out of my room asking a billion questions like normal two year old’s do and I guess he stopped coming in at some point. But as someone who lives in her head constantly having monologues and dialogues in different accents and tones, the conversations did not stop so I didn’t notice the difference.

Alas when night came and I thought to catch some sleep before we left for the airport around 3 a.m ( or so), AT was up and active and my brother basically said, “deal with it”. So I did, besides I was leaving and going to miss the little bugger a lot, so I made the most of our little quality time. And I think I overdid it..

By the time I had gone through all the airport rigors, boarded the plane and sat on my seat; I was wiped out. So I did what normal people do, fall deeply asleep. Well that’s what normal people do but I can’t really sleep deeply. I was mostly aware of what was going on around me. I thought I heard the captain say, “Flight attendants, prepare for landing please.” and also, “Cabin crew, please take your seats for landing.” or maybe not. My last thought however, before I woke up in a panic was, “How can we be landing when it seems like we are heading up?”

My panic when I woke up was that the plane had landed, everyone had gone out and I was probably on my way to another country because I slept through it all. My bewildered eyes saw a full plane and almost everyone was standing and walking in a file towards the back of the plane. The guy seating next to me, tapped me and stared with a sort of crazed look. Then he said in his thick Ugandan accent, “How could you have slept through that when we almost died?”

Huh?

I found out from him that the people weren’t filling to the back of the plane to find their seats; they were all heading to use the bathroom to relieve themselves of their fear induced pee.

There had been a volcanic ash cloud that grounded planes in Europe and nobody thought the phenomena would come all the way to Africa. Our pilot couldn’t properly see the runway in Nairobi and almost crashed but was able to promptly lift us back up to safety.

So here I was on the runway in Mombasa, staring a disgruntled and disappointed Ugandan in the face as his disappointment turned to disgust and he said for the second time, “I can’t believe you slept through all that when we almost died.”

Well Sir, the high pitched and erratic voice in my head responded, forgive me for not trying to be awake for my possible death. I wrestled all night with an energetic two year old and lived to tell the tale (no pun intended to our current situation). And if I can survive that, what makes you think I can’t survive your judgmental (for no reason) stare?

I mean, as if anyone wants to willingly be present and involved in their own death. Am I suppose to be awake to say to death, “here let me give you a hand.” or wait, maybe I am suppose to shout it away. I scream ‘Noooooooooooooo!!!’ and then it cowers and runs away frightened. The nerve of the man to be disappointed. I think he was just jealous at my possible peace and tranquility in the face of death.

That understanding made the voice in my head switch to one that sounded like it was coming for a calm and sophisticated British lady of the eighteenth century, most likely a royal and it said, “Well Sir, I hope I am warmly tucked in bed, old and exhausted after living purposefully and making all my dreams come true. when death comes for me… err especially after a hot and deliciously calming cup of chamomile tea.”

Instead of saying what was on my mind to him, i just turned my face and went back to sleep. We were to wait on the tarmac till the volcanic ash cleared a bit.

Two hours later was when the thing happened that made me question my philosophical stand point which frankly is the entire point of this post. But like I said, series of events.

Naturally because we were in Mobassa, waiting for the ash cloud to clear, we missed all our connecting flights in Nairobi. The airline gave us hotel accommodations for a day to stay in Nairobi and then connect to new flights the next day. While I was waiting for the bus to come take us to our hotels, I saw my fellow Nigerian sister trying to buy a sim card. She still looked agitated and frazzled. I remembered her from the line to get off the plane so I walked over to talk to her with the aim of calming her down. In the process I curiously asked for the details of the near crash. She looked confused and couldn’t understand how I didn’t know the details and I told her it was because I was asleep.

Bam! I was hit again with the crazed, disgruntled, disappointed look. This girl literally yelled at me, ” How could you be asleep when we almost died?!”

I yelled back, in my head of course, “there was a two year old involved, can I live? Can I live Charlie, Bitrus, Zebbrudiah?* Can. I. Live?

I tried to smile to sort of calm her down but then she said in a more subdued voice, “I mean we almost died, how could you be asleep?” then she said more to herself,  “Now imagine if I had died, then who will marry me?”

I busted out laughing. Honestly, I thought she was joking but she looked at me with the saddest eyes that said, ‘I dared to laugh at life’s most important and profound question’.

