On Making Naturally Curly Hair 'Normal'...


by Amanda Starghill via NaturallyCurly

Through the eyes of the unfamiliar, this unofficial natural hair movement can appear to be vain or even political, but it is far more complex than that. Every woman’s reason to big chop or transition varies due to health, aesthetics, convenience, lifestyle and a multitude of other reasons. I can understand how a swarm of women cutting off their hair can look like a trend, but the connotation of a trend seems to undermine the bigger picture of a decision that is significant and seems to be final.

Building a Community

An element of the natural hair revolution that is undoubtedly true is that the nuance of camaraderie amongst women pushing for a common goal has broken so many barriers and strongholds. Because this popular niche is continuously gaining recognition, more women are coming to understand just how diverse the group is within itself. Many women are professionals, mothers and students who live completely different lifestyles but ultimately all desire healthy hair. The misconception that rocking natural hair is more difficult is being refuted, and as a result, more women are embracing their natural tresses. As women begin to fellowship, learn, decipher, and apply certain methods and products to their hair, on their own terms, they have begun to see that maintaining and styling natural hair doesn’t have to be laborious after all. The statement that you make time for what you want stands true in respects to maintenance, but this applies to all hair, chemically treated or not.

Taking Curly Mainstream

Many women are starting their hair care journey as natural. They are not transitioning from maintaining healthy relaxed hair to healthy natural hair. Learning how to apply a wealth of information about natural hair care is challenging due to a lack of familiarity with their own natural hair. The mere introduction to the plethora of information that is available about hair care may be overwhelming, but it is very helpful in identifying what works for your lifestyle and needs. This growing awareness is spreading so fast that hair care companies are seeking to cater to this new audience that appears to be transitioning from the minority to a majority, especially in consumer consumption.

I say all of this to get to this final point: the day that taking care of your hair in its natural state is no longer a foreign concept will be awesome. You know? When I realize that it’s been a minute since someone asked “why is it that Beyonce’s hair is straight and yours looks like that?” *insert side eye* and thinking in the back of my head “if they only knew.”

As more people come to understand the essence of what is being achieved with this movement, they will begin to realize that women with textured hair are only trying to redefine their different as normal. Everyone who decides to “go natural” is not necessarily doing it with the intentions of making a statement, but inadvertently they are sending a message to the rest of the world. Women are altering and reclaiming their unfamiliar as normal.

When Natural Becomes Normal

The day when moisturizing and sealing will not be considered “too much” and deep conditioning is not considered any more time consuming than getting a relaxer will be amazing simply because it will be normal. To those oblivious to natural hair care, reading this article may have you thinking “You don’t know how to wash and comb your hair?” Quite frankly, no. Everyone’s story is different, and they probably all share similar elements, but ultimately, the answer is no. Have I put a comb through my hair before today? Yes. Properly? Probably not.

Not everyone remembers the who, what, when, where, how and why of this huge misunderstanding of curly hair, but somewhere along the timeline of birth until the start of their hair care journey many consciously or subconsciously understood their hair to be too unmanageable, unattractive and unprofessional. To say the root of the misconceptions are neither here nor there is very false but learning and acceptance always take time, whether it’s for yourself or sharing information and testimonies with others. The greatest subliminal efforts of this movement are the small elements that are transforming natural hair to becoming normal.

Every contribution of this normalization process is important. In Jill Scott’s new music video “Blessed” she wakes up in the morning and spritzes her hair with Ouidad Botanical Boost spray. To a little girl watching the video, waking up and refreshing her hair before starting on her day will be a simple element in her morning regimen before school. To some, Jill Scott appears to be an unofficial advocate of natural hair, and I wouldn’t doubt her support, having worn her hair natural for years, but somehow every natural has become one.

Although many find sharing information to be fun, there are also those who could care less to be the self-assigned spokesperson for the natural hair community. For some who have surpassed the newbie stage, they will be more than relieved to stop answering questions of whether you should pre-poo before you shampoo and ACV after the DC of your TWA *chuckle*.

