ANTHEA FREDERICKS: My emotional journey to love my hair


Hair is an emotive issue. The current debate and fallout since Clicks put out an insensitive hair product advertisement on its website bears testament to this.

Hair is linked to our self-esteem. We know this personally, and there are many research papers on the subject.

During the apartheid era hair played a role in determining where you could live, work and play and who you could love. Sliding a pencil into the hair of a person whose racial group was uncertain was called the pencil test. If the pencil slid through the hair strands, you could “pass” as white. And when it got stuck, well, then you were labelled - wait for it - non-white.

Sounds ridiculous, but the results of this were far from. This test split some families down the middle. Some people were reclassified racially and then forced to live apart from their blood relatives.

In the coloured community, hair was often used as a method of one-upmanship - an "I-am-better-than-you" tool. A person with straight hair would rarely date or even marry someone with kinks and coils. "Kroes hare" was considered undesirable and less pretty. We all have a story to tell about how the texture of our hair influenced our standing in certain families.

As a child I had coarse hair, coupled with a very dry scalp. My mother was struggling to manage my mane and eventually resorted to straightening my hair at around the age of 12. That started my long and intimate journey with chemical products – all aimed at making managing my hair easier and giving me the desired silky locks.

As a young woman, my Tietie (my Dad's eldest sister) remarked: "Kyk hoe mooi lyk jou hare. Ek het altyd gesê eendag gaan jy mooi hare hê". God bless her soul. She didn't know any better then.

I had my last chemical intervention in December last year. A Brazilian that cost me a pretty penny and gave me "good" hair. I was due for another "intervention" - and then came the COVID-19 lockdown. Now I was stuck with my bad hair – pun intended.

I had to manage the _kroesies _on my own and Lord, it was tough! It was never a light bulb moment, but as the months went by I fell in love with my natural kinks and coils. One day I resolved to "transition" to my natural hair (that's naturalista lingo – thank you, YouTube).

I've been on this journey for a couple of months and I am loving every minute of it. It's a work in progress. A work of self-love for me. My hair is my crown. I own it.

There is an old Afrikaans saying in the coloured community: "'n Hond k@k ook hare." We used to say that to make us feel better about our kroesies. Well, dogs can keep theirs and I'll keep mine.

Anthea Fredericks is a news anchor on Kfm. You can follow her on Twitter on @AntheaFrederick.