All Articles Tagged "natural hair movement"
How Can Your Natural Hair Not Be For You?! Derek J & His Side-Eye Worthy Statements On “Fashion Queens”
Last night Bravo aired a new tv show, “Fashion Queens” featuring hair stylist Derek J, fellow hair stylist and “Real House Wives of Atlanta” cast member, Miss Lawrence, and media and style maven and Bevy Smith. The three big personalities discussed things like haute couture, trends and what would a fashion show be without the shade that comes with discussing the most egregious fashion faux pas.
The show is primarily about style, so it was interesting Bravo chose Derek J. If you’ve seen some of his public appearances, you might have noticed that more times than not, he’s far from impeccably dressed. And I’m not referring to the fact that he wears women’s clothes, but more to the fact that he wears ill-fitting, tacky looking women’s clothes. But let me stop. That’s not what I’m here for today.
During last night’s show, I was otherwise occupied, catching up on “Girls” episodes and watching “Golden Girls.” But I jumped on Twitter for a hot second to see that Derek J, whose business is hair, made some interesting comments. He said that he’s “not a fan of the natural hair movement.” Ok, fair. You don’t have to like it. But then he took a step further saying:
“natural hair is not for everyone.”
My exasperation is not simply directed at Derek, he’s not even the tenth person I’ve heard say something to this effect. It’s a commonly expressed sentiment in the black community. So, let’s just go ahead and explore this topic.
How can your natural hair, the hair genetics and God intended for you to have, not be for you? It’s yours. To me, it’s akin to telling black folk, melanin or darker skin is not for everyone. Yeah, that’s why the world is populated with people of different tones and hues. But, for whatever reason, that is not our lot in life. The skin tone, hair and features that occur in your appearance are yours naturally. Now, if you choose to alter these characteristics that’s your decision to make. But if someone chooses to embrace their natural features, their natural hair, it doesn’t mean that “the look” isn’t for them. In fact, it’s not just for them, it is them.
Maybe Derek J and the other folks who’ve made this comment mean to say that every woman doesn’t have to make the decision to wear her hair natural. Which I completely understand and agree with. But to say you don’t agree with the “movement” and then to follow it up with “it’s not for everybody,” makes it seem like you don’t approve of the women who are already choosing to wear their natural hair. We’re all entitled to our preferences; but sometimes said preferences, especially when they border on topics involving race and identity, don’t need to be expressed on national television. As women with free will, I don’t want to hear anyone or anything, man, woman, cat or dog speaking rudely about the texture, not the style or the cut, but the texture of my hair, relaxed, natural, texturized or jheri curled. It’s mine. It was given to me and I’ve made a choice to wear it a particular way. Is it really your place for you to tell me it’s not for me, when that’s what I was born with or that’s what I’ve chosen?
We could argue that women’s clothes aren’t for Derek J; but because that’s what he’s chosen for himself, as fellow human beings, we have to respect his choice to wear them. If we, women who are natural, relaxed and everything in between could get the same respect, that would be great.
I’ve been looking around the internet trying to determine what exactly constitutes as “natural hair”.
I was under the impression that a person is “natural” if her hair is free of chemical relaxers. However, after observing natural hair blogs, Youtube, Black Twitter, Pi Nappa Kappa, Natural Hair Meetup annoucements and any place black women gather in large numbers, it seems that the “natural movement” is really just the “kinky curly fro” movement.
Am I out because I actually like wearing my hair straight?
18 months ago, I received my last relaxer. As I’ve discussed before, I stopped getting relaxers because my hairstylist told me chemical straighteners stunt hair growth. Relaxers never got my hair bone straight without the help of a cosmetology license, a blowdryer with a comb and a smoking hot ceramic flat iron anyway, so I figured I could do without the chemicals and achieve the same look.
I’m still growing out my relaxer, and I think my hair is about half-natural. Yet, I hear people say “I’m natural” after skipping a single relaxer retouch. More than once, I’ve wanted to point out that washing your hair and letting it air dry doesn’t mean you’re natural, but I refrain.
I can see why they think that though because when I look around, it seems that being natural just means wearing your hair curly. That’s why some of these celebs can throw on a kinky curly wig and become the poster-child for the movement. Meanwhile, I’m on the side thinking wait…isn’t that weave? If I point out the ridiculousness of celebrating a curly sew-in as “natural hair” then I’m accused of throwing shade, when in actuality, I’m just confused.
The other day, I was telling my friend that defined curls seem to be the goal, yet my hair just looks wild when I don’t wear it straight. In response, she suggested I try a twist-out while I’m transitioning. I had no clue what a twist-out was so I went to Youtube. I watched two ten minute videos of a girl demonstrating how to do a twist-out. I was floored by the sheer amount of time, patience and product it takes to achieve that style. Silly me, I thought all these girls were wearing their hair in it’s natural curl patterned state, but really it just looks like the natural hair movement has exchanged using time, products and styling tools to get your hair uncharacteristically straight for using time, products and styling tools to get your hair uncharacteristically curly.