By no means am I saying that you shouldn’t reach back and help others but those who have come down from the excitement of being newly natural are ready for natural hair to just be normal. Do they understand the thirst of curiosity? Of course, but the constant preaching, teaching, and defending is a lesson of patience that many did not prepare for but none the less they must be equipped to do. People will always agree to disagree on hair care and style. Will the masses ever understand? Who knows and ultimately this movements screams “who cares?”


Weigh in!

14 Weigh in!:
The Curly Oenophile said...

I think this boom of having natural hair among black women is wonderful. I had no idea it was happening until I decided to go the way of the curl. Even then, I didn't think I'd find much more info on having natually curly hair other than just having dreads or afros or the standard juices and berries! I very much enjoy this community and feel like we can all thrive in it. It's so positive and a little shallow but with VERY deep roots. I see, notice rather, more women with natural hair than ever before. I even have some people ask me if my hair is natural and what I use in it!!!!

www.thecurlyoenophile.com

Anonymous said...

I say who cares about what people chose to wear their hair or style. We have TV programs like fashion police or what not wear telling people that what they are wearing is wrong. I even saw this show one night I forgot the name of it sorry, but Michelle Williams from destiny's child was on she was rocking her curly hair and no makeup I do the same too. The lady made her change her style because she said it was appropriate for her Gospel career. She straightened Michelle naturally gorgeous curls put a weave and put make up on her etc. My mom and I were watching both naturals said it was nothing wrong with her curls or look she was a natural hair hater jealous! Lol! Even Mary Mary to me does be themseleves I do not care if it is for fame be yourself be one hundred what God made you or what you have always been your whole life. I love Willie's new song I am me, she does care what others think and she not going to change. The same with me I have always been talked about in school growing up whether my hair was straight,curly, braided etc and also about my clothes I have attitude that starts with an F and a U. I rock what I wanna wear old instyle what ever I just like being different everyone is different. I like that I do not fit in I fit in with God that all that counts, he love me and my curly hair.

Megan Montgomery

Megan Montgomery

Anonymous said...

It is hard for me to think of going natural as anything other than wanting to have healthy, beautiful hair. I decided to go natural after reading a couple of articles about female pattern baldness and practices that cause women to lose their hair. I then I looked at the older women in my family and going natural was a no-brainer! Nothing political and maybe a little vain, but I just can't see going bald without a fight! I have been natural for 16 months and my hair is longer, fuller, healthier than I can ever remember it being in the past. So norm or not I don't think I will be going back to chemical processes and if I do decide to use heat it will be a rare occurance.

Anonymous said...

At one time it was a political statement because the status quo made it a political issue by the negation of our hair.
But watching many of the younger naturals embracing the versatility of your hair is so wonderful because the powers to be have had to see natural hairstyles as one of many choices we will make irrespective of what anyone thinks.
I think when you have natural hair that you can acknowledge that in many circles it is still relegated as a political statement whether you want it or not then you will have come to see how powerful expressing your natural beauty is. And even if it is not a political statement for you, that doesn't mean it is not for others.
Recently there was an article about a woman who just wanted a job at an amusement park and because of "natural hair" she was denied. So to be realistic we have to see that our hair and what we choose to do with it is a statement. That doesn't mean you have to run around with black power earrings or spouting rhetoric, but it does mean that you can't deny the reality of how others perceive your hair. If some ignorant person rushed up to put their hands in my hair and then asked why that is a problem for me: I would need to acknowledge that 1) personally they are invading my space and 2) why do they think they have the right too? has my hair been objectified in some way.
So I'm saying wear your hair the way you want, but please understand that there is some history to natural hair whether you were of the generation that suffered because of it, or not.

Anonymous said...

I blame Chris Rock's movie "GoodHair". Ha!

