The Black Natural Hair Movement
Why the Natural Hair Movement is a considered a fad to some and an evolution toward self-love and empowerment others.
There is a constant debate within the natural hair community about what their hair means; one side feels that their hair is "just hair" and going natural is a trendy and fashionable statement, the other side sees it as a political statement and a movement toward black empowerment, self-love and building self-confidence. Well, I've come to realize that natural hair can be considered both a fashion statement and a movement because a lot of women are styling their natural hair, or trying to achieve a natural look with weaves, braids and twist out styles, yet having positive images of beautiful black women wearing their natural crowning glory is empowering because it shows that black women really love themselves and are not afraid to show it.
When a black woman wears her natural hair whether it's in an afro or twist-out it demands attention because people aren't used to seeing black women with their natural hair texture and our hair texture literality stands out. People might ask questions like, "how did you get your hair like that?" or "what products do you use?" Women everywhere are interested in going natural and the natural hair trend has not died down yet. Larger hair brands are taking advantage of this trend by creating new natural hair products such as gel stylers, moisturizers or deep conditioners to capture our interest. New styling tools have emerged as well. Things like satin caps, hot head deep conditioning caps, scalp massagers, flat irons, steamers or diffusers were designed all to make natural hair ‘easier’ to manage. Celebrities such as Solange, Viola Davis, Lupita Nyong'o and Janelle Monae have embraced their natural hair and are showing it off at interviews and red carpet events. We are seeing more black natural hair women in commercials, on the big screen and even the fashion industry has become a stage for natural hair models to display their kinks and curls while wearing the trendiest designs on the runway. When it comes to styling natural hair it seems the possibilities are endless; women can wear many different styles such bantu knots, twists, twist-outs, frohawk, crown braids, braid-outs, afros, blow-outs and then switch over to protective styles such as senagalese twists, faux locs, etc. Our natural hair is so versatile and because some women feel that it's just hair many naturals believe it's a fashionable statement and will continue to model it as such, however, I feel that the problem arises when women only see it as a trend and not as a movement toward self-love and the empowerment of black women and girls.
I know that talking about black empowerment and making political staements sounds extreame and you might think, it's not that serious, but when you wear your hair natural you are no longer subscribing to society’s definition of what beauty is. You are also dismantling the idea of a European centered beauty industry by not allowing it to tell you what beautiful. For years, black women hid their natural hair behind hair weaves, hair extentions, chemical relaxers and straight hairstyles to achieve a hair texture that most European women are born with. Black women have tried for years to look more European and in turn have developed self hate and a lack of appreciation for what they were born with. Some black women view their hair, along with other distinguishing features, as unattractive, unpleasant and some would go as far to say, it's a curse. Also, despite the fact that natural hair is popular it's still not accepted everywhere like in some workplaces, for example, where black women are being asked to straighten their hair in order to be considered for a job. A law was just passed in 2016 stating that you can terminate any employee with dreadlocks and even young girls are being kicked out or banned from schools because they wear their natural hair. When I was growing up my hair was considered nappy, frizzy, untamed, unkempt, not easy to manage and the goal was to make it easy to comb, glossy and smooth like a person with straight hair. So, given our deep rooted history and current struggles we defy the odds by wearing our hair in it's natural state. The natural hair movement started when black women all over the world refused to chemically straigten their hair and started embracing their natural hair textures, thus begining their natural hair journey. Therefore, a new generation of black women are coming into their own and redefining, once agian, what it means to be black and beautiful.We are telling the beauty industry, along with the rest of the world, what beauty is and essentially changing the industry. We are also inspiring girls and young women to be proud of their melanin glory and showing the world that we are proud of our blackness and we truly love ourselves despite what others have to say.
For me, I realized that my hair was not "just hair" when I finally had the courage to wear only my natural hair. I felt so empowered and free to be myself, because I didn't look at going natural as a change of hairstyle I realized this is who I am and I no longer want to change or hide it. In turn, I learned to really love and accept who I am, which gave me a new level of confidence. It was that feeling of acceptance and that new found confidence that I want other black women to experience and share.
In the end, natural hair is trendy because it has become incresingly popular in recent years but trends come and go and until we realize that it is more then "just hair" we will continue follow a beauty industry that doesn't fully embrace our beauty. However, now that more black women are realizing that our hair is apart of our identity and are starting to love it and teach the next generation to love it too, I know it's here to stay. Rediscovering black beauty and the beauty of black hair elimiates self hate, insecurities and negative stigmas about black hair, that is why for me...
it's not a trend; it's a movement. - Joshica
What do you think; Do you think the natural hair movement is just a trend or is it here to stay? Do you view your natural hair as a political statement or is it just hair? Did going natural change you?