Monday, August 27, 2012

Growing up with Mixed Hair and Hijab...

Salam folks!
In the past few days I have felt inspired to take some steps in growing and taking better care of my hair. I’ve done a lot of research, watched tons of you tube videos and even talked to my best friend about it and she is right on board with me!
I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with my hair like most women. I think my particular experience was driven by issues being mixed and bicultural. I attempted to write this post several times and realized undoubtedly that my mother played a big role in my relationship with my hair.
Although I am half black and half Indian I was raised primarily by my Indian mother. Instead of taking the time to get to know how to take care of my hair, I think she projected her prejudices on me growing up. At one point she was convinced I could achieve the same look all my desi relatives had naturally.  I was told that I wasn’t taking care of it enough, if I just shampooed it with her type of shampoo or trimmed the ends every 5 seconds I’d emerge with super straight south Asian hair!

Or maybe, because it sat differently and reacted differently…because it was so unlike hers, I should treat it like how some of the mainstream of African American girls were treating their hair.
I remember hating the way I looked when I was young. She would try to duplicate the hairstyles she saw on young black girls (Horribly) with me and to say I looked a hot mess was an understatement.
For the longest time I felt like I had no control over my own self image. Every other day she’d come home after having a new conversation with a coworker and now there was a new product to try or a new activity to do.
What I hated most was when she wanted to brush it..I can’t even go into detail of how bad that always turned out. Maybe that was one of the reasons I started to crave straight hair. If my hair was straight, she’d leave me alone. The brushing sessions wouldn’t hurt as much.
One day I went for a relaxer at a salon. My hair burned, my scalp peeled and bled. I looked in the mirror and I felt like if someone stole something within me. Ripped it out and now I was incomplete. My hair fell perfectly thin straight against my face and I tried to push it back up, tried to find my curls again. After that experience I went back and forth between white salons, black relaxers, half relaxers, children relaxers, chopping inches off, over and over again for years, until I finally took control…
In my junior year of high school I had been contemplating hijab in the back of my mind. When I decided to make a change and start to care about my religion I also began to cover my hair in various ways. One day (at the pleading of my mother) I went to a salon to get it cut AGAIN. Everything was chopped until only the longest strand fell at two inches. My mother beamed, and I cried. She  loved it probably because it looked like her as she always wore her hair short. I, on the other hand, felt naked and exposed. As soon as I was able to, I placed the scarf over my head and never took it off in public. At one point I remember finally looking my mother in the eyes and saying
"NO. Its mine! My problem, and I will do what I want with it and this is what I want"
 Since then, I have never relaxed or cut my hair, and it has grown longer than it ever did in the several years of getting it treated.
Being hijabi, you sometimes can’t avoid the budding curiosity of people around you who just want to know what’s under that thing. In college I dealt with a lot of different reactions whenever I had a “Big Reveal”
Girls you know what I am talking about!
The big reveal is when you have been friends for a while with somebody and they finally get the chance to see your hair.
Usually they either profess their love for what’s underneath or sometimes a mild disappointment. OH I can’t stand it! Why must there be a declaration of everyone’s opinion? Was I avoiding some test and finally need to be evaluated?
It’s difficult looking like a hair commercial model with doves and flowers whooshing by as you whip your locs in their face considering the fact it’s been covered and held down all day!

Umm NO...

I remember being in Egypt and feeling normal for the first time. I took of my hijab while hanging out with my Egyptian friends and no one took a second look probably because my hair didn’t stand out in a room with Arab women. I watched my classmate do the same and I wanted to hug her! I would say that my diet, the hair products I was using overseas, and just feeling more self confident all helped me to feel truly beautiful!
Over the past few years however, I have let my hair take a backseat. Any mother will tell you the first thing to go when taking care of your children is yourself. It’s been easy barely touching it and just watching it grow but I should and need to take care of it not the way anyone wants me to but what would be the best for my natural texture.
I love my hair…I think I always have. I’ve been asked before why I wear my hijab so voluminous and its because it mimics the way my natural hair hugs my face. Covered, protected, loved….
So, I decided from now on, I will always keep my hair natural. Never will I hurt you again! I also want to grow it out down past my back like I used to when I was younger so I am starting a hair regime that I hope you will follow with me as soon as I get a little more settled.
Here’s what I am doing/going to do inshallah:
  • Taking time to research in detail what is best for myself
  • Figuring out what hair texture I am (mixture between 3b and 3c) Figure out what type of hair you have here and what works best with it.
  • Revamp all my hair care products-I’m going more natural and more organic
  • Keeping to a strict hair care regime
  • Taking a hair growth formula
  • Drinking more water!
  • Wearing my hair in protective styling more often
  • Measuring my growth to keep motivated
  • Dying it
  • Informing all of you about this journey of mine!
Btw I'm getting my hair like this...

