Ama Nkrumah, 18, Health and Social Care student

"I’m Ama Nkrumah, currently studying level 3 Health and Social Care at college and I’ve had natural hair my whole life. I always loved how many hairstyles my hair could do and never saw my curls as something wrong or unusual until primary school where I would get asked to sit at the back of the class because my hair was “too big” or “too distracting” and girls around me would tell me that my hair would look better relaxed or weaved. For a while I ignored them, but eventually I began asking my mother to straighten my hair. She refused until one year she pressed it straight for my birthday.

At first I loved it but after staring at myself in the mirror I realised I didn’t know the girl looking back at me. The next day I wanted my curls back, and since then I’ve never straightened my hair. The criticism of my natural hair continued into secondary school, a reflection that as young black girls we are constantly shown beauty images which don’t celebrate us with natural hair. As a result, I have struggled to relate to girls around me who see my natural look as odd. Though challenging and at times isolating, my beautiful thick afro is a constant reminder that to get through life, I have to be just like my hair, strong, bold and one hundred percent true to myself."

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