Like crap is how I instantly felt. Have we been so traumatized with the importance of marriage that even in the face of death it is all we can think of? I looked at this beautiful girl and she was very pretty, and thought of the millions of things I could say to her but I was speechless.

Gosh, she had figured out the entire sum of her life and there I was just happy and giddy to be in a new country with a free visa stamp on my passport. And I wondered for a second who was the better of the both of us; the one who aspired to marriage or the one who could care less. And in that moment of honesty, I couldn’t tell and that really made me sad.

*By the way Charlie, Bitrus and Zebbrudiah is my name for the anonymous ‘them or the people’. If you are Nigeria born and/or raised , you were always told not to do certain things so that ‘they or the people’ shouldn’t talk.

WITH ALL OUR SENSES: A way to survive and hopefully thrive as a woman in a patriarchal society.

Common sense is defined as normal or good sense in practical matters or the natural intelligence that is believed to be available to all rational people. Simple right?

Wikipedia’s definition is my best by far. It states, common sense, is the ability to perceive, understand and judge things which should be shared by all people without any need for debate. This is a priceless understanding of the word that I think everyone should retain and carry along with them all- the-time and I will tell you why.

a) It will help you choose your battles wisely. There will be no need to waste time, reasoning, emotions and energy on certain people and their views. The moment they open their mouths, you will be able to immediately note that they lack something this basic so no need to dialogue with them. And please don’t think you can convince them.

b) It will also help you know who to ally with in your daily interactions. Trust me, something this basic, and it is necessary to keep calling it that, reveals a lot about people.

Patriarchy on the other hand, for those who do not know, is a social system in which males hold primary power, predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege and control of property; in the domain of the family, fathers or father-figures hold authority over women and children. This is also a definition straight from Wikipedia.

This has however not always been the world view. Anthropological evidence shows that the world was not originally patriarchal but in the Hunter-Gatherer prehistoric times, it was more egalitarian, This was the trend of thought that favored equality for all people.

So how did this patriarchy come about?

Some people believe it was when the concept of fatherhood was introduced, others think it was innovations like agriculture that brought it on. This means that when farming became a way to sustain life instead going out with the hopes of gathering whatever you come across; then roles had to be introduced. The men will go out and work to be providers while the women will stay home with the kids and domestic duties.

It is amazing to observe and note that in my village as in most Plateau villages, as the sun is rising, what you mainly see is droves of women heading to the farm. Most of the men incidentally take their time before showing up to “their roles”. I wonder when this exchange took place and why it hasn’t changed the view that the man is still in charge. Anyway this is a side observation, let’s not get distracted.

One of the most important theories of why patriarchy came about for me, is the one that some people believe migration must have caused it. This is because people moved from place to place and took with them their ways and philosophies of life. This could also possibly either mean the prehistoric world was not totally egalitarian or some people moved away, adopted new ways and then for the lack of a better word, infected the rest of us with it. So generally, new thinking and new life philosophies might have been the cause of patriarchy.

Let’s look into that a bit.

This is because every time we talk about equality and some of the ridiculous societal rules imposed on women, we say it is local, village, uneducated, unrefined, archaic thinking that brought these rules on. This has been i believe one of our grave mistakes. I will put it to you that a lot of these thinking came to pass because of two things I have observed,

a) The hierarchies we have placed in society.

b) Our unquestioning acceptance of those within the hierarchies.

Confused? Let me break it down.

When I was in secondary school, in junior class, our social studies teacher taught us how to identify ourselves within the greater scheme of things; one way was by something called Social Stratification. This is defined as the ranking or grading of individuals into layers of importance. This definition, almost 20 years later was pulled with ease from the memory bank of my brain. This is because after hearing that definition, I was genuinely disturbed by my education and so I never forgot it.

The next disturbing thing he taught us was our physical classification; the Johann Friedrich Blumenbach’s way. We belonged to the Negro race because this well educated, well researched and well traveled man said so. This classification is something I have come to understand has no scientific basis or verification whatsoever. Blumenbach believed the Caucasian race was supreme simply because all human skulls are white. So this essentially means that our original form was white. However, environmental degradation and poor nutrition cause the breakdown that made us to become different races. He believed and I underline believed for emphasis, that it was the sun that basically boiled our blood and darkened our skins. No biological, scientific or laboratory proof, no vision or voice from the sky just good old belief. I wonder if in his travels he ever saw a pale light skinned Igbo person.

