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Curly Nikki

Not Natural Enough

By January 27th, 202165 Comments

Not Natural Enough

by Chelsea Smith of Coco & Cream

I was just as shocked as anyone else when I did the notorious “Big Chop.” It, like many other previous major life decisions, had been on a complete whim in one of those sudden “eff it” kind of moments. I stood there in the mirror, hair freshly washed, about to undergo the tedious weekly process of blow-drying and straightening the hair that had been transitioning for just over five months. That process, too, was rather random. Missed one relaxer appointment, stylist moved, and I simply didn’t trust anyone else. So I held off indefinitely on giving into that addicting Affirm magic-in-a-jar. One week became two, four weeks became a month, and so on. It was like a game to see how long I could last without my touch-up. And I was winning.

I’d begun to accept the task at hand that would be the application of enough heat to tame and smooth these new natural roots, yet not enough to further damage the relaxed ends. And so I sat there, blow dryer in hand, ready to get to work. But that day something was different. Something oddly unsettling about the sight of thick, abundant, wavy roots just screaming to be loved, and the contrastingly weak and feeble relaxed ends, barely hanging on; stringy, lifeless, limp. I began to ask myself why I would harm the first in order to achieve the appearance of the latter, and no justifiable answer came to mind. All I knew was that I had been getting relaxers since elementary school. It was all I’d known until then.

But at twenty-one I decided to take control. I dropped the blowdryer on the bathroom counter, and shuffled desperately through the drawers. Scissors, scissors—where could they be?! I finally found a pair and went to town. Snip snip, a few inches here, cut cut, another few there. At long last I looked in the sink at all of the strands that’d been victim to the “creamy crack.” They were finally set free, and so was I! Shocked, and in a state of subtle panic, I looked in the mirror yet again. Chelsea, what the hell did you just do?! There was a sense of liberation and empowerment in knowing that I’d returned to where it all began. But at the same time, I feared the days to come. With no idea on how to style my hair, what products to use, or even how often to wash it—I grabbed my laptop and logged into YouTube. There was solace to be found in the amazingly strong natural hair community online. After hours without budging from my seat, I arose with new knowledge and an optimistic attitude. The thought of wash-and-go’s, twist-outs, bantu knots, and more, had me amped! I was now one of them—a natural—ready to face the next day with pride.

Many of my peers didn’t understand why I had done it. They had become so accustomed to seeing me with the freshly permed roots, long length, and the big bouncy pin-curls that I loved so dearly. But on the other hand, I received much notice and praise from fellow natural chicks in the weeks after the BC. I never noticed how many women were doing it until then—you know, wearing their own non-processed hair with the utmost confidence. I felt foolish to have waited so long! My kinky curls became cause for many an impromptu conversation with a stranger: whether in the grocery store or post-office parking lot—we happily shared tips and tricks, product recommendations, and stories of when and why we did the big chop. I was apart of this dope new society, and they embraced me without judgment. Or so I thought.

A month and a half after the cut, I finally decided to have my hair straightened to check the length and see what new styling options I’d have. To my surprise, my curls became flowing straight tresses without any issue. In my ignorance, I’d assumed that natural hair was so much harder to tame, but I was wrong. I left the salon, head high, with a funky new feathered pixie-cut of sorts. At work the next day, a frequent customer came in and looked at me, almost in shame: “You permed your hair back?!” “No, just straightened it.” “Why would you put heat on your hair, girl? You know that ruins your curls, right?” I didn’t feel the need to explain myself, but I did anyway to be polite. It didn’t seem like such a big deal. But, in wearing my hair straight, I began to notice far fewer parking-lot pow-wows in my day-to-day activities. None to be exact. Instead, when I even mentioned that I was natural, women would smirk or argue, sometimes even touching my hair. “Oh, well, you must have them ‘good’ curls because my hair never gets that straight.” Good curls?! I had to be dreaming.

A couple weeks later there was another situation in which I openly discussed the possibility of adding color to my hair. “You know, once you get color, you’re no longer really a natural,” I was told. “Color is chemical, so your curls won’t even count.” Clearly, I’d missed the memo on all these unspoken rules of natural hair. First, I couldn’t straighten my hair, and now color would strip me of my place in the curly-girl club?! Why did it matter? This was foolish.

The final blow would be inflicted during a harmless girl-talk session with a few associates. While going through a magazine, I raved about a picture of Tracee Ellis Ross and how gorgeously perfect her curls were. “I can’t wait to have big, bouncy, natural curls like her and Corrine Bailey Rae,” I said, jokingly shaking my three humble inches of hair. “Girl, they don’t count–both of them are half-White,” I was told in response by a fellow un-permed woman. “So, what does that mean?” “Well, obviously they would have pretty hair. Nice, long curls. That sh*t aint nothing like these n*gga naps we got. Ha!” I didn’t even bother arguing that time, because I already saw where the conversation was going. Downhill, at a rapid pace.

