By Dr. Kim Hodges

When you ask a natural why they decided to go or stay natural you will more than likely receive a laundry list of responses. These responses range from damage from chemical processes to spiritual renewal. However, do we really understand the power in deciding to go and stay natural in a world filled with relaxers, wigs, and hair weaves? I suggest that most naturals only see the small picture that their hair projects to the world. Natural in more ways than one symbolizes the freedom to accept self and has the ability to transcend into a new form of beauty that can inspire, revive, and encourage women from all walks of life.

Consider the following:

1. Natural Hair defies who and what we are as defined by others. When you decide to wear your natural texture, it tells others that you are free from the stereotypical images of beauty and that you are accepting the most adaptable part of yourself. It is easy to add chemicals to your hair, wear a wig, or weave, and most of all it is easy to conform to the general standards of beauty. Natural hair makes a statement to the world and demonstrates each individual’s ability to rise above social expectations and obligations established through acceptable (straight) hair.

2. Natural hair often creates enlightenment. Natural women typically make attempts to discontinue the use of unhealthy hair and body products that cause physical and environmental harm. Additionally, there is a strong urge to share the effects of the products with others. For example, prior to going natural, I never read labels or cared about the first 3 ingredients on a shampoo or conditioner. However, now that I am 100% natural,, I read labels and take the time to research ingredients that I am not familiar with.

3. Natural hair reinforces the power of ethnic beauty. Culturally, each woman has a distinctive background which attributes to their hair texture. Wearing hair in its natural state is a formal display of your heritage. Additionally, it encourages others to embrace heritage and understand that bone straight hair is not the norm. The ability to wear your natural hair then encourages others to consider going natural and creates an internal motivation to better understand natural hair. Wearing your natural hair may in turn cause a stranger to begin researching natural hair styles, stop chemical processing their hair, or just wear their hair in a natural state.

Natural hair is not just about being chemical free, maintaining spiritual alignment, or healthy hair rather it is a vehicle for social empowerment and change. For many people that continue to chemically process their hair, natural hair is a new frontier that is deemed as socially and cosmetically unacceptable. Therefore it is important that all naturals understand these perceptions and consider the fact that it’s not just hair!

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