The Power Of Hair – The Natural Hair Movement

I’m writing this as I listen to India Ari’s song ‘I’m Not My Hair’. Through out the last two weeks I’ve become conscious of a movement. Something is happening with black women in America.  The obsession with straight long hair that has consumed black women in America and in a lot of other countries around the  world has become  the subject of much debate. Weaves and wigs popularized in the last two decades by celebrities is confronting a swarm of kinky and napiness in a social revolution that’s being called the natural hair movement. Hundreds of websites and You Tube videos have gone viral becoming an inspiration and a bible for all those women who dare to wear their natural hair and ditch the regulatory confinements of weaves, relaxers, that have dominated the hair styles of black women globally for over hundred years. As a natural sister and a lover of all things Afro, nappy, and curly I’m excited by the spread of the natural movement. The members of the natural movement are an infectious and energetic bunch of fro lovers who have developed an online community, constructing thousands of You Tube channels and hair blogs dedicated to everything Afro.

These women are single handily changing the face hair care for black women world wide. The movement is now grown out of cyberspace and influencing the salon services of the African American hair care industry. There are now hairdressers throughout America that are popping out everywhere to cater for this demand. There are also a new range of hair care products that have gained popularity developed by everyday people and outside the realm of the traditional black hair companies that promise natural hair care. These are regularly reviewed by members of the community and either endorsed or condemned.  There are forums and some companies are using some You Tubers and bloggers to help market their products through competitions and giveaways. There are meet ups where fellow You Tubers and members of the natural community are meeting up in cities allover America. The movement is truly in full swing with many Natural Hair Shows scheduled around the country with the next one being in Atlanta Georgia (click image below to go to http://www.naturalhairshow.org).

There’s the big chop where women who’ve made the choice to ditch the relaxers and weaves cut off their locks on stage and vow to go natural.

I’ve watched a lot of You Tube videos and witnessed a lot of sisters transitioning cutting off their relaxed hair to become natural. There some heart warming stories of women who have lived their whole lives at the mercy of trying to keep their straight hair finally letting it all go and embracing their natural hair. Some of these women didn’t even know what their natural hair or what their hair texture was like. The main reason and explanation for most people going natural is that most transitioning naturals  finally gave up the fight against nature. The damage caused by relaxers to their hair and the time spent avoiding the frizz finally broke them and most welcomed the freedom that being natural gave them. For other transitioners the change was much more challenging and confronting with many relapsing and toeing and frowing between the chemicals and their natural hair.

Mmost women who have transitioned they have had to challenge their idea of beauty. Many of us associate good hair, beautiful long straight hair with being beautiful. Recently my 18 year old sister told me that she was going to get braids after removing the weave that she wore to her school formal (this is equivalent to a high school prom night for those in America) because she believed that she would look better if she only had long hair and plenty of it. Now she was faced with the summer and a two day camping trip to the famous Falls Festival in Lorne Victoria. She talked about how silly her fear was of getting braids for the summer to allow her to be more active in the water and how she felt she wasn’t going to be as attractive as her she was with her weave.

Unfortunately a lot of black women feel the same way. Those in the workforce feel that they don’t look professional if they wear their hair naturally and some even believe that they will be discriminated against in the event of future job opportunities and promotions

Whether their fears are justified or not, many women have turned to the convenience of weaves and chemicals to have hair they believe society approves of.  As a lifelong natural, life hasn’t been easy. The world long turned it’s back on the natural texture of black hair deeming it difficult and too hard to handle. Before the natural movement, there were no instructions about the best way to care for African hair. The myth that black hair didn’t grow was alive and well and good hair in the black community was said to belong to those of mixed race who had been fortunate enough to have been genetically blessed to have inherited the hair genes of their non black parent.

As with all revolutions, the natural movement is not without it’s own controversy. Some members of this community have been said to discriminate against people who they think have good hair and whom they believe haven’t suffered the same level of hair discrimination, people who they believe can grow their hair without difficulty (mainly those with a mixed race background), and therefore cannot in the true sense be considered naturals. I.e to be natural you have to be nappy and if your curls are not tight and kinky enough and if your skin tone is lighter, then you haven’t suffered the same level of discrimination as those with darker skin.

This form of reverse racism illustrates the divisiveness and how powerful a grip the taboo of natural hair has had on all of us.  For all my life, until now I’ve had to justify and fight for the right to wear my hair in an Afro.  I’ve had my younger sister and my mother telling me how much hotter or better I would look if I got a weave. And there’s my other sister who threatens to throw a weave on my head for her wedding because she wants her wedding to be ‘classy’. And in her eyes and the eyes of many, natural isn’t classy and doesn’t belong in the weddings of those with good taste and a sense of sophistication.

