Dreadlocks used to represent anticonformity. They were initially a religious thing, with rastafarians and Mungiki. Then they became a feminist thing, a uniform for ladies who use Ms. After that, they became a visual banners for stylish types who preferred to go ‘natural’.
In my case, it’s the only do that works on my head. But I still like the idea of rebelling a little, which is why I try to keep them short. Try, because hair growth is very tempting. It’s like diamonds, but with shampoo.
As much as we dislike it, we are judged by how we look, what we wear, how we dress our hair. I think that’s partly why I’ve never replaced my nose ring. I’ve worn one since I was sixteen – partly for rebellion, partly for Tushauriane’s Esther, but mostly to look Nubian. Dark girls were hot back then; they still are. Plus, I was at the Plain Jane stage of growth; I thought the bling made me look pretty.
When I lost my nose ring at the pool some months back, I considered getting another one, but then I realised it wasn’t really necessary. I’m no longer the wild sixteen-year-old. Actually, I was never a wild sixteen-year-old, hence the nose ring; I needed some ruse to look crazy. And it wasn’t actually a ring, more like a microscopic gold stud. It looked more like glitter on my nose.
Anyway, I didn’t replace it because I’m allergic to other metals and gold is really expensive – the stud cost 900 bob in 1996! Plus, I’d gotten over my esteem issues, and I no longer needed to look crazy. Also, the stud had the worst habit of slipping off my nose during showers, beach trips, colds, and really humid days.
I suppose you could say I grew out of it, and the litty bitty hole in my nose still ups my ‘cool-and-crazy’ ante. There’s a funny thing about growing old that helps us grow up. I met this guy once, during blind date week… Let me explain. I spend a lot of time online, and meet a lot of people. One week, I decided to see all my online friends, so for seven days, I had three or four meetings a day with people I’d never physically met. It was quite … interesting.
This one guy stood out, and for a long time, I didn’t know why. I noticed later that it’s because he wasn’t trying. All my other dates had been self conscious, nervous, trying to make an impression. They wanted me to like them, so they showed me what they thought I wanted to see. And that can be exhausting, for both.
But this guy, he was comfy, easy, not tensed in any way. He was himself, or at least, he made a very good pretense of it. Either he didn’t care what I thought of him or…
I pointed this out to him, curious to find what the ‘…or…’ could be. He smiled and said, “It’s because I’m older.” I’m 28. He was 36.
I’ve hung out with guys as old as sixty, and they were just as nervous as any teenager. And I’ve spent time with boys who are twelve but have the wisdom of an octogenarian. So clearly, not all presence comes with age.
But there are some things that get easier when you’re older. You learn to accept yourself, to focus your strengths and weaken your … weaknesses. You learn to approach people with style and to deal with different sorts. You learn that you don’t have to break down a door to get into a locked building.
And in my case, you learn that 20 carrats of bling in your nose just might get you noticed, but it does not make you pretty.
I suppose I still could get that stud for my nose, but I’m glad that I’ve matured enough to know that I don’t have to.
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Crystal Ading' is a professional author, editor, rock lover and mother. Her work is available through threeceebee.com.