Yes its Mariam Fares (LOVE HER HAIR!)
How is your relationship with your hair? Do you find it harder to take care of your hair with hijab (if you wear one)? Have you started a hair journey or is there any goals you’d like to achieve yourself? Let me know!


  1. I understand where you are coming from.

    I have naturaly kinky/afro (type 4) type hair and have struggled with it most of my life. Right now, I love it but growing up, it was a completely different story.

    Bad hair practices, techniques, and habits were common place in my household for generations. The turning point came when I made the decision to educate myself on my hair and take the time and effort to care for it. I knew I didn't want to get a relaxer (even though I was tempted at time) and wanted to appreciate my natural hair.

    It's been about 7 years since I started on that hair journey. Back in 2005, my hair was dry, unhealthy, and never grew past my shoulders. Fast forward 7 years later, my nautral hair is the healthiest it's been and now at waist length.

    My goal now is to practice STYLING it. I've realized that I've used my hijab as a 'crutch' and haven't taken time to learn to style it because I keep it covered majority of the time.

    1. Wow sis! Mashallah and congrats on taking control!!! I feel like the black community has been Jipped into thinking we inherited bad hair and can never achieve healthy long hair it's sad it makes u wanna just shout to the world. You said u have type 4 hair? Could I bother u to email me, my best friend has type 4 and it would be awesome to know wat kind of products you use!!!

  2. Great post! I had issues with my hair too. My mom was always so supportive of my natural hair and always told me it was beautiful because Allah had made it that way. Howeverpeerpressure got the best of me and I relaxed my hair all through high school and college. It finally occurred to me after all the burning and peeling and hair loss that my mother was right all along. I've been natural ever since and have decided never to let anyone make me feel bad about myself. Happy I'm nappy!

    1. Hahaha! Congrats sis!!! Thanks for reading too! Yeah I remember some folks who though anything that wasn't straight was a hot mess, making u feel bad for it growing up as well. So glad to be over that !

  3. I've missed you! This was a great read. I love Mariam Fares' hair too. My oldest daughter has curly hair and she didn't get it from me. I love it so much but she is obsessed with wanting to straighten it. I let her once in a while for occasions but that's all. Good luck on your hair journey!

    1. Mooooooooooooooooona!!!!!!!! I missed you too! I hope your family is in good health! Good job helping her to protect her hair, I hope one day she comes to love and appreciate it :)I really wish I could go back in time and talk myself out of wanting straight hair

  4. MashaAllah a deep post sister and I am sure most of us can relate to. I went natural over a year and a half ago after soul searching and re-educating myself . I simply asked myself why I was putting myself through so much trauma every two months by 'relaxing' it when it only looked 'good' for about two days! It was very emotional and psychologically to say the least.
    My hair from I was a teenager to the end of my twenties was brittle, life less and straw like and I was grateful for hijab to be honest. I hated my hair. But now after accepting my true self and embracing my natural hair I am in love with it.
    It is how my creator wanted it to be and I enjoy pampering myself and nurturing it. I thank Allah for the strength to make me see sense because before I was going around in circles and still not achieving the look I desired. Very tiresome it was.
    I do have a strict regime which involves a deep condition once a week. Regular protective styles and natural organic products. I did experiment with a chemical hair dye and instantly noticed the difference in the texture and will not be doing that again inshaALLAH so powder dyes for me or nothing! I have be doing a hair growth journey since my big chop so I can remember and see the changes. The hair style you are after looks wonderful. Very beautiful mashaAllah.
    Again a wonderful post your shared with us.
    Take care, Sanaa*

