My Run In With A “Militant Naturalista”
By Dr. Phoenyx Austin

An interesting thing happened to me the other day. I was at a salon, asking a few naturalistas for their individual opinions on a couple hair products. More specifically I was asking them to compare and critique Taliah Waajid’s Protective Mist Bodifier vs. Kinky Curly’s Knot Today– two products that I enjoy using for detangling and curl definition.

That’s when a passerby naturalista stopped by our group. She appeared agitated. And without any warning she interjected with this statement: “Look, our natural hair was not meant to be ‘detangled’ and ‘defined.’ It’s meant to be worn ‘as is.’ And doing things to manipulate it with products is no different than women who have identity issues and get relaxers.”

Hmmmmm….

Now I won’t get into how that conversation ended. LOL. Rather, I’d like to take her statement as an opportunity to open up dialogue on this question: “Do you define your curls, or do your curls define you?”

I’m one of the biggest natural hair lovers around. And yes, I’ll fight a sista or stylist to the death before I let them put a relaxer on my head. But I’m far from what I like to refer to as the “militant naturalista.” What do I mean by the “militant naturalista?” Well she’s the naturalista that feels it’s her mission to aggressively “educate” and even chastise women (both relaxed and natural) about what natural hair “means” as well as how it “should be worn.”

I’ve had a few “interesting” run-ins with these types of naturalistas. In fact, a couple months ago I had an encounter with another militant naturalista who steadfastly declared that “if your hair ain’t natural, you don’t love yourself!” Mind you, this woman was also wearing colored contact lenses and acrylic nails.

While no two naturals are the same, I tend to divide naturalistas into the “live and let live” and the “militant” types. And as much as I love and celebrate natural hair, I could never be a “militant.” Why? Because I love versatility and freedom. I define my curls- my curls don’t define me. And quite frankly, I’m too busy ‘doing me” to chastise other women about how they “do them.”

So if you’re a ‘militant naturalista,” or if you know a “militant naturalista,” just tell her to chill a bit. Every naturalista (and woman for that matter) has the freedom to express her natural beauty the way she deems fit- whether it’s via an untamed afro or defined curls.

Because quite honestly ladies, it’s oftentimes hard enough just learning to love ourselves. So we should all encourage and celebrate each other, regardless of how we wear our natural hair. Don’t you agree?

So what are your thoughts ladies- Do you define your curls, or do your curls define you?
Have you ever encountered a “militant naturalista?” How did you handle them?
Want to leave a question/comment for Dr. Phoenyx Austin? Well head over to her Facebook page and follow her on Twitter. A phenomenal mix of brains and beauty, Dr. Phoenyx is a natural hair & relationship expert, as well as a pop culture enthusiast. She has been featured in Essence and has also appeared on popular shows like The Russ Parr Morning Show and The Warren Ballentine Show.