When she clocked 40, Mrs. Nkechi Nnaji decided to chop her hair and unveil a new her. She went online and searched for the latest haircut styles for women so that she could make a choice.
What the mother of four didn’t know was that having a haircut as a married woman isn’t as easy as it looks. Nnaji said her excitement was cut short after she settled down in a salon close to her area in Surulere, Lagos.
“The barber was recommended by my neighbor and I loved the ambiance of the salon. But when the barber asked me if I had my husband’s permission to cut my hair, something went off in my head,” Nnaji said.
Nnaji, a businesswoman who owns a boutique, didn’t believe what she heard. She told the news correspondent that she pretended not to hear what the barber said but he repeated the question and this time, seriously.
According to Nnaji who has been married for 20 years, she was shocked that she needed to get her husband’s permission to have a haircut like a child. She said she quietly grabbed her bag, got up, and headed straight to the door to leave.
She stated that the barber stopped her and begged her not to get angry. He told her that he didn’t want trouble and that was why he asked if her husband was aware of her wanting to get a haircut.
Nnaji said the barber recounted stories of some married men who besieged his salon in anger demanding why he cut their wives’ hair without their permission.
According to her, the barber told her that one man nearly got him arrested because he gave his wife a haircut. The angry man even accused the barber of having an affair with his wife.
Nnaji said: “I didn’t know this was an issue until I spoke to other women who said they dared not touch their hair or their husbands would send them packing. I didn’t tell my husband I wanted to cut my hair because I wanted to surprise him. I guess I’m not a good wife then.”
Emma Praise said the first time she cut her hair, the barber asked her: ‘Madam, abeg no vex, you tell oga?’ She said she looked at him intently and asked him if he didn’t need the money.
Praise said she told him that she would leave and go somewhere else to have a haircut and that nobody told the guy to behave. “It’s not funny how women are not allowed to do whatever they want with their bodies in this part of the world,” Praise lamented.
Praise told the reporter that one day in a salon while waiting to have a haircut, one of the barbers was going on and on about how wives no longer reverenced their husbands because of how they cut their hair.
“This young man was lamenting about how married women were now competing with young ladies by getting sexy haircuts and dyeing their hair in different colors. He said his wife would never try that when he gets married because he won’t allow her to do that,” Praise added.
Mrs. Ramatu Okoro said she burst into laughter when asked if she took permission from her husband before cutting her hair. She revealed that she didn’t know that wives need permission from husbands before cutting the hair on their heads.
Okoro said listening to other women tell her that they want to cut their hair but dare not do it because of what their husbands would do leave her amazed. She wondered if these women are adults or children to be policed by their husbands.
Okoro recalled that when she went to the salon to cut her long hair and the barber asked her “what of Daddy?” and she replied, “he’s at home waiting for me”. He asked her if there wouldn’t be a problem after getting the haircut and she said no. The guy then went ahead and gave her a beautiful haircut.
Okoro told a news reporter that her husband is fine with her cutting her hair. “He’s fine with it. Although this is my fourth time cutting my hair since we got married and the only time I informed him before chopping off my hair,” she added.
Mrs. Mary Adesanmi said she took the decision to cut her hair and asked her husband to show her the salon he uses so that she could have a haircut there.
Adesanmi added that initially, her husband didn’t buy the idea of her cutting her hair. He didn’t hide his displeasure with the idea and asked her why she wanted to cut her hair. He told her he didn’t like it.
She said she told him that he might not like it but she’s the one with the hair. She said she told her husband that she’s the one who suffers the headaches that come with hair plaiting, among other things and he let her be.
“Then, we both went to the salon he normally uses and I got my hair cut there. One thing I appreciate about my husband is that, although he might not agree with my point of view, he respects my decisions. I am on low cut and we are good,” Adesanmi stated.
For Mrs. Chioma Okugba, it wasn’t funny when the barber asked her for written permission from her husband to cut her hair. When she said she didn’t have it, he insisted that he wouldn’t touch her hair except he spoke to her husband on the phone and got his approval.
Okugba said she didn’t believe what she was hearing. She asked him if the same thing applied to men and the barber said no. The barber stated that most men don’t like their women on low cuts and they beat up guys who give their wives trendy haircuts.
According to Okugba, the barber cut her hair after they argued for a while and even though the haircut was nice, it was a different ball game when she got home. She said her husband didn’t like that she cut her hair. He was livid and they started arguing.
“I wanted to surprise my husband but he was the one who surprised me with his reaction instead. He asked me why I cut my hair and said it was too low. He raised his voice at me and didn’t speak with me for weeks because I cut my own hair,” Okugba added.
Charity Akintayo told a news reporter that she doesn’t need permission from her husband to have a nice hair chop. She laughed at the ridiculousness of barbers and family members asking women if they took permission from their husbands before cutting their hair.
Akintayo said: “Should I also provide my marriage certificate in the salon before I cut my hair? Any barber that asks any irrelevant question is not okay at all. What’s his business with what I want to do with hair?”
She said her husband only refused at first when she wanted to go on the low cut but she insisted because she felt like having a different look and he later accepted her decision to cut her hair.
Initially, Omolola Ishola’s husband never liked her idea of getting a haircut but she told him that her hair belongs to her and she has every right to decide what she wanted to do with it. She said that it caused a mild misunderstanding between them but afterward, he let her be.
Ishola said she gets pissed when neighbors, family members, and friends ask her if her husband gave her permission to cut her hair. She noted that it doesn’t make sense that people believe women are objects that should be controlled by men.
“Even when a woman’s husband doesn’t care about what she does to her hair, meddling family members and friends won’t let the matter rest. They will keep asking you silly questions as if you are a child who doesn’t have a mind of your own,” Ishola said.
Mrs. Egodi Ndive spent six months away from her matrimonial home because she cut her hair without her husband’s permission. She said it was a big issue last year when her husband refused to stay under the same roof with her because of her haircut.
Ndive revealed that her husband got so angry after she cut her hair that he accused her of mourning him while he was still alive. She added that he sent for her uncles because she’s an orphan and told them to take her until her hair grows back.
Ndive said: “I begged him for days to forgive me because it wasn’t my intention to disrespect him by cutting my hair but he insisted that I should leave our home and return after my hair has grown because two men can’t live in the same house.
Ndive recalled how hard it was for her to leave her children in the care of her sister–in–law over a trivial issue like a haircut. She said she felt bad that her husband treated her that way and her family members didn’t make things easy for her. They kept reminding her that she disrespected her husband by cutting her hair like a widow.
Report By Kate Halim