If there’s the one thing I know is about black men’s hair. For real. My parents are Kenyan so you better trust me when I tell you my hair is as kinky as kinky it can get. When I was a kid I used to hate my hair. I have 4 sisters and I’m the only son so you can imagine my sisters and my mother getting their hair relaxed and straightened, of course I wanted my piece of that too. So I pretty much spent much of my childhood either getting my hair cut so short it looked like facial hair or putting products on my hair to make it straight.
Imagine the scenery, a black Kenyan dude, 192 centimeters tall weight 87 kilograms (I was fatter some months ago too), getting his hair straightened at home by one of his sister while she has foil covering her hair. That was until not that long ago, just the usual hair care routine of a hair clipper or a hair straightener. So I decided instead to just grow my curly hair out. I’m 19 and I have never had my hair longer than say, 2 inches. For real, when I decided to grow my hair long I actually thought about it. Could I hate my curly afro hair so much to not even grow it minimally? Anyway this is my curly hair right now.
I had no idea about hair products apart from using a hair straightener and doing fade haircuts with a hair clipper. Here in Amsterdam we don’t have barbershops like in America, here it is pretty much just hairdresser salons with techno music and hot hairdressers haha I have seen maybe 3 traditional barbershops in Amsterdam but a men’s haircut was like 3 or 4 times the price in a hairdresser salon. So I said f*ck it , I’ll just grow my hair long.
I browsed online for hair products and hair guides and visited a male grooming forum called “MensHairForum” where the members talk about hairstyles for men and hair products that are good for guys. I used the hair products guide they had and just picked a pomade for curly hair, a hair dryer, a wide tooth comb and a replacement for my old Oster hair clipper. I read some other forum posts about curly hair in the forum and how to grow hair long and tips for curly hair etc I even joined the forum and asked a couple of questions, bought a book called The Curly Hair Book (it’s for men) and I promised myself that day to start my hair growth journey and accept my curly hair as it is. I have been 3 months growing my hair long. My curls now are coiled like corkscrews haha! I never thought my curly hair could be sooo curly because I never see my mom or my sisters with their natural hair.
Now when my curly afro hair is looking good I start to think about my past and about my attitude to my hair. But I have grown surrounded by an attitude about hair that was negative. When I go to Kenya to visit my family all my aunts have relaxed straightened hair. Like one third of my aunts are beauticians, seriously!! So all of them have very shiny bone straight hair, no naturally curly afro hair. I actually went to Kenya 6 weeks ago and my aunts tried to convince me to go to their hair salon to have my curly hair straightened, that’s how bad their mentality is about their curly hair.
Amsterdam is a multi-cultural city and more and more I see black men or biracial men with long curly hair. It is like becoming accepted but most black men still have very short hair, I don’t think we will see a total change in attitude to afro hair until the next generation of men and women. It is fair to say that Netherlands is an european country with european beauty standards so the pressure to integrate through my hairstyle is strong. You know, for things lile, job hunting, for example. My university tutor told me that my puffy afro hair was ok while i am a student but that I have to cut my hair when I look for a job. Really? Is afro hair so bad? I see white men with long hair in professional jobs like managers, why can’t a black man with natural curly hair wearing the hairstyle he was born with be employed? Why the focus on just the hair of the man and not in his ability to perform the job and his soul and good intentions?
The topic of black men’s afro hair is one that I am growing more conscious about. I think it is important to show black men that there is another hairstyle option to men, not just using a hair clipper!! Anyway these are my two euro cents for today.