Burnt, once again.
I decided, from the beginning of the next year, I would shave my hair and leave my burnt scalp and relaxer problems behind. Next year would be perfect – I would have better skin by then and more money for clothes. Next year, I would have more confidence and be able to look good with my natural hair. And so, the next year came. But, then it seemed, actually, summer would be the best time.
When summer arrived, it was clear I was stalling and what I thought was a simple decision to shave my hair, was actually a deeper issue, entangled with an identity that I had failed to examine. Feeling conflicted but determined to commit to my decision, I came up with a strategy. I figured, if I went away for a month and shaved my hair whilst on holiday I would be more comfortable in my new “self”. So I set off to Jamaica, far away from friends and family in London – and far away from how they perceived me.
I soon realised their opinions weren’t really the issue, but redefining and changing my own beliefs about beauty, was what was crippling me. Running out of excuses and acknowledging the depth of my low-self esteem, I made a new commitment: starting from that day, I would have to find ways to begin accepting and affirming my natural beauty without using hair, clothes and makeup.
As part of this new commitment, I decided that it would be best to stop wearing makeup for a while and start paying attention to how I would describe myself. I became conscious about complaining about my uneven skin tone and apologising to others about not looking my best without makeup on. I also started reevaluating my shopping habits by starting to question who I was buying it for; was it genuinely for myself or was I following a new trend and trying to project an idea, sense of status or perception?
“This journey from bald to bold helped me realise that empowerment cannot be given to or done for anyone else”
When I look back at that first year of shifting within, I realise that going bald was the beginning of an important journey and it unravelled so many intertwined questions about who I chose to be, and what I wanted to define me.
Today, as an entrepreneur, it’s my self-confidence in my values, my worth – and my decisions – that I am consistently coming back to. As I make choices regarding my brand TAIABOTANICS, I am reminded that I am the defining factor, and external pressures are simply opinions that I do not have to absorb.
This journey from bald to bold also inspired my vision for supporting women to be courageous. Along with my research, it helped me realise that empowerment cannot be given to or done for anyone else and that “power within” is at the core of igniting change. So, whilst TAIABOTANICS creates clean beauty products to provide more opportunities for women based in rural regions, I’m dedicated to finding ways to ensure that these economic investments extend to freedom on a psychological level. That is, being able to know your worth and challenge any disempowering norms; it is how this journey began for me and it is what I hope many women will come to realise.
Muji is the founder of TAIABOTANICS, a natural skincare brand harnessing 100% Africa-sourced ingredients to provide opportunities for rural producers and support conservations. Their first product, pureone, is a multipurpose beauty balm, which showcases a unique butter from her native country, South Sudan.