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April 30, 2012

“Natural Hair” Photos



By Andrea Dawn


Sometimes I like to browse the Internet for photos of natural hairstyles. I do it for hair inspiration, and to simply admire the beauty, diversity and awesomeness of natural hair.

Occasionally I come across photos that feature synthetic wigs and/or extensions that could easily pass for real natural hair. Although I have nothing against these photos, I think they can encourage some people to develop unrealistic hair expectations.

It’s often difficult to determine if the hair in a photo is real or synthetic. Some viewers may recognize the difference, but others may not. For example, I recently came across a website with a photo of a model with beautifully styled, waist length “natural hair.” The hair looked gorgeous, but in my opinion it didn’t look real. Source checking verified that the model was wearing a wig. Many of the viewers who commented on the photo apparently hadn’t discerned this. The feedback included comments like: “Her hair is so pretty!” “I wish my hair looked like that!” “Her hair is amazing!” One commenter wondered how long it took the model to grow her hair that long, because she wanted to achieve that particular hair length, too.

I’m not knocking “natural hair” wigs or extensions. I’ve worn them on occasion; they serve a purpose and they can look really great. At the same time, I think it’s important for people to have realistic expectations of what they can and cannot achieve with their real natural hair in terms of curl pattern, length, texture, thickness, etc. If we find ourselves crushing on photos that feature wigs and extensions, wishing we could achieve the same look with our real natural hair, then we’re probably setting ourselves up for disappointment.


Do you think photos of “natural hair” wigs and extensions can encourage
unrealistic hair expectations? Do you prefer photos of real natural hair over photos
of synthetic hair, or does it not matter to you?

41 Chime in!:

Anonymous said...

I was thinking the same thing when I flip through magazines and they show celebrities with "natural" hair. It doesn't bother me as much until they categorize them as a particular hair type. How do you hair type a wig or extensions? It can be misleading because wigs and weaves are manufactured to be "perfectly" coifed. Real natural hair doesn't behave that way.

Anonymous said...

The same could be said for natural hair. Natural hair comes in all varieties... and people can do amazing things with their hair. Just because it is natural does not mean it can not grow to long lengths.

Sawah said...

What a coincidence that this post was on the day when I was contemplating getting natural hair extensions. You see, I in my 6th month of transitioning and although I love doing my hair, I want to look at getting a style where I will not be manipulating my hair. I write a blog where I actively (5 times a week) post about my journey to natural hair and also product reviews. I personally have nothing against wig or extensions, but I do dislike the falsehood of passing on unreal hair for what is real. If you have extensions on, then don't pass it on as yours, even if you paid for it ..LOL

discoveringnatural.blogspot.com

SMALLFRO said...

I have the same problem with straight weaves. Many women who are addicted to weaves is because their hair is .....to thin....to limp.....to short.....wrong color. If you try to compare human hair to make believe hair, you will come up short. I try not to compare myself to wigs, weaves, or faux braids. I would say the same is true with straight hair as well.

Anonymous said...

I agree with SmallFro I don't think this is a "natural" thing. Its a hair thing. Use the photos for what they are, inspiration, and keep it moving.

Anonymous said...

There should be a disclaimer by such photos stating, the model is wearing a wig or weave. This can be said of those with relaxed hair styles that are fake. You hardly see women in Hollywood, TV or magazines with their own hair.

Anonymous said...

Maybe a better caption/title for the wigs, extensions, etc when styled like natural hair will help. Since its a wig maybe it should read "natural hair style" as opposed to natural hair?? When photos of wigs, extensions, etc are labeled as such it gives people the optical illusion that it may be naturally grown? As a result, comments such as the ones indicated are garnered. I agree with the author that it does give people a false sense of "real natural hair". **lol that we have to be so technical**

Pecancurls said...

I agree that such pictures can be deceptive and set unrealistic expectations ---- particularly for new naturals. Mind you I am new to the game as well (8 months completely natural). However, I have learned that whether the pictures are of "all natural" or assisted "extension" natural that I have my freaky limitations with my hair. :) Each head of hair is unique. I like to look at and admire all pictures now that I have come to know and accept what I am working with.

Anonymous said...

I think "natural hair" photos should be viewed in the same light as any other form of advertisement. For instance, "skin care" ads in feature models wearing natural-looking makeup. Most people know the ad isn't "real," yet people will buy the product anyway in hopes that they may be able to acheive those results. There's nothing wrong with inspiration, but at the end of the day, we should love and accept our own head of hair.

~Vicki V

kiesh said...

I don't think it's any different than any other type of weave or extension. People need to understand that most model photos are enhanced regardless if the hair is natural or not. From Photoshop to wigs/weaves/extensions...people just need to take these things w/ a grain of salt.

