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.
The only regret I had when I went natural was that I didn’t do it sooner, or remained natural since birth! My confidence or self-esteem growing up would have been greater or at least the same (with everything else being equal) as most of the girls of different races in school, who enjoyed healthy long hair. Embracing my natural hair would have allowed me to see my unique beauty, neither superior nor inferior to other standards of beauty, but just what made me unique.
If we pursue a European standard of beauty our whole lives and adopt terminology such as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ hair, spend more time caring for a weave, than we do our real hair, we may go through life looking like a carbon copy of someone else. On my travels and at home I have had people of different races compliment me on my hair and ask me about it. Some ask if it is real or how I get my hair the way it is. When I say it is my natural hair, they seemed to have a ‘ah ha’ moment, realizing that this is what African hair looks like. It’s hard to believe, but many still do not have a clue what Afro-textured hair looks like and its unique features. In fact, Afro-textured hair is one of the most distinctive hair types and it varies greatly from person to person. No other race of people has hair like ours, yet many end up overwhelmed by its differences and suppress them in order to conform it to what is popular or deemed acceptable in their eyes.
Can you imagine if popular hair vloggers such as; Naptural85, Hair Crush or Mahogany Curls never went natural? or constantly hid their natural hair under weaves and wigs. They wouldn’t be enjoying the healthy, versatile, long and luscious natural hair they showcase today, on their YouTube Channels and in social media. They also wouldn’t have the numerous business opportunities they have benefitted from. They would simply blend in with every other black woman who has a perm or weave. Natural hair not only affects the way we look and view ourselves, it also creates opportunities for us to build and support black own businesses in the hair and beauty industry and beyond. It has allowed us to become producers rather than consumers. Since we spend the most in this industry, it’s only right that we begin to profit from it, on a much larger scale.
Of course if you are perfectly happy with relaxed hair or weaves that’s your personal decision. However, many of us – if not the majority – have experienced damage from relaxers and hair that didn’t grow past a certain point. I believe chemical relaxers are the reason for the stereotype about black woman, not being able to grow long hair. If you are on a health journey and want to avoid chemicals, don’t wait until your hair starts thinning due to age. Do it now while your hair is at its best, to enjoy and experience in all its glory.
~Be unique, be you~
What are your thoughts on this? Do weaves and perms prevent us from discovering our unique beauty? Please share below in the comments section.