By Andrea Dawn

These days it’s easy to find unique, creative “natural hair apparel” on the market, announcing to the world how much we natural girls love our hair. I recently purchased a cute t-shirt that boldly and brightly proclaims “Natural Hair is Beautiful!” I wear it a lot, but it recently occurred to me that I never wear it in public. Why not? I just wouldn’t feel comfortable. I would feel like I was trying too hard to prove a point. To prove that I believe natural hair is beautiful. Rational feeling? Irrational? I’m not sure, but it’s how I feel.

I’ve never seen a woman with straight hair wearing a t-shirt that says “I Love My Straight Hair.” Or a woman with chemically relaxed hair wearing a t-shirt that says “Happy to Be Relaxed.” One could argue that there’s no need for straight-haired women to wear clothing that proclaims their love for their hair, because straight hair is a universally accepted beauty norm. Natural hair, on the other hand, has not been as widely accepted and celebrated by society.

Some people believe that clothing with “pro-natural hair” slogans promotes a sense of pride and empowerment for the person wearing it, and encourages people of all ethnicities to contemplate the beauty of natural hair. But would my wearing a t-shirt that says “My Afro Rocks!” really convince anyone else that my afro rocks? I doubt it. Would it make me feel more empowered and proud of my natural hair? No. My feelings of pride and empowerment run much deeper than a t-shirt slogan.

Equally confusing to me is clothing with slogans that vilify hair relaxers. I often wonder, what is the purpose of this? Is it to shame people who use relaxers? To educate them? Is it a way for us naturals to remind ourselves how happy we are to be free of relaxers? I’m confused.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to see so many beautiful, creative natural hair t-shirts available on the market today. I’m all for freedom of expression, and I believe people should wear whatever makes them comfortable. I personally love the t-shirts with no slogans, just a graphic of a natural hair style (like an afro or a twist-out with a bright flower in it). I would probably feel comfortable wearing a t-shirt like that in public, because to me it’s like wearing a piece of art. But slogans are a deal breaker for me. Here’s why:

Natural hair is beautiful. Obviously I believe this is true, otherwise I wouldn’t wear my hair natural. Obviously I’m proud of my hair because I confidently and proudly display it every day. For me, that’s enough. I don’t need a t-shirt (or a hoodie, or a ball cap) to express how I feel about my hair. I like to think that my natural hair speaks for itself.