#NaturalHair: What's The Big Deal?
The Natural Hair Movement
I'm not a fan of the term 'natural hair movement', but I can see why it looks like a fad/faze/movement to a lot of people. Although women have been rocking their natural/textured/curly hair for years now, some all their lives, in the last 7 years or so there has definitely been an increase in the number of women who have decided to revert back to their natural hair.
Women choose to transition/revert back to their natural hair for different reasons. For some, it's because they've damaged their chemically treated or processed hair and wish to start again. For others, it's about change and trying something new. Some are tired of getting perms and relaxers. A few do it because they think their hair will grow faster or better. A lot do it because they've seen and admired another natural lady's hair and chosen to follow suit.
Why did I do it? When I think about it now, I think my reasons have changed. I was curious; I wanted to know and see what my natural texture was like, I was tired of relaxing my hair too, I'd never enjoyed doing it. But honestly, I think I fall into the last group of women. I saw other beautiful, confident women walking around relaxer-free, I was inspired (call it cheesy if you want), and I wanted to try it too. That's not to say I wouldn't have gone natural if I hadn't seen so many women doing it, but it was definitely an important factor. Say what you want about natural hair, but I think there's definitely a confidence in a lot of natural women, in the way they carry themselves; in their pride in their natural hair that one can't help but admire.
There is safety in numbers and sometimes if you want to branch out and try something different alone it's encouraging to see that other people are doing it too. There's a wide community of support, and information, and because everyone's hair is different, you still feel like an individual. I could watch videos, read blogs, research products, and watch the growth and progress of other women. It made me want to do it too. I wanted to experience it. It's exciting; putting in the work, trying new styles, watching it grow. Very much like a project for me. If I was going to cut all of my hair off, I had to make damn sure it would grow back. This blog started out as a way for me to keep myself motivated and track my progress. But it also became a way to encourage others, share ideas, experiences and mistakes. It may seem like a lot of noise about nothing, but to me, natural hair is really something. It's something great.
Social Media and Natural Hair
The instagram and Twitter Natural hair hype drives even myself a little crazy sometimes. The excessive cheesy quotes, silly questions, debates, the excitement and/or rage every time a celebrity or man says they do or don't like natural hair. Pictures from every angle (I'm guilty of this too), an update every time someone sheds a hair or buys a new brush. It can seem like too much noise over something that naturally comes out of your body. Part of me wishes we would all calm down a little bit and remember that there's more to us than our hair, the other part LOVES the fact that women are so proud, excited and enthusiastic about it. The kind words, the support, it's a wonderful thing to see. It's also a great way to get way to get hair style ideas which is probably why although they drive us all crazy, people still like them. The pictures motivate too. That's important.
Natural Hair and The Product Craze
Now, when I first went natural, I went CRAZY buying products. Anything and everything. I had a cabinet and bed side cupboard full of oils, creams, sprays, mousses, serums, conditioners, shampoos, combs, brushes, the works. I wanted to try every product that was reviewed or recommended by a Naturalista. I wanted curl definition like theirs, or hold like theirs or shine like theirs, or growth like theirs. Anything working for them would SURELY work for me too.
Most of the products actually ended up being a complete waste of money. I didn't like they way they smelt or felt or the effect they had on my hair. I was often disappointed with results and annoyed that I'd bought them based on ONE person's experience of them. I think most natural women go through this. You want to try everything, to see if you can get the results you've seen on other women. It can become a bit of an obsession and it's important to curb it. This is why having staple products is good. It doesn't mean you won't ever try new things, of course you will, but it stops you from spending lots of money on products you'll never use or only use one.
My room used to look like a pharmacy. I've given away or thrown away the majority of my unused products now. I buy in bulk (product haul) and that's that. I tend to stick to the same 5 or 6 products. Once every few months, I may try something new, but generally speaking, I stick to the same thing. Women with 100 products in their cupboard aren't using 100 at the same time. Picking staples means experimenting with different products and find out which combination works best for you and sticking to it. There's nothing wrong with that, but it's important not to get carried away. Try not to follow the crowd. Everyone is using this product so I want this product, isn't the best attitude to have. Think about what YOUR hair needs, not what other people are using.
