The Natural Hair Movement: Changing the Conversation

by Shahida Muhammad


The natural hair craze has been taking the world of Black hair care by storm. Over the past couples years I’ve seen the dialogue and topics surrounding this movement range from: ‘celebrating women who’ve gone natural’, ‘how awesome it is to be natural’, to ‘more sisters need to be natural’, and most recently, ‘I’m tired of hearing about women who’ve gone natural.’ The growing number of sisters transitioning from relaxed to au naturale, has inspired a strong sisterhood of within the haircare community, yet it has also spawned slight divisions between those who opt not to stick with chemically-treated hair.

In the mix of all this, I think there is something being overlooked. Instead of debating about relaxed vs. natural hair, we should discuss how this movement is bringing about an important cultural change in attitudes towards our hair.

For starters, my hair is natural. But not in the commonly held sense of what that means. I usually wear it straight, although it’s not with the aid of chemicals. My Sunday afternoons are often spent washing, sectioning, blow drying and flat ironing. And through my adolescents and college years I had every hairstyle you can imagine from braids, sew-ins, highlights, to a mohawk–some styles inspired by convenience, others impulsive experiments of self-expression. Yet, I never thought of this as a big deal because I’ve worn my hair natural most of my life–before it was trendy. If anything it was a challenge.

Growing up my mother never permed my hair–much to the dismay of aunts, cousins, and hairdressers. Yet she cared for my hair. Weekends were spent over the sink or tub, washing hair that curled up into tight coils, sometimes blown out into a soft cotton like fro, followed by braids, berets or every once in a while a hot comb pressed it straight.

And although my hair was healthy and maintained, at times, family members and others made it seem like my mother was breaking some holy covenant that mandated all Black girls must be primed and permed or suffer the kinky consequences. Sometimes my peers added to this as well. I’ll never forget, going to school on picture day in fourth grade with a fresh press, only for it to become a frizzy coif by the time the bell rang due to the humid weather that day (common natural hair dilemma). Other girls in my class, hair in bouncing bobs or slicked down ponytails, didn’t get why my hair had changed so quickly. Upon explanation, they wondered how my mother could be so cruel. No perm, at age nine? Blasphemy.

That was then.

Now, with so many sisters sporting naturals hairstyles, I can’t help but wish it was like that when I was growing up. With natural hair options becoming more socially accepted and popular, it’s offering young girls and women a variety of examples, inspirations, and resources on how to take care of their hair. They don’t have to feel pressure to wear their hair relaxed, straight, or weaved in order to fit a certain ideal. They’re blessed to grow up in an era where we as women can simply view a youtube channel on styling natural hair and choosing the right products. This is quite a change from growing up in the 90s. Of course there were women with natural hair, but it wasn’t as widely accepted. Most Black salons expected clientele to relax their hair, and it was hard to find services if you didn’t fit the bill.

This change within our culture and attitudes about hair is what I believe is missing from the conversation surrounding the natural hair movement taking place. It’s not about condemning one hairstyle choice or pigeonholing another. Our choice of hairstyle isn’t always political. Whether you wear your hair kinky, curly, or straight, or even if you choose to pop in a few tracks here and there, it doesn’t automatically make you more self-loving or self-loathing. We all have different ways to feel beautiful and I don’t advocate for either hair care choice. I believe healthy hair that makes you feel great is what’s most important. Instead of debating on what’s better, let’s applaud the fact that we now have options in hair care that will inspire the next generations of Black girls to embrace their hair in ways that suit their preferences, and not imposed social ideals.

Photo Credit/Model: Madisin Bradley

  • Ms. Information

    First off, that model’s bone structure!!! OMG! Secondly, I get the natural movement because for a while now, we have made many Koreans rich. I even hear black men and white women on youtube speaking on how “fake” we are. I am natural but I understand that being “fake” is a state of mind and has nothing to do with hair texture, hair style or anything other than how one carries themselves. The conversation is getting tired and we better unite…it is just one more plot to separate us from each other.