The new attitudes that I faced caused me to question this so-called natural sisterhood that I was initially exposed to. Little did I know, upon cutting my hair, that I would only be good enough with my own mousy brown color, heat-free curls, and without mention of any family lineage that wasn’t of African decent. Otherwise, my natural “wouldn’t count.” Granted, its all hair, never to be taken but so seriously. But, really? Who made these laws to govern the validity of one’s own hair journey. As if passing the flat iron now took away from that victorious moment when I stood in the mirror and said “no” to the perm. Or as if color would negate those months when I so diligently refused offers to try a new salon with “$20 off a relaxer” for first-time guests. That would’ve been a no-brainer in my heyday! But, no, none of it counted now. Because I wasn’t natural enough.

– Chelsea Smith

Republished with permission by Coco & Creme

65 Comments

  • Anonymous says:

    Man, I thought it was just me. This was a great article. I have several hair types on my head ranging from 3b to 4a. The 4a hair is in the middle, from ear to ear, and right at the hairline in the middle. I didn't notice the "looks" until I was at the natural hair show. It was if I was an imposter, "looser" curl pattern and blond highlights. I even had someone ask me if this was my real hair, as if I had a texturizer or a wig on.

  • beautynthadark says:

    *when I've seen their hair*
    i meant

  • beautynthadark says:

    oOo!!! I thought I was the only one that can't stand the invisible lines…*sigh* I color my natural hair because I just do and I like it…
    No one, I mean, NO ONE is ever gonna dictate how I take care of my hair again.
    Like whether I'm supposed to have a perm, straight hair, whether I need to let them put a weave or practice in my hair. Lord the things people say. Like I'm just gonna LET someone play in my head and do a weave when I've their hair, *shakes head* righhhh….
    No dictation, that is what going natural is all about right? And that "not natural enough" crapola, I just wish i would hear that. They dont even know.
    I've always had that kind of hair that was supposed to be natural even when I was getting the perms when I was growing up. My momma used to go through pure hell with my hair and I used to get beat out the frame for jacking up my hair, or so she thought. Shaaaaa…Me going natural was the best thing for both of us….
    oOo!!! Just thinking about those invisible lines and that not natural enough crap got my neck hot boy…

  • Anonymous says:

    I understand perfectly well where you are coming from. I Big chopped in Jan 2010 as it was my last year at University could not deal with the stress of a relaxer and the work load, and tried to encourage my friends to do the same. I was told you got "good hair" and could afford to do that. I wore my hair out almost everyday for that year however when I flat ironed and colored it; I was met with disapproving glances as well as some as some situations where people would more or less imply finally "you have come to your senses". I think that sometimes one can do well without the negative comments and one should do what really and truly makes them happy! So do what makes you happy and no one else.

  • Tiffany says:

    Girl don't get caught up in the foolishness and mayhem. Keep the ultimate goal in mind: to embrace the hair God gave you. Its ridiculous how our own people can forget how diverse of a race we are. We're a rainbow of people displaying a rainbow of colors and shades and by proxy our hair is no different. Some of us have different textures within our own heads! Dang, that's like saying one is less back for not eating collards & cornbread or something(I get that all the time, lol). Girl just keeping doing what makes YOU happy, Chelsea, b/c you're the one who has to live with the decisions. Not natural enough… What a crock…

  • Jen says:

    Comments about "biracial hair" always make me laugh. My sister and I give the lie to the very stereotype. I'm light skinned with kinky 4c hair. She's a little darker (I won't lie – we're still fairly light) with looser 3b stuff.

    People need to stop spreading that "biracial hair" myth because it's just foolishness.

  • CashmereKinks says:

    Great comments guys. Idk why ppl have all of these "natural enough".. "black enough" statements anyway. Hair is hair. It always grows back. A lot of naturals pride themselves on natural hair being so versatile… THEN LET IT BE VERSATILE… and as far as not listening to others with looser or denser textures? I understand… i listen but take into consideration that I have afrokinky hair.

    I wish people would stop judging other naturals. They're taking the fun out of being natural. There are no rules. It's my darn hair. On top of that, those ladies with looser curls can't help that their friggin GENES gave them looser curls.

    Why hate?! So don't put them down because they have looser hair. It's not their fault. What are they supposed to do? Go find a way to make it coil?.. so that they can be as "black" as you?

    Girl, do your thing. It's YOUR hair.

  • Think & Grow Chick says:

    This is a really fantastic article. I can relate completely to those "parking lot pow-wows" with other naturals when my hair is is full effect, and the absence of them when I choose to wear my hair straight for the week. While I have yet to feel "judged" for those rare occasions when I used permanent color or flat-ironed my hair for an extended period of time, I will say that I feel like an "outsider" unless my "naturalness" is out and on display :-/

  • Alexandrea says:

    I've heard of people saying crazy things like that before. It just makes me shake my head and wonder where they get this information from because you can't tell someone that they're "not natural enough". Who are you to judge how natural someone is or is not?

  • Anonymous says:

    BEING NATURAL=NO CHEMICAL RELAXER!!! However else you want to style your hair is up to you, it's your business!! If they are not paying for it to get done, they need to shut their mouths!! Women are so critical, I completely ignore it all, esp the "good hair" comments!!

  • Unknown says:

    "Although ignorant in delivery, what those women were saying is that from a sociological standpoint, those curls, loose curls, are more readily accepted by society, so it's a much greater feat to show tighter curls mostly associated with those of black African descent. Just one look at advertising will show evidence of this. Having loose curls does not get as much negative attention as tightly coiled hair and they may feel that they have to be fighting much harder for acceptance against society's beauty standards because of the tight coils. I get the "good" hair comments too, but I understand why they say what they say, even if it's not as well thought out of a comment as I would desire."

