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March 5, 2013

Do Curly Girls Think They're All That?


Naturally Glam Idol- Lovely Mali
Do Curly Girls Think They're All That?: Styling Divisions in the Natural Hair Community


“You natural girls who always wear your hair curly act like you’re better than those of us who straighten our natural hair.”

My sister-in-law (SIL) made that comment in the midst of a discussion about whether some naturals girls be “doing the most.” For the record, she places me in the aformentioned category. My weekly deep conditioning, Instagram hair pics and natural hair Facebook page are all symptoms of doing the most as far as she is concerned. I tried to tell her I was a lightweight most doer. But more than anything, I was troubled by her comment. I’ve written before about the sense of sisterhood I feel as a member of the natural hair community so it saddened me to think that her experience is not as positive.

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As we continued the discussion, she shared that her encounters with others naturals often culminated with them concluding that she’s not really natural because she wears straight hair (flat ironed), weaves, braids (my SIL is a hair stylist so she rocks a different style every other day). My thoughts were that weaves, braids etc. were all protective styles. At any rate, she shared that women who approach her with questions about her hair feel the need to qualify her with questions like, “But are you really natural?” as if there were degrees of natural based upon how often one wears their hair curly/kinky/coily.

The conversation got even trickier. My SIL explained that some naturals wouldn’t consider me a natural because I often wear twistouts instead of my “real” texture. Whatchutalkin’boutWillis?! I imagine one’s “real” texture is exemplified in the wash and go style. So of course, I went down the slippery slope. I explained that under that logic, girls who use hair gel wouldn’t be considered natural since gel makes our coils look different. Going even further, I said that that same logic meant that girls who use conditioner aren’t natural because our kinks look different after using conditioner. All of that made about as much sense as the idea that twistouts meant I wasn’t natural. Interestingly enough, not long after the conversation, I read about another natural stating the same thing—that women who wear twistouts aren’t really natural because twistouts manipulate the hair’s curl/coil pattern so it seems that at least a few people subscribe to this notion.

I often talk about divisions within the natural hair community. Curl type and hair texture have historically been methods of separation.

Have we also moved to a place where styling choices are a source of division? Have we inadvertently created an exclusive sorority whereby some members of the natural hair community feel left out based on how they style their hair?

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