August 10, 2015

On Changing Generational Perceptions of Natural Hair

CN says- that's my Boogie rockin' two-strands!

by Keora Bernard

About a year ago, I experienced naturalism in a profound way. I was confronted with the recycled mentalities that still exist among households of color about having coarser textured natural strands. Instead of doing my own hair, I decided that I would let my next door neighbor do my hair. Like many naturals, doing our hair is a laborious process and we relish the idea of having our scalps massaged and letting another person work through our dense terrain of curls, kinks, and coils.

Additionally, my girlfriend who is Latina, also decided to get her hair done by my next door neighbor. My girlfriend wanted bangs to be cut and her hair to be curled. On the other hand, I opted for a braided hairstyle, choosing to continue with my weekly protective styling routine. At the household, there were two younger girls who watched my girlfriend and me in awe.

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 After sectioning and combing my hair out, I placed it into some loose twists. One of the little girls said to me “I wished I had curly hair like you.” I reassured her that she did have curly hair but that her hair was more tightly coiled which gave it a kinkier appearance. She listened and meditated on what I said.

Afterwards, I helped comb out and section the other little girls’ hair. As I gently combed through her luscious tight coils, I thought to myself this is so beautiful. I made sure that I mentioned how strong and beautiful her mane was to her mother who faintly acknowledged it. In the past, I heard her mother mention her daughter’s hair in less enthusiastic terms telling me my hair wasn’t like her daughter’s to make a comparison of unfavorable standards.

Later on, the other little girl mentioned to me how my girlfriend, who has very fine and straight hair had beautiful hair. Now don’t get me wrong, I think there is beauty in different hair textures, facial features, and races but because European and more presently exotic features tend to be the standard of beauty, I felt compelled to remind her that her African features were just as appealing.

These two little girls reminded me that the natural hair movement isn’t simply a fad, a fight the power move, or the quest for healthier hair but it’s about development and enlightenment. Being natural forces women of color to become conscientious about the footprint they are leaving on society in both personal and public ways. The naturals of this era are making an impact, helping to turn the tide of beauty perceptions and setting an example for future generations to come.

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