Friday, 16 September 2011

Afro massive

And now for something completely different. Once upon a time Aevin Dugas, a 36 year old social worker from New Orleans, decided she was fed up with "chemically relaxing" her hair, i.e. artificially straightening it to satisfy the white folks.

So she went back to a natural afro, and just let it grow. And grow. And grow. And now, 12 years later, she has the biggest afro in the world, with a circumference of 4 feet 4 inches.

"I love it. I would never go back to chemically relaxed hair" she says.

Big hair like that is not without its problems though. Of course everyone wants to touch it, often without asking, as Los Angelista also found out when she went natural. It annoys her but she allows touching as long as people don't pull it or "smash" it.

It catches in things like doors and trees. It picks up straws from people's drinks. She can't see properly when she's driving. In the summer heat, her hair gets so hot it starts steaming, and sometimes she thinks she's going to pass out.

So she doesn't wear her hair loose all the time. Often she bundles it up into a doughnut or a braid. She says wearing it loose all the time would damage it because it would get too tangled.

And when she washes it she uses up to five conditioners at once to keep it looking good.

But she doesn't seem too bothered by all these little glitches and snags. If anything she seems to find them amusing and intriguing. She certainly isn't tempted to go back to a "normal" hairstyle.

Good for her. She's a cool cookie. And afros rock!

PS: I always loved Angela Davis's afro. She was one of my sixties heroes.

Pic: Aevin Dugas

Watch an interview with Aevin here.

15 comments:

Jenny Woolf said...

She'd probably have felt entirely at home in the early 18th century wearing one of those hairdos that they used to find birds nesting in, etc.

Good on her! It takes a special sort of person to make a fashion statement like this and brighten up our lives!

Nick said...

Jenny - I don't think she'd be very happy with birds nesting in her hair. But she could certainly hide a few things in it!

Rummuser said...

My son in his youth, had a similar hair do and was called Bob by his friends short for Bob Marley. I used to call him a Golliwog. I could get away with that indiscretion because it was between me and my son. I shall send you a photograph separately taken during his college days. I know all about the problems he had keeping it out of harms way. He now keeps his hair cut in a crew cut with very little on top. Almost bald look.

kylie said...

my hair doesnt come close to that enormous afro but it still picks up bits of leaves and things when i walk past trees.
good on her for bucking the status quo

Nick said...

Ramana - It took an amazingly long time for the term golliwog to be recognised as offensive and racist.

Switching from Bob Marley style to a crewcut is quite a change!

Kylie - At least it's only leaves that get picked up. Hair as big as Aevin's must be quite a hazard!

blackwatertown said...

What's natural is wonderful - in this case anyway. The whole chemical relaxing industry for is almost repugnant I think. Not as bad as, but akin to, skin bleaching.
Smacks of self contempt and cultural cringe.
Though, to calm down a little, why shouldn't people experiemt and do things with their hair if they want to - all a matter of choice. As long as it is genuinely free choice and not conforming to some imposed norm.
So hurrah for Aevin - as long as I'm not sitting behind her in the cinema.
(Though it would be a consolation to me that her hair looks so great.)

Wisewebwoman said...

So many try and hide their cultural heritage which is what the white media and adverts do, unfortunately.
I have had Asian acquaintances and First Nations friends try and curl their hair to accommodate what white people call "acceptable beauty". It is a shame.
Good for this woman, may she lead the way to more freedom from the "Others"
XO
WWW

Nick said...

Blackwater - There are still so many taboos and norms about hair. We should all be free to do what we want with it. Good point about being behind Aevin in the cinema!

www - We shouldn't have to repress our own cultural preferences in favour of someone else's - unless they're harmful in some way. What's the big deal about afros?

Liz said...

That is fantastic! She looks amazing. Good for her. It must get very hot though.

nursemyra said...

She is totally gorgeous

Nick said...

Liz - As she says, it gets very hot in summer, so she tends to gather it up to keep it cooler.

Myra - Isn't she just? Her hairstyle totally suits her. And it must cause a sensation wherever she goes.

Baino said...

four feet! That's a bit excessive. I share the frustration though being blessed with a frizzy mop. The conditioning industry would go broke without my contribution I'm sure. Took me years to learn not to fight the curl.

Nick said...

Baino - And the hairdressing industry would go broke without all the women who want to change their natural hairstyle.

speccy said...

Her hair is amazing! I have to say though, I'd be a bit put off by the weight, the straws, the not seeing etc. Mostly I'm jealous that she's able to carry it off :)

Nick said...

Speccy - Her hair must be quite hazardous one way or another. It's really spectacular though.