In response to “Is Natural Hair the End of Black Beauty Culture?,” an article posted on The Huffington Post. I have a story to share. In the article referenced above, writer Cassandra Jackson questioned the effects of the growing popularity of natural hair among Black women on the beauty shop culture that I’m sure most of you have either experienced or seen in a movie.
As a relatively recent natural Black woman with absolutely no nostalgia for the Black beauty shop experience, I felt the need to explain why natural hair is not the end of a socially conscious and communal culture, but the beginning of it.
I’m not sure what beauty shops Cassandra frequented where conversation surrounded school board platform candidates and community development proposals, but in the many shops I’ve invested hundreds (maybe thousands) of dollars in, I often used my iPod to tune out re-runs of Maury and juvenile gossip about who was having whose baby and who fought who at the club the night prior.
I was never eager to visit the shop every two weeks. In fact, I would prolong my presses in an effort to save money and dreaded making appointments to flinch every time the pressing comb sizzled too close to my tender scalp.
Black women are going natural for a variety of reasons. It has been deemed fashionable (if you’re rocking the right texture). It is edgy (if you’re not rocking the “right” texture). And for me, it is liberating.
I spent the majority of my life hating my appearance and believing I wasn’t pretty because of “dark skinned, chicken head, and nappy ” jokes. After a horrifying braiding experience I was forced to cut my hair short in the 7th grade. When I arrived at school the next day and realized I’d be the laughing stock of my middle school experience, I installed individual braids month after month hoping my hair would grow long enough to be accepted by the time I entered high school. Little did I know that my hair would only continue to weaken. I wore braids, fake ponytails, glue-in and sew-in weaves throughout high school. (I’ve done it all!) I can remember lying to people who asked if my hair was “real,” oblivious to the fact that my texture was nowhere near that of the 12-14 in. Indian Remi or Capelli hair attached to my scalp. My natural hair journey finally began in early 2011 out of pure desperation, but that’s a different blog post. 🙂
The “Natural Hair Movement” has already brought Black women together in unimaginable ways. Women are posting self-help videos on youtube, managing hair blogs, starting product companies, and engaging in meaningful discussions on identity, confidence, and, dare I say it, race relations and perception.
These conversations are the complete opposite of what I grew accustomed to hearing in any given beauty shop. I am excited to see how Black women will continue to collaborate through this monumental “movement.”
It is not easy to learn how to truly appreciate and take care of YOUR HAIR in its God-given, natural state at 15, 20, or even 50 years of age. However, thousands of women are signing up for the difficult journey and I couldn’t be more proud to be apart of such an inspiring time for my people!
Needless to say, I don’t miss the Black beauty shop and my daughter will never be forced to step foot into one.
Please comment with your thoughts.