    Well written Kandeezie 🙂 lol had to quote all of it, it bore repeating.

  • Openexpression says:

    I just want to say that the quality of writing in this article is excellent! BRAVO Chelsea!

    and ANON @ 4:40pm needs to get a life…there is nothing wrong with a child having braids in her hair.

  • Anonymous says:

    Anonymous

    Sometimes, we need to "get out of the way of ourselves".

    Exactly!

  • Amelia says:

    It amazes me that no matter how long we survive and thrive there's always something.
    If you're light skinned, you're 'not black enough' … if your hair is naturally curly, you're 'not black enough' … now if your hair, in its natural state, doesn't look, act, and feel like combs literally RUN AWAY from it, you're 'not black enough'.
    smh

  • Anonymous says:

    Ms. Overproof:

    As she swings her fake braids, which no nine-year-old should be wearing anyway.

    Calling people "haters" when they raise valid points is moronic.

  • Anonymous says:

    “Girl, they don’t count–both of them are half-White,” I was told in response by a fellow un-permed woman. “So, what does that mean?” “Well, obviously they would have pretty hair. Nice, long curls. That sh*t aint nothing like these n*gga naps we got. Ha!”

    That kind of reminds me of the one-drop rule…if you got one drop of black blood that's all you are – somehow it negates everthing else.

    These attitudes are atrociously stupid.

  • Anonymous says:

    Twenty years ago the topic was just as or even more divided. It was just slightly different. The difference was that in the black community, the ideal was straight hair and curly, kinky hair was not considered attractive. I find it interesting that now people are saying natural isn't natural enough – whatever that means.

    So really, I feel like the conversation hasn't changed enough – I could have sworn I remember someone saying – "oh her, she got a perm, girl. Her ain't like that naturally" in 1977… Substitute she got a perm with she is mixed and swap the image from straight to curly and you have the same thing.

    Chelsea, Maybe the ladies didn't mean to sound the way they did but maybe they could have thought about what they were saying more carefully too. Advice is well and good but if the end result leaves a negative impression, then what good is it and why are they giving it? I don't even want to get into what they thought they were accomplishing. It's too bad we keep doing this.

    @ Keisha – From conversations I have with various people, it's not just in one community. Women everywhere do this a lot to each other all over the world in all cultures, over stupid and meaningless things. We can choose to not be part of it though – or we can at least try.

    At least now – healthy hair is considered a goal and represents attractiveness. That's what I call a standard.

    Thanks Chelsea for such a great post! swoodward

  • Unknown says:

    I don't have time to read all the comments right now, unfortunately, but I just want to say your article is on point. My immediate thoughts after reading it:

    1) Natural hair is not indicative of maturity or manners (and neither is permed hair, of course).

    2) I straightened for the first time about a month ago. I felt like I crossed an imaginary line! I immediately related to people with natural curls, smiled like I always do, and then caught myself, remembering "they don't know I'm natural."

    3) As Ms. Overproof said, Hair is supposed to be fun. Some people are making this stuff way too political. Can we revoke their "Natural" ID cards or maybe create a bougie naturals website just for them?

  • Ms. Overproof says:

    In the immortal words of 9 yr old Willow Smith…

    Don't let haters keep me off my grind
    Keep my head up i know I'll be fine
    Keep fighting until i get there
    When i'm down and i feel like giving up i think again…

    Great article. I totally am in the same boat of being shocked by all the holier than thou attitudes towards hair. Hair is supposed to be fun and make you feel fierce when you step out your house in the morning. If you are not able to that what's the point.

  • LittleOne says:

    You all are going to love www.hairliberty.org. It goes live this week….

  • Keisha says:

    I just don't understand why a lot of African Americans have this "crabs in a barrel" mentality — constantly trying to pull/put another person down because they are lighter, different hair textures, levels of education, etc, etc. Well, I know the seeds were planted in the days of slavery but I pray that it ends ONE DAY because it is really destructive to our race as a whole! So sad! SMH…

  • Ann says:

    I can relate. I think it's the term "natural". Some people assume we can't use ANYTHING! It's silly. I prefer the term "un-relaxed" or "unprocessed". Sometimes I say, "My hair doesn't have a relaxer" instead of "I'm natural". That way, I avoid other people's B.S., silly questions or attempts to break me down by questioning my "naturalness".

    I can also relate to a lot of the comments. My skin is medium toned i.e. not Tyra Banks nor Alek Wek. My hair type is a spirally silky 4a, which isn't even "rare"! I get the "How you get your hair like that, girl?" questions too. And the classic "What are you mixed with?". *sigh* If, 3 years ago, I said "Yeah, I'm mixed with Cherokee/Filipino/Mermaid/Android from the future/whatever, people would say: "Girl please, you crazy!" But now, with my long "exotic" hair(*rolls eyes*), people are saying "Oh yeah, girl, definitely, I see it. You got that Cherokee android hair".

    If more women explored their natural texture, we'd see that our hair comes in a variety of curls and waves and that the type of curl has nothing to do with skin tone!