  • paul

    I was one of the first black men to go public with some of the downsides of weave. The stench of stale sweat mixed in with the synthetic smell of the weaves fibres, which anyone within shouting distance can pick up.

    oh oh! :-)

    No black man wanted to put himself out there as someone who dated women whose hygiene practices were questionable. So most kept their criticisms of weaves focused on the political or expense side of things.

    None dare come at it from the stank perspective. LMAO!

    But I knew it wasn’t just me coz it got so bad that I could tell the comings and goings of weave headed women just by the trail of weave odor left behind – in offices, shops, cars, public transport. Also, check out the end of a night at a party or club. Damn!

    So I blew the whistle – and recieved confirmations and messages of support from what seemed like the entire black male population, UK and US sides. That opened it right up, black men everywhere started breaking the silence on weave stank.

    r o t f l m a o

    I think that was the one that finally got em.

    Coz I’m guessing them white boys broke their silence and started asking questions too.

    LMAO!

  • Laugh

    FIRST the model in that pic!!!!! GORGEOUS!!!!!!! Wow!

    Ok, back to natural hair. The reason I became natural was because a friend turned me on to the ladies of YouTube & natural hair. I honestly had no idea we could manage our hair with the right conditioners and products. I just thought perming and waiting for my hair to fall out and have stunted growth was a part of life. Fast forward I’m on curlynikki.com and YouTube and 3 years in my hair is bra strap length and healthy not falling out anymore. Life is good. It’s not even the length that matters its the confidence I have now and not having to be so frustrated with my hair anymore.

    I won’t lie the journey is challenging your own family will tell you your hair is ugly, how will you get a job, what are you going to do with that head, do this, do that. Our own people even though they believe how proud they are to be black and how ignorant others are, you will surprisingly see how ashamed your own progressive family is. But the good news is that they come around and want to know how can I get my hair like that? All of a sudden their mantra is I LOVE natural hair!

    I’m proud to be one of those women little girls can look up to and admire my natural curls. Because we should not be afraid to show how our hair grows out of our heads and God only knows what’s in those chemicals. I love all black hair relaxed,natural, braided. We all choose what’s best for ourselves but the tide is certainly changing.

  • Ms. Information

    That is a punk comment to make on a site for black women…I know your black mama told you if you can’t say something nice or constructive then don’t say anything…listen to your mom boy.

  • African Mami

    How about no conversation. Just be, or go natural without the why. when, how, what. Let live and let be!

  • Yb

    Why would a white woman give a damn about black women’s hair? That just odd.

  • Simone L

    Amen. I’m natural but I’d rather not consider myself a member of the community at large. I remember what Pam in True Blood said about the whole nest mentality. Most naturals are fine but some are so divisive. I saw a shirt on a site that said “I’m wearing my hear, are you?” Like seriously? Can’t we simply share ideas and methods without alienating other women? I wear my hair natural partly as remembrance of my dad and an example to my daughters, plus trying something new. Because I don’t want to be a part of the “natural,high and mighty” crowd.

  • http://www.goodlooknout.com mrsmarieyoung

    I love natural hair myself however, when I tried it myself it was a no go. My hair is so fine that when it is natural it looks crazy. I’ve tried every volumizer in the world. I guess I have them mixed jeans to thank for that. I agree with your opinion in the article though. Lately, I’ve been tired of the people who are natural stickin their nose up at me because of my natural hair or my weave. Mind YOURS! Its like they think they are better than us non curlies! It can be a mess.

  • Yb

    My comment is directed to Ms. Information. Comment section is tripping.

  • KitKat

    What I find funny is that they claim to be so enlightened now that they are natural, yet the idea to go natural came to them when they were relaxed. They love to blame the relaxer for their “slave mind”.

  • http://theantifash.blogspot.com TheAntifash

    I’ve been natural since 2006. I “big chopped”, but I really had no intention of going natural. I rocked my buzz cut for a while, and decided I would allow my hair to grow sans relaxer. I didn’t discover the natural hair “community” until 2009. Although I enjoyed getting great advice from blogs on how to style/care for my hair, I think it really complicated things for me… I’m burned out, I can’t talk about hair anymore. I’m happy people realize that there are options, but 0 f’s are given about why they choose one over the other. I wear my hair the way I wear it because I like it, end of story.

