I will never say natural hair is a trend. My hair – the way it grows -- is totally normal, classic and timeless the way it is.
My hair is not a trend. Whether I choose to wear it in a fro, braided, weaved up, wigs, or relaxed, what's encoded on my DNA does not change. My hair is on the coarse, kinky, coily side and it never stops growing that way no matter what I do to manipulate it. A trend suggests that it can change but it never will.
Women of African descent globally over the past ten years have taken charge of understanding healthier ways of doing their hair. Hundreds of years after slavery, colonialism, and blatant racism, Black women are sharing their hair journeys and struggles without shame. The rise of blogs and YouTube channels dedicated to their round brown tresses is evidence of this.
We finally get our hair. We finally know what products suck on our stresses and we have so many examples of women with beautiful crowns to model our hair after. This is knowledge that we developed ourselves. Not through a special school or textbook. It is the African way to improvise and deepen knowledge of ourselves over time in our own ways. Black women have proven that this knowledge is important to us and I am grateful to all that contributed to me feeling better about my natural hair, whether close to me or distant.
Black women learned of the unspoken rule that straight hair makes her seem more mature, more refined, and professional
For years, we let stylists, the media, and unfortunately our mothers and aunties dictate to us the wrong ways of doing our hair. These myths include, “don't wash your hair every week,” “use Vaseline on your scalp,” “perm your hair every 6 weeks or it will fall out,” “our hair doesn't grow along unless you are mixed with Indian, white or Asian” – the list goes on. Also, when people say “natural hair isn’t for everyone,” I cringe. You may not be able to pull off certain styles. Fine, but please don’t write off all of natural hair as if it is mistake. There are thousands of natural hairstyles one can find to fit their face and personal taste if they really want to.
As we grow older, Black women learned of the unspoken rule that straight hair makes her seem more mature, more refined, and professional and that braids, twists, fros are out of the mix as presentable options for formal occasions. Black publications and black beauty products that once embraced only the European standard of beauty only started to advertise offerings and images of natural hair, because we have shown that our naps are beautiful alongside straight hair too.
My hair was natural for 14 years until I got my first relaxer. After college, I realized I no longer wanted to use it as it became a hassle. I was not happy with the state of my hair and wanted a fresh start. I began to see so many women with healthy natural hair. They had been able to style it in many ways without worrying about chemicals. Once I realized this was possible, paired with my growing love for myself and my black identity, I was inspired to walk away from the relaxer.
As women, we should have a choice
This is not to say if you relax your hair, you love yourself less as a black woman. I do not condone hair-bashing between naturals and straight-haired women. I think it is ignorant. I believe that it is beautiful to wear your hair natural or straight, just as long as it is healthy, growing and shining. But we as women should have a choice. Oppressing other women with your logic of how women’s hair “should be” is in no way helping. It only holds us back as a gender. We need to move forward.
Women all have different reasons for choosing to stop wearing weaves or relaxing. For some it is political. They no longer want to feel entrapped by the rules that society has set for beauty. For others it is health or style. We should be open to everyone’s reasons. People should have freedom to grow and understand their hair in their own time. Will I ever get a relaxer again? I don’t know what I will do with my hair next. But even if I went back, could you say I was “just following” a trend? No.
When Black women straighten their hair, no one calls it a trend. But why is it a trend to wear it natural? Why is the norm straight? And why can't the norm include natural as well? As we move forward in our quest to redefine who we are, we must remember that the language we use is important. So I will never say natural hair is a trend. My hair – the way it grows -- is totally normal, classic and timeless the way it is.