Tag Archives: afro hair

Is it really ‘just hair’? – The historical significance of black hair.

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Naptural85 before her hair grew to waist length.

Naptural85 before her hair grew to waist length.

I was watching one of my favorite vloggers showcase another tutorial, with her thick waist length hair. I scanned the comments, most of which were gushing about how beautiful her hair is, only to find one that had a lot of replies. One unsuspecting viewer made the mistake of asking if the vlogger, Naptural85 was mixed. I’m sure she wasn’t expecting it to become a heated discussion. Many commenters began to tell her off for implying that Naptural85 must be mixed with another race, in order to have long, luscious hair. Another began to educate her about this misconception and what someone is really saying when they ask this question. Then another inferred that ALL black people are mixed and this started a whole new debate. There were discussions about our ancestral links to other races, the intermixing that took place during slavery and so forth. Others gave examples of the diversity of Africa and how you would find tight kinky hair, to loose curly curls and even straight hair, within the vast continent. During such discussions someone always tries to be the voice of reason and say, it’s just hair people! Although it is true that this all started from a simple hair tutorial, here are some reasons many would consider this emotive topic to be about more than ‘just hair’.

natural-hair-headband

Hair has always been extremely significant in all African cultures. It has long been socially important because it communicated age, marital status, ethnic identity, religion, wealth, geographic origin, and even one’s rank in the social hierarchy.  Royalty would wear hats or elaborate hairstyles to emphasize their status. Traditionally in West Africa, long thick hair was praised on women, as it symbolized the power of life, prosperity and the promise of many healthy children. Widowed women would not take care of their hair during their period of mourning, as not to attract other men. Wolof culture in Senegal shaved their hair to show that they were not courting. Cornrows and other braids are used for grooming African hair and may often be styled with beads or shells.  Although curly and kinky hair was gloried in West African societies, it became a symbol of inferiority once enslaved Africans reached American shores. “The pride and elegance that once symbolized curly/kinky hair, immediately became a badge of racial inferiority”, says author Ingrid Banks.

Hair use to mean the difference between freedom or enslavement

Straight hair has been pursued by black people ever since. Both women and men desired straight European hair because it was seen as the beauty ideal. Unfortunately this mindset still exists today within the black community. After centuries of slavery, straight hair provided economic opportunity and was a social advantage.  Hair was used to determine Negro status, even more than skin color.  After slavery, up to 80 percent of former slaves were mixed with European heritage due to interracial coupling between slave and master.  Many had skin as light as Caucasians. The general rule was that if the hair showed just a little bit of kinkiness, that person would be unable to pass as white. This would likely lead to them being recaptured and enslaved again. “Essentially the hair acted as the true test of blackness, which is why some male slaves opted to shave their heads to try to get rid of the genetic evidence of their ancestry when attempting to escape to freedom”; says authors Byrd and Tharps in their book; Hair Story: untangling the roots of black hair in America.

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Henry Bibb, a runaway slave who was being held in Louisville, Kentucky before escaping.

Perhaps even today many people of African descent, living in Western countries subconsciously associate straight hair with economic advantage and social acceptance. When I first went natural I was reluctant to wear my hair out at work, for fear of being ‘misunderstood’.  One of my friends felt she had to seek permission from her supervisor before she could display her natural hair.  Numerous cases have been reported of people being discriminated against because of their afro hair texture, and not only by white owned establishments.  The article Natural Hair in Nigeria, highlighted the negative attitudes that exist there towards natural hair; for example natural hair being referred to as ‘village hair’ or believing it would prevent a woman from finding a husband. There is still a fear that our hair will put us at a disadvantage in many walks of life.  These attitudes are especially likely to exist with people from older generations.

 Hair texture hierarchy

There is also a clear division within the black community, when it comes to hair and skin tone. The debate about the hair typing system and perceived hierarchy is still evident. The very suggestion that someone with long, defined hair must be mixed, implies that only mixed people have nice hair.  Of course such divisions have existed since slavery and have not been eradicated in the minds of many black people today.  We’ve all been taught that the slaves with straighter hair worked inside the plantation houses, avoiding backbreaking labor.  The house slaves had access to clothes, better food, education and, the promise of freedom some day.  During this era a skin-shade, hair texture hierarchy developed within the slave community, hence the emergence of good vs. bad hair.  Good hair was thought of as long, kink-free, no frizz or tight curls.  The straighter the hair, the better.  Bad hair was African hair in its purest form.  Orlando Patterson (1982); In Slavery and Social Death: A comparative study; argues that hair, not skin color, became a more potent mark, that symbolized servitude during slavery in North America and the Caribbean. “Hair type rapidly became the real badge of slavery”. Today it’s our minds that may still be enslaved by these principles and not just in America.  There has been much debate over whether the natural hair community has adopted a hair texture hierarchy, with type 3 hair (loose/defined curls) being preferred to  type 4 hair  (kinky/tightly coiled).

