Two Sisters, Two Naturalistas Photo taken by Elena Muslar
Throughout this blogging experience, I’ve shared natural hair history, modern day challenges, and the perspectives of women across the nation. One thing that I have yet to do, however, is share my own personal journey with natural hair. This post will share my top three reasons why I’ve chosen to be natural.
Reason Three: Costs Savings
Like many things in life, the almighty dollar did play a role in my decision to go natural. Prior to going natural, I would spend an average of 100 dollars a month on salon visits. As a college student, this was far from feasible. My natural hair is much more affordable and most of the styles I wear last longer than styles that I would get at the salon. Fortunately, I’ve been able to learn how to braid and twist my own hair because these styles tend to be fairly expensive if you have to go to a professional.
Rhonda Lee, a Louisiana Meteorologist was fired after politely responding to a viewer about her natural hair. Photo respectively taken by The Marque Group LLC
In my last post, I introduced the topic of natural hair in the workplace. For any individual who has transitioned to natural hair or is considering the switch, I think this is a very relevant subject. One thing I’ve struggled with since transitioning to natural hair is finding hairstyles that I feel are appropriate and professional enough for the workplace. I oftentimes struggle with wearing natural styles since I’ve been told that I look more appropriate with straight hair. It seems that feedback like this is fairly common for natural women. There have been multiple cases where women have been scrutinized or punished as a result of wearing their natural hair.
Professional? You be the judge. Photo respectively taken by Newstalk
For natural women, hair in the workplace can be a sensitive subject. Some women are deterred from transitioning to natural hair out of fear that a western workplace will be unaccepting of the natural hair culture. Although some may find this hard to believe, discrimination based on hairstyles is a very true reality. But I’m not talking about the 16-year-old girl with messy blue hair that is trying to get a job at the local McDonalds. I’m also not talking about the 18-year-old girl with 12-inch spikes on the top of her head. Those are extreme cases where the individuals have chosen to significantly alter their own hair. I’m talking about qualified black business professionals who have been scrutinized based on their well-groomed natural styles. I’m referring to the individuals who have chosen to let their hair grow, unaltered by chemicals and straighteners.
Some battles are truly unforgettable. In biblical times there was David and Goliath. In the 1800s, there was the Union and the Confederacy. In film, there was Batman and Bane. For the African American woman, the greatest battle of them all is the battle between “good hair” and “bad hair.”
Good hair is understood to be hair that is straighter, longer, flowing, and more manageable. Bad hair is traditionally considered to be coarser, shorter, and kinkier. It is at a young age that African American girls are exposed to the battle between the two. I can still recall when I was in the second grade and sang what I thought at the time was an innocent childhood rhyme.
“Bald headed hood rat, your hair can’t touch your back. Perm it. Weave it. You know you need it. I’m so happy. My hair ain’t nappy. It used to be nappy. I was so unhappy.”
I’m sure many would agree that a woman’s hair is her crowning glory. For many Nigerian women, it is the head wrap, not the hair, that is an integral part of her identity and presence. Since the early 1700s the head wrap has been a sign of prosperity and spirituality. Commonly referred to as “gele” in Yoruba or “ichafu” in Ibo, West African women have donned these elaborate and colorful headpieces at events, parties, and other significant gatherings. The rich history of the ornate headdress has been preserved throughout the years but has also transformed and been incorporated into the natural hair culture. All women, regardless of status or spiritual background can access the head wrap now. Although it is still most common amongst African women, many natural women have found ways to incorporate the piece into their daily hairstyles. Accessorizing with similar colorful fabrics has become common for many natural women and is used to spruce up a style and add an additional touch of elegance. Whether it is worn traditionally or used to enhance a natural hairstyle, I think that it is a true embrace of African culture and origin. That’s all I have to say so I guess that’s a wrap!
My Spin on the African Head Wrap Photo taken by C. Hall