Generally, there are two facets of the natural hair movement and the very personal choice to forgo chemically straightened hair. On one end, the decision is about the physical health of one’s strands and growing hair that’s strong and not chemically compromised. On the other end of the spectrum is the mental health aspect of loving one’s texture from root to tip and not buying into Eurocentric beauty standards that say our hair has to be straight in order to be acceptable.
To that end, styling within the natural hair community has always been somewhat controversial, with some women proclaiming themselves heat or straight naturals who don’t relax their strands but never wear their true texture and others questioning that choice. Now another interesting chapter has begun with natural-haired women perming their edges to achieve certain looks and apparently Porsha Williams is one of them.
The “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star explained in a recent interview with Essence that she did a big chop last year to switch up her hair and added, “I will say when I’m doing a lot of bookings I’ll take a toothbrush on the edges. And the perm that I like to use is Just for Me — it’s gentle and it’s quick.”
Though Porsha didn’t explain why she perms her edges, in a video on the trend that’s gone somewhat viral, vlogger ItsAngelDenise explained, “I am a natural hair girl that loves to try all different types of styles. I have very kinky coily hair, including my edges, so even with gel or edge control it is very difficult for me to get that smooth look that I want. So I decided to perm my edges! I know I may get some slack but I still consider myself natural and now my edges are much more manageable when doing styles that require smooth edges!”
During an editorial meeting recently we discussed this trend after a fellow editor brought the video to the group’s attention. She mentioned that she was intrigued by the idea but then began to question why that was so, more importantly, why she felt the need to have edges that were laid straight. As someone with a less course texture who keeps edge control in my purse and regularly touches them up throughout the day I couldn’t speak to the internal conflict she was experiencing. I look at edge control as a finishing product, much like oil sheen, that completes my look and makes it polished, whether I’m rocking a bun or a ‘fro. While going to this extent in the name of a sleek edge strikes me as somewhat odd — not just from the perspective of internalized beauty aesthetics but because every Black girl knows edges are the weakest part of our strands and the hardest to come by — I can’t say whether or not I’d do the same simply because I don’t have to. But as someone whose mother also framed her face with FKA Twigs-esque edges from the time she was 2-year’s old and finally grew some hair, I get it.