  • http://theantifash.blogspot.com TheAntifash

    They love to blame the relaxer for their “slave mind”

    Pure hilarity LOL!

  • Ms. Information

    Yep, I saw a black man and a white woman having a whole conversation about how fake black women are..how fat we are….I just shook my head.

  • LaNubiana

    @ Ms Info,

    Sister, I’ve read a few other comment by the person above, nothing positive so may be its best to ignore the attention at any cost soldier.

  • KitKat

    One word, competition. I’ve heard non black women express”concern” over black women’s hair issues, and it’s usually wrapped in condescension. What I know to be true is when it comes to beauty,particularly the salon, all women are equal.
    From my experience it’s no easier to wean white chicks from the peroxide, than it is to separate black women from the relaxer.
    When they cover/color their dark roots, abuse heat tool, essentially changing their texture, it’s all considered enhancement, when we do the same it’s self hate and we are labelled inauthentic.
    I cannot tell you how many times I’ve witnessed my aunt have the “listen mami” conversation with white women about not going so blonde or not using so much heat, please they are not having it.

  • LaNubiana

    The model’s skin color, bone structure, hair… She is absolutely BEAUTIFUL!!!

  • http://cupofjo-jo.blogspot.com bk chick

    I’m natural but pretty much always have been (unless you don’t count a press as natural cuz my hair doesn’t get rid of a press that easily, similar to a perm). I go back and forth from natural texture to straightened. Out of curiosity, I checked out one of those natural blogs and I was left scratching my head! …the 4b, 4c, curls and patterns, and blah blah–I was overwhelmed and turned off. I guess it helps if you do a variety of diff natural styles..which I is something I don’t do, but it makes me wonder if it’s just an extension of the usual hair division amongst our community. Me, I just wear my hair the way I want and keep it pretty simple. BUT, I also don’t think it’s “just hair” and I think it’s foolish to assume so.

  • Ms. Information

    LaNubiana….you are right sis…Im just so sick of this war on black women :(

  • KitKat

    This comment was a reply to Yb.

  • Yb

    I think you have a point. I remember in high school this white girl look me dead in my eye and say ” I don’t like it when black girls straighten their hair our wear weaves because it think it’s but them closer to equal footing with us.” I was like WTF!?? The teacher sent her out of class before I had the chance to verbally bury her, but I feel some non black women feel that BW wearing their hair straight enhances our appearance, which is something some of them don’t like.

  • paul

    Sorry but in my neck of the woods weave odor is source of fun and banter among black people, men and women. No different to when we tease each other for the other dumb stuff black people do.

    Most weaves stink and we laugh about it

    end of

    sheesh

    Talk about a massive sense of humour failure.

  • Nic

    What is also ridiculous is the fact that they are still dreaming of long and curly hair. It’s hardly enlightened if you think the only way to have pretty hair is for it to be a certain length or texture.
    A LOT of these women are only natural b/c they’ve seen some girls on You Tube grow out long natural hair and they think they can do the same if they give up relaxers and copy everything those girls do. Since a lot of hair length is related to genetics, and everything about thickness and texture is, they are chasing a dream. And it’s not enlightened in my opinion if you just hide your natural hair under wigs or weaves b/c it’s the not the right texture or length.
    I am so over hearing women who think they “aren’t using products right” b/c their hair doesn’t act/look the same way as someone else’s. As if there is some magical way to but hair grease or butter in your hair so you’ll look like Tracee Ellis Ross. The level of ignorance and denial is mind-boggling.

  • Nic

    Considering that is a modeling shot, I doubt the hair is real. Afro wigs are very popular. I know people love to assume now that if they see big natural hair it must be real but I’m less likely to believe it unless it’s a person just walking around or styling her hair online.

  • Pseudonym

    I second this motion!

  • Kam

    It is self-hate and the truly honest white women will label it as such. But it’s not the same level of hate that black women have with their hair.