    1. Wow mashallah sis! Congrats on all the progress you have achieved in growing and embracing your natural hair :) After doing a bit of research I think I will too start deep conditioning and protective styles. Instead of going wholly organic for now I am trying to reduce sulfates and all that destructive stuff that we find so often in our products. I also have wanted to dye it (ive never done it before) so im reserching safer ways to do it. Thanks for reading sis!

  5. Loved this post. Thanks for taking me on your journey through self acceptance. I'm of Pakistani heritage and have cousins whose mom is from Ghana. I always thought their hair was awesome. They grew it out long - like your last photo and always kept it natural I think how the family approaches it makes a significant impact on self acceptance. I was always really into styling, coloring, highlighting my hair. Now that I've started wearing hijab, I just keep it clean and put a little product in it. My husband still compliments me on it, the same way he did when I paid so much attention to its styling and fashionability. Most importantly, I think it looks good. Also, laughed at the big reveal. I teach elementary aged children and the girls are always BEGGING to see my hair -- I once took them to the bathroom and let them see it. They were fascinated. . :-)

    1. Thanks Faiqa! Thats so cool you have mixed cousins like myself :) May Allah bless you and your family. Hahha so cute about the girls in your class ;) Yeah Ive caught myself doing secret "bathroom" reveals in school haha lol

  6. Loved this post, I knew your beauty was from a mixed heritage! I hate doing the reveal, i hate too much attention and thats wayyy to much for me!

    1. Sweets Ive missed you! Thank you so much :) yeah I try to avoid it as much as possible so I dont have to feel on display eegh

  7. thanks for sharing your story! i recommend 'oyin handmade' products!

    1. Thanks sis for stopping by! Ive never head of those products but I will def take a look now! :)

  8. Loved this post ! I big chopped last october and wearing hijab was a breeze for the first few months with nothing to handle underneath lool.

    i have afro/type 4 hair, so i was soo worried about taking care of it, when it grew out. I grew up thinking my hair was "un-manageable" when really it was my lack of knowledge for my hair type, and lack of hair conditioning which i was so ignorant of lool.

    i switched between hair extensions which i later stopped wearing cos i found out were haram, and perms which eventually led to my lack of growth. I started doing most of the tips you listed and Alhamdulilah my hair is not the nappy mess i thought lol. Truly learned to embrace my texture and take care of it.

    by far deep conditioning overnight has been a life saver for my hair. :)

  9. Wow love the post. I randomly stumbled on your blog via another.
    I can relate - somewhat. I have tight curls and although my parents always loved my curls, I did go through a phase where I hated everything about it. I wanted straight hair and no frizz!
    I too hate the reveal... it's so frustrating when people pressure you to take it off in a female gathering. And then everybody "ooohs" and "aaaaahs". SIGH! :p

    Have you tried a very small amount of grapeseed oil to style it? I use about a dime size and rub it on my hands and then just fluf my curls with it (mainly the ends) - keeps the frizz out. And grapeseed oil is good for hair too! :)

    ~ Shaza ~

  10. The funniest and only remark I've ever received about my hair, whilst I was progressing from "partial" head hijab (scarf wrapped around head but neck was not covered) to eventually "full" head + neck hijab ... At work, a junior female colleague blurts out "you've got hair!". I was wearing a pink beanie (it was the weekend, I had to go into work to sort out some stuff) and my hair was tied up in a pony tail and bundled up underneath the beanie. I didn't realise that a few strands of my pony tail end was sticking out at the back. Luckily, I've got a good, sometimes dry (??wry) sense of humour and I think my smile, silent face and raised eye-brows said it all. We both had a good chuckle!

  11. I've been looking everywhere for a website like this. Thank you!! My hair doesnt grow. I feel jealous when i c somali people with their gorgeous hair and i look at my afro hair.


You are AmaZing


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