Anonymous said...

Erykah makes me sick. She's so flippin gorgeous it's UNREAL. She looks like a Barbie in that pic.... Sickening.... I'm jealous if you couldn't tell lol.

Kinsmankid said...

I think people like Erykah Badu show an appreciation for African-textured hair with her extreme hair pieces and wigs. I come to expect models for hair products are wearing weaves anyway. There was one product line that would use a disclaimer on its ads stating that their models did not use hair extension. Sites like Curly Nikki help women see the many ways that natural hair can be worn. It shows how beautiful our hair is in its natural state.

A lot of people have unrealistic expectations on styles they can wear, no matter what the hair texture. They usually are brought back to earth when they talk to their hair stylists.

Anonymous said...

It just always cracked me up. "She's wearing a wig to look like how I look when I roll out of bed." Grass is always greener, eh?

Anonymous said...

I think images in magazines should be viewed as what they really are, and that is entertainment. However, if the article is about hair care and how to acheive a certain look then if a wig or extenstions were used then it should say so.

Jarmelia-DIY Hair Care Blog said...

I think people really have to use their common sense. You (we, us, whatever) can't expect everyone else to keep us in mind when they get a weave or whatever.

If people would take a minute to learn their own hair and stop wanting what everyone else has, this wouldn't be a problem. The hair you have is the hair you have, it's unique to you. What someone else has, real or not, doesn't have anything to with what grows out of your scalp.

Same with all forms of advertising, stop comparing yourself to these people. 99% of the problem would be solved right there.

What if someone had slamming hair and it wasn't a wig, do they need a disclaimer then too? How far are we going to go with this?

Anonymous said...

I think women know basically whether or not a picture is a true representation of the real or the fake. And really it doesn't matter because you shouldn't exclude pictures because they are a representation of someone's hair.
Sugarberri

bellasbiosphere said...

I don’t mind either, as long as I know which is which. I don’t have the time to play detective to determine if someone is rocking a wig or weave via internet photos. I really don’t like when it’s a weave and it’s portrayed as real hair. Other than that, I don’t mind. Especially if it’s a wig/weave, it quick and easy to achieve the look ;)

Anonymous said...

I dont think its deceptive because even though a model may be wearing a natural hair wig...that same wig could very well look like many womens hair. That being said I dont think its an unrealistic representation of what natural hair is or could be.

KSharee said...

I don't think it's unrealistic because it's a wig or weave. That particular style may be an inspiration for you do something with your own hair.

Marcia said...

I just don’t like when people are wearing wigs in hair product (color, relaxer, random products) advertisements. Also, (I know I might be beat up) but I never really understand why Erykah is always used as a natural hair icon when 90% of the time she has on wigs. She looks great but that is not her natural hair.

KenniP said...

This is a well needed reality check. I can spend so much time checking up on tumblr natrual hair updates and obsessing and falling in luv with hair... without thinking, how real are these pics. Reality Check :}

Kenni P.

Anonymous said...

I think it can set unrealistic expectations. I agree with SMALLFRO comments about straight hair expectations. Kimmaytube also addressed this in one of her videos. She said that we get so used to seeing weaves on magazines etc. that we don't realize how real hair is supposed to look. It isn't always perfectly coifed or at 150% density, or reflecting light.

Anonymous said...

Art in all forms is larger than life.

Dandelion said...

I don't base my expectations for my hair on highly retouched photos. I can only have expectations for what's on my own head. That being said, whenever I see a photo like the one featured in the article, I assume it's fake unless stated otherwise. If its something someone took with their own camera and it's not a model or meticulously retouched and photoshopped picture, then I can assume its real since most regular people don't wear ridiculously huge Afro wigs. As far as straight weaves go, I see them so often I can spot one from a mile away.

Jayel said...

I don't think it matters, we natural girls with a tighter curl pattern can get that same unrealistic viewpoint when we watch videos of gurls with a looser curl. When you want your hair to look different it doesn't matter if ur looking at someone with their real hair or with a wig.

Anonymous said...

I most definitely think that photos of hair whether natural or relaxed can cause one to think that the hairstyle can be achieved or better yet should be able to be achieved by the viewer. When I relaxed my hair, I would look through hair magazines or books for styles and wonder why I couldn't do certain things with my hair.

Often when I asked the stylist, I would hear, "that's a lacefront wig or she has extensions." I've even felt the same way looking at other women's brows and I'm just learning that there are brow kits out there that help brows look real. Go figure!!

Lauren said...

My usual routine is to look at pictures of natural hairstyles for ideas (google).

I only have a problem with it when there's no tips on how to acheive that kind of a haristyle. It's pretty. It's cool to look at. But as someone who has newly transitioned I need to get into the details of how she got that hair!

