First off let’s get one thing straight, being natural is more than just sporting an afro or some poetic justice braids. It’s about embracing black beauty, improving the health of our hair (killing the stereotype that black women cannot have long, healthy hair), and being unashamed to rock those coils! But, some wonder is this just a trend or is “Going natural” the new movement for black women?
Being natural is abandoning the use of chemicals to alter or process the hair. Studies have shown that over the last few years there has been a significant decline in hair relaxer sales, meaning that more women are deciding to go the natural route. I have never had a perm, but almost three years ago I chose to start my natural hair journey, which would consist of refraining from using heat and incorporating better hair care practices. At first, one of the main reasons I chose to go natural was for the health of my hair, but the more I started wearing my curly fro’s and rocking my protective styles I found myself embracing my natural beauty and feeling more comfortable in my skin as a black woman. Who thought a change in hair could do so much? But when you think about the criticisms that black women face when it comes to our beauty such as the color of our skin, the grade of our hair, the size of our butts and lips, and the attitudes that we carry. Being able to strip all of that and face the world in my natural state made me feel empowered and totally nonconforming.
In the past three years I’ve had the joy of witnessing plenty of black women taking the same natural journey that I have. I was even more intrigued when I started to see an increase in natural hair care products in beauty supply stores and seeing representations of black women in the media with their natural hair. To me this was big! It meant that being natural was becoming more popular and black women were becoming more comfortable being their natural selves. We are constantly told that if we want a job and want to be presentable that we have to have straight hair, and I believe that nothing about this type of thinking is feasible–especially with more black women becoming comfortable in their skin and simply not caring how society feels about it. I believe that positive self-image is very important in the black community because consciously and subconsciously we have been taught over many generations that our features are not as pretty and it continues to have its lasting effects. But the Natural hair movement is a running start for black women to start breaking the chains that has held down and kept us conformed to certain beauty practices that simply haven’t applied to us. So to all of those who think that this movement is only a trend, keep dreaming! Natural hair is here, and it is here to stay.