    People assume I "did something" to my hair. To shut them up, I have to actually pull my hair apart and show them how the curls start at the scalp and coil upwards. I love my hair, but sometimes I wish I had the fluffy picked out style fro. But since my hair is longer than average, I'd still get dumb questions. *sigh*

  • Curly Hairdo Ideas says:

    MommieDearest said it all!! Awesome post.

    Sometimes in our desire to find people we can relate to – we (as a society) just end up boxing ourselves and others up and limit ourselves instead. It's so sad 🙁

    Just love what you have and don't worry about the "lines" of naturalness or curl type and hopefully everyone else will start to follow suit! 😀

    p.s. I loved reading your article, Chelsea. Great writing!!!

  • Anonymous says:

    jstherealist

    "stereotypical coonta hair" ??!!!??? LOL

  • SweetThang says:

    I enjoy visiting these blogs now that I'm natural. But the one thing that I don't enjoy about these blogs is that there is so much division in regards to hair texture. I try to stay out of these types of coversations.

    It's really amazing to find out that, according to some people, I am not truly natural because I color my hair and I have a looser curl pattern. Since going natural, I have learned really quick not to give a damn what other people think.

    Brianna@11:42 AM, I know what you mean. I'm brown skinned and people will ask me if this is my real hair as if only light skinned people have the monopoly on loose curls. Or they will tell me I'm lying and I have a texturizer. I just say, look I don't have time to argue with you about what I do to my hair and keep it moving.

  • Anonymous says:

    I guess I have always taken issue with the descriptive term "natural hair". There is no distinction made for any other racial group of women regarding what styling options they employ for their hair. For example, Asian women aren't called "natural" when they decide NOT to curly perm their hair. ??!!!???

    Sometimes, we need to "get out of the way of ourselves". It's just hair and even though our society is sick when it comes to our tight curls/coils/kinks, it doesnt mean that we have to absorb the pathology and be just as sick. It's laughable.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have been natural since Feb 4, 2010 and it has been a journey. As I look on youtube for help from other naturals, I definitely look for naturals with my curl pattern. However, I have found that even with the same curl pattern there are still many different aspects to hair. These different aspects has shown me that even if I have a similar hair pattern to someone else, that does not necessarily mean that my hair will react the same way to certain hair products. Also, I will be honest in saying that I think it would be harder for me to have gone natural if I didn't have the hair type that I have. We all need to be honest and consider if our journey would have been easier if we had 4c hair. I have looked at some of the videos from young ladies with this hair type and some of them have a lot of negative comments from our own people in response to their hair. When I first did my big chop, I had a man at my job come up to me and say, "don't worry, your still beautiful". In the end, my hair has grown long and strong due to proper care. I will admit, that the twist out is my best friend. I don't leave home without it. Just like another anonymous poster contributed, we have issues with hair and if we had the chance to pick our hair type, I am will to bet that the vast majority would pick a looser curl pattern. For one thing the looser curl patterns shows off length and I know that I have worked hard to retain mine. So yes, I do a twist out to show my beautiful hair and what I've worked hard for.

  • Anonymous says:

    yea…I've been natural for 12 years (since my sophomore year in college). I've had a braids, a twa (that i bleached light brown at one point), locs, and now I'm back to growing out my twa. I've got to say that was the nice thing about being natural before youtube and the like – I was able to so my thing without all the side conversation.

    With my more recent cut, some people assume I'm new to the game and I've heard similar comments, but not many. Some people are just negative and having natural hair won't change that.

  • Annie Gracie says:

    *shouldn't have to explain myself…

  • Anonymous says:

    Anonymous at 10:30am
    You make an interesting point. Nappturality is a very popular website dedicated to 4a-z (lol) hair. It ranks up there with the best of them AND naturally curly's 4a (an beyond) forums are extremely popular too. Perhaps these sites are not AS popular because there are fewer naturals with these hair types?? I dont know.

  • Annie Gracie says:

    I have been natural the majority of my life. I ventured into relaxers at different points and for different reasons (tired of the frizziness, wanting it bone-straight for the bob cut I had, etc.) but I always grew it out and went back to what was natural for me. When I got relaxers, people always asked me, "Why did you get a relaxer, you don't even need it." But it was what I wanted to do and met my needs at the time. That's the beauty (or should be) of being a black woman. I can do whatever I want and with time, always come back to whatever it is that makes me happy. After having off and on relaxers and growing them out over the years, I decided to Big Chop a year ago. It was something I had never done before but I was so encouraged and influenced by the YouTube Natural Community that I just jumped off the porch and did it! A year later my hair is longer than it was then, all "natural" and the healthiest it's ever been! My mother and sisters swore me off when I cut my hair but I trusted myself and what I had researched and am better off because of it. One of the comments posted above touched upon dark skin women who get questioned…"How did you get your hair to curl like that?" as if our hair cannot have that 3b/3c curl naturally. Well I do and I should have to explain myself because of other people's preconceived notions about who should have looser curl patterns. You wouldn't believe how often I get questioned as if my texture is somehow "better." But TRUST ME that I have issues still. I can't rock a twist out nearly as beautifully as another with 4a/4b texture. I get so envious! But nothing is perfect and to the well-organized mind, the grass is green all around and on every side! You just have to appreciate who you are, what you are working with…and keep it pushing!