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Leyla of Fusion of Cultures who is Ghanaian

Despite being free, this mentality continued in the minds of black people and still exists today.  The spread of European colonialism has also had an effect.  The pursuit of European style weaves and wigs and relaxers is evident of that.  In an attempt to educate people, some of us explain our thoughts on this subject passionately. When someone tries to dismiss those attempts with the phrase, “it’s just hair people!” it can be quite frustrating.  Should we be fixated on hair? No, but certain mindsets should be challenged in order to prevent them from being passed on to the next generation.  These attitudes exist after 400 years, simply because they have been passed on from mother to daughter, grandparent to grandchild, father to son etc. Conforming to European standards of beauty did not lead to acceptance after slavery.  Black people with straighter hair who emulated fashions and hairstyles of whites were ridiculed and satirized in the press, in theaters and on the streets.

“Be yourself because an original is worth more than a copy” ~ unknown

Degrading African features

Wunmi of womaninthejungle.com is Nigerian

Wunmi of womaninthejungle.com

During slavery the idea was pushed that darker-skinned black people with thicker hair were less attractive, less intelligent and worth less than their lighter-skinned brothers and sisters. This was simply to divide, and sadly some division still exists to this day. Some people are still of the mindset  that African hair in its purest form is ugly. And a black woman with nice hair has it, despite being fully black, or a person is beautiful despite being dark-skinned.  Whatever a person’s skin tone or hair texture, we should see their beauty, inside and out. It’s natural to have preferences but prejudice is a different thing entirely.  Perhaps we should stop asking people with two black parents if they are mixed, simply because their hair is long or defined.  Most people, knowingly or unknowingly (whatever their race) have links to other races or nationalities.

So no, it is not ‘just hair’, our hair is linked to our African identity. Our hair has emotive links to a history of oppression. Our hair is also linked to freedom of expression and African pride.  Try to understand where a person is coming from and what they are trying to teach and correct, before dismissing the discussion. For you, it may be just hair, but for many it goes beyond that. Thankfully the ignorance surrounding natural hair is being addressed and many of us are learning to embrace it, however, some still have a long way to go.

 

Do you think it is just hair? Share your thoughts below.

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Afro Puffs and Braids banned, says Ohio School

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Afro Puff

Afro Puff

Check out the story originally posted in BGLH

Horizon Science Academy in Ohio recently released their school policy on dress code. See the letter to parents below and the outline of their dress code policy.  It states that afro puffs and ‘small twisted braids’ are against school policy. It’s clear that this policy directly addresses the  parents of African American girls in the school. It is effectively banning these girls from wearing the equivalent of a ponytail for afro textured hair, or one of the most convenient protective styles. So what is the alternative? This reinforces the myth that straight, relaxed or pressed hair is superior to curly, kinky afro textured hair. In 2013, the misconception of natural afro hair being unkempt still exists. In recent years there has been a 30 per cent increase in the number of African American women wearing their hair natural. The sale of relaxers has decreased also. However clearly, there is still a long way to go before attitudes towards natural hair improve both in the black community and outside.

letter of schoolpolicy

This story is nothing new, last year  Hampton University in Virginia banned braids and dreadlocks in their dress code. But what is particularly upsetting about this story is that it involves young girls of school age.  They are already facing discrimination and being singled out for leaving their hair natural and not succumbing to chemical relaxers or pressing irons at such a young age. This policy reinforces the idea that to be taken seriously and to be seen as professional, your hair must be straight. It’s interesting that one of the reasons cited for the policy was to:  diminish economic and social barriers between students. Well Horizon Science Academy, African American girls should not have to wear their hair straight to fit in with the other students in the school. Wearing their hair in braids or simply putting their hair up in puff does not create social barriers. A negative attitude towards others who are different and discrimination creates social barriers.  Also, singling out African American girls for the way they wear their natural hair doesn’t increase ‘a sense of belonging or pride’ for their school.