  • Kam

    Essentially it’s “Shut-up naturals don’t rock the boat.” Straight hair folks don’t like their dominance being threatened I guess. I honestly don’t know how Black people would have made the strides today if there weren’t some people questioning the status quo. The fact is that the majority of Black women use harsh and caustic chemicals regularly to straighten their hair. Why? Why do they think their hair isn’t “manageable”? I don’t understand why it’s wrong to fight against the oppression that makes you think that. I don’t want my children thinking all of the ugly things about their hair that I thought. I don’t want any Black child thinking that.

  • Dave

    I just recently had this conversation (and by conversation I mean heated debate) with some friends and family. I will first say that I, as a black man, have dated women with all kinds of hair texture. Personally, I wear my hear in a fro (and occasionally the twists that now rest atop my head). I dig the natural movement and am a proud advocate. That being said, it is not divisive (or perhaps it is and shouldn’t be) to state the facts: chemical relaxers are not healthy for your hair and are popular because of white notions of beauty (are u really, REALLY going to argue me on that one. Really black folk? Really?) and have ruined the self-confidence of innumerable black girls and young women for decades. I’ve heard the snickering and have seen the tears. I can see how some women grow militant as a result. Now I’m not going to stand on some soap box and preach a sermon on the matter but when asked my opinion I will not shy away from the facts to appease your sentiments. If the “relaxed” girls on the forum have a problem with that I have only this to say: ladies…sistas, I love you and I still think you are one fine specimen of lovely but seriously the history and not so distant present speaks for itself.

  • Devona

    @bk chick
    You are not the only one overwhelmed with the 3c, 4b, 4c curl patterns, etc… I have practically given up. And I’m still unsure about what to do with my natural hair. This number coding doesn’t help me.

  • since1989

    Yes the shift in attitudes towards natural hair and natural hair care is important. I could care less what any grown woman chooses to do with her hair. The problem I have is when 3 year old toddlers and young children are running around with a relaxer. Collectively, Black women were so darn conditioned to believe relaxed straight hair was the only best option that slapping a chemical on a 5 year old, even a 15 year old’s delicate scalp was seen as normal; even if it meant thinning edges, excessive breakage, stunted hair growth, alopecia even! Religiously every 6 weeks she had to do it and wondered why her girl’s head of hair never grew past chin length. And then the whole myth about how “black hair does not grow” thus spawned. Why would black hair grow when so many of us were uneducated about healthy hair care practices! God forbid any kink or coil show all in the name of that good hair…good hair that was limp and breaking off! So yes the more accepting attitudes of our kinkier textures is important because the relaxed only culture that existed before was not doing our young girls any good. Every 16 year old black girl should have hair grown down her back!

  • The Comment

    Homegirl look like a god damn queen of the universe. Damn she bad. That’s what I’m talking about. Confidence.

  • LaNubiana

    Oh I see your point still looks so beautiful! I can honestly say I’m envious of her beauty (not that I’m not happy with the way i look). But WOW simply breathtaking!

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    I third it! But the model above is BAD what a beauty she is and she knows it!

  • Box

    Wow I tend to notice the level of negativity every time we have a natural hair post, I don’t get it the “tired of hearing this debate”. It’s like seriously it’s been such a push of relaxed hair in media forever and now there are black women going natural plus commercials/blogs dedicating to us and everyone is tired now of this debate. Newsflash natural hair benefits ALL black women it gives us an option to not have to depend on a perm and feel shamed about our hair period! You don’t have to feel ugly or that you “need” a perm if you skip a month. There are relaxed women doing the same methods of natural hair women with products and protective styling. We are finally putting things into our own hands and knowing we can grow healthy thick hair with these methods.

    Also, why do long term naturals have to add “I was natural before it was trendy” like please get over yourself. Many black women including myself wanted to stop relaxing before this whole thing started. We finally had the courage to not get them once we started having the resources around. I personally wanted to stop relaxing when I was in the seventh grade but my hairdresser convinced me I needed a perm and also mother wanted me to keep one. So, when I finally reached 18 in 2009 I decided to take care of my hair on my terms.

  • jourdan

    TO EACH IS OWN! We’ve created yet another division in our race. Light skin vs Dark skin/Natural vs Relaxed. We’re a diverse group of people and that is OK! We should stop trying to make each other feel bad about our personal decisions–especially what we want to do with OUR OWN HAIR.

