#NaturalHair!

There’s No Such Thing as Going Natural

By: Rhadamés Julián via TribeCalledCurl

The natural hair explosion at hand is often referred to as a movement, but I’m reluctant to call it that just yet.  Although in the commercial world, the ‘movement’ is thriving, it doesn’t quite have the same feeling in Hollywood or in the Deep South yet. Yes, we are seeing many products marketed to us and yes, we are seeing more advertising with natural hair styles, but does this really equate to a global paradigm shift in regards to natural hair?

As a man, I think that returning to our natural hair state is of the utmost importance.  This is why I consistently encourage women to return to their natural hair state rather than simply ‘go natural’.  Aside from being grammatically incorrect, going natural implies that the kinky, curly and wavy hair growing out of our scalps is somehow there by choice.  Indeed, it is not.  As people of color, our hair represents more than just a style.  Whether we like it or not, our textured hair holds hundreds of years of history that have been stripped from our collective lives.  In other words, the follicles that can connect us are/were used to separate us.   The good news is that the current natural hair resurgence gives us a place for us to unite.  I mean this metaphorically and also in an economic sense.   We’re giving women and men of color a platform to create businesses to support our growing natural hair movement.

I see returning as the first step in accepting ones’ true self.  When we return, we make a very bold statement to the world.  We declare that our hair represents us and we are free.  This matters, especially in western societies.  There is much to be gleaned from the natural hair ‘movement’ at hand like women’s economic empowerment and a renewed sense of health.  But the act of turning a cold shoulder to the common straight hair European aesthetic is also equally powerful.    There is nothing wrong with being proud and using your hair as a tool to express this renewed sense of self.  It matters.

Rhadamés believes going natural isn’t a valid choice.  Do you agree or disagree?

 

 

About The Author

Rhadamés Julián was born in Puerto Rico, and raised in Texas, but his parents are from the Dominican Republic.  In 2006 he graduated with a BA in Communication from the University of Texas at Arlington.   After working as a public school teacher, in television, the fashion industry, high-end retail and as a professional male model he realized that he was very confused not only about his path in life, but also his identity.  His experiences and world travels have inspired him to make Follicle.  In the film, hair and imagery are the two barriers that he focuses on.  Rhadamés is traveling the world trying to get a deeper understanding of how these two barriers construct identity amongst people of color with in the African Diaspora.

About Jenell B Stewart

Jenell Stewart MS, the founder and editor in chief of the award winning website KinkyCurlyCoilyMe.com dedicates most of her free time educating and uplifting women with natural hair by way of her extremely popular website and YouTube channel. Jenell has been featured in Essence Magazine, Black Enterprise.com, and starred on the Dr.Oz television show as a Beauty Expert. In 2012 she was named one of Essences top Instagramers and that same year KinkyCurlyCoilyMe won an award for “Favorite Website” of the Natural Hair Community.
  • sweet

    I’m not going natural…My just grows like this and i’m finally taking proper care and embracing it…. so yes I agree

  • butterbabie

    I agree with the statement being made in the subject but not with the part about how “our hair represents us.” There is too much focus on hair and what it supposedly “says” about a person. Maybe we should stop being so shallow. Just because one person chooses not to straighten her hair and the next person does straighten hers, that does not mean the second person has low self esteem. Does the woman sporting her natural texture demonstrate low self esteem by choosing to color her hair? I don’t think so.

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/YoMallorizzle Mallory Green

      I like how you put this. My thoughts exactly

    • queenbee9

      Our hair does represent us–it is the major feature that separates us out from all other ethnicities BUT it does not define us. Hair represents a very obvious part of our image and self image and the fact that many who wear their hair natural also color it blonde is also a response to following a European aesthetic.

      Is that a bad thing? No. Does it mean either has low self esteem? No

      ….BUT to not recognize the paradigm of image and how others relate to it (numerous studies have been done on this very subject and indicate that when whites see blacks with ethnic hair they are more likely to perceive them as threatening, and radical than when blacks conform and attempt to look more like Europeans. It appears that hair DOES influence perception.

      This is also one of the reasons, that the military specifies what hairstyles are or are not acceptable. This is not a self esteem issue–it is a conformism issue.

