PERSONAL HAIR JOURNEY - The Long And The Short Of It

By . - Wednesday, June 27, 2012

By: Buhle Miranda Goslar  

There are some truths about hair that have taken me over three decades to attain. Over three decades of tears, anxiety, joy, smiles, hot combs, relaxers, perms, weaves, cornrows, oil sheen, s-curl, braids, hair gel , curl activator and whole lot more so I'm really psyched to be able to share one of these truths here. Those opening line were my way of showing that I do have enough "street/hair cred" to be a guest blogger on Good Hair Diaries. I do realize though, that you don't know me from a tub of hair food so I might need to work a little harder... 

Let me say this, my head is my canvass, the story of my life could easily be told by all the different hairstyles I've had.  The hairstyles I've had, have also taught me a lot about myself -  for example I get bored easily, I have a wild and rebellious streak, I love change, i'm fiercely independent and I don't always make wise choices. What does this mean in hair terms? When I was 20 and I went from black "girl next door" shoulder length braids to a waist length  blonde weave and green contact lenses in one week-end. True story, the reasons why are a whole other story I won't get into. To say that change was an attention-grabbing move would be an understatement. Sometimes hair is a way to break free, an outward sign of inward metamorphosis. 

I kept that blonde hair for a while before "reconnecting" with my roots during an Afro weave/ "faux naturelle" phase. A twist in the tale of my life led me back to reddish blonde straight hair phase (complete with the green contacts) which culminated in a close crop haircut which was a initially a horrific red. Thankfully that was replaced by a curly dark Afro  when i found myself again and eventually a long period of braids. The need for drama surfacing its head again necessitated a " Wanna be Tina Turner" phase with some wickedly funky (in a good way) weaves reminiscent of Angela Bassett in "What's Love Got To Do With It". Sadly the weaves did not come standard with Tina Turner legs.  In between all the weaves, like punctuation marks was always the short bursts of very short hair. 

Whenever I feel like life is getting overwhelming, too many balls to juggle, I know I need to cut my hair. That very act of seeing all that hair fall to the ground as the hairdresser snips away, feels like a lightening of the load for me. As I watch i see responsibilities  being halved. No need for head scarf, no need for such frequent hair treatments, less money spent on haircare, no more worries about my weave corn-rows being exposed when the wind blows,  no more worrying about whether extensions are synthetic or brazilian, no more stress about the way braids may or may not be ravaging my hairline. Less is more. As my hairdresser snips away I see more freedom when swimming in the ocean (not in Cape Town :-), I see more space in my bags as I don't need to pack special shampoos and conditioners when I travel,  what the hotel offers will do just fine. I see more hair fall to the ground and I see more time to lie in bed in the mornings and think about the day ahead. Short is freedom for me.

So what am I currently doing with my hair? It's short, dark and "semi-relaxed" . I shampoo & condition daily. I use a great Organics hair food with a bit of L'Oreal styling mousse to get some extra body and attitude. Apparently i don't see Dodo (my stylist) for treatments nearly often enough. Something I need to try change this winter and particularly because I'm on a mission to restore my hairline to its pre-braiding/weave glory. Any tips there are welcome. All in all though, I think things are looking good on the hair front. 

But wait, let me go back to the beginning, so I can really explain why of all the hairstyles in the world, short is my true favourite. I fell in love with it when I met Toni Braxton. OK, met is probably overstating things a bit. I saw her picture, I think it was on a tape, yep, definitely a tape not CD, it was nineties OK? We were still recording songs off the "Top Ten" shows on radio and yes we had "lyric books".... Anyway getting back to the Toni story, it was a picture  meeting. I was in high school (for my sins, boarding school) and I remember seeing that picture of her in a simple white tshirt and blue jeans .....AND short hair. Short hair!!! It was more than a picture that was freedom - the promised land in African hair terms. Here was a girl, looking HOTT, yes with a double T, with short hair. That was not "another sad love song" for me it was joy. 

Here's the thing, getting hair that looked like Aaliyah (like i said before it was the 90s) would have meant shelling out serious bucks or being born bi-racial - not having enough of the former and it being to late for the latter, that was just out of reach. Sure I could try get braids like Brandy but that took a whole day sitting at the hairdresser, didn't come cheap either, plus as a junior our school did not allow hair extensions. But this, this Toni Braxton was opening up a whole new world, and we, the broke teenagers could now "breathe again". Here was a hairstyle that didn't require tons of time to grow my hair, struggling  each centimetre of the way. ANYONE can have short hair, it was cheap, didn't break school rules and all that was required to get her look was a bit of relaxer and a truck load of gel...(don't judge). This was the redefinition of beauty, desperate desire for Barbie type, long flowing hair was put on ice - for a while. That picture still holds a special place in my heart. It represented  looking good made attainable for any black young girl. Since then I've seen lots of other black women rock short locks in an "attainable" Felicia Mabuza-Suttle, Nia Long, Angela Bassett. It's phenomenal. 

So a couple of months ago I was itching for change and when I read Good Hair Diaries interview with Lebo Mashile and how she was rocking a short blond 'fro i remembered that freedom. I took my desire for a drastic change to my hair dressers chair, cutting off hair I'd spent the last three years growing. Nett Result? Happiness. I've done a lot of things with my hair, and I plan to do lots more, but what I know for sure is that this is my happy place and I'll keep coming back here time and time again. Short = freedom for me, and that is the long and the short of it. 

To read more on all things "In, out and on the edge of the box" 
visit her blog: 

Have a Good Hair Day!!!

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