    Also, I’ve had relaxed hair most of my life and it was never because I wanted to be a white woman. I just was too lazy to comb through my hair! So PLEASE stop using that bulls***

  • Sigh

    Why is it that whenever an issue affecting us whether it be self esteem or health or relationships community is raised the go to it response is “it is just one more plot to separate us from each other.” Really? Really? So we can’t discuss anything among our own if it makes some uncomfortable.

  • Sigh

    Exactly, stop talking about certain issues and it will magically go away.

  • ?!?

    @Nic – You are one of those people who thinks black women can only grow long hair if they have good hair. This is not true. When black women get a relaxer every six weeks that is because their hair is growing! Do girls with good hair have to get relaxers more than women with kinkier hair? Many black women are unable to MAINTAIN the hair they grow. That is why so many of you all think that only women like Tracee or Jennifer Freeman can grow long hair. There are plenty of YouTubers who don’t have curly hair that show how long their hair has grown with proper maintenance and care.

    Who’s dreaming of long curly hair? Many women know it’s unlikely that they will have curly ringlets. If they hate their hair texture, they can always go back to a relaxer or wear a weave, but there are plenty of women walking around with kinky textured hair not covering up. So I don’t think that’s what’s runnin through many women’s heads. Obviously there are some women who don’t like their hair and go back or cover it up with a weave.

    I have 4b/4c hair which is very coily, and it’s medium length between my shoulder blades touching my bra strap when straightened. And many black women have 4a hair which is not as tangly or coily as mine. If I can grow my hair having kinky textured hair, then I don’t know what’s stopping other black women. Maybe folks think I’m a unicorn, but they probably think the same things that you do. I had the same broken and damaged neck length relaxed hair for all of middle school and high school. I’ve been natural for about three years, and my hair is the longest I can ever remember it being, and my hair is not curly and wavy. It’s tightly coiled. And no, I don’t wear it straightened. I wear my hair in natural hairstyles.

    It is very ignorant to think that just because you’re black, your hair stops growing after a certain length. You get a relaxer every six weeks. Obviously your hair is growing.

  • Jasmine

    I recently BC’d (Big Chopped) my hair and before then, I was on the fence of going natural. I hated how some girls preached on the “natural beauty” hinting that having chemically-treated hair made you somewhat inferior. Although I’m natural now, I do find beauty in relaxed hair. My thoughts are simple: naturally “nappy” or silky straight, as long as your hair is HEALTHY — public opinion shouldn’t matter. It does unfortunately, but everyone will have a comment to make. Either way, have healthy hair whether it’s relaxed or natural. We’re all beautifully and wonderfully made.

  • http://gravatar.com/chanela17 chanela17

    um cause some people’s hair ISN’T manageable for them. it’s very time consuming to comb out and style your hair EVERYDAY. i feel like my hair gets more damaged when i wear it natural than when i straighten it. when i straighten my hair i’m not putting product on it constantly,washing it constantly to get it into a ponytail everyday,twisting it. i constantly touch my hair when it’s natural and it’s f*cking up my hair.

    when my hair is straight i simply take off my scarf when i wake up, and go about my business. easier on ME and easier on my hair

  • Apple

    Girl you tried. The only problem permers have with naturals is when they wanna tell them they must go natural or they hated themselves/aren’t pure/sell outs and other stupid reasons.

  • Tonia

    @Box I cosign 1000%. I wanted to be natural since I was 21 but it wasn’t until yt that I finally had the background to do it at 41. I wish I could’ve done it sooner but I so glad that I did it!

  • emme

    I think everyone just needs to calm down and relax (no pun intended). Having issue with someone else’s look because you feel that yours is superior is stupid and just as we did with light vs dark we are trying to do it with kinky vs straight vs wavy vs 3c 2a 10b 99t…do you get my point? The choice to go natural is a personal one no matter when you did it, how or the reasons why, and if one chooses to relax then more power to you. No one is better than anyone else point blank so we need to stop judging each other because of how we choose to wear our hair. We have really got to stop this because at the end of the day we are only using the same divisive tactics that was used as a weapon to tear our ancestors apart in the past. It’s time to accept each other for who we are not how we choose to wear our hair.