    Okay I'm off the soapbox now…LOL

  • Anonymous says:

    Let me say at the outset that I've been wearing my hair naturally for about four years after having had it lightly relaxed for several years before. (Incidentally, if you use the term "straighten," you need to be more specific. I had no idea what method you were talking about.) I also get low-lights and highlights.

    Let me also say that I think some of the zealotry about "natural" hair is ridiculous. If you're spending 10 hours to braid your hair, that's not "natural," that merely non-chemical.

    Having said all that, I can imagine some of the reasons for the reaction. Some of the women think you're fickle. I remember an experience I had in the 1960s with another African American girl, who was considered one of the prettiest girls in the neighborhood. In that era, almost everyone still had relaxed hair. The other girl and I, who were in elementary or junior high, were invited to a city-wide meeting on Afro-American issues. This was a big deal. I fretted a bit about what I would wear, but then decided that the issues were far more important.

    On the day of the event, S., who was not the sharpest knife in the drawer, and cared little about the topics under discussion, shows up in an Afro. She had never worn her hair that way before, and she reverted to her to straightened flip the day after the conference. But she got a lot of attention for being a with-it "sistah."

    Although the people you're talking about are adults, not kids, I think the reaction is similar: suspicion that you're dabbling. What you do about it is your affair.

    It doesn't help that the vast majority of visible, highly successful black women in business chemically straighten their hair, although I understand why many of them do.

    As for the remarks, I don't approve, but I understand it. Some of those women are reacting to the fact that they still feel they're losing in the beauty wars. I saw an article, possibly from Racialicious or Sociological Images, that noted that when women of color with natural curls are featured in ads they tend to be biracial women with loose curls.

    So without necessarily approving of the behavior, I think it's more complicated than you've acknowledged. I would just do my own thing while trying not to be overly judgmental. In the end, it is none of their business.

  • kimmie0810 says:

    Chelsea I know exactly what u mean! And I also face the same crap as Anonymous 7:35a. I'm not half-white but I get those ridiculous comments ALL THE TIME! I'm so sick of it & it grosses me out that people think they are paying me a compliment. I was talking to my own (black) mother the other day about hair growth & said that it seems my hair grows about 1/2in a month. She said "well it might since yours is white". She was joking (unless there's something she wants to tell my father who I look JUST LIKE lol) but it annoyed me anyway.

    People don't take my natural journey seriously b/c of my hair type. I struggled during transition with straight(er) ends too. I go through some of the same challenges & definitely the same triumphs & joys. My family members DOG their hair & their children's hair. I spend ALOT of money buying them products & trying to educate them but they dismiss me b/c I "got that good stuff". I haven't spent HOURS on these blogs & doing research for nothing. I see other natural women out in the mall or wherever & say hello & compliment them on their hair & they look me up & down & give me a strange look. Or if I ask someone how they styled their hair a particular way, I get a "look". Inevitably people will ask me what I put in my hair to get it "like that" & I tell them DNA!

    I'm tired of people telling me to shut up about my hair b/c I shouldn't have any complaints. I'm not complaining, I'm trying to make my hair beautiful & healthy just like they are! Just b/c I CAN wash n go & have curls doesn't mean that my hair doesn't require care & styling.

  • Jeannette says:

    Although I have not experienced not being 'natural' enough I feel can't nobody tell me if I am natural enough or not. It's not their call. If I were the author of this article, I'd pay no attention to those who feel that natural looks a certain way. Their definition of being natural does not justify yours or mine.

  • Alicia says:

    jstherealist – I feel you on that. My husband's family is very dark-skinned and a lot of the women in his family have jet black, long, curly hair (3c-3b type). My step-daughter is 9 and her hair is down to her waist. People stay asking if she's mixed with something and she is dark like my husband. I mean, they do have some Native American blood in them, but people are always so amazed that dark-skinned black people can have long, loosely curled hair. I don't see why though. We have evolved as a people and we can't all look the same!

  • GGmadeit says:

    OMG you said it all and well! Mess is all I will say with my colored, you just got good hair curls! I just smile and keep it moving!

  • Theoneandonly says:

    WOW girl I am with you! So may people have different perceptions on what natural hair is. You don't have to fit rules and regulations you rock your hair how you wish. Its beautiful!!!!

    flynaturalnaturallyfly.blogspot.com

  • Brianna says:

    There is this amazing divide in the natural community. To me, its like saying someone isn't black enough. I wish that people would accept each other and stop putting their crosses on other people to bear.

    Also I have noticed a certain thing with dark skin women with natural hair vs. light skin women with natural hair. Whenever someone of a darker skin has looser curls we rush to see what they do in order to get that curl, BUT when a woman is lighter skin and has 3b/c hair we just say oh she has good hair. As someone not close to light skin its always said to me. Just a thought.

  • Inspire Unity says:

    I am with you all the way…I am a natural and I love my short little pix cut, a lot of people come down on me for putting heat to my hair but my Aunt who has been a hair stylist for 17 years, and is also natural says that she never seen my hair so health…Remember I put heat to my hair. It is all about having health hair to me.

    I still embrace my natural curls, because I love them, but I wear my hair based on how I'm feeling, and IT'S ME! I don't think it makes you any less natural if you choose to wear it straight, just take care of it…and remember that that is the beauty of own hair it is versatile.

