Contrary to popular belief, not everyone is going natural because it’s a fashion trend. My reason, for example, is not seasonal, It’s a decision that will outlast any craze of the year. It’s relevant to who I am, who I strive to be and who I represent.
It was around two years ago when I really started to grow into the person I am most comfortable calling me. During that time, I had a lot of questions, some which have unraveled into answers and others into extended questions. Among the existential questions I wrestled with, and continue to, is race. It’s no secret that the media in the Western world doesn’t equate beauty with brown skin. We see it in the magazine isles at the grocery store, on billboards, on television, in movies even in black communities and although we think we are aware, we find ourselves confirming to the idea that fair skin, european features and slim bodies are the standard definition of beauty, the thought of the long term effects never dawning on us what it means to see countless images on a daily basis that don’t celebrate who are are- our skin tone, our culture, our hair, which ultimately created a unconscious self hate for our blackness.
After watching the documentary ‘Good Hair’, I felt an overwhelming feeling of disappointment mixed with shame in myself. How did I let social norms brain wash me into thinking that the way my hair naturally grows out of my scalp isn’t not only beautiful but acceptable? The mere fact that I had to ponder that question spoke volumes. I knew that I had to take back this idea of what I think is beautiful and how I see myself in this society, a transformation had to take place in my life. So what did I do? I started with chopping all of my hair off, not in the name of rebellion but as a representation of a new relationship with my identity, something like a baptism into a more conscious expression of who I am. I also felt this sense of responsibility to uplift and inspire the women who don’t think that their natural, kinky, curly, nappy–whatever you prefer to call it, hair is beautiful.
Going natural isn’t the most radical gesture known to change the world but often times it’s the subtle things that play a vital role in changing or forming an idea, a mentality, a belief system. I think it’s important for us as black women to empower one other by exemplifying beauty through expressions that reflect our heritage and celebrate our roots.
For as long as I have existed, I have never known any other woman of a different race to be ashamed of their hair or say that they can’t bare wearing their hair the way it was naturally created to grow out of their scalp. Why should we?