Further, what if I don’t want to wear my hair curly? What if I like being able to feel my scalp? What if I like being able to brush my hair up into a ponytail? What if I like my hair hanging as far down my back as it can get? What if I can’t afford the trial and error of trying different products? What if I just want to grow my relaxer out completely, yet still use heat to straighten my hair from the root and whip it back and forth Willow Smith style? Am I still “natural”?
Don’t get me wrong, these kinky curly fro chicks’ hairstyles are hot! Looking at some of these blogs often has me seriously considering chopping off the remaining chunk of relaxed hair, retiring my flat irons, spending mortgage money on the natural hair products at Target, highlighting my hair beyond recognition and living a life unfazed by precipitation and humidity, but I’m not quite there yet.
I’m still “going natural” though…right?
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I don’t know about you but I’ve never been fond of the salon, probably because no one in my family has ever been a slave to it. Even though my grandmother was a beautician before my mother was born, we just weren’t the type to have to hit the salon every week to maintain our hair and so I never experienced the whole beauty shop culture phenomenon black women speak of on a regular basis, and the times that I did, I could take it or leave it. With the natural hair movement rapidly growing legs, many other black women may not experience it either, and New Jersey college professor Cassandra Jackson wonders if they’ll be missing out on something if they don’t.
In an article for The Huffington Post asking, Is Natural Hair the End of Black Beauty Culture?, she wrote:
“While many, including me, celebrate the natural hair movement’s emphasis on self-discovery, I cannot help but wonder if something has also been lost with this cultural shift. For all the horrible things about hair straightening, the experiences associated with it have created a powerful thread that connects the vast majority of black women. Even if you have kinky hair now, you probably have memories of time spent with family and friends in kitchens getting your hair done by someone who loved you and who you trusted enough to wield a sizzling hot straightening comb next to your ear. You probably remember that first trip to the beauty shop where black women talked about grown folks’ business, and nearly every sentence began with the endearment, “girl.” It does not matter if your mother was a teacher or housekeeper, or if you were in New York or Alabama because these experiences crossed class and region. Hair straightening was a rite of passage, an entry into the world of black women.”
It’s interesting the author would use the very negative stories most natural women use as proof for why girls shouldn’t have their hair straightened as an example of a dying part of our culture we might want to save for the bonding effect. In a lot of ways I feel like the whole gather around the salon pastime is more rooted in mystique than reality. The shop was certainly the place to be for neighborhood gossip at one point in time but I’ve yet to hear a women talk about the salon with the same fondness as say our generation’s grandmothers may have in a long time. Anyone woman I know going to a black salon dreads it because they know their evening or day is pretty much shot, and whatever stories they get coming out aren’t worth the time and money spent getting them. From my perspective, and I’m sure a lot of others, black women who aren’t passing the time getting their hair fried, dyed, and laid to the side in someone’s kitchen or shop aren’t missing anything, but the truth is the social dynamic of the beauty shop hasn’t gone away with natural hair, it just changed.
For black women, hair has now gone the way of everything else in our culture: digital. You can’t tell me the shared experience of hair successes and trajedies doesn’t still exist just because less women are getting relaxers. The conversation has simply moved from a face-to-face interaction to Youtube videos, blog posts, and discussion boards. I’m not natural, but I’ve written, read, and engaged in the movement enough to know that the e-bonding that goes on over transitioning is real, perhaps realer than any salon experience could ever provide. For one, there’s no judgment—anything pretty much goes when it comes to creative natural styles—and there’s no misguided frustration. Everyone is on the board, blog or vlog, for the same purpose, to get knowledge and give encouragement, and it’s truthfully the most positive space I’ve ever seen for black women and their hair ever. It also helps there’s no tardy salon owner who didn’t style your hair the way you wanted but still charged you full price to get mad at.
Though natural hair has sparked a self-service industry of hair care with women learning how to maintain and grow their own locks, the communal aspect of sharing stories and advice and product knowledge as it relates to our tresses is hardly dying. It’s growing. You also can’t forget the natural hair mixers and grassroots meet-ups that women have begun organizing in various cities so that naturals and transitioners can match faces to usernames and share experiences and their journeys of self-discovery. I’ve never seen a weave support group or a relaxer party in my life, but big chop events are increasingly growing in popularity and signify the incomparable support black women have for one another and the way we’re choosing to not battle good hair versus bad hair any longer but celebrate all of the textures we were born with.
The natural movement has also sparked the same type of e-communities for women with relaxed hair and who wear weaves which is also pretty monumental. The advice is different but the end-goal of having healthy hair you can take care of yourself is the same. So yes, we may be rallying around laptops now instead of barber chairs and kitchens, but we’re more united than we’ve ever been when it comes to celebrating our hair and if anything this signifies what the natural hair movement is all about: transition and progression.
How do you think salon culture compares with online hair communities?
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