  • ashley says:

    OMG! Those are the most ingorant comments I have ever heard! I felt the same sense of liberation cutting my hair. I had just broken up w/my bf of 3 yrs. Teary eyed and frustrated w/the broken off ends, I went to town with my scissors and fell in love! When I went natural for the first time, I was fascinated w/the number of naturals one campus, even ones who had straightened their hair! Basically, those ignorant comments do not deserve validity! You are natural whether your hair is colored, straightened or whatever. *Shake the haters off!* B/c that's what they are.

  • MommieDearest says:

    This hair divide within the natural community is sickening and so unnecessary. All natural hair has the potential to be ugly. And all natural hair has the potential to be beautiful. No one "type" of hair is inherently more beautiful, or less beautiful, than another. IMO there is no way that a head full of dry, matted, loose curls looks better than a head full of moisturized, styled, soft naps. And, IMO there is no way that a head full of dry,tangled kinks looks better than a head full shiny, springy curls. It's all in how you maintain your hair, no matter what type. Love the hair you have. That is all.

  • Alicia says:

    I think the "not natural enough" mentality comes from newer naturals. I've been natural all my life (28 years) and I've colored and straightened my hair many times (too many to count), and I've always considered myself to be natural. I never heard such foolishness until recently in these newer natural circles. Growing up, I was THE natural girl in the crowd, now there's a bunch of us (which is good), but the attitude seems to have changed. I've been told that b/c I have color in my hair I'm not really natural. Excuse me, but my 28 years of experience dealing with my God-given hair texture says that I am. Unless you've been natural longer than me, please keep your ignorant comments to yourself!

  • Anonymous says:

    Chelsea, continue to do 'you'.

  • Curlock Holmes says:

    Those comments (in the article) are just pure ignorance. How is temporarily changing your style make you not natural? Does a twist-out, braid out, bantu-knot out, roller set make you less natural, because they all straighten out the hair to some degree? It's just rediculous. And don't get me started on the color thing.. every time I hear 'once you color your hair you're not natural', I could just smack someone.

  • Anonymous says:

    I'm with you anon 10:05. Im 30 with about 20% gray and i'm not trying to embrace that at 30. God willing my grandkids will be putting rinses on this head because i plan to be fly(yet refined) in my old age.

  • jstherealist says:

    Everyone has an opinion. I am 100% black and no where near light skinned. I have a defined curl pattern of which everyone thinks is weave. When I straighten my hair, people dont beleive it is my hair either. My mother had to deal with it worse than me. She is DARK with beautiful dark cherokee indian looking hair. Some black people dont like that non "red" people are born with hair that is not stereotypical coonta hair. It is crazy we as black people need to mentally drain our process of thinking. I was listening to a lil wayne song on the radio where he mentioned "Beautiful black women bet that b*tch look better red" it's like we have this underline thinking that the fairer the skin the better the hair, attraction, everything! SAD!

  • Anonymous says:

    This may have come off caustic, but she makes a good point.
    People are often more willing to accept and be in awe of loosely curled hair rather than tight kinky/nappy hair. Do you honestly think that Curly Nicki or Mane and Chic (or whatever) would be as popular as they are right now if they had 4b hair?!
    I laugh..
    No really, take a look at the most popular of natural hair blogs and tell me what their hair types are.
    It's so sickening, I went natural to embrace and accept the hair that grows out of my scalp, something most black women have yet to do, but at the same time even in this 'natural hair' community, my hair is still not viewed as beautiful. We STILL have the same complexes that we did when we were relaxed. We didn't deal with any of the emotional issues, just the physical ones.
    Cheers.

  • Unknown says:

    Wow…I didn't know it was that deep. I have been natural my entire life. I just used to press/flat iron my hair. I started experimenting with my hair last year and stopped using heat for 2-3 months at a time, but I didn't really know what I was doing…I was just "taking a break" from the straightening. Now, as of 2 months ago, I have decided to commit to keeping heat out of my hair and embracing my curls. My reason for doing this was because I noticed a lot of thinning in my crown and my scalp felt inflamed (very itchy) so I thought heat styling was probably not helping. I also had a very bad experience with a quick weave that contributed to the thinning/irritation to my scalp.

    Now that I am on this no heat journey, I have been reading TONS of blogs and watching you tube videos on how to style and care for my curls. It's been a valuable learning experience, but I just had no idea there was this whole revolution/evolution going on with natural hair. I certainly didn't know it was the fight between hair types.

    I mean really, if you have decided to wear your hair natural then just do it and shut up! Stop comparing and competing with your sisters. You know, just as with anything else, that there will be differences among us. So what??! In the scheme of life, is that really important?? I swear people just want something to be mad at. As if a person can help what their hair type is or what their lineage is. I mean what??! It sounds absolutely ludicrous just typing it. Embrace what you have, take care of it and be proud. Seriously.

  • Anonymous says:

    I think its crazy for another natural to say that someone isn't natural enough! I'm 37 yrs old and just about 95% gray. I've had gray hair since elementary school and started putting a rinse in my hair as a teen. Now that I'm 100% natural (BC 10/10) I use a permanent color. I refuse to go without coloring my hair! I'm far too young…lol! I plan on coloring it for at least another 20 yrs!

