Coffee Conversations and Cool Company: “I AM NOT MY HAIR.”

Though my looks may say a lot about me, I am not my hair. These one-hundred-and-something thousand black stringy strands growing out my head is just an extension of who I am. I wonder if I should be treated any different because my looks don’t conform to society’s dress-code.

Appearance has come to matter a great deal over the last few hundred centuries. One of the reasons why the fashion industry is so relevant in our times. Wearing clothes has gone far beyond mere covering. Now outfits reveal style, mood and also make loud or subtle statements.  

How we present ourselves to the public is important. Still though, are we paying more attention than usual to our looks? Yes, the surface is a symbolic reflection of what’s within but personality goes deeper than face value. Sure, eccentricity, rigidity, liveliness, paleness, free-spiritedness and so on, reflects in form of style, colours and accessories in our dressing. Yet, looks can be deceiving. You can’t just look at me and tell my life story.

It says a lot about the state of mind of a people when an individual who looks eccentric passes by and the reactions from the beginning of the street to the end would be mockery, judgment, scorn and contempt. Between character and looks, what matters most is the former. Though looks might reveal a bit of character, it’s not as significant.  Not every male Nigerian youth with dreadlocks is irresponsible, a “yahoo boy” (internet fraudster), park tout or street urchin. In the same vein, not every corporate-looking individual is a legitimate bureaucrat, technocrat or business person.

Most times, people relate with others based on their looks, either fascinated, comfortable with or repelled by what they see. You don’t connect with people’s looks but their minds, spirits and souls. Appearance doesn’t translate directly to competence or character. It’s quite ironic and unfortunate how we look at the dude on the street with funky hair-do and tattoos all over as a “suspect” without any crime committed. Meanwhile, the real heartless rogues are the best dressed in agbadas, Khaftans, foreign suits and other ambassadorial regalia (Look no further than majority of Africa’s political elite).   

At the end of the day, our perception is the underlying factor of prime importance here. It speaks little of a people who base their judgment on what they see alone. If visualization only is our preferred method of analysis, then it shows we lack the patience required to gain true knowledge, which needs continuous and unbiased observation over time. It takes more than a glance or two, to really speak about, assess or judge a person’s character.

A father who draws his child closer to him anytimme he sees a person with an eccentric hair-style is not doing any good to the next generation. He’s only planting the same seed of misconception in a young mind. We’ve got to learn to accept people regardless of how they’ve chosen to express their souls through appearance. Rather than being judgmental, why not even be curious about why that person chose to appear that way? You’d be surprised to learn that not everybody’s appearance is inspired by “fashion”. Only a truly open mind can transcend bias and sentiments and really connect with another’s soul, regardless of the image staring back.

Photo Credit: @oguejio4 “The art shooter” –

Model: Bright Ogar

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