The inevitable arrival of a new year.

I like to call this time of year a “major reality check”. Why? Well it’s the only time in the year that forces me to stop and take note of where I stand in life. During this time my comparative human nature kicks in to gear. I can’t help but compare the person that I am now, to the person that I was a year ago. The comparisons I make can be as simple as comparing my weight, or realising how much I’ve grown – just this year alone. But since I’m a melancholic type of person, I usually analyse the ‘deeper’ changes that I’ve undergone.

For example, I think that I have become more aware of my emotions… My emotional intelligence has gone from an F to a C+. I now have an understanding of why I feel a certain way at a particular moment, even though this newly gained understanding hasn’t altered the way I respond to certain situations – perhaps in a few years. However, I do think that this has made me more mature.

Welcoming a new year can either be depressing or very refreshing. Depressing because you might just realise that you are still at the same place in your life that you were last year. I don’t know, some people might see this as being a good thing. But being a teenager, in this day and age, leads me to seeing only the cons of such a state. I think this  is depressing because I believe that as humans we have the deep desire to improve ourselves. For some, depression might come from realising that they have been spending their whole year taking one step forward, and two steps back. Yep, it happens. It’s like the time I got my 3rd term report – my average was lower than my 1st semester’s report. Even though I wouldn’t call it depression, something struck that told me to wake up and press on.

2013 For others the beginning of a new year can be refreshing. It is for me when a year has been ‘good’ to me. That means that I kept more than half of  my new year’s resolutions and I achieved most of my goals (at least the important ones). But I think that it all boils down to my happy moments exceeding my sad moments in the course of the year.

Whether the year be good or bad, I’m sure that we can all agree that time flies. It was just the other day that I was celebrating the arrival of the year of doom, and now it’s only a few days before the arrival of 2013. I personally feel that this is yet to be the best year of my life. After all, it marks the last year of my high school career. This is the year that I’ve awaited ever since I was aware of the fact that there was an end to the madness of waking up early(non-stop) 5 days of the week. This was later overshadowed by the realisation that there was still university and then I would have to work for the rest of my life. But now that I’m soooo close, I can’t stop the excitement of the beginning of the end of my high school years.

 

Perhaps 2013 won’t live up to what I expect of it. Or maybe it will 🙂 But I guess I’ll know that for sure at about this time, but only a year later. You know when people say that if they had the chance to go back, they wouldn’t changed anything. Well, let’s just say that it wasn’t that type of year for me… There are definitely some things that I would change if I had the chance to go back. But besides the things that I would change ( if I could go back), I would say that 2012 has been rather ‘good’ to me.

 

 

 

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

This is an oral which I recently did in my English class. It aims to make people aware of the power of perception. It also enlightens the audience on the hair challenges that African women face.

I am not beautiful. Yes you heard me, I am not beautiful. I say this because this is what I was made to believe as a young African woman. Through society and the media, I’ve been led to believe that being African is just not good or beautiful enough. Which brings me to my topic: African coarse hair.

I’m talking about the hair that has not been altered by hot combs, flat irons or chemicals. The hair that I, as an African woman, was born with. Scientists believe that this type of hair may have initially evolved because of an adaptive need. For protection against the intense UV radiation of Africa. Or because the relatively sparse density of Afro-hair, combined with its elastic helix shape, results in an airy effect which increases the circulation of cool air onto the scalp. This might have served to facilitate our hominid ancestors’ body-temperature regulation while they lived in the open savannah.

Woman with an afro

These are all good points, but they are points that do not matter in the world that we live in today.

Growing up, I have never failed to notice that my hair was somewhat different from the other races. I knew that society said that my natural hair was bad, and I believed them. Society and the media call it “bad hair” because it doesn’t move, it doesn’t shine, it doesn’t do what the lady’s hair on TV does. Every few months I would beg my mom to buy me a relaxer and I would leave it on for as long as my poor scalp could bear. Why? Because I was and still am driven by the painful need to conform to the dominant values of society. Conforming, but yet not knowing that I’m weighing my image on a society that has a twisted view on beauty.

A young African woman doesn’t get her dream job because society says that dreadlocks are not suitable for the corporate environment. A woman with an afro notices her client’s facial expression as she walks into the boardroom. She becomes insecure and messes up her whole presentation. Since perception is a powerful tool, incidents like these are rapidly becoming a reality that African women face.

This has led to black women spending thousands annually on hair products. They have become hopeless captives of the beauty industry which has skilfully fed them with fantasies of physical glitter and social glamour and has turned them into mammoth profits. Manufacturers tell them that their hair is the path to success and self-esteem. This has led to women making their hair their priority and sometimes going to drastic measures for the sake of their hair. This has seen the rise to phrases such as, ‘Suffer for your beauty’, which helps them focus on the light at the end of the tunnel.

Others, though, might argue that they use extensions or weaves because they are easier to manage comparing to their natural hair. Whatever the reason, the stigma behind African hair still exists.

African coarse hair is just one of the many things that society and the media perceive as not forming the ideal package of beauty. But quite often we forget that what is perceived is not always the truth. Which brings me to say, “Perhaps I am beautiful, it’s just that perception has made you think otherwise.”