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.
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.”
For the black queen, there has been one thing that has bonded us to our fellow sisters throughout the years— hair. Dreads, braids, twists, Brazilian blowouts, or the good ol’ fashioned fro have been redefined as the years have gone by and a natural hair culture has emerged. For many women outside of this hair community, the topic of hair may seem trivial, simple, or perhaps even irrelevant. But for the hundreds of thousands of women who have embraced their natural God given hair, they know that the time, money, blood, sweat, and tears is far from trivial. Nor is it simple. In fact, it is extremely relevant. This blog aims to unveil the importance, history, and African origin that is rooted deep in the natural hair culture.
Natural hair is a challenge not for the weak willed woman. It is a true test of a woman’s self-esteem and ability to defy society’s standards of traditional beauty. Natural hair is an embrace of the true African experience. The roots on our natural heads bring us closer to the roots of our natural environment − Africa. It was here that we had no chemicals, perms, or the countless straightening products available on every shelf. We only had our hands and the hands of the women around us. We had our grandmothers, our mothers, our aunts, our sisters, and our friends. Inherently, we had ourselves.