But not only were his ‘findings’ published, it was taught for a really long time as some kind of truth. Why do you think that is? Let me tell you why. Because we ranked and graded individuals into layers of importance and the ones up there are the educated/educators, the explorers and seekers of knowledge (philosophers), and the rich and well placed. This is the top tier of the hierarchy.

Don’t believe me, let’s look at some else who is well known. Aristotle.

Aristotle

Aristotle

Aristotle, one of the men whom through his thinking and writings shaped western philosophy; had some dangerous input into the view of women. In his works, he portrayed women as morally, physically and intellectually inferior to men and he saw women as property of men. Because of his high rank in his education; he was a student of Plato who was a student of the great Socrates, who do you think believed him without question? I am bold to say 99% of all who heard him, especially since he had contributed so many important things to Physics, Biology, Zoology, Poetry, Logic, Linguistics, Music and rhetoric. I doubt he was doubted. This guy basically sanctioned, even thought it might not have been intentionally, rape, abuse and violence towards women, after all to treat them as equals means to acknowledge them as fellow human beings but if Aristotle says they are inferior then…

Do you still doubt the effect of intelligent thinking and high ranking people in shaping the world?

Let me give another example.

Ancient Egypt is considered as the cradle of civilization; so this wasn’t a backward place as we like to think is the place that contains patriarchal thinking. And we are sort of right because Herodotus, the Greek father of History when he visited ancient Egypt for the first time…’left a record of his shock at the contrast between the roles of Egyptian women and the women of Athens. He observed that Egyptian women attended market and were employed in trade. In ancient Egypt a middle-class woman might sit on a local tribunal, engage in real estate transactions, and inherit or bequeath property. Women also secured loans and witnessed legal documents.’ – the source of this is Wikipedia.

Father of History

Herodotus

But this all changed with the influence of Greece when Alexander the Great conquered Egypt. Guess who educated Alexander the Great, yep, Aristotle. This is not undermining the work of Aristotle but some of his philosophies were truly damaging.

And why was he believed again? Think about it. Think about this also, Aristotle also wrote in his book, Metrologica, that Africa was a land rich in resources of gold, ivory and cinnamon but it was also inhabited by dangerous monsters scorched black by the sun. That’s us in case you are wondering. But this is the best part, he had never been to Africa at the time he wrote this.

My point at the end of the day is, if you are thinking some of these things came about because of backward thinking, stop. Intelligent, convincing and highly placed people have brought us to this place and we have to acknowledge that.

What to do next?

As Einstein said, you cannot solve a problem at the same level of thinking that it was created; so essentially we have to step up our intelligence game. How do we do this?

  1. This is my main life philosophy; question everything! I do not waste my time being angry or bitter over what has been, instead I explore why it has been and if it should continue to be. So question it all. As women, one of the most dangerous things we can do is assign the role of victim or helpless participator to ourselves. Culture as far I am concerned is someone’s creation and we don’t have to imbibe all of it especially the crippling and damaging parts.

For our society, Culture seems and mostly presents itself as a beautiful communal open invitation participation lifestyle but really some aspects are a suffocating choke hold. This is why we must I repeat question everything.

For example, some ‘Elders’ told me that women are not allowed to inherit property from their fathers. It was presented as we are not worthy or inadequate or something. Guess what? it didn’t take too many why’s to discover the truth of the law. it was initially created to protect women. Patriarchy was having a foothold and they realized a lot of women were loosing out on things that rightly belonged to them when they got married. These women will take their property to the husbands house and when the men divorced them for some reason or the other, they would keep the original property that belonged to the women.  So a new law was created. The women were meant to keep what belonged to them for safe keeping in their father’s house and if anything went wrong in the marriage, they still had their property to come back to. Now time and the evil in the hearts of men have perverted something that was originally a beautiful idea into oppression. So ask!

2) Along with common sense, use all your other senses in judging things. By this I mean your sight, hearing, smell, taste and feeling.

Wikipedia, my good friend defines Sense as a physiological capacity of organisms that provides data for perception. This is a freaking good definition because it tells me that our perceptions of ourselves and others is/should be based on the data literally given to us by ourselves. So we have to wake up and use this inherent awesome ability to guide our lives moving forward,

For example in my practice of using my senses, I used my eyes to observe three set of twins between the ages of 1-5 yrs. Each set has a male and female twin. I noticed in all three of them, the female twin was the strong, confident and independent of the two. The male twin was clingy, cried easily and was basically glued to his mom’s side. This blew my mind!

