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But Why is She Cutting Out a Part of Her Beauty? The long African Hair.

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During the last holiday season a look around the mesmerizing parties that I attended was characterized by many looks, am not a fashion cop and I don’t intend to be one, thou there is that one thing that captures my mafisi eye and brings out the true African trait and character that is deeply enshrined in my DNA, It not my fault that I was born and grew up there, but my pleasure of having to learn and understand life at it simplest forms, among the most handsome and gorgeous bunch of people that I can ever think about, the Kenyans.

So to speak, the Kenyan woman has made an evolution something evident on all aspect of life, be it in the corporate world and big blue chip companies, in the entrepreneurial globe competing head to head with men the male dominated world.  So what has impacted all these, hope it capitalism and social space which has opened up the minds of many. Having said that it also in order to comment on a trend that I have seen as well, I have notice the beautiful woman. We all love to look at her, talk about her, wonder about her. She’s got it all, right? The great job, beautiful friends, a date every night, men falling over themselves to be noticed and doors being opened for her, both literally and figuratively, but why is she cutting out a part of her beauty? The long African hair.

I understand where this question is coming from. It is from the mindset that the length of a person’s hair is gendered in such a way that you expect a man to have short hair and a woman to have long hair. That’s the society view of how thing should be, but is it always the case? Let’s see, it might be from the busy schedule that they have to follow or the fewer hours they want to spend on a beauty parlour. Okay, let’s face it. When we meet someone new a first impression is first about looks, only later do things such as personality, brains and character start to take on meaning, an African tradition has a lot to do with the looks, seconded by the daily routine.

During the pre-colonially  era, for many African traditions, at least Kenyan, ethnic communities, the length of hair was not gendered at all in the way that you expect it to have been. For the Maasai and Samburu, the moran (young warrior) grew his hair and kept it in very long, thin braids that fell down across his back– braids dyed red with red ochre soil. The women simply just shaved their heads. I like to think of it as the lion and his lioness.  While the Kikuyu women shaved their heads too, and in Out of Africa, Dr. Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen), writes of Maasai and of Kikuyu women, “Native women shave their heads, and it is a curious thing how quickly you come to feel that these little round neat skulls, which look like some kind of dusky nuts, are the sign of true womanliness, and that a crop of hair on the head of a woman is as unladylike as a beard.”

Tough hair is easier managed when its cut very low. I did that for the 12 years of primary and secondary schools. Managing such hair is usually time-consuming and expensive, so for students, its best to have it short. Back in the late 80s and early 90s when I was in boarding school, the idea was that your hair was a distraction from your education and sense of time, that women spent too much time taking care of their hair, and so that you shouldn’t be concerned about your beauty at such a young age.

Another study shows it isn’t cheap to be a beautiful woman. They spend about one third of their income on maintaining those good looks. I’m all for taking care of yourself and trying to look your best. But, many of these women are spending money they don’t have on creams, diets, products and cosmetic surgery. High fashion magazines feel they need to Photoshop even the most gorgeous of models, so does that put even more pressure on the beautiful woman to keep up appearances? After all, in her mind that may be all she has going for her, thus money is no object when it buys self esteem.

So, there is good and bad with beauty and the real question is what exactly determines which woman will parlay it into success and which will succumb to the dark side? The answer is quite simple. Beauty is an asset, just like physical prowess, charisma, brains or emotional intelligence. The key with any gift is in the way that you use it. It doesn’t define you as a person. Rather, it’s an asset to be used judiciously and with an understanding of how it is just a small part of who you are. Those that get this will do well; others that don’t, not so much.

As with most things beauty can be a blessing, but it can also be a curse.  “I’m intrigued by the way in which physical appearance can often direct a person’s life; things happen differently for a beautiful woman than for a plain one.” Words of a famous writer, Penelope Lively. Different yes, but not necessarily better. So, the next time you see a stunningly beautiful woman,…. enjoy the view, but don’t judge her because she’s beautiful

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