Chemically relaxing or  constantly flat ironing a young girl’s hair isn’t healthy. The school’s policy is conflicting as it requests that hair must ‘look natural’.  Making it harder for black girls to wear their hair in its natural state (by banning the main styling options) is simply discrimination. It would be just like banning ‘straight ponytails’. It’s ridiculous and unnecessary.

Please note that Horizon Science Academy is reviewing their dress code policy since being made aware of the reaction to it from the natural hair community.   Check out their Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/theconceptschools

Check out the letter from Horizon School, addressing their ‘draft’ policy.

What do you think about this story? Share your thoughts below.

Love Your 4b Hair

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I was recently watching a YouTube video by a vlogger who decided to go back to relaxed hair. Her main reason was that it is her hair and therefore her choice. I couldn’t agree more and I am not against women relaxing their hair.   However, one point she made that I didn’t agree with was that she had the ‘real African hair’ and that therefore her hair was somehow harder to manage as a result.  Although she may have meant it as a joke, I do believe there is this misconception within the natural hair community that some hair types are harder to manage. Also, instead of saying good and bad hair we now say 3b or 4b hair.   I get the impression that some see the 4s as inferior to the 3s and out of the 4s, 4b hair is seen as the ‘bad hair’ type, by some people.  I do not necessarily subscribe to hair typing but for the purpose of this article I will say that my hair type is 4b.

Hair-Types-1709658

4b hair is kinky and tightly coiled.  It has a zigzag curl pattern instead of spirals.  Hence, 4b hair types usually have a more fluffy appearance and a less obvious curl pattern.  This is NOT to say that 4b hair doesn’t have a curl pattern.  Afro textured hair is ‘textured’ by nature and therefore has some sort of curl pattern (I’m aware that some black people may have naturally straight hair though).

Styling

I have only tried a wash and go once and I did not get the same results as women with different hair types. My wash and go did not result in loose or tight spiral curls because that isn’t my natural curl pattern. I will try it again using a different technique but I know that no product is going to make my hair do anything it doesn’t already do naturally.   This certainly doesn’t make 4b hair inferior to others.  All hair types have perceived strengths and weaknesses. Even if my hair doesn’t curl up as much as a 4a or type 3, it doesn’t mean that I cannot wear my hair in a super curly style using perm rod sets, bantu knot outs or twist outs.  4b hair is still very versatile and easy to manipulate. It holds styles well and is a lot of fun in my experience.

As for managing my hair, the more I learn, the easier it becomes to manage. As I always say; it is never our hair that is the problem, it is simply our lack of knowledge. Learning more efficient techniques of managing your hair and even learning from your mistakes, is all part of the fun of natural hair.  One of the greatest challenges with my 4b hair was shrinkage. However, after learning different techniques to stretch out my hair (without heat), shrinkage doesn’t even bother me now. In fact, if my hair didn’t shrink, this would indicate that there was something wrong with it.   So in my opinion 4b hair isn’t any harder to manage than other hair types it simply needs to be managed differently. I subscribe to YouTube channels of women with different hair types and I have seen the beauty of them all, but they all have their challenges.  For example very curly hair could be more difficult to manipulate as the natural curl pattern could interfere. If I had 4a hair I would have to learn how to deal with this, it wouldn’t make my hair harder or easier to manage, just different.

Negative comments

I have heard negative comments about natural hair looking ‘more African’ and 4b in particular being referred to in this way.  Black hair reflects African heritage. So to say someone’s hair looks more African (in a negative context) just because it’s natural or 4b, is plain ignorance. Why is something inferior simply because it looks ‘more African’ anyway? That’s implying that hair which reflects European or Asian heritage is more beautiful. That shouldn’t make it more beautiful, it should just make it beautiful in a different way. It’s a shame that these phrases are used and a lot of the negativity is coming from within the black community itself.  African hair is extremely diverse; no two hair textures are the same. Many women find that their hair is made up of more than one hair type anyway. Their hair may be 4a in the front and 3b towards the back for example. Again, this is the beauty of natural hair and these differences should be embraced, not used to create competition within the natural hair community.

Time consuming?

