I read this earlier and immediately thought: oooooh someone needs to write one of these for natural hair girls!!! Then thought….hmmm why not moi? So here it goes.
I have been natural since 1988, which happens to be the year I was born… So basically I have never relaxed my hair. My mom never permed my hair while I was a kid – by the way perming kids heads is DANGEROUS! – and I never decided to perm it when I was old enough to make the decision. Growing up my hair was usually in braids or straightened with heat (hair dryers and hot irons) or occasionally I rocked a giant AFRO! Oh how I loved my afro, it’s so eccentric and fun. Plus, I had found ways to have mine be gigantic! The only problem is….I had to comb my hair….who wants to do that? So it was only occasional.
When I moved to France for university, hair salons were expensive and I was a stingy/broke student, spending 60 to 150 euros for one trip to the hairdresser was- still is- totally above my social class. So I only got my hair braided each time I went home- about twice a year- and kept my hair to a manageable length, i;e mid-neck length, so that detangling would not take a full day! uuuugggh! I tried straightening it myself, but it took forever, it turned out awful, and I kept burning myself with the iron. So I stopped that very very fast.
Then I found so many YouTube videos, of girls “going natural” with so many tips on hair maintenance and hairstyles! I actually found ways to switch hairstyles daily, be as funky as I wanted to or as boring as I wanted to all while combing my hair as little as possible! I love it! And since I got my help from anonymous Samaritans on YouTube, I shared my hairstyles on Facebook- good Karma you know, it might help someone you never know- but now I only do on Pinterest.
But oh my oh my oh my does this “natural hair” community often sound like a cult, a political party, a revolutionary movement, a new and improved ice cream recipe.
So here are some ways natural hair culture often goes way overboard.
1. Relaxed hair is not EVIL
No perming your hair or having a weave/wig does not mean you hate yourself, you want to be white, and that you are a blind victim of imperialism!
You could hate detangling, like wearing your hair straight, like changing hair colors without dying it, or… there are many options. If the reason you decide to go natural was because you used to want to be white and natural hair suddenly allowed you to love yourself , I am happy for you… but don’t project your insecurities on others!
2. No, you do not have to use 35 all natural silicone free products
Some people talk like not using extra virgin extra essential extra trendy oils and not deep conditioning every week will make you bold or have grass grow on your head instead of hair. Oh, and forgetting these pre-poo, no-poo, semi-poo I don’t know what are not sins! I have survived 25 years with very basic care for my hair and it looks fine. I do only use natural products nowadays, and deep condition whenever I feel like it… but I definitely do not have a religious “hair routine” and don’t put satin on my head to sleep! I am fine. It’s OK if you do not follow the commandments on the picture… you still count as a natural and have hair!
3. Being natural does not make you all roots
We don’t have to all love Erykah Badu, we don’t only listen to Spoken Word and rappers like Common or The Roots… We do not all know the lyrics of “I am not my hair” by India Arie. Oh, and no, we did not go on a hunger strike with Mos Def! As much as I enjoy music by these artists, I don’t think your hair style says that much about your culture and musical tastes. Nickleback is a great band, Bruno Mars has amazing songs, and I totally jam to Davido and WizKid!
4. The hair diet
We do not all have to be vegetarian/vegans…. I have noticed many of the newly natural girls also happen to be newly vegetarian. Girls share nutrition advice all day for hair growth with a new “it” thing everyday with all the nutritional details. I guess everyone became a nutritionist all of a sudden! *SMH*
Anyhow, the concept of going on a diet for your hair sounds really off. For their credit, many stop using relaxers, eating meat and other things because they become increasingly health conscious, which is a great thing. Do spread what you have learned, but don’t make it a cult. It’s OK to have natural hair and to love meat. Oh and we are not all environmental activists… just a little extra.
5. Stop getting offended by EVERYTHING!
… Granted a random stranger touching your hair is absolutely rude, but isn’t it OK for someone to be curious about your hair texture and ask to touch. You can refuse because it would mess up the style you worked on for hours, or just because you do not like being touched… but don’t think it’s patronizing, racist, ignorant or I don’t know what other drama. I have seen black kids in a village seeing a white person’s hair for the first time and really wanting to touch it. It’s new, they are curious, they want to feel, it’s normal. By the way more black people are curious to touch my hair than any non-black person I know. Just saying!
6. Black hair is not the best hair
I say “density,volume, attitude, character and freedom are blessings from the all mighty!!!These are characteristics of our hair…..never take that for granted brothers and sisters!!!” but that does not mean that all of a sudden “black hair is the best hair”. In every group people have struggles with their hair, the goal is to find a way to make your hair work for you so
Do whatever works for you. Innovation and creativity allow so many options in terms of hair style, so whatever matches your swag, your lifestyle, your age, your profession, your religion, your taste, basically whatever matches you. You don’t have to be a vegan tree huger preaching black supremacy to not use chemicals that permanently straighten your hair.
I am natural because I never felt the need to relax my hair. When it’s straightened it looks better to me than most permed girls I know. I am afraid of having dull, thin very frail hair if I use a relaxer. Mostly though, the thought of having permanently straight hair, not having the option to switch to afro, curly or wavy really sounds unlike me. I love having so many options.
MRG currently lives in Toronto, Canada