Until recently, I have always felt apprehensive about wearing my natural hair out as opposed to chemically straightening it or wearing weaves. In June 2014 I made the brave decision to cut all my hair off and basically start again but it was only February of this year that I felt confident enough to actually wear my naturally kinky hair out and this is massively because of the naturalistas I’ve seen all over social media as part of the natural hair movement.
I believe that internalised racism is one of the main reasons that women and even men ( yes, I see you men chemically straightening your hair) have been too embarrassed to embrace the hair that God gave them. Internalised racism is a form of systematic oppression where people of colour are unconsciously supporting white power and privilege. In this society where racial prejudice thrives in communities and popular culture it is inevitable that minorities will absorb racist messages that constantly bombard them. Its quite common for POCs to adopt a white supremacist mindset and this results in self loathing and hatred of characteristics that distinguish you as a black or Asian person, for example skin colour or hair texture.
Afro-Caribbean hair grows very curly, varying in curl patterns, it usually has no visible partings compared to caucasian hair. In comparison to my white counter-parts my hair is typically drier, weaker and more prone to breakage. As a result, those with Afro-Caribbean hair in its natural condition need to use more moisturising hair products. Oils such as castor oil, virgin oil and coconut oil are very popular amongst those with afro-hair as they help to lock in moisture and give the hair a shine that does not come naturally.
For those who may not be familiar with relaxers, they were created in 1909 by an African- American man Garrett Augustus Morgan. Relaxers chemically change the texture of the hair from curly to straight by breaking down the protein bonds in the hair, weakening the hair as these protein bonds are what give hair their strength. So as you can imagine they are very damaging to the hair and quite time consuming. I remember as a young child waiting patiently with my hair coated in relaxer enjoying the burning/tingling feeling on my scalp because this meant that my hair would be bone straight.
For years, black girls and women have been putting themselves through this process, to try meet a beauty standard that contrasts so greatly with how they look, which is why I think it is so significant that black girls and women are now embracing their kinks and coils.
“I love my hair because it’s a reflection of my soul. It’s dense, it’s kinky, it’s soft, it’s textured, it’s difficult, it’s easy and it’s fun. That’s why I love my hair.” -Tracee Ellis Ross
I personally have been inspired by the likes of @frogirlginny, Solange Knowles, Youtuber Dephne Madyara and Naomi Owusu to name a few! Their images really encouraged me to wear my fro with pride, so here are some of mine I hope they inspire you.
I won’t lie and say I’m never going to wear a weave or wig again; I’m not against them because they can be a great protective hairstyle especially in those winter months. But I will definitely never chemically straighten my hair again and I will question myself whether the change I want to make to my physical appearance is to enhance my natural features or to meet an unrealistic white standard of beauty.
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