You learn more about your hair as time goes by. It used to take me four hours to detangle my hair, now I have learned to do it in less than one hour. This was simply by trying out different techniques. Saying that you don’t have time to be natural is again something that I do not think is a valid excuse. My profession required me to take a lot of work home with me in the evenings and it was a high pressured work environment. I simply had to learn to adapt my hair care regiment accordingly. I wore my hair in protective styles more often, which allowed me to leave my hair alone and gave me a break from dealing with it. Plus, since going natural I no longer spend my Saturdays travelling to and from the salon and waiting around for hours. I have always styled and managed my own natural hair. So  I may spend more time detangling but I spend less time and money going to the salon to get my hair relaxed, treated or weaved.

So whatever your hair type, embrace it because that’s what your hair is like naturally and no product or styling technique is going to change that. Don’t buy into the ranking of different hair types.  The hair typing system is supposed to be used as a guideline not as a ranking system of ‘good hair’ verses ‘bad hair’. Don’t go back to relaxer just because you have 4b hair, 4b hair is just as beautiful as the other hair types and has its advantages just like the others. Whatever your hair type, you are going to have to learn how to manage it and deal with challenges.   If you love your hair other people will, if you see it as inferior then that is the message you give to others. There’s enough prejudice out there, surely we can do without the kind that comes from within our own community.

.Celebrities with 4b hair?

Jill Scott

Jill Scott

Shingai Shoniwa

Shingai Shoniwa

Erykah Badu

Erykah Badu

Janelle-Monae-Guide-006

Janelle Monae

My favorite 4b vloggers

Kinky Curly Coily Me

http://www.youtube.com/user/BlakIzBeautyful

African Export

http://www.youtube.com/user/africanexport

CharyJay 4b/4c hair

CharyJay 4b/4c hair

Kinksgalore

http://www.youtube.com/user/Kinksgalore/videos?flow=grid&view=0

CharyJay 

https://www.youtube.com/user/160Days2Lose2

Stayed tuned for next week where I explain how I manage my 4b hair.

Do you have 4b hair? What do you think about hair typing? Share your thoughts below:

Does hair typing set us back?

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I have never been overly concerned about what my hair type was. However I do consider it useful information when learning how best to manage my hair. For example I knew that certain styles demonstrated by bloggers would not necessarily turn out the same with my hair and I would have to adapt them accordingly. Also, when it came to my hair care regiment I was able to develop techniques that worked best for my hair type. I understood that not every method would work the same with my hair.

However what happens when hair typing becomes detrimental to the way you see your hair or to the way other people respond to you. Have we just replaced the derogatory terms ‘good hair’ and ‘bad hair’ with type 3 and type 4 hair. Unfortunately this is the negative result of hair typing and I think it is becoming more and more evident.

There are a few hair typing systems. One of the most popular ones is the one formed by celebrity hairstylist Andre Walker. Have a look at the diagram below:

While this information can be useful it should not be used as a ranking of good to not so good. We must respect the fact that natural hair is very diverse. Some women don’t have one hair type overall, their hair may be made up of a combination of the different hair types. So not everyone fits into a particular box  of a certain hair type.

Esperanza Spalding
4a

Shingai Shoniwa
4b hair

We spend a lot of money on curl enhancing creams, puddings and serums. When the fact is if the curls aren’t there to begin with they are not magically going to appear just because you apply these  products.  Rather than being disappointed, a person in this position should accept their hair the way it is and focus on the many of styling options that are available to them to create curls and waves. I hope these products haven’t become the new ‘creamy crack’. I dread to think that another woman would look down on someone with hair that is say 4b as opposed to the more curl defining hair types. Corinne Bailey Rae and Tracee Ellis Ross have stunning hair but they are not representative of everyone with natural hair,  when you consider the shear diversity of natural hair. Other hair types are just as stunning but in a different way, neither one is superior or better. If you fall into the trap of thinking like that you need to remember why you went natural in the first place. For many of us  it was to be free from the pressure to conform to what society typically states is beautiful and to embrace our natural beauty.

Debra Messing
3a hair

Keri Russell
3b Hair

I’ve heard horror stories of certain naturals attending hair care events and being told that their hair wasn’t kinky enough (simply because they were of mixed heritage) or being told that their hair was too kinky for the products on display and both were made to feel like they didn’t belong there.  Neither scenario is acceptable and is the result of nothing but ignorance and the same attitude people had about natural hair being inferior to straight flowing European hair. I know white women who use afro hair care products because they have very curly hair, would we turn them away just because they’re not black? That would be absurd.  Some of them can relate to us because they felt the pressure to straighten their hair for years. I have  also heard of some YouTube vloggers who have decided to close their accounts and delete their videos because of  a lack of interest in their channels.  They have claimed it is because they don’t have what is perceived as the ‘good hair’ type that usually is related to having super defined curls and really long hair.

