“Is that a real Afro?”

I always loved Valerie’s Afro from the cartoon Josie & The Pussycats. So round and fluffy = fire! Today I went to the hair shop down the road (not black owned, sadly — can’t seem to find those here). My friend was coming around to cornrow my hair. I popped down to the shop and the man at the till asked me:

Is that a real Afro?

I was like….*crickets*

While my Afro may not be as round as Valerie’s, I don’t know why this man (an Asian male) could not see that my hair was 100 per cent my Afro. Why would he think I was wearing an Afro wig? It goes back to this assumption again that some people hold that black women do not have *hair* hence having to resort to other methods. My friend plaited cornrows for me using extensions. I am doing this as a method of protective styling due to over brushing and combing my coils for the past few weeks.

The fact that I do have a big Afro has shocked people and again, it goes back to this so-called idea that Afro hair does not grow.

Just because hair does not fall down your back does not mean your hair is not long. I refuse for anyone  to look at a huge Afro, lovely and circular and think that it isn’t long. Also, what kind of bad business manners must you have to ask one of your patron customer such an obnoxious question? It shows me the flagrant dislike he has for a black woman’s hair if he cannot even understand what he is selling.

It also links with this idea that we MUST as black women shop at black owned shops, with people who understand our hair. My mate showed me one hair shop in Bow that (I think) is owned by a black woman. But I live in Walthamstow which is far out of the way to shop in Bow, but I have to because the rudeness in non-black owned hair shops in this area is getting ridiculous.

What would you say to someone who asked you if your Afro was real?


6 thoughts on ““Is that a real Afro?”

  1. oh wow no one has ever asked me that…but im not that long yet (I’m a hair chopper so I’m holding off my addiction just to see what I look like with long hair)…but while i was in the twa my teacher in barbados asked me so when do you plan to do your hair…I was like um…what?

    he was like spose you have a job interview or life..

    I was disgusted really…my natural hair is my natural hair…i think in this particular instance it goes back to thinking natural black hair is nappy and unkept….i use to call my hair nappy but now i realised it was my own form of self dpreciation cus i was tryin to preempt someone elses probable comment..

    awful. but true.

  2. Aulelia, I think that the biggest problem, is that many black women are ignorant of their kinky coiled hair. The hair industry aimed about the so-called black market are making billions. Even though we are a sizeable minority, yet we spend three more of hair products than any other ethnic group. Thank God there are good forums such as longhaircareforum.com. Yet when you meet black women, many feel that their hair can’t grow long, they need weaves etc. Even the products aimed at black hair products are rubbish.
    I have a blog known as valerie’s world
    where I discuss what products, I use. I only go into black beauty shop, to get Westindian castor oil, paltas, glycerine, most times, I get my glycerine from Tesco, rosewater from Tesco, aloe vera gel from Holland and B, Vo5 conditioners for dry/damaged, for permed or coloured treated from Tesco. Other hair products, I use Mega Tek order on line. Ojon hair products from QVC, other good hair products such as JF Lazartigue, Redken moisturising, dry damaged or permed/coloured range, Aveda, and any of the salon ranges, they are expensive, however pantane, L’oreal and others are far better that what is aimed at the black client, many dry out your hair.
    I condition wash my hair every day, I add a some amount of conditioner to a 50 ml bottle, plus add glycerine and rosewater, add a little water, shake up to dissolve properly, then add water to fill up the bottle and pour over my head and wrap a towel around it, so that the excess water can be soaked up, then I air dry.

    There are many products out there to ‘grow your hair’, but our hair is breaking faster, so it is difficult to see the growth. The key to see improvement is to have a good diet rich in B vitamins, good B complex, biotin, plus vitamin E, drinking plenty of water and eating lots of vegetables and good sources of proteins, fish, salmon, chicken, peas, soya, etc.

    Within 30 days, many ladies would see improvements, however many still want to hold unto rubbish ideas. I personally don’t think things would be any different if the shops were black owned, there needs to be a lot of education and people would eventually stop going to non-black beauty shops aimed at black women, they are now supermarkets, look at the Black hair show done every May bank holiday. Nearly all the vendors are non-black and the customers are black.

    During the winter, I put my hair in protective styling, twists, bunti knots, flat twists, which lasts me for a week, again cutting out going to mostly Asian owned shops, to get extensions, where the owners, can’t stand you, but like your money.

    • As always Valerie, you are on point.

      Really shocked to hear the black hair show’s vendors are not black. Why on earth aren’t there more black people in management, not just consuming?

  3. I’ve had people think my hair is some type of wig/weave/chemical process. For some reason it makes me laugh. The funny thing is, it’s usually Black people who think that way! We don’t even know what our own hair looks like. Just today I was out and about and people kept staring at my hair.

    This is part of why I don’t like the idea of Chris Rock’s “Good Hair” movie. Now strangers will think it’s okay to approach random Black women and ask if their hair is real. He makes it seem as if all Black women have fake hair.

    To me, it comes down to respect. Asking someone if any part of them is real is very rude. I don’t know why people think it’s okay to insult Black women.

    • I haven’t seen Good Hair but the trailer does not seem promising. I don’t like the idea of making the concept of a black woman’s hair hidden under a cloak of humour and Chris also needs to sit down bc of his Mike jibes.

      It’s so sad that people felt the need to be extra and stare at your hair when it is in its’ natural state. Mind boggling really.

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