I immediately started asking people if they knew of any male and female twins. Without telling them what I had observed, I asked of their dominant character traits. I found three people and they all reported the same characteristics in the twins they know. Bear in mind, now I only know of 6 set of twins, this hasn’t proven anything but I plan on getting this number up to 1000 set of twins ages 1-5, across geographical locations, cultures and religion to observe how they behave. I know that after age 5, they will begin to be educated on what it means to be a man and a woman.

3) a) Love yourself enough to boldly speak your mind, speak against injustice and defend your choices. b) Love other women who are boldly loving themselves, speaking against injustice and defending their choices.

We are so quick to throw other women under the bus because we haven’t developed the thick skin that comes with the understanding that we do not need the approval of all the men in the world. This is mostly because, if we are honest, we want to make ourselves marriageable if we are single. Then the married ones do not want any hindrances in the progress their marital status gives them; a tiny reward by society.

Most women are of the same mind when it comes to equality but 90% will speak loudly and denounce the women who speak up. Because in the larger scheme of things between equality and being married, we will pick being married.

4) Share what you know, what you suspect, what you have observed, share your theories and analysis because this: a) opens up rooms for discussions and b) provides some kind of awareness to people who have never thought about their actions or reaction; both male and female.

5) Most importantly, do not be afraid of the word FACT. we are told some of these rules are as a matter of fact, so we do not doubt them.

Well, as a matter of fact, we had 1 (one) moon up until 2012.  Now thanks to a super computer, simulations and such, we now have 18000 (eighteen thousand) moons orbiting the earth. I wonder what 2030 will bring. This is one example of what happens to facts.

In medical school, students are taught that there is such a thing as the half-life of a fact. I don’t think you need to be a student of science to understand what this means. But basically whatever these future doctors have been thought as fact, ten to twenty years down the road, part of it or the entire thing might be proven false. Just something to think about.

As women, we have to take individual responsibility for our lives but this patriarchal battle is for all of us. Let’s wake up and start engaging the world and be active participants in how it should be shaped.

By the way, if you know of young male and female twins and can help with my study, let me know.

Happy questioning, thinking, analyzing and philosophizing!

Lets talk about hair… Baby!

When people meet me for the first time, one of the things we generally end up talking about is my hair. This is because I live in Nigeria and have a different hair texture than most. And the fact that I am dark skinned adds to the confusion, if I were light skinned, it would be assumed I am mixed race and that would be the end of it.

I mean all kinds of people have inquired about my hair: black, white, mixed race, you name it. My experience has been quite varied.

An example is the day two white girls came to me looking apprehensive but with some kind of determination in their eyes. I was suddenly wary because I wasn’t sure I wanted to part of any quest that required both apprehension and determination. It had been a lovely evening. After apologizing profusely for the possible offense they would inflict on me, they asked if my hair was mine, I said yes. Then they apologized again before asking if it was natural, I said yes. The relief and joy on their face was really amusing. One of them went on to say “You have just made my day, my week as a matter of fact, I am just so sick of seeing these wigs and it is so refreshing to see this, keep it up”. I just said will do because really what else could I say. When I was heading out that evening, I didn’t stand in front of the mirror, point to my hair and say, “Hey you! Be inspiring today.”

The truth is, personally, the hair discussions I have had with people has told me more about them than any other discussion we’ve had. Like a mixed race girl who seemed a bit unnecessarily upset that her hair is, as she said ‘ like iron sponge’ while mine is really soft. This told me more about her than any other thing she could have said.

The whole world is obsessed with hair and unfortunately we have been given a prototype: long, full bodied and silky. The one thing we underplay or under show(I guess) is the need white women also have to live up to this standard. I know this not only because of the clip on’s and tracks occasionally showing on Britney Spears head but because after the compliments, after the ‘can I touch’ requests, what follows is the white women saying to me,  “I wish my hair could be this full”. We really are all in this together.

