The Natural Hair Movement:
The cultural and social movement which encourages women of African descent to keep their natural afro-textured hair.
I love the whole ideal of returning back to your ‘roots’ and embracing the qualities you were born with that ultimately make you unique whether it be talents, skin colour, hair type, etc. So I generally do support the Natural Hair Movement.
However, there are too many stereotypes about black women’s’ hair that feeds into the urban myths about black women in society in general. Naturals are ‘afro-centirc’ and always angry at the world for legitimate reasons but are seen as akin to femi-nazis and thus are a no-no. Where as most of your girls who wear weave so often white people don’t realise that it’s not their real hair are seen as fake; hiding from who they ‘truly’ are and are obviously only doing so to conform to white standards or the ideals of men. Then there are a lot of us in the middle kind of doing what we’ve always done what our mother and aunties encouraged us- usually in order to fit in with the westernised view of female beauty.
I accept and acknowledge the detrimental impact that the western gaze has had on our women of colour. I went through all of high school having relatively long relaxed and healthy hair- much to the envy of few but in the race with European ideals I was always lagging. Every inch gained was great but there was always more to be grown. Insecurity fed into the need to annihilate every curl. I realise now that my discomfort with my ‘natural’ hair (even though it was relaxed regularly) did stem from the fact that everyone around me had long straight hair- nearly everyone on TV did and the black girls and women I did know were doing the same thing. Nobody understood my hair and all of its annoying and glorious properties so I relaxed it. To conform but also the ease and practicality of it.
It wasn’t until I really officially started my journey of authenticity I thought about going natural. There were a ton of hold ups (that I will discuss later) that nearly stopped me from doing so. But as I ran my hands through my unhealthy falling-out hair in January with the stress of Mock Exams and Uni Appplications, I knew it was time to change. I probably could have salvaged it but I really wondered why do black girls stress so much about covering their real hair. I understand it has a lot to do with the perceived image that we’re already at a melatonin disadvantage when it comes to being attractive. But if we truly love and accept ourselves for all that we are and discard what anyone else thinks is attractive there is just so much peace and contentement. That confidence after I cut my hair made me feel unstoppable.
However, here are my 2 main problems with the Natural Hair Care movement:
- We complicate natural hair care to the point that it is contradictory to what your original and is presented as so much more complicated ( With having to wash, oil, co-wash, seal etc. and infinite product range for each) than any other ‘damaging’ hair care regimes. We say we want to encourage authenticity but then say you must add 5 products daily to keep it looking great and ironically ‘Natural’. Maybe this is so if your hair is special but for me personally, I do the basics and my hair is growing strong and healthy. The whole idea isn’t that we spend the same amount it takes to get a weave on making our hair look authentic if it doesn’t make it healthy or make us happy.
- Natural Hair girls are often look down and demonise those who continue do whatever with their hair. This is as contradictory as femi-nazis saying women can’t choose to wear headscarves. It’s a personal choice and is so much more than the ‘Do I want to look organic, tumblr and enlightened’ hipster stereotype that is out there. Do not judge a black girls hair if you do not know her story. We would never say to a cancer patient ” we’re going to judge you if you wear a wig” after chemo but for many black girls their body-insecurities can be just as debilitating and inhibiting. We need to support and inspire eachther. Yes encourage the embracing of naturl hair and help enlighten the younger generation who are not exposed to any of this in mainstream media but learn to lead by silent example as well. Let your attitude towards other girls speak louder than anything else.
Alas a note to men- especially black men. many say that you prefer your girl au natural then completely overlook that jungle looking chick with no makeup and natural hair. I just ask that you level the playing field with girls and allow their true character to shine through. Do not be the reason why propagation of black girl hatred continues but help us by accepting that a black girl can be funny, chill and great with or without weave.
For me my decisions about a lot of things in my life have a lot to do with authenticity and practicality as well as what looks good. It was an easy practical thing to relax my hair for the summer months it was out before it went back braid for School. As of now it was easier just to chop it all off. I encourage you to be creative and embrace the versatility of your hair. But Love yourself whilst doing so.