Today, I caught a bus for the first time in a looooooooong while. All part of my bid to 'beat the recession' (or at least survive it), old faithful Angela (my car) stayed at home.
So I'm sitting on the bus looking around at everyone else (as you do) and I notice this beautiful elderly lady sitting across the aisle from me. She catches my eye and I nod in acknowledgement, then keep scanning the other passengers. After a while, I looked back at the woman and my eyes - as ever - were drawn to her hair. At this point I was mortified.
Women... why do we do this to ourselves?
This aged lady, had lost significant portions of her crowning glory to traction alopecia. You might ask how I know it was traction alopecia and not cancer or something else... well I don't know for 100% but given the fact that she was still wearing a weave.... well, I think you can forgive me for reaching that conclusion.
The photo above is not of the woman on the bus, I wasn't brazen enough to whip out my mobile phone and take a pic, but trust me when I say the woman in this photo as the same amount of side and front hair as my bus woman.
What made me most angry, was not just that she had clearly lost hair from the sides and front of her head most likely from wearing braids or weaves that were too tight - but she was still persisting with hairstyles that were damaging to her hair!
The little hair she had was scraped back (into corn rows I presume) and onto this was sewn her wine red weave. Thus the weave started from way behind her ears... remember a while back I was worried that I would end up looking like the Predator due to hair loss? (see previous post) well, this woman had already reached that point.
I just wanted to run over to her and cut that weave out of her hair and massage her scalp with rosemary and jojoba oils, or anything light and nourishing to help her hair recover. I wish I knew her and would have known her years ago - before this damage became permanent(?) or at least this severe, so I could teach her about caring for her natural hair (for her hair was indeed natural).
I totally understand that this woman wanted to look beautiful, given my own experiences with alopecia (alopecia areata) I can sympathise with her pain and embarrasment, her inability to walk out her front door with bald patches... BUT... sewing more tracts into your hair (or even bonding them in) to hide your patches isn't going to help in the long run. A wig (human or synthetic hair) would have been far preferable, under which she could have worn some gentle twists, allowing her hair to rest and recover in the process.
As much as I wanted to shake her or 'save' her from the bad advice she'd obviously been receiving about her hair, mostly I just wanted to reach over and hug her.
"'Auntie', I am sorry for your loss. "
May your follicles recover and your crowning glory be restored.
To my sisters, my aunties, my daughters - Black Women of all ages, hair types and personal persuasions. PLEASE PLEASE love your hair - whatever you do to it, just keep it healthy!
Note: final image, copyright www.rashini.net; first image, copyright www.thewestminsterpractice.com