by Antoinette of

It is so disheartening to me when I introduce myself and A Curl’s Best Friend at an event and the person, usually with 4a-c hair, responds with statements like: “I don’t have curly hair”, “My hair is nappy not curly”, or “I’d wear my hair natural if I had hair like yours”. I happen to LOVE 4abc curls. I truly think they are beautiful. I often catch myself wishing my hair was thicker, more full and could hold a style for more than a day. So when those statements are made, in my opinion, they show how much work there is to be done in our community and are the aftermath of years of conditioning and being fed a euro-centric idea of what beauty really is. But it’s 2011 ladies! Let’s do something different.

Folks, I want to be really clear with what I’m saying. 4a-c curls are CURLS! Celebrate them. I have been reading so many forums, blogs, websites and even product bottles that unlovingly refer to them as naps, kinks, indiscernible curl patterns and so on and so forth. The truth is that 4a-c curls are curls and they are beautiful.

What Are 4a-c Curls?

They are tight, remarkably spiraled curls and for that reason, they require more moisture and gentle styling techniques. 4a-c curls grow, are manageable, strong, and are sexy much like the women who display them. More importantly, this hair type is extremely versatile with styles ranging from: afros, afro updos, braids, braid outs, twists, twist outs, twists pinned-up updos, head wraps, cornrows, and so on and so forth.
Length Retention
Everyone’s hair grows. It would be a disservice to yourself to state otherwise. The key to length retention is moisture retention. Finding the leave-in and deep conditioner right for you is crucial. If your hair is not properly moisturized it will break off at the ends and appear as though is not growing. With a little product trail and error your hair will be quenched and growing in no time!

As stated by Shanti, in her 5 Myths About Kinky, Curl Hair post, water is what moisturizes and penetrates the hair strands. Oils and creams are meant to simply lock in that moisture. Water becomes “locked” in the hair strand because oils/creams are molecularly larger than water and keep the moisture sealed on the strand. So when moisturizing hair, remember it is a two step process- first applying water or water- based product followed by an oil/cream sealant. Oils and heavy creams are great for providing shine and lubrication but not moisture.

Accepting Self

Mainstream media’s lack of attention to and understanding of 4a-c hair is irresponsible and disturbing. I have heard and read reports of some 4a-c curlies feeling inadequate, invisible and overlooked. There are many reasons for this, some being calculated and some being less calculated. Regardless of that, I want everyone to know that our hair grows and forms the pattern in which it was intended to. Our bodies are smart. Whatever we are in need of 9 times out of 10, it produces. So embrace what your body has given you. It’s a gift. It knows what it’s doing.

Ways You Can Stop the Cycle and Help Celebrate 4a-c Hair:

– Giving positive affirmations whether they are to your self or to a stranger is a huge step. A little encouragement goes a long way.

*Watch the Lingo
– Words all have a different weight and meaning to them depending on the context in which they are used. Be sure your jokes or terms of endearment are not offensive or self-loathing. Kinky is kinky as long as it is said and received with love.

*Special Occasion
Try rocking your natural hair. Do a twist out. Add a flower accessory. There is nothing wrong with wanting a change and straightening your hair but know that you don’t have to in order for it to be special.

*Being the Butt of the Joke-
Example: while attending any costume parties, ask yourself before sporting an afro wig unless you are going as something that reflects beauty. Sometimes that can read as “my hair is joke”. Be conscience of those around you and whether or not they are laughing with you or at you.

– Ask yourself if you too harbor any feelings of doubt and contempt for textured natural hair. It’s a difficult conversation to have but a necessary one.
Now that loose 2-3c curls are becoming more accepted 2-3c curly girls are going natural and celebrating their curl, as they should. But glorifying only that specific texture and further marginalizing women with thicker, curlier textured hair is the last thing we should be doing. Redefine what beauty is. Let’s celebrate all our textured tresses and cultivate our curls one coil at a time!

Do you now, or have you ever harbored any feelings of doubt or contempt for highly textured natural hair?

What did you do to get past it? What advice would you give others?