For Us By Us: The Emancipation Of Cuppy

'As if my level of slay has ever made my mixes any better?'

There is no better time than the new year to begin again, reinvent yourself and change your perception of the world. That’s why I’ve started 2022 with a bald head and a new lease on life. This year, I will be 30, and looking back at my 20s in the public eye, I realised that my validation and appeal as a black, female DJ, have always been defined by the way I look – as if my level of slay has ever made my mixes any better? 

Social oppression has led many of us, black women to hide our real hair underneath a wig or something else that suits Eurocentric beauty standards better than our natural afros do. Of course, these hairstyles often protect our hair from breakage, but we all know why it is that black women often wear their hair in long, straight styles. In my case, I chose to stand out with my infamous pink inches. Now, 29 years old, I’ve started digging deeper into myself, and realised that there’s more to the pastel pink inches you can see on the outside, they come from a dynamic magenta within me. 


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A post shared by Cuppy (@cuppymusic)

When I started as DJ Cupcake many years ago, I was known for my signature ponytail look. Even though I really loved the style, what I loved the most about this hair choice was how practical it was while I was on set. It kept the hair out of my ears, and my headphones would sit nicely on them – no problemo. Not only did the pony enhance the shape of my face and display my inherent beauty, but it was also so quick to get done and took minimal effort to style. Even today, I still style my braids in a high ponytail. 

Speaking of braids. 

Having braided hair has always been a convenient choice for black women since we were young. Growing up in Nigeria, having braids with ‘attachment’ meant it was holiday time, and during school time, picking new hairstyles named after some iconic black women in music like Evelyn King and Sade Adu always brought a sense of giddiness (and a few tears if the woman who did your hair didn’t care about your scalp). For me, growing older and moving to England, braids became a thing of convenience, a hairstyle that would last for a long time and keep my hair protected from harsh weather conditions. I’ve always loved the look of braids, but hated the time (and sometimes edges) lost doing them, so I started rocking braided wigs. GENIUS 

Under much scrutiny from the public court of social media, I would spend so much time thinking and planning about my hair. When I started at Oxford last year,  I decided to shave my hair off to take that power back. Samson lost his extraordinary power when his hair was cut while sleeping in biblical mythology, but for me when I shaved my hair, I felt very powerful. A woman cutting all her hair off is usually met with some sort of reaction of surprise or the other, and often seen as ‘acting out’ –  I mean, look at how much we still talk about Britney in 07. 

The mere fact that I had to think about how to rock my new hairdo in public whilst warding off a sea of social media commentators about MY aesthetic is telling. As if the way I look with pink inches or a bald head is going to make my music any better? 

 At the end of the day, I came to conclude within myself that I like my new do, and that’s the only opinion that matters (well, my sisters and best friends also kinda matter here). Afros, cornrows, straight weave – they all make their own unique statement, based on whose head it’s on. No matter what condition it’s in, black hair speaks. At the moment with my pink inches gone, I feel like I’ve wiped the slate clean. Much like I cleared some mental space digging deep into myself and figuring out what I want for this new chapter, there’s now space for whatever I want my hair to be, on MY own terms. 


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