  • Ms. Information

    @ Sigh…well it is separating us…I’m not saying its the proverbial white man causing this……but it is an issue that won’t die, and people get heated just read the comments.

  • JC

    I prefer black women with natural hair. In my opinion, on most black women, straight hair just looks weird and artificial. If I wanted to date a woman with straight hair, I would have dated outside of my race. But then again, I’m not the one dealing with the hair in the morning and the evening, so I can understand a black women doing it out of convenience or simply wanting to try something new. To be honest, I sometimes wish there were more hair styles available for black men too. For black women in the corporate world, I understand that in most businesses, straight in the only profession way to present your hair. So it is not easy and I’m not saying that I ignore black women with non-natural hair, but there is still this initial turn off. Unless, you have more narrow features, there just seems to be this lack of harmony between your hair and all your other features. But then again, its your hair.

  • MommieDearest

    The model.

    O.
    M.
    G.

    Simply STUNNING!

    That is all.

  • http://gravatar.com/pocketsizednegro Courtney**

    Give me a phone number, cause I need to call bullshit. I’m natural and as a 4c – which I am going to opine is the most difficult hair type to manage and care for, bar none – I go 3-4 days at a time without touching my hair due to protective styling. You made the decision to constantly manipulate your hair every day to style it and wash it every day just to have a pony tail, but let’s not be dishonest and pretend like your deliberate choices due to the way you wanted to style your hair = your hair inherently being unmanageable for you. I don’t touch my hair every day because I’m not trying to force it to do things it wasn’t meant to do, like having a defined curl or whatever. And I would have no hair left on my head if I combed it every day due to breakage, regardless of how much product and oil and protein I used.

    Your hair wasn’t the issue, your routine was.

  • TheBestAnonEver, Part 2

    You should probably seek advice on how to take care of your hair because all the things you are listing do not need to be done everyday. If you want relaxed hair, just go and do it without all the extra and transparent justifications.

  • TheBestAnonEver, Part 2

    The number coding doesn’t help anyone and I figured that out a month after my BC. Do some research, figure out the porosity, texture (strand size), and elasticity of your hair and go from there. Those three things will help you find the right products with the right ingredients for your hair.

    If you enjoy playing in your hair and want a complicated process for dealing with your hair, you can do that successfully. If you like to keep it simple, it can be done successfully as well. I am somewhere in-between those two points. The longest I spend on my hair is 45 mins when I wash and detangle on weekends. I also work out and like to rinse out my hair daily. That process takes 10 mins to wash, moisturize, and put in a bun for work. Natural hair does not need to be difficult. It can be as easy or as complex as you want it to be.

  • http://gravatar.com/chanela17 chanela17

    @courtney i’m not trying to make my hair look any sort of way but DECENT! i do a ponytail and its all lumpy and bumpy so i have to dampen it and then detangle the hell out of it. i usually either do a ponytail or banana clips. i’ve done twist outs that last about 4 days but i have things to do sometimes and i don’t feel like walking around lookin homeless while my hair dries.

    it’s just way too time consuming and annoying to have to set aside a whole damn day just to care for your hair sometimes.

    also my personal issues with my natural hair arethat it makes me look like i’m 8 years old. i already have enough of a babyface, certain hairstyles make me look even more like a child. when my hair shrinks its always above my shoulders and it’s just not a good look. i wouldn’t feel comfortable going 100% natural until my hair touched my shoulders when kinky

  • C

    Yes, and that purple lip color is actually working for her. Thinking back to the post that Clutch made last week about light purple lipstick. I never thought that shade could look good on anyone.

  • Gell0h0h

    This conversation has been beaten to death. I, received my first relaxer at age 10, decided to go natural when I turned 17 – did my research and at 18 went to a salon and did the big chop. When I turned 19, I did research and began to loc up. Hair is hair. You cut it, relax it, flat iron, blow dry… whatever. However one chooses to wear their hair is their PERSONAL choice. Out of my group of sisters, I am the only one that is natural. I do not attack anyone of my sisters for being relaxed – nor do I get on a soap box and preach to them about being natural. It’s a CHOICE – leave it at that.