Health and Natural Hair
There seems to be more of an awareness of the importance of health and lifestyle. People often comment that some women go natural and then it's all "clean eating" and "health and fitness" and weight loss. I think there are a number of reasons for this.
1) In society today, there is generally more of an emphasis on fitness and health and the body.
2) Women who choose to spend more time taking care of their hair soon try to apply these habits to other areas of their life. The new fixation on the creation of this 'new identity' often leads to alterations in style as well as lifestyle.
3)Healthy body = Healthy hair. Good hair needs the right nutrients, vitamins and minerals. It also needs water. If your body is healthy, nourished and well-taken care of, you should see improvements in the condition of your hair too. Assuming that you're doing what you need to do to look after your hair.
This is probably why a lot of women seem to pay more attention to fitness, diet and health when they go natural.
Hair Envy and Hair Hate
Hair envy. Natural hair is a big deal to a lot of women because they simply like the way it looks. Not because anyone else is doing it, not because they're on a journey of self discovery or anything else. They think it looks pretty and they like it. The problem is, a lot of women want CURLY hair, not their natural hair. So they invest in products that they think will 'define their curls'. If you're hair isn't curly, as far as I know, there's no natural hair product that will make it curly.
Go natural because you want YOUR natural hair, not someone else's curly hair. Embrace your natural texture. Enjoy it, be proud of it. There's a lot of self-hatred in the black community. No one wants to admit it. But this idea that kinkier textures aren't pretty or 'nappy' hair is ugly stems from self-loathing if you ask me. Black hair is beautiful. All textures. Take care of it, and it will grow and be beautiful.
Now we have women putting each other down because their hair isn't curly or jealous of those with curly hair, or those who have decided that curly isn't natural or 'real black hair'. Stop it. I used to wish my hair was kinkier and less curly. I get comments all the time from people saying they wish they had curly hair like mine. Well you don't have curly hair, and I don't have kinky hair. I've learnt to embrace my texture. You have to do the same or you'll never like your hair.
Team Relaxed Vs Team Natural
Both teams are stupid. Why do we need teams? When did it become a competition? How will the winner be picked? What's the prize? Why people must always find a reason to prove that they are better than another group is beyond me. No one is asking you to relax your hair and no one is asking you to go natural. I think the eagerness of newly naturals has a lot of women thinking that women with natural hair think they're better than everyone else. While there are some women with natural hair; normally the ones who have just gone natural making silly comments like "Urgghh I can't believe you still relax your hair. Relaxers are bad." etc, I would argue that it's not the norm.
If you are natural and you find yourself making pointless comments about how bad relaxers are, and how ignorant women with relaxers are, I suggest you stop it. You are not better than someone because your hair isn't chemically treated. Most of you were relaxing up until a year or 2 ago. Don't forget that. If you are a woman with relaxed hair constantly putting a natural down, calling her hair ugly or saying things like "Oh, I could NEVER go natural." I would also suggest you keep your thoughts to yourself.
If someone is comfortable enough to enjoy their hair in its natural or relaxed state, who are you to judge or belittle them?
So, What's the Big Deal?
The constant hype must get tedious. We've grown up thinking and believing that black hair doesn't grow. We've been told it's too radical, or ugly or political or untidy and many either things. But it does grow. It's wonderful. Women see this now. They're sharing their experiences and journeys. I'd be lying if I said my interest in not only my hair, but other people's, has waxed and waned over the months. I don't spend as much time on it as I did before. I don't use as many products. I don't watch as many videos and I do not read ANY blogs anymore. I'm not as creative and adventurous with styles. I don't get as excited about it now because I'm used to it. But I remember how I felt when I first went natural. I felt brand new (LOL). A lot of women never lose or forget that feeling.
If you've been natural for a long time, or your hair is relaxed you might wonder what the big deal is, right? Some women really don't care. It's just hair, it's not a big deal. You cut it, and it grows. Others spend hours on their hair every week, documenting everything on Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and their blogs.Every woman wants to feel beautiful. For many women, this is the first time they've experienced the high self-esteem, self-confidence and appreciation of their own beauty that you have always known. Surely that's worth celebrating. Be patient, be kind, be encouraging.
It's really not a movement, it's an individual's journey or growth.