We are supposed to be moving forward not replacing derogatory terms with different ones with the same sentiment.  More and more women are deciding to go natural, this is a good thing that should not be met with disappointment. If we accept that natural hair is diverse we can avoid this. The same applies to women who have relaxed hair, it all comes down to choice and it would be just as wrong to make someone feel inferior for having relaxed hair as well. Inspire them don’t bash them!

Alicia Keys
3c hair

What do you think about hair typing? Is it a good thing or has it set us back to where we were?

Why did I decide to chop my hair off?

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Well I can only describe my experience but I’m sure many other women can relate. Just as a disclaimer, this is not from the point of view of encouraging all black women to go natural. I have my opinion about this topic of course, which I will share. But it is not a prescriptive notion that needs to be pushed on everyone. It is important to remember that our hair is just a small fraction of who we are. There are more important aspects of ourselves than simply hair.  I certainly didn’t feel ‘more black’ because I went natural. I was still the same on the inside. So I think it is silly to accuse other women with relaxed hair or weaves of not embracing themselves or being ‘less black’.

 So what made me chop off my hair one day and decide to grow out the same hair I had when I was a kid?  Well just to be clear, I never had long flowing hair to begin with.   Always half way between my jaw line and collar-bone, but I always had thick hair and not too many issues with breakage. From the age of 15 I actually began to relax my hair myself. I think I was about 13 when I first relaxed my hair and then I got fed up of begging for a re-touch and having to rely on my mum to find someone who could do my hair that month. So I bought the kit, read the instructions and relaxed my hair myself. The main motive behind this was to take the care of my hair into my own hands and no longer be subject to the bullying I had faced for three years in secondary school.  The thing is, it worked. My hair was never overdue a relaxer again. I certainly was no hair expert, neither was I doing what was best for my hair but I was able to ensure that it didn’t get ‘unmanageable’. I would relax it every six weeks without fail.

So between the ages of 13 to 27 I relaxed my hair and in my twenties I would wear weaves most of the time or have a few tracks in there for good measure. My hair never really grew past a certain length though. I just put this down to genetics or didn’t really pay much attention because it was in weave most of the time anyway.  So at the age of 27 why did I decide to go natural?  There wasn’t any major hair breakage that made me want to chop off my hair and start again. I was simply wondering why my hair was the way it was (Afro) and why for my entire adult life I had never truly experienced it in its natural state.  I remember the bullies on the back of the bus when I was about 12, calling me names and even asking me in front of everyone; “when  are you going to relax your hair”? When did getting a relaxer become a rite of passage for young black girls? I remember, even me, talking about a girl who chose to never relax her hair in secondary school.  Talking about her with insincere concern about how she would struggle to fit in at college and university with her hair ‘like that’. How would people take her seriously?

Where does this train of thought come from when we don’t even understand when a girl chooses to avoid relaxer? I was thinking about all these things and it made me realise that there was certainly something wrong with my thought processes in relation to my natural hair.  I couldn’t even imagine how women managed to get by before relaxer was invented. I couldn’t even imagine a time when women didn’t relax their hair. But I knew there was something wrong with that way of thinking because I knew of a couple of friends who had ‘gone natural’ at least at some point in their lives, although they had since relaxed their hair again.

Most importantly I knew that God didn’t make any mistakes when he made us the way we are, whatever our skin colour or hair texture.  So just as people with European hair could enjoy their hair just the way it grows out of their head I was convinced that God intended for those with afro hair to do the same. Surely our hair was fine just the way it was, without manipulation? I got to the point where I could no longer accept that we had to manipulate our hair not as a matter of preference or for an occasional change but as a matter of necessity.  When you really think about it relaxers are permanent and we are actually putting acid in our hair! Just examine the PH levels of relaxers.   After years of relying on weaves and relaxers I got tired of trying to keep my natural hair a secret from the world.  Weaves got expensive and the mixture of tracks and my relaxed hair meant that the length of my hair became uneven.  The back was excessively longer than the front and this caused me to rely more and more on weaves. I wanted to get out of this dependency on what they call the ‘creamy crack’ and wearing weaves.