Or if my hair is even close to her hair?

Other than that, it's just a pretty picture to look at.

XtraThickHair said...

Not only do I want to know if it is a wig or not, I want instructions on how the look was obtained. I love looking at pictures of natural hair and always wonder what products they used, is it twist out, bantu knot out or braidout. Was the hair stretched first or not? Yes, I am style-challenged and I need all the help I can get. It was the same when I was starting to use makeup, I would look at an ad and look for the captions for the products and colors that were used to achieve "the look". It would greatly help someone like me that needs "a visual" to help them out.

Elaine D. said...

For the most part I think it's just a form of "art" expression. Don't necessarily think it brings about unrealistic expectations...for me.

LeeLee said...

Lets keep it real, I think Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Angie Stone, Chaka Khan, Diana Ross, Solange, & Beyonce to name a few have all worn natural hairstyles that we thought was their REAL hair, weather they admit to it or not! So when you fawn over someones hair, you too can get that coveted hair at your local beauty supply store!

Most celebrities dont rock their own hair, in public...it-is-what-it-is!

gblogger said...

I love getting new ideas from natural hairstyle picts. It adds variety to my style.

Anonymous said...

I second Jayel's comment. I was thinking the same thing. Coveting someone else's real or fake hair can give people unrealistic expectations.

Annie L. said...

Angelina, Jennifer, JLo, Britney, Giselle - all straight-haired celebs wear full-lace wigs to the point where their natural hair is never seen. Some don't know...but some do, and it doesn't seem to stop women and girls from crushing on the look and trying to achieve the same length, color, cut, shine and volume.

If naturally curly/wavies are doing the same thing as their straight-haired sisters - I'd say we're leveling out the playing field and becoming mainstream :)

Anonymous said...

Just tell me where I can get one of these wigs from so I can rock it.
I love variety.

Katrina A said...

It doesn't bother me. So much of the fashion industry doesn't really portray "reality" anyway, in my opinion, so why should natural hair be excluded or any different.

Anonymous said...

She looks like a natural Barbie doll. It's fun to look at and get inspiration from, but I prefer photos with real hair.

Nicol C.

Anonymous said...

As a person trying to instill in my daughter that what she was born with is beautiful I wish they would note when wigs are used. I have to contend with her seeing me with perfectly straight hair while she has 4a/b hair (she's adopted). I worry she'll have unobtainable expectations.

melgeo said...

Fashion editorials are fantasy on purpose. It's heightened, aspirational beauty. As others have mentioned, hair extensions/weaves are used often, regardless of hair texture. I'm not bothered by it. In fact, I love that natural looking hair is being included as part of the fantasy of beauty. I don't expect my hair to look like Solange's weave or Erykah's wig, but if I wanted to pay for it I could get that look... just like the Louboutins they wear that I can't afford. It has little to do with real life, on purpose.

Alicia said...

I agree with melgeo. Advertisments are fantasy and they do this on purpose. That is why women are wearing FALSE eyelashes in mascara commercials, and makeup in Proactiv/Clearasil/etc... commercials. Also, what about when women wear weaves in relaxer or hair color commercials. No, you won't get your hair that straight or that color b/c the women bought it that way! You won't get super long eyelashes from using that mascara because their eyelashes are FAKE. That is all just to lure you in to shop/look/buy.

LaNeshe said...

Definitely agree. This reminds me of a post I wrote "Your Hair Idol Has a Weave" http://www.nesheaholic.com/2011/06/your-hair-idol-has-weave.html

Dani said...

I think it shouldnt matter. I think that we should be happy that they even MAKE hair in natural looking textures and that these women choose to wear them because contrary to popular belief many of us on CN dont even have the type of curls that used to be socially acceptable. It was only acceptable to have 3a/3b and loose curls with lots of shine in order to not be forced to straighten, relax or wig it up. And the only wigs one could find (and still find a job which is very sad) were of the super straight clearly NOT AA hair. These women who wear the big curly fros or weaves give a woman who never could grow her hair to that length or love her texture enough a way to see beforehand that she would look amazing if she were to take better care of her hair and let it grow. If I had never done a curly weave about ten years ago that was close to my natural hair I would NEVER have had the strength to get rid of the LYE and the straight weave. I was always told myhair was ugly (i thought i had no curl pattern, WRONG i had NO moisture and know how). The unrealistic expectations come when we do stuff like use 3a hair when ours really 4b/4c, but when it is more like our real hair, its a better way to say, "hey, i can be beautiful in fact MORE beautiful with my natural texture and i want this to be my real hair so i am going to learn to take care of the real stuff so one day this is NOT braided in or clipped on".

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