Nowadays it’s more acceptable to wear your hair in its natural state, but building up the self-confidence to do so can send you on a tough personal journey. Black hair isn’t just a look—it’s an investment and a grueling relationship that many African American Women choose to commit to. From expensive treatments, monthly trims, and hairstyles that take over 5 hours to complete, women of color suffer constant inconveniences just to get their hair under control.
Just like everyone else, African American Women want to look good, but they often find themselves forced to choose between keeping their hair laid and squeezing in a workout or fitness class. Unfortunately, Black hair is challenging to fix up if it gets messy, so we sometimes avoid activities that could mess up our hair. We can’t just hop in the shower, wash it and let it air dry without completing a multi-step process.
The natural hair movement is a movement that encourages African-American women and men to accept their afro-textured hair in its natural state. The movement refers to Black people who have natural, coiled, kinky, or tight curled afro-textured hair. This includes those who have naturally straight hair as well. So, what precisely qualifies as natural hair? Natural hair has less to do with how it grows and more to do with the meaning attached to the way it looks. Natural hair is widely understood to refer to hair that has not been treated. Natural hair is hair that has not been oppressed, that has not been transformed or altered in order to adhere to Eurocentric standards of beauty.
Though the Natural Hair Journey is a hot trend within the Black community, it is a long and incredibly hard path to follow. Finding the right treatment to suit your unique hair porosity, thickness, and curl pattern will take patience. Women often backtrack on the journey because they simply give up or forget to keep up with the treatments, returning to their daily weaves and wigs instead.
And it’s perfectly okay to do so!
Growing up in a world that turned up its nose at natural curly hair, it’s understandable that some women fear showing their natural hair. In my opinion, no one should ever have to go through chemical hell or hide behind weaves and wigs just to feel accepted in our society. Also, women who choose to rock short-hair styles, or even go bald, endure stigma. They’re seen differently; they often attract worry and rumors of cancer diagnoses and chemo treatments. Even interviewers can jump to conclusions that they’re sick and engage in hiring discrimination.
It’s a terrible feeling to be ostracized and shunned because of something you are born with, and we as people and a community should never put other women down. Instead, we should always find ways to build sisterly bonds and uplift one another. In April 2019, a bill passed in California prohibiting all racial discrimination against African American hairstyles, including Afros, twists, braids, and locks in schools and the workplace. Yes, it’s amazing that it’s now illegal to discriminate against African American hairstyles in workspaces. However, the fact that this bill had to be passed reflects poorly on our current society. We are taking steps towards accepting individuality and our differences, but we sure do have a looooooooong way to go.
If you’re considering going natural, always remember that there’s no such thing as “good hair.” All hair is good hair! You can rock amazing hairstyles with whatever hair type you have. Your hair can be long and luscious, when you invest the love and care it needs. Occasionally, you may see someone else and think, “Dang, I wish I had hair like that.” Honestly, we all do that sometimes. However, there’s only one of you. Your hair has its own unique texture, porosity, and length, and you have your own style to express and your own time constraints to consider. So wear the style that’s best for you personally with confidence, and rock it!