A Persian rug made from many materials.

I also craved hair that had much more volume. I have always had thick hair but I felt relaxers stripped my hair of its volume and character. I always preferred my hair the way it was a couple of weeks after getting it relaxed, because it was thicker.  So I started to relax it less  (maybe every eight weeks instead!) and started to wear braid-outs with my relaxed hair. I really enjoyed the volume and the texture this gave my hair but it wasn’t enough.  So after watching a few videos on YouTube and researching the best products to use in natural hair I began to realise that our hair isn’t the problem. It is our lack of knowledge about our hair that is the real problem.  We expect to put a fine tooth comb through our hair from root to tip like many people with European hair can do. Not being able to do that means that our hair is coarse and unmanageable. We treat our natural hair like a joke because it doesn’t flow like the hair of women in the Loreal adverts. I began to realise that our hair is simply different not inferior to other hair types. European hair is more like silk and afro hair is more like  cotton. Both materials are valuable but are different.

Watching certain YouTube videos taught me for the first time in my life how to comb my hair! Isn’t that sad? We don’t even know how to comb our own hair or our childrens’ hair for that matter.  Putting them through unnecessary pain and joking about how much pain we suffered when our mother’s combed our hair. Not knowing that the best way to comb our hair is from the ends down to the roots and even better when our hair is damp.  We use shampoos advertised on TV that are really not made for our hair type and wonder why our hair gets so dry. A little research gave me the confidence I needed to finally go natural. I no longer thought that my hair had to be beaten into submission nor that it was simply unmanageable. I understood a bit more about how to manage my hair. I decided to go for the big chop. I didn’t really transition for long. I waited until I had enough re-growth, continuing to do the braid outs for a couple of months. Then when I felt I had enough hair on my head I cut the relaxed bits off and rocked a short hairstyle for a while.

So how have things changed?

Being natural is exciting and I am always learning new ways to manage and care for my hair. For the first couple of years I still didn’t have a great deal of knowledge. I would  blow dry my hair once a week to keep it stretched out. When it was short it was a lot more curly and it was good to see my real curl pattern. Afro hair is curly and I had always wanted curly hair. I had it all along and didn’t even realise it.  Some people even asked me if I texturized my hair and referred to my hair as soft.  Of all the ways to describe my hair for the first time in my life it was referred to as soft, to my utter surprise. In fact I have a very tight curl pattern but yes it is soft. But all afro hair is soft believe or not because that’s the texture of it.  After all, our hair isn’t made out of concrete! Can I put a fine or medium tooth comb straight through my hair ordinarily, NO! But that is simply because of the way afro hair is structured, not because it is tough or unmanageable or there is something wrong with it. We are simply  not meant to manage our hair that way.  Of course if I was using shampoo with sulphates in it and not taking the time to regularly detangle, moisturise and wash my hair, then yes it would be a lot less manageable. It’s our lack of knowledge that’s the problem not our hair. It’s funny how there is no screaming when I comb my little sisters’ hair. This is simply because I know how to comb their hair as I am use to doing mine. Shouldn’t we do our research for the sake of our kids at least?

I can do so much more with my hair in its natural state than I could ever do with it relaxed. Every time I go on YouTube or on other internet sites there is always a new style to try.  There are so many different forms our hair takes. From braid-outs, twist-outs, puffs, blow-outs, cornrows, flat twists and yes we can even straighten our hair if we wish.  The difference is it is not permanent when you use a blow dryer or hot iron. There is so much more choice and it is nice to stand out and be me rather than trying to conform to what society dictates as being beautiful.  If we don’t embrace our natural hair society will not.  If we don’t accept that we are beautiful naturally then things are not going to change.  More and more women are going natural and people are noticing and paying attention to that fact. Perhaps having natural hair will no longer be considered unprofessional or ‘making a statement’ if it becomes the norm rather than the exception.   It is a lot of fun learning how to  care for my hair. I’ve even learnt how to stretch out my hair without using blow dryers and have discovered protective styling, which is great for retaining the ends of my hair and thus maintaining the length. My hair is now the longest it has ever been and it is continuing to grow and has never been healthier. It is an ongoing process. I go for job interviews with my natural  hair  and I have even got married with my hair natural, this is the norm for me now, not an exception.

Protective Style

Twist-out

Why did you decide to go natural?  Do you feel encouraged to do so if you haven’t already? Share your comments below.