  • ImJustSaying

    If we would stop demanding everyone get on “our” bandwagon whether it be Natural or Relaxed we’d probably have more time and energy to build each other up as a community.
    Also a smalll note-
    *…..blown out into a soft cotton like fro, followed by braids, berets or every once in a while a hot comb pressed it straight.*
    Beret- A french style round and floppy hat
    Barrette – a fastener or closure used on hair for orderly function or decoration.
    Not sure which one the author intended but I’m thinking it was supposed to be the latter.

  • lol

    thank you!

    i can’t believe somebody still thinks that in this day and age!

  • lol

    @Nic

    you sure do have a hard time accepting a black woman’s natural beauty don’t you?

  • http://ellemk.wordpress.com LorriK

    It’s great to have the choice especially for our little girls. Like you said, no longer does it need to be one way or the other. The choices are more obvious and whatever it takes to build self esteem with the young women.

  • Sanura Hart

    Well said. It amazes me how some black folk try to deny that fact. Relax, straighten, do whatever you like with your hair but DO NOT act as if White beauty standards were not thrust on black women for such hair practices to be commonly accepted

  • Sanura Hart

    I agree. The Longtimers who who try so hard to let everyone know they were naturals years before the sudden trend get on my nerves. Yeah, there are people jumping on the bandwagon because to them it’s a fad but who cares? Like you said, many of us wanted to quit using relaxers because we noticed our hair would be stuck at the same length for YEARS. The breakages, the scars,we just did not feel like we had no an option because of societal expectations (I think a lot of teens maybe be scared or nervous to go natural because of how cruel their peers can be) and beauty standards we felt we must adhere to.

    I’m happy I made the decision to start over. My hair is healthier than ever :)

  • Eboni

    One hundred percent agreed.

  • Houston

    If she can’t use your comb, don’t bring her home…

  • Houston

    Although I don’t agree with the way Paul has chosen to put black women on blast. (This site has come down very hard on brothers regarding the way they dress, hair styles, money, careers, etc., so maybe he just needed to vent).

    However, I do agree (reluctantly) with what he said. The weave thing has worn out it’s welcome, and I’m happy to see that black women are now embracing their natural beauty.

    Love, peace and hair-grease…

  • Sick

    Blacks have always set the trends in fashion. Glorify in your luxurious mane and that will be the new vogue.

  • Sick

    Oh, and by the way, that picture is fierce, very edgy!!!!!!!!!

  • http://gravatar.com/drnicol1922 drnicol1922

    Why does everything about black people have to end up in an either/or debate? Either you’re light and people assume you’ve got privilege or you’re dark and you have internalized self-hatred because of the media, etc. Same goes for this natural versus relaxed debate. Either this or that. But at the end of the day, what you do with your hair is a CHOICE. Dwelling on someone’s personal choice is futile and hollering that one side is better than the other is like a newly saved Christian walking up to everyone they are going to hell because they don’t practice the same faith or in the same manner. Has either side of this debate been able to get converts from bad-mouthing the other side?

    I wear my hair relaxed and I won’t explain or apologize for it. Just like I don’t expect naturals to do so either and frankly, I love having more products, informative Youtube videos and hair forums for sistas wearing all sorts of textures and styles to express themselves. This gives me CHOICES which I find liberating. But as soon as we start questioning people’s race loyalty or political consciousness because of hair styling, we end up being no better than white people who didn’t give blacks the option to sit in the front of the bus. We need to celebrate sitting wherever we want and the same is true about how we style our hair. The strength of our race is in our diversity; not in ridiculous groupthink and socially ostracizing non-conformists on either side.

  • http://www.blackwomenofbrazil.com Marcos Moreira

    Wow! Interesting, straight to the point comments! Personally, because of the psychological assault that persons of African descent have been under for hundreds of years in the Western world, I still believe the discussion of hair is necessary. I agree that black women deserve to have the choice to do whatever they want to do with their hair, I just believe that natural hair should be part of the mix. White women are free to wear their hair however they wish, even if it’s braids (remember the Bo Derek controversy of the movie “10″?) because they are standard. This is a hair revolution in the making and I welcome this! There is also a hair revolution going on in Brazil where rejection of afro textured hair is woven into the natural culture. It will be interesting to see where black women of these two countries take this awakening: http://bit.ly/SvApYK

  • African Mami

    psychological assault that persons of African descent have been under for hundreds of years in the Western world,

    -I refuse for dead follicles to be inspire this conversation! What in the world!

