Saturday, September 3, 2016

Natural Hair Talk

I have natural hair texture privilege.

Please let that statement sink in for a moment. To further explain, my hair when soaking wet and dry is naturally curly without any product. It morphs into a curly afro that always elicits compliments. My hair is afro textured but falls under the curly end of the spectrum in which it's labeled the "good grade" of hair. I don't ever recall in my childhood having been mocked for my hair, teased, or ridiculed. In fact, all my life my hair was praised and admired by everyone, especially the Black women in my family. All the same while, cursing their own hair and considering it unruly. Now this is not to say I never had my own hair problems. I do remember at one point begging for a relaxer in the 6th grade because I wanted long straight hair like all the other girls in my class. I am thankful to this day that a good friend dissuaded me from doing, so I was never initiated into the relaxed hair circle as the other Black girls my age were. However, this did not stop me years later from severely damaging my hair due to my increasing addiction to my newly fangled flat iron. So yes, even with all the adoration and compliments from everyone around me, growing up for years I still had daily battles with my hair.

However, even with my own hair battles, I have always known, even more so now, that I have hair texture privilege in the natural hair community. I hear comments from other Black women complimenting my hair not for it's hairstyle, but its defined curls. Usually in the same sentence lamenting their own kinky hair. This observation is important to mention because of the increasingly prominent position curly hair has as the face of the natural hair movement. While Black women with napps, kinks, and poofs are pushed further back as secondary or non existent. Black women with kinky hair are not glorified and exalted in the same manner as curly hair is in advertisements and online communities such as YouTube, pinterest, and Tumblr. The same can be said in real life surrounding conversations on natural hair. I watch the way some YouTube beauty gurus lament over not having defined curls or hair resembling the actress Tracee Elliss Ross. I understand it, I really do, but I am here to say natural Black hair, the curls AND the kinks are lovely and divine. I used to be offended when my hair was not seen as Black enough because it was that "good grade of hair." Someone was always commenting on how I must have Indian somewhere in my family. I'm no longer offended, but deeply saddened on such comments but more understanding of where that line of thinking originates from.

Natural Black hair in its afro textured state is not a curse or a flaw. Rather, it is a gift and it is beautiful, period, point blank! The whole point of the natural hair movement was to learn to love, embrace, celebrate, grow, and have pride in an honest and positive manner, specifically for kinky textured natural hair. Now that I am more aware, I make it a point to always compliment Black women on their hairstyles, never emphasizing curl texture. I always talk with little Black girls about their hair on how wonderful, lovely, and unique it is. I share tips that I've gathered from books and internet sites to family, friends, and strangers on properly caring for and growing natural hair. However, most importantly, I monetarily support quality Black women owned hair care lines and businesses that use healthy and non-curl obsessed ads that exalt both kinky and curly natural hair as beautiful and lovely. So here is my tribute to lovely Black women in their natural tresses curls AND kinks.

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