Balpolam Idi
3 min readMay 26, 2022

A week ago, I was feeling sick because of something unusual

Photo by Gustavo Spindula on Unsplash

Ever since I was a little girl, I have always hated tight braids and hairstyles. I never saw the point. I still don’t. All this philosophy of beauty is pain and whatnot is not for me. My sisters and brothers in Kinky hair know exactly what I mean. Yeah, let’s come back to the present.

I went to the market to relock my dreads but my hairdresser wasn’t in. The girl helping her in the saloon referred me to another shop upstairs. I shouldn’t have cheated on my hairdresser. I paid for it with my well-being. This new person was like a witch from my grandma’s stories. Suddenly, those childhood tales were now real. My scalp was aflame with pain like a thousand soldier ants were biting all over it. Unrelenting, the prickling, throbbing, and general feeling of being morose. I had a bad headache and did not sleep that first night. I cried, begged for sleep, and poured cold water over my head repeatedly until day break. The next morning, a fever followed. I have forgotten the last time I allowed myself into such discomfort in the name of ‘beauty’.

After being close to tears for the whole day at work, I was advised to take some painkillers. Which I was naturally reluctant to, but I did, — I was desperate. Slowly, I felt the pain abating and I was able to doze off for some hours before the drug’s effect wore off. Now, I only have slight discomfort. But this experience taught me a couple of lessons.

  1. We have romanticised pain. You do not have to be in agony for something to be beautiful. Be it a hairstyle, dress, shoe, friendship or relationship. Yes, pain is inevitable, but it is not the hallmark of perfection and genuineness— please miss me with that. I don’t want to be near exploding with agony trying to be pretty and well-put-together.
  2. Speak up when you are in pain. I always felt ashamed whenever I cried because of how painfully my hair was being pulled. We are encouraged and even bullied to swallow the pain like champs. No dears, I am soft. I have made peace with it. My scalp is very sensitive, if you think me a baby, that’s your business. But I am not about the life of suffering unnecessary pain in silence again. Thank you. If it hurts, I will tell you.
  3. Being in a tight spot can steal so much from you. Your health, sleep, joy, strength, focus and even creativity. Is it worth it? — All that tightness that they say is beauty or perfection. I don’t know about you, but for me, it isn’t. So guard your heart(scalp or whatever you have that is prone to tightness).
  4. Your journey is yours to make. And it is more beautiful when you make it alongside others. It makes it easier to bear some burdens. When I was little, if my hair was made too tight, my mother will help me loosen the roots until I found relief. It upset my dad whenever I started crying about a tight hairstyle-he’ll tell them to take it off. They wanted to offer me ease in a pain only I bore.
  5. No be me go tell you wetin you go do. But I trust that my story about this affliction has stirred something in you about a personal kind of tightness or difficulty; pain or discomfort. I trust that you will choose well when it is time. Until then, I am managing my hair and rethinking a lowcut.

Love, Ballie💖



Balpolam Idi

Live, Love, Give. But most importantly, Dream. Learner. Teacher. Wanderer.