  • PiscesStar7 (@PiscesStar7)

    The reason why you are hearing the “I was natural before it was trendy” phrases, is because, they more than anyone had to deal with career and social negativity over their hair..

    …AND, at the same dayummed time…deal with any personal issues THEY may have had over their hair. For instance, I am one of those women who could not tolerate relaxers for any longer than 6 months at a given time. When I was 8 years old, I had my relaxer in for 6 months, before one day I woke up and found all my hair on a pillow. Only to go to school the next day being mercilessly teased (by other parents, teachers and students) for looking like a boy.

    Then, once you’ve finally gotten old enough to get past the school yard BS, and accepted the fact that you’ll just be a short, natural hair girl for life…you go into an interview, only to have someone who works there following you out of the door to tell you that you’ll never have a job in corporate America unless you grow some hair, get a relaxer, or buy a wig.

    This attitude of “I was natural before it was trendy” comes NOT of being full of ourselves (myself)…but, out of recognizing and being proud of weathering very turbulent storms…AND continuing to make the effort to be positive every day!

  • PiscesStar7 (@PiscesStar7)

    There is NOT ENOUGH information out there about caring for 4b/4c/ hella nappy hair…yes, my hair is growing…but, in order to look neat it must be chopped on a regular basis!

    AND those WHO do KNOW only sparingly and partially give out the info…yes, my hair is growing…but, in order to look neat it must be chopped on a regular basis!

    I mean, really, if all you’ve ever known…are people who have had and cared for relaxed-type of hair…who would you go to find maintenance information for nappy hair? I’ve looked…for over 30 years..and I’ve still haven’t found a dayummed thang worth my money…so until that info is found…my hair will continue to grow…but, in order to look neat it will be chopped on a regular basis!

  • ?!?

    @PiscesStar – I have kinky hair. I wear it in protective styles like two strand twists. Then I take those out and wear a twistout for a while. My hair is not meant for wash and gos. I also think wearing your hair in puffs and afros leads to tangling, so I don’t go that route. I twist and wash and that’s about it. Now a lot of people don’t like protective styles, but I like my two strand twists. They work for me.

    I know what you mean. I still haven’t found a hairstylist who can do my hair. I do my own. Many hairstylist only know how to deal with 3C or 4a hair. All of my knowledge basically came from YouTube and watching people who had hair textures similar to mine like Rustic Beauty. Some of them like Naptural85 and haircrush have beautiful hair and good tips, but it is pointless to watch them talk about doing wash and gos or doing styles that would never work on my hair. So I would say just go to YouTube or Google and specificy 4b/4c natural hair. If not, you will be inundated with information from all the curly haired girls trying to define their curls.

  • cocopuffs

    all i have to say is the reason women feel better *sometimes* when they go natural is because if you grow up in a black family more than likely you are constantly being told “TIME TO GET THOSE NAPPS TAKEN CARE OF” its conditioning i have taken many psych classes and the one of the things i have learned is that alot of the times when things occur at a young age and people are affirming negativity you can begin to agree without even knowing once you become natural you realize there was nothing wrong with it in the first place i think thats where the enlightenment comes from : you just realize that all the things relaxed people said to you about your hair being less than was …stupid and not true.
    Most not all relaxed women dont understand how stupid it is to dislike the natural texture of their or someone elses hair because it is something they were conditioned as children to think needed to be “fixed”
    im natural but i honestly laugh when i think about all the stuff i use to say. omg i hated getting relaxers every time i was up for one i held off but i always was saying stuff about how nappy and ugly and course negro hair can get and how that would never be me. Now its different now i look as hair as ……hair

  • Pingback: White Girls and Afros: The Politics of Black Hair and White Women | polygrafi

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