I can understand how angry some naturals must feel about people who they think don’t belong in the movement simply because of the pain that they have suffered wearing their hair the natural way. Now the tables have turned. They’re taking the higher moral ground and looking down on those they thought were once looking down on them. Being natural should not be restricted to just black or dark skinned women with kinky coils. As a natural, I encourage all women to embrace their natural look whether they be black, white, or Asian. I know white women who straighten their hair every single day because they believe that their wavy hair is less attractive than straight and in Australia come the summer many white girls will be risking developing skin cancer by spending endless amounts of time in the sun dying for the perfect tan. These same women will also peroxide their hair to look like the typical blonde sun tanned Aussie girls that Australia is said to be famous for. This unrealistic image has plagued many of a white Australian women I’ve known.  I simply pray that we all make the most of what we have and love our bits even the ugly ones because if we don’t love ourselves it makes it a lot harder for other people to love us.

I don’t know many natural women in Australia, besides myself I can possibly only name no more than other five women. These wonderful women on You Tube have given natural hair it’s rightful place, back on the heads of those who choose to crown themselves with it. With the natural movement comes a choice. The growth and the influence of the natural hair movement which will hopefully spread to lands as far as Australia will hopefully continue to empower women to embrace who they are and give them the freedom and the individuality to wear their hair the way they choose to. Whether it be straight, curly, or fro.

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13 Comments »

  1. heya!m in melbourne.transitioning.m getting into modelling and havent yet got “my look” but i m feelin the big hair..this fuzzy egoli

  2. Rex Ryan said

    Hello, i think that i saw you visited my weblog so i came to “return the favor”.I am trying to find things to enhance my website!I suppose its ok to use some of your ideas!!

  3. There are some interesting factors in time in this particular article but I do not know if I see all of them center to heart. There’s some validity but I will take hold impression until I search into it additional. Beneficial post , many thanks and we want more! Extra to FeedBurner too

  4. Where by did you receive the knowledge to publish this report? I’m attempting to discover extra material about this so should you could allow me know I’d value it.

    • Hi and thank you for your comments. Two months ago I stumbled on a review for Carol’s Daughter, Lisa’s Elixier. The review was a video by a very young woman. I must admit I was confused and thought that she must be Carol’s Daughter herself, not realizing that this young woman was a member of the general public and simply providing feedback on a product that she’d used. I had initially been looking at hair styles for black hair that were a little more interesting than the traditional braids or plats, something a little more modern, funky, edgy and reflective of the modern woman. This search for black hair styles somehow led me onto what felt like a thousand You Tube videos about black hair. A lot of them were about growing black hair, others about styling, and just general information about hair care. These videos were put together by everyday people and that’s what fascinated me. Some You Tubers had made over 100 videos since 2009 documenting their hair journeys, their ups and downs. I thought I knew something about hair, but I realized that my knowledge and passion were no match for these women, so I decided to research them, watched their videos, read their blogs and practiced what they preached. I’ve been researching the natural hair movement for a while and also the power of social networking websites such as You Tube, Face Book and the power of the internet in empowering consumers. So I hope that this hopefully answers your question. If not let me know. And I’m about to jump on the band wagon and start my own hair journey that I hope to share with other women in the same way that others did with me. They have helped me out a lot with my hair! I’m a big fun of the movement and happy to be a part of it! Yes I’ve joined the band wagon and proud of it!

  5. Magnificent beat ! I wish to apprentice even as you amend your website, how could i subscribe for a blog site? The account aided me a acceptable deal. I were tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided bright clear concept

    • Thank very much for the positive feedback. I’ve now added an email subscription option on the blog as well as a link to the face book page. I hope this helps!

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  7. Rungano said

    i stumbled on your blog from someone’s link on fb. i must say i am happy to have read your post. It is true women feel like we look good in anything but natural hair. i have a lacefront wig on and i was told i look more beautiful and mature with a weave on. i have had natural hair since 2009. So i can relate to your post. Good work and God bless

    • Thank you so much for your feedback. Congratulations on your being natural! It’s sad that the hardest thing about it has been dealing with other black people’s negative opinions. I live in Australia and I’ve never had a white person say anything negative about my hair, whereas the black women that have met have made all sorts of strange comments, some complementary and some not so much. Some call me exotic or bohemian because I have natural hair! Go figure!

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