BryannaM said...

i love this. we are such a strong force
www.coarseandunruly.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

I was just thinking about this the other day- why is the decision to go natural so different than any other hair choice? Meaning why is going natural viewed as something as being political or making a statement? The fact that any other "natural" beauty wouldn't be perceived with such distinction (ie there's no emphasis placed on women who have naturally straight hair) makes me wonder if there's a hidden agenda when it comes to "perceived" beauty. Because I'm choosing to display the way God made me is as simple as someone's else choice not to perm her hair to reach desired curls. Being Natural is simply a state of being. I choose to be me. No hidden agenda.....

Dana said...

I decided to go natural over 4 years ago for many of the reasons listed in the beginning of the article.

Seeing the continuous growth of the natural hair community is awesome as well as the huge number of naturals depicted in media from magazines to commercials.

I love that my 9 y.o. daughter sees her natural hair as 'normal' and still grins from ear-to-ear when someone compliments her on her fierce twistout!

AnaDion said...

I think that my mission as a natural woman is to stop natural hair from being a revolutionary thing. Why is the fact that i wear my hair as it came out of my scalp out of the ordinary. ???
ad because i think its pretty, of course

Taylor said...

I cant wait until I get used to styling my hair. I love my curls. Ive been natural for years but I just decided to stop pressing in early June. Somebody even asked if we were going natural when she saw my sister and I rocking our unpressed hair. (Shes known us since we were kids so that made me realize how I long I have had straight hair :/)

Karen Halliburton said...

Wearing your hair natural is a politcal statement. You are telling the world that you are no longer succumbing to the brainwashing of the European Standard of Beauty.

No matter how many times Madison Ave jams it down your throat through commericals, videos, movies, TV, etc. We are standing tall and saying no to straight hair & YES to the natural hair that grows out of our head!!!

C Robinson said...

I had to "weigh in" since I'm going through this very thing. My younger sister's wedding is coming up this autumn and I have been "informed" that I will be getting my hair done for it. I don't mind having my hair pressed. I only do it once or twice a year as it is. However, I don't think that having my hair natural is that big a deal.

I have been looking up really elegant natural styles and there are a few that have caught my eye (as I'm still looking). However, I am very anxious for the day when natural will be normal. When I can wear an afro puff or flat twists or two-strand twists and people don't ask me what I'm going to do with my hair.

How come no one asked the white girl in the ponytail next to me what she's going to do with her hair? That white girl is natural too. She woke up and washed her hair and put it in a pony tail. But her hair lays straight and mine curls up.

Why is it a problem? We're both natural. She WISHES her hair did what mine does. I like that I can accomplish her style and then have curls by that evening. *le sigh* I so wish it was easier to be a brown-skinned natural without having to school people. Shoo... I'm still learning and now I have to teach yo butt too! GAH! I wish they'd just watch and learn and stop judging. I'm really not bitter. :D Really I'm not.

I just wish I didn't have to look like everyone else to please everyone else. God gave me my hair the way it is. He created variety for a reason. Hair is no exception.

I may straighten my hair, since I don't know exactly how long it is when it is straight. It's been over a year since I've had it professionally straightened. I'm anxious to see how long it is, but I will SO miss my twists for the weekend of my sister's wedding (if I don't find an awesome natural style by then).

Hilary B. said...

I live in a predominantly white town and attend a predominantly white college so making naturally curly hair 'normal' isn't something that I worry about. I also feel like natural hair is well on its to becoming normal, visit any major city and there are tons of naturals. It's great to see. Plus, I don't know if it's our task as women who choose to wear their hair natural to make it 'mainstream.' The mainstream will adapt to us on its own.

Brooke B. said...

I think a lot of women that are natural have had some point in their life when they just wanted to feel free & not have to worry about scratching their heads or leaving a chemical in their heads too long & they get scabs or their hair falls out. I know I was one of those women, I didn't care or don't care if natural hair becomes the norm or mainstream because I'm going to rock it anyway cause it fits me.

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