Can natural hair be a “choice”.
Words by Nicole Ready
Feb. 26, 2021
For Black women the ‘choice’ to wear their hair in its natural form is not always so simple. There are a number of factors we are faced with daily and as a result, subconsciously that ‘choice’ can get distorted or even taken away. Both western society and the Black community play a part in limiting Black women. For many, there are years before they go natural where they just don’t consider it an option, which is often deeper than assumed.
Attitudes towards afro hair in the Black community for a long time have influenced the practice of managing it - a chore, rather than embracing it - choice. Even the go to option of relaxers comes with it risks. Without the awareness and education of alternatives, it will continue to bee seen as the quick fix choice. But the beauty in Black hair is how versatile it is, which is why representation within traditional media and the presence of the natural hair movement on social media is so important, so it is seen. It is fundamental for the next generation of Black girls, in setting them up with the tools to take control and write the narrative for their own hair.
" Both western society and the Black community play a part in limiting Black women "
When hearing the phase ‘good hair’ most Black women know what that insinuates, and whether their own hair reflects that within the Black community. Through generational pass downs there is this concept of loose, shiny and easy to manage hair, being the most acceptable and desirable natural hair to have. Which is intrinsically linked to colourism and that is whole article in itself. But it all stems from this European standard of beauty we are supposed to aspire to attain. Although created by another race, it continues to have a profound impact on Black womens self acceptance.
Within western society there is a lack of understanding of afro hair, which leads to comments and actions, towards Black women unaware of the impact they will have. It starts young, often in school, a joke here and laugh there, but that awareness of the disparity doesn’t go away for Black girls. Touching Black hair has the same impact. Most Black women can relate to the uncomfortableness of a hand reaching out to touch your hair often without asking. A fascination which in reality is ignorance. These microagressive tendancies depreciate Black hair, the result is some Black women limit their hairstyles in order to avoid the consequences.
Education is the key to allowing natural hair to be an feasible option and also plays a part in self acceptance and assurance, so Black girls are raised to become empowered Black women. The overarching issue of beauty ideals and ‘good hair’ has to be unlearnt and not allow something forced upon us for so long to determine what we think and do with our own hair. Finally society has to actively engage and recognise the ignorance towards Black women, to allow afro hair to be a conscious proud choice for us.
Photography Sally Nguyen
Stylist Asma Elmi
Models Nicole, Temaka, Tosin
Make-up Beylan Muse
Words by Nicole Ready