  • Anonymous says:

    I agree with Anon 9:19. I have also visited youtube and seen other naturals with TWA's that have a looser curl pattern than mine and I will search for someone who has a similar curl pattern to mine. Simply because I know my hair will not respond the way their hair does. But, I don't think there is anything wrong with that. No more than I would shop at a store for women that were petite when I am clearly not.

    I am looking for similarity. However I don't dismiss their journey because I know it is difficult for all naturals to find what works for them. And I listen to advise on how to care for curly hair from all groups. I mean gracious; we were born this way; with these eys,this hair this nose all of it. We did not pick it; it was GIVEN to us!

  • Anonymous says:

    Great article! Ignorance, unfortunately, is still alive! I have not personally experienced this but have read on many sights where natural woman that colored their hair we told they were no long natural, huh? WTH? Their hair is not chemically treated to be straight, that is it! They are probably more natural than some of the complainers. But what is see is that some'natural' women are limited in their thinking of what they will risk or can do with their own hair and place this fear on others. It is soooooo wrong! Get over yourselves! I always compliment another natural for this reason. We have enough criticism from others to do it in our own community! Grow up 'sistas'!!!

  • Danica says:

    I completly know what you're talking about. I became natural about 8 years ago, and there was a great site ( I won't say the name)that helped me transition and was a very open community AT FIRST! Then it started to change, and all of the sudden you couldn't post topics on on flat ironing your hair, or post pictures, because you know if you do that, you're not truly natural…
    I'd rather people focus on the value of not putting heat on your hair often and what heat will do to your hair and let women decide what they want to do.
    To this day I will not send a newbie natural to that site!

  • Lissie says:

    Thanks for the post Chelsea! I'm sorry that you've encountered those experiences. What you stated do exist unfortunately. However, I think your story is a great example of how individualize natural hair really is. Your conversation proves that behind the afro's, BC, long curly hairs are individual stories. Therefore, I guess for me, I'm careful about who I discuss natural hair with, because I've never believed the stereotype that SOME people have that going natural all of a sudden makes you "enlightened" or more knowledgeable when it comes to hair or more understanding. The women behind the hair are individuals too. Foolery doesn't end with natural hair. I know for me, I've given a lot of natural sistah's the side-eye, because some of us really do say the most outrageous things ("That sh*t aint nothing like these n*gga naps we got"….WHAT? I would have loved to see your facial expression, lol) BUT, I'm also well aware that they represent themselves and not the whole community ya know.

    Co-sign with PinkGirlFluff and b.! You both stated awesomely what I've been thinking. LOL @ "my curls are the best thing since Jesus blessed the wine". Can I steal that?

  • vonnie says:

    people really spend WAY too much time trying to box folks in. "you aren't black enough" "you aren't natural enough" "you think you better" JESUS CHRIST WHEN WILL IT END???? instead of a race to the bottom, can we start celebrating each other?? holy f%&* I'm tired of this type of stuff

    Vonnie
    http://www.socialitedreams.com/

  • Anonymous says:

    Kandeezie, I totally agree. Unfortunately, even when we are natural, our looks are still measured against one another. And we do it among ourselves because it is so ingrained. I have to admit, there is a part of me that is a bit worried that once I cut off the relaxed ends, I won't have the "right" kind of natural hair. And although I love the way Tracie Ellis Ross's hair looks, I know that I just don't have that type of hair. So when I see youtube videos by women with hair of a looser curl pattern, I feel that it's a waste of my time looking at them. No offense to them, but I just don't put much stock into advice that they might have, as opposed to someone who has hair that is similar to mine. That just makes logical sense to me.

  • Anonymous says:

    Chile please! lol i just laugh at the "not natural enough" statement. It's very silly and petty. My hair is a looser than Ellis-Ross and Bailey Rae…and guess what?!?!?! I have two African American parents and 4 african american grandparents and all african american great-grandparents. I love my hair straightened and i love the curls. If my curls wouldn't bounce back after a straightening session then i might not straighten but thats not the case. So do your thing.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have been transitioning for a little over a year and a half. I have been told that I have "good" hair and then people try to retract the comment as if it will go to my head. I laugh inside. But one thing that is not a laughing matter is how people try to become divisive based upon texture.

    I am about a 3c and didn't really know my curl pattern growing up because I was taught to wash, braid, and repeat. I never did my hair as a child until I turned 14 then I permed at 15.

    I wish that everyone would embrace their own texture. If they hate the way they look with natural hair, change it. I feel like I need to give them that children's book about being happy to be nappy or something. Embrace what you got. Whether its 2c, 3c, or 4c. I am happy to be nappy.

    As a child, my mom never let me wear my hair down or out. I felt like I was being punished. Perhaps, she was trying to protect me from the negative or divisive comments people would make about hair texture. She never wanted me to perm my hair and I believe it was because she was trying to teach me to love myself the way I am. She stressed to me that the black baby dolls were like me, even with their plastic hard hair and soft pillow-like tummy when I wanted a blonde barbie. I hated that doll as a kid but now I get what my mother was trying to teach me.

