Afros, locs and the company of cheerful ladies

 Unfortunately, I didn’t note the address of the gallery at which I saw this sculpture and as it was shut and I didn’t find out what the theme of the exhibition could have been. 

Her Afro puffs started me musing on the process of finding hair and skin products, which is limited by my brand preferences and the lack of retailers to a few shops in Hakaniemi for my skin and hair products and to Stockmann for my make-up. 

I’m sure there are other means of importing hair products and make-up, but as came up in a conversation with my better half, I haven’t made the connection with the women who would be involved in trading such commodities. 

The reason is quite simple. My locs. 

Since I embarked on my dreadlock journey in May 2010, I haven’t once been to a hairdresser. I haven’t once participated in the hair rituals that as black women unwittingly bind us together and create networks. For nearly three years I’ve done my hair on my own. In essence, for as long as I’ve been in Helsinki I haven’t needed to meet another black woman – I have of course – but it hasn’t been essential. 

As I don’t require chemical relaxers, hair extensions, specialist shampoos and conditioners or the services of braiders and hair stylists, consequently I don’t spend an hour a week surrounded by other African women, neither do I have to endure day long braiding marathons locked between another woman’s knees. I also haven’t been introduced to the woman with the knock-off foundation, the thickest Brazilian or cheapest Peruvian. 

On the other hand, I’ve excluded myself from the conversations that naturally arise, the familiarity and camaraderie that I’d develop with the other women also participating in the cycle of caring for our hair.

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