“I can’t go natural! My hair is too tough” I can’t count the number of times I have heard this statement. Even when I share my experience of going natural, it usually isn’t enough. I’m the lucky one… My hair is just “soft”… Wrong! I used to use Optimum Super Plus relaxer and left it in longer than the recommended time. The first time I had my hair relaxed (I think I was 11 or 12 years old) it didn’t take. I have kinky, tightly coiled hair, that shrinks to what looks like a TWA. I laugh out loud when people tell me my hair is just easy to manage.
I recently came across a blog post on Strawberricurls.com entitled: Dear black women giving me hair advice about my African daughter: please stop, a Caucasian’s woman’s point of view. Click the link to read the original article. In the post a white mother who adopted an African girl, explains how black women usually stop her to offer unsolicited advice about her daughter’s hair. It was sad reading about how some criticized her daughter’s hair while the little girl was present, totally disregarding the feeling’s of the young girl, much less her mother. Unfortunately many seemed to take one look at her daughter and presumed she was struggling with her hair.
If you follow my blog you know I often stress that our natural hair is far superior to fake hair and perpetual weaving is not our only option. Unfortunately, most of the straight silky weaves we wear don’t always compliment us. And, covering our natural hair with hair of a completely different texture comes with its challenges. Most of the businesses that sell us European style weaves are not black owned, and the market is dominated by Korean business owners who have the advantage that Asian hair is most in demand. Most hair masquerading as “Peruvian” or “Malaysian” is simply hair from China, labelled differently as a marketing ploy. We spend a lot of money on hair, which doesn’t go to black owned businesses, yet we can’t even be sure of what we are getting.
This seems like a simple question, especially if you have been natural for a while. However numerous definitions of natural hair have come to light since the natural hair movement began. A white vlogger featured on curlynikki.com implied that the term natural hair was not limited to black women, after facing criticism for appearing on the blog. Recently Oprah’s hairstylists referred to her hair as being “semi natural” and Keke Palmer explained how her hair regimen involved relaxing the back of her head, leaving many debating whether or not she had natural hair. Then there are those who have a very strict definition of “natural hair” who imply that any curl manipulation such as twist outs or braid outs, are not natural. I kid you not! Not to mention the numerous celebrities using the hashtag #naturalhair for simply taking their weaves off and wearing their relaxed hair out. Color treatments and heat styling have also caused some to have their natural hair license revoked.
The thought of many women going through life never discovering their unique beauty is sad. More and more of us are discovering our natural hair, but this only re-emerged in recent years. There are women who have gone their whole lives, from early childhood using relaxers or covering their natural hair constantly with weaves or wigs. Many of the older women in my family have gone natural, not necessarily because they decided to embrace their natural hair but because they were forced to. However, they are happy they did and have vowed to never return to relaxers. As we age our hair naturally thins, in particular after menopause. Hence we see older women in the black community reliant on wigs due to thinning hair. The use of perms is likely to accelerate this process, especially if they are used for decades. Some women at this stage go natural to minimise the risk of baldness or a non-existent hairline.
I remember when the choice of hair weaves for black women were limited. At the local beauty supply, you would find the obvious synthetic hair, and brands labelled ‘human hair’. But such hair was actually made from synthetic fibers, designed to mimic human hair. Whether this was clever marketing or blatant false advertising, such companies managed to get away with this. Today, with the wealth of hair extensions now available, the choice has definitely improved. Unfortunately, the deceptive marketing still exists.
I was watching one of my favorite vloggers showcase another tutorial, with her thick waist length hair (she has since cut her hair and it is still just as beautiful). I scanned the comments, most of which were gushing about how beautiful her hair is, only to find one that had a lot of replies. One unsuspecting viewer made the mistake of asking if the vlogger, Naptural85 was mixed. I’m sure she wasn’t expecting it to become a heated discussion. Many commentators began to tell her off for implying that Naptural85 must be mixed with another race, in order to have long, luscious hair. Another began to educate her about this misconception and what someone is really saying when they ask this question. Then another inferred that ALL black people are mixed and this started a whole new debate. There were discussions about our ancestral links to other races, the intermixing that took place during slavery and so forth. Others gave examples of the diversity of Africa and how you would find tight kinky hair, to loose curly curls and even straight hair, within the vast continent. During such discussions someone always tries to be the voice of reason and say, “it’s just hair people!” Although it is true that this all started from a simple hair tutorial, here are some reasons many would consider this emotive topic to be about more than ‘just hair’.
‘Here we go again…….’, was my initial thought when I heard this story. Why does this keep happening to the children? Recently, there was the story of the young girl at Deborah Brown Community School in Tulsa, who was told by a black administration, that her dreadlocks were unacceptable, now this. Faith Christian Academy in Orlando, Florida has reportedly labelled Vanessa VanDyke’s hair a “distraction.” They allegedly said, she must cut and shape it or she will not be allowed to continue her studies. Their dress code policy simply states that; “hair must be a natural color and must not be a distraction.” Vanessa went to the school for help after experiencing bullying because of her hair, sadly instead of showing Christian compassion towards her, they reinforced the message of the bullies by telling her that her hair was unacceptable and threatened her with expulsion. Faith Christian Academy is a private school, it seems that sending your child to private school or a school that is predominately black doesn’t necessarily protect them from discrimination. Sadly, in some cases, it may make discrimination more likely. Vanessa VanDyke is a beautiful young lady who has a great attitude about her natural hair. “It says that I’m unique,” “First of all, it’s puffy and I like it that way; she says. “I know people will tease me about it because it’s not straight. I don’t fit in.” In a world where the majority of black women feel the need to chemically straighten their […]