  • Lori Ann says:

    Thank you for sharing your story!! I think most of us have been there, but you know what? It is ultimately your hair and your decision how you style it and if you color it. There are several women with natural hair that color and their hair is still healthy. You also have the whole wide world of henna. Don't let anyone put you in a box, your natural hair is your freedom. That is a part of the journey, finding your voice regardless of what others think. And as far as the poor mis-guided soul that said that the mixed chicks don't count and for you not to compare yourself to them, please discount her ignorance. We all go through the same struggles and have the same issues with non-curlies. I am not mixed, and black people ask me all the time what I'm mixed with to make my hair so curly. You, too, can have Tracee Ellis Ross hair, it's all in styling and maintenance. Please don't let these encounters discourage you, many of us natural women only have good things to say along with great advice to share. Your curls count- whether they are "mousy brown," henna red, straightened for a week or in a tight little fro. Natural enough? Here we go with that again!! (previous CN article where natural was put in " " because it was stated that you weren't truly natural unless you led a natural life style ie. no deodorant, no make-up, no processed foods, etc.) Babydoll, if we leave it to some people we will never be enough, enough. LMBO, see Nikki's previous article about being enough, I think it was a self concept Thursday. Have the audacity to be who you are and love it!!!

  • b. says:

    PinkGirlFluff, I like what you said.

    All things come full circle. When you were relaxed, you probably knew a few women who just treated their hair like, well, hair. Others probably went out of their way to "whip it back and forth" on purpose whenever they saw someone with short and/or natural hair just to prove and say straight hair is better. Those insecure women don't equate to all relaxed women being mean. The mean ones are mean.

    So…in a nutshell, not everyone you see/meet will be the understanding sort. Some of those people are cliquish all the time, while others just need to mature (I know I did!).

    Anon 7:53am, you opened another can of worms! What I've realized is that SOME advice is useful for most curlies/naturals. Other things, such as detangling, DO vary. I don't know you so you may have great information for people with a tighter curl pattern. However, taking care of natural hair is not the same across the board. It's more similar than some people realize, but trust me — it's not the same. Shoot, different heads of hair respond differently to various product even if they do have the same curl pattern. Curl pattern does not equal having the same type of strands (in regard to product acceptance).

  • Unknown says:

    Although ignorant in delivery, what those women were saying is that from a sociological standpoint, those curls, loose curls, are more readily accepted by society, so it's a much greater feat to show tighter curls mostly associated with those of black African descent. Just one look at advertising will show evidence of this. Having loose curls does not get as much negative attention as tightly coiled hair and they may feel that they have to be fighting much harder for acceptance against society's beauty standards because of the tight coils. I get the "good" hair comments too, but I understand why they say what they say, even if it's not as well thought out of a comment as I would desire.

  • Anonymous says:

    I feel the same way. I get odd looks from other naturals when I decide to straighten my hair. And then when I wear twistouts people say thing like " you have the kind of hair that spirals like that. I don't understand why people have this frame of mind.

  • Anonymous says:

    I like what she says in the second half paragragh about those other women being half white. I do feel sometimes that some natural women do not talk to me about my hair because they cannot relate to me and for some reason because I'm half white the tips I give them on how to manage hair is irrelevant. Why is it that because my curls are a little bit looser that my advice is not accepted by women with type 4. The only women that seem to talk to me about hair are women that either have hair somewhat like mine or women that have no idea about the hair typing system. Just because I am 3b/c does not mean that I can't take care of a head of 4a/b/c hair. My hair tangles and my hair gets dry and I get split ends just like a 4. And also, if dying your hair makes you not natural enough then does that mean that a natural henna takes away from your naturalness?

  • PinkGirlFluff says:

    People have always had something to say about my hair choices. Relaxed, natural, weave, color, etc…all of my choices cause people to feel some kind of way. Frankly I really don't care. I don't let it bother me. I have a TWA now and if I so chose to straighten it (which I won't because my curls are the best thing since Jesus blessed the wine) anyone that has an issue with it can kiss my bliss!

    But to play the devil's advocate, sometimes people may say things to us because they think they are protecting us. Like maybe it's not about how natural you are but someone trying to warn you because she had a negative experience with continuous heat on her hair. Even with a heat protectant some people still end up with damaged hair. So maybe the tone was wrong but the intentions were not as negative as you think.

    I know we all get mad whenever someone has anything negative to say about our hair but we should take into consideration the intent, not just the tone in the language.

  • Amber says:

    Yeeeessss!!! Amazing article! I am transitioning and prefer to wear my hair straight. After researching many natural blogs, I came across the whole "heat-trained/heat-damaged" drama- you are not really natural if you change your curl pattern… are you kidding me? The "rules" of being natural are ridiculous and divisive. I want to be natural and free from chemicals. Thanks you for this post. It was definitely right on time. 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    Oh Chelsea, Chelsea. How I can relate to you girl. I'm just as baffled by the 'not natural enough' controversy as you. Why do some women take it upon themselves to tell YOU what to do with YOUR hair? And to say 'you’re not natural enough' makes me sick to my stomach. How all of a sudden can some people separate and divide us within our own natural community? The real vs fake naturals? Give me a flipping break. I'm going to be me and love my natural hair regardless of what anybody says I should and shouldn't do to it. This journey is a personal one; a special and intimate relationship that YOU have with YOUR hair. Great article girlie.

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