As an accompaniment to the BBC Mixed Season, today’s Hair and Identity profile focuses on mixed hair.
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Winifred Baddoo, 56, colours her hair with scarlet and auburn streaks amongst her natural grey and black hair colour. She does want people to realise how old (and experienced) she is, but at the same time she likes to look young and spritely.
“As I am 50% Caucasian and 50% African, my hair is best described as being straight hair with a kink. My Caucasian mum never knew what to do with my hair as a child. It wasn’t like hers and it wasn’t like my dad’s – it was unique. As it was also extremely thick and as a child it sometimes looked like a bush.”
“From an early age, I therefore had to learn to care for it myself as others couldn’t do anything with it – even today hair dressers despair as they cannot deal with it without a big struggle. I slowly began to tame it with lots of time and effort that drove me crackers. It is still hard and I only deal with it properly when I have enough time.”
“My favourite hairstyle was when I was about 16 years old. The longer my hair grows the straighter it becomes. At this time it was past my shoulders so pretty straight. My sisters held it up into a high pony tail then twisted little clumps of hair and pinned them down all round the pony tail. I thought it looked pretty grand and I would walk with my head held up high knowing that my hair looked good. It didn’t matter what I was wearing – everyone would just look at the hair!”
“Hairdressers always pull out their ‘thinning ‘ scissors and snip before they ask me as they think it’s too thick and I would prefer it thin like everyone else’s. No, the thickness is a part of me and a great comfort to me. I feel myself when I can feel the thickness in my hair. I think my hair might represent exuberance. People may think I’ve gone over the top by leaving it so thick and sometimes wild – but sometimes people do not allow their wild side to be seen. I do not like to be suppressed and I like to show my true self”
“It was a great comfort also to my third daughter when she would wake up and end up in our bed at night. She would stretch out her arm, grab hold of my hair, know that it was her mum lying next to her, hold on tight and go into a deep sleep! That happened every night for two years. My other daughters used my hair as a signal of my presence. If lost in the aisles of a supermarket, they would just look out for ‘big hair’ and hey presto ‘we’ve found mum’.”
“My recent favourite hairstyle is what I have now – straightened with a hot comb and possibly straighteners, but with red and auburn streaks amongst the grey and black natural hair colour. I do like people to realise how old – and experienced – I am, but at the same time I like to look young and spritely – hence the red. A young stranger did once comment that she loved my hair and that I looked better than a rock star. That made my day!”
“Now I just love my hair – it is my greatest asset. It’s still very thick and I’m 56-years-old now. Strangers stop me in the street to admire my hair and comment on it. I think some women are a wee bit jealous of it, some don’t really believe it’s my own and others, mostly the younger generation, just love it.”
“I like to be myself and I’m trying to age gracefully so I hope I’m doing it through my hair. I love my hair!”
Well Winifred, we think you look FAB!