The Head Scarf

Okay dokie… Sensitive topic coming up.

sourced from [] accessed 24/04/06

sourced from [] accessed 24/04/06

So there was this guy. 5ft 9”, ebony  dark goodness. And he asked me to kindly send him a picture of myself before we signed off from the chat. It was night time. And so I told him, “I meeeean, I’m already in my head scarf,” I wanted him to say, “It doesn’t matter, because you’re gorgeous I’ll do anything for you…”(que music) Instead he said, “Send a pic hon, just take off the head scarf”.

The debate that followed… Boy… And then I sent a picture with the head scarf on. After editing 150 times and wearing a tiny bit of make- up.


I was about 11years old and puberty was creeping in: hips rounding, sweat glands on over-drive- I was an early bloomer- and Mariam had come from her new neighbourhood to distribute Christmas cards at ours where they had moved out of a year or so before. I ran to catch up with her soon after I spotted her from my bedroom window and asked if I could make the rounds with her. “Yeah, but my mom is waiting for me so we have to do this like, really fast-running….” And then it happened. The band slipped from her ponytail and her hair exploded into this dark swirl of shiny coordinated motion as she ran in what seemed to me a slow motion gallop. My insides burst with jealousy, “OH MY GOD! Your mom let you relax your hair?!!” (this was a big fucking deal back in my day) “Yap!” she responded.

That evening and for the rest of the year I whined about getting my hair relaxed. My mom would not budge. My mind was filled with visions of the black swirl on Mariam’s head that moved not against but with the wind. I saw myself accidentally dropping my hair band in class and leaning over my desk to pick it up, smiling in egotistical pleasure as everyone around me stared at the flow on my head. I envisioned wet hair, straight and chic at swimming class like Mariam’s. My mom would say, “Mariam’s hair is not like yours Waithera! Her hair is thick and tough and can withstand relaxer. Yours is not! She is not Kikiyu!” And so at the salon after a wash when my afro would poof from the sink scrub, I would show my mom that my hair was thick and tough.

Of course my hair never looked like Mariam’s- when the day finally came.

I could write about all these levels and themes about black hair and mix race hair and white hair and Malaysian hair- fake or real -but I’m going to cut right to the chase. One because I have a short concentration span and I can never get through pages and pages of blog (I skim, sorry) so I wouldn’t want similar readers to have to do the same. Secondly, this is not a rant. Hair and particularly black hair is a multi-layered, multi-dimensional topic laced with real issues around race, identity, origin, ego… and while I’m all about that, this post is not. Finally, I’m at work and I am trying to get this in before my boss gets suspicious because I am being too ‘typie’ on the keyboard.

If you are a black man and you like to date black women of full black-African descent, you are gonna have to accept that the head scarf will be a part of your romantic life. Natural hair girls who really take good care of their hair sleep in silk head scarfs to keep moisture in and etc. Relaxed / mbalas (weave) hair girls like me sleep in head scarfs also to keep the hair ‘right’, moisture in, maintain texture etc. There will be no moments where you can ‘Run your fingers through my Hair’ because there is no fluidity in our hair and if there was, it’s either too oily from the salon or not long enough for a ‘Running’…more like ‘hop down the patio steps through my hair’. Or it could be that there is a layer of tracks (team mbalas) that no girl in the world with a sew in weave is ever  going to let you feel.

I say black men because if I was to date a white guy I get the notion that he would never ask about my head scarf because of the ‘Fear of The Unknown’ element i.e  ‘Maybe its a black thing’ or ‘Maybe it’s an African thing’ or ‘Maybe she will pop off if I ask’. The hair that grows out of my head, brother, looks just like yours does when it grows out of your head. If you want a ‘Run my fingers through your hair’ session or you’re not a fan of the head scarf, maybe try dating a different race? And forego all the fulfilment that comes with dating a black girl? >Que in Big Sean ft Nicki Minaj ”A$*” track<<

And if you say you don’t do the head scarf at night, girl please? And if you say your girlfriend never wears one, probably when you spend the night she doesn’t (high five!)

Much Love



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