It doesn’t help that for centuries hair has been used to define and validate people especially women. It almost seems as if with a head of full long hair, you are assumed to have been touched by something special. Like you don’t have the same struggles as everybody else. It is even all over the bible, you read stories and see how sacred and important hair was and is, especially long hair. From Esau to Samson, Mary Magdalene and when reading some of the descriptions of the people of those times. In 1st Corinthians 11:15, it says, “But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her for her hair was given to her as a covering”. So yeah…

I have accepted the effect of the importance of hair. However, we need to know, accept and understand that in the greater scheme of things, it is not the most important.

Growing up, I didn’t care too much for my hair. It felt like an Alien who sat on my head whose language I would never learn to speak. It grew in a strange way, it didn’t do anything I wanted it to do (which by the way was lie down flat) and it brought a lot of unwanted attention. The attention was partly admiration, partly animosity but I was mostly called a liar.

“You are lying. You are must be mixed with something. Indian?”

“You are lying. Let me check your hair, Its either a wig or weavon.”

“You are lying. Where is your Father from? And your Mother?”

“You are lying. What brand of relaxer do you use?”

And these are not the most annoying statements but I can proudly say I’ve never lost my patience. This is because intrinsically I understand the obsession with hair and just bear with it.

Somehow having a different hair texture wasn’t top priority at home. In my house, we all have different hair textures, so you just knew someone’s hair was curlier, silkier, one never grew straight, one couldn’t be combed easily and the list goes on. And in primary school, kids didn’t know the difference so no one questioned me. My first experience that fully brought the awareness of my texture was my first week in secondary school. I was called to the principal’s office and she had a pair of scissors in her hand.

The principal was furious with my mom and I couldn’t understand why. She was yelling about us not reading the school’s guidelines and my mom’s audacity in relaxing my hair knowing fully well it was unacceptable. She asked me why I relaxed my hair before resuming and I tearfully told her I didn’t know what she was talking about. Lucky for me, before the scissors descended on my already low cut hair (one of the school’s criteria) a neighbor from my street that was a senior in the school, arrived and defended me. She wasn’t fully able to convince the principal but struck a deal which was to let my hair grow for a month and if a different texture appeared, undergrowth as we call it, then I could be suspended or given the appropriate punishment.

Undergrowth checks was also one of the annoyances I endured, especially during University from people that believed I was lying about my hair. The history of the University experience is too long and not for this particular post but I may touch on it some other time.

This post is about the fact that people think I am lucky to have ‘Non-African’ hair texture or ‘Oyibo’ hair as we call it here but this is what you do not know.

Taking care of this hair daily is akin to waking up every morning and being forced to solve a freaking quadratic equation. Did I tell you I have four. yes the number 4, different hair textures on my head? So every day to take care of my hair, I have to solve for w,x,y and z. This is because the textures do not do the same thing or react the same way to water, the weather and products and I’ve had to learn all these along the way.

Oh did I also tell you they do not grow at the same pace? The back hair grows slower, so no matter what I do, it will always appear shorter than the rest. It is also very curly and coily, so it shrinks very well and mostly appears as half of its length.

The hair at the sides grow a wee bit faster than the back. The hair in the middle grows a wee bit faster than the sides and the hair front and center grows twice as fast as the back. No matter how I cut it or shape it to look even, give it a month and voila! it is back to being uneven.

I have also learnt to apply product differently because one part of the hair absorbs well and the other doesn’t. If I do not do this then parts of my head will look soaking wet while some other parts will look extremely dry.

People always tell me to be grateful that I do not have to deal with relaxers but I personally feel what I have to deal with is its own challenge. I am however grateful not because I fell specially endowed but because I see my entire life as a gift. My heritage, my nationality, my physical appearance, my mental health, my creative abilities, my perspectives; all that is uniquely mine is uniquely mine and I refuse to have it any other way.

As for my hair, I am learning daily to work with it and make it… almost do what I want.

For example when I want it to look short and shrunken, I do not put any product at all.

IMG_1928 (2)

When I want it a little bit longer and the curls to loosen up, I know just the right amount of product to put.

IMG_2310 (2)

But most times I just braid it up because I do not want to deal with it for a while; even mathematicians need a holiday.

IMG_2345 (2)

Other times when I am bored and feeling some Aaliyah vibes, I use it to play around.

IMG_2352 (2)

Its hair, it shouldn’t be so serious but God forbid I should tell you how to feel about yours.

Who else has more then one texture? Let me know, for I am sure we are many; just stop paying attention to the prototype, study your own hair and you may just be pleasantly surprised.