I was involved in a natural hair discussion on Instagram and someone made a statement that really struck me. She said, “If protective styling was that great for length retention, African women would have the longest hair in the world.” This triggered a few questions in my mind. Why are we so passionate about ‘protective styles’? Why do many of us still have short and unhealthy hair even though we wear ‘protective styles’ all the time? Why is it that most of our ‘protective styles’ do not look like our real hair? Why is it that when many of us say ‘protective style’ we are referring to styles with a form of extension? These questions made me realize that many of us do not wear the styles as protection for our hair but as means of hiding our hair and replacing them with hair so we can look like other people. For those of you who do not know, protective style by definition is any style that keeps the ends of one’s hair tucked away from effects of the environment and as a result, styles like buns, roll tuck and pins, twist/braids with just your hair are also protective styles. Just like me, you may wonder, “Even if we wear our styles for the wrong reasons, the fact that we wear them should give us the desired results of long hair.” Well, this is not the case. Motives for doing things affect our outcomes. For example if you’re wearing your style for the purpose of hiding your hair, when you have to choose between the weave and your hair on days when you can’t afford to care for both, you’ll end up picking the weave and we all know that these days come up a lot.
To give another perspective to why we are not reaping the benefits of protective styling, let’s use the parable of the talent in the Bible as a case study. A master was going on a journey so he called his three servants and gave them talents, one he gave five, the other two and the third he gave one. The servants whom he gave five and two talents invested theirs and got 100 percent profit while the one whom he gave one buried his. I can imagine the one with one talent asking his colleagues how many talents they got and being offended that he was given the least. When their master returned, they all came to present themselves to him. The first and second came with their capital and profits while the third came with just his capital, complaining. The master with anger, took the one talent that was given to him and gave it to the one with five talents so he ended up with no talent. When you do not value what you have and are constantly wishing you had what was given to others (covetousness), you won’t make the best use of what you have and you’ll end up losing everything. This is where many of us African women have failed. We are constantly wishing for the hair and skin tone of other races that’s why we do not put in the work to make ours look good and sometimes we end up loosing the beauty that God has blessed us with.
Even among ourselves, many of us are covetous. We find ourselves focusing on others with waist length hair instead of appreciating our twa and making the best of it. What many of us don’t understand is that the waist length hair wasn’t achieved in a day. You need to pass through that twa phase to be equipped with the right information to care for your hair when it gets to waist length. Remember the servant that was given five talents, he ended up with eleven because he made the best use of the little that was initially given to him. Think of growth like this, when you have put in your best and learned all you need to learn at a phase, God sees you can handle more so he’ll bless you with more. It’s more like promotion in school. When you’ve excelled and learned all you need to learn in a class, you’re promoted to the next. This principle goes beyond hair, even in other aspects of life. When you value the little you have and nuture it, it’ll flourish and eventually multiply. Many times God gives us what we can handle. If you prove your worth with the little He has given you, then He’ll see the need in multiplying it. The next time you feel like complaining that you have been blessed with just one talent even though others were given two and five remember that complaining will only make you lose the little you have. Instead appreciate/value what you have, nurture it, then it’ll flourish and multiply.
Want to know what I’ve been up to with my hair, follow me on Instagram @lilianokibe. You can also watch my videos on YouTube here. Till next time, stay motivated. Don’t give up on that dream be it hair related or not.