      When ever any group can encourage others to emulate them their status as a leader is confirmed implicitly if not explicitly and if that group is a minority but can sway a majority in some ways this is perceived as a superior position.

      Ergo, when whites copy blacks way of dancing, talking , their skin color and lips etc on some level it is seen as emulation and that what blacks naturally have is superior –in turn whites try to neutralize this perception by claiming the skin color, lip enhancement etc either looks better on whites or is more “natural ” BUT whites often also proclaim that such looks are ethnicity “neutral”.

      On the other hand, when blacks begin to emulate whites, many whites take this to mean that their model and persona is superior and this is why blacks try to copy them.

      so what is the point? It does not matter how you wear your hair, or what color it is, or if you straighten it or perm is–but KNOW WHO YOU ARE–and part of knowing who you are is being aware of why you do the things that you do, be it straightening or going natural or choosing to only date outside your race–KNOW WHO YOU ARE and be at peace with the choices you make and what they import to everyone else who sees those choices.

      We may wish to believe we are islands and our choices and behaviors are private and do not matter–but they do–in choosing natural or straight, or tanning or not or blonde or brunette we are actually proving living commentary on how we not only perceive ourselves and society but our place in the scheme of things.

      Leaders lead, the rest follow–a being who copies is usually following someone else’s lead.

  • Junie

    Every Race/Culture’s hair has a history and is special. By the way there is no “MOVEMENT”. That’s what those who are making a statement with their hair and the natural hair product companies want you to think. They’re both profiting Big on products, consignments and youtube partnership revenue. People have always worn their hair natural or alternate between relaxing and “going back to wearing their hair natural” over the years in their lives.
    IT’S ALL ABOUT A HEALTHY HAIR & definitely NOT over processing or over heating the hair. THIS JUST AN ONLINE thing.
    In “everyday” REAL LIFE, people are all about a HEALTHY HAIR JOURNEY; from Relaxed,Texturized to Natural Hair, women are growing beautiful strong Healthy Hair down their waists and tailbone. THIS HYPE is found Online ONLY not in the real world. Be you, embrace you and do what’s best for your hair. -Natural Kinky Curly Marie (on Facebook)

    • queenbee9

      Funny you should write this. I have heard many white women remark how they are tired of black women always making comments about their race when we are the first to want to be like them with our fake weaves. Yep. Heard it all before. Straight hair no matter what is copying a white model aesthetic just like pushing for tans, or larger pouty lifts or rounded buttocks is emulating the black women’s natural aesthetic.

      We can accept what we do–but let’s not lie about why we do it. Black people modeled or attempted to have straight hair because blacks as a group were treated or mistreated by how close to the white model they fit. We can try to justify why we are still following this model but we cannot change that we are in deed following this and the origin we copy is European.

  • http://desiremynatural.blogspot.com/ CJeanPoet

    I do believe there is “no such thing as going natural” …this is just the hair that God gave me and what comes out of my head. Being natural is not a fad or something that’s going to go out of ‘style’ (no pun intended). I feel we have put so much on straight hair being beautiful and kinky, coily hair as not for hundreds of years that we have to continue to state that “we claim our natural!” when it is not needed. I love the fact that I have support and can support others in their natural hair journey, but being natural is not a movement. It’s just the hair you have and happy with what God gave you.

  • Arii

    “We’re giving women and men of color a platform to create businesses to support our growing natural hair movement.” I hope this is true, because if not, other races will create products, natural weave, etc. and profit. I’m sure they already have and are.

  • queenbee9

    The author has a point–Humans do not “go natural” “Natural automatically occurs” what our choice is really “turning away from natural” we do this with hair color, chemical straighteners, heat–and those are choices too.

    I have a few comments based on what was said :

    1. humans (no matter what race) do not “go natural” because we are automatically Natural if we do nothing to our heads. For some, natural are kinks, for others it is straight hair–even “Europeans straighten their hair” with many a curly girl getting a chemical straightener or flat iron to be more like what has been perceived as the “ideal Western aesthetic”

    2. The economic platform is such that many Europeans are learning to do and court black hair care in order to make money. People have to make informed social and political choices if they wish to empower their own race, because if one buys or gets services based solely on the most prevalent or cheap, then many will be uplifting and supporting nonethnic business models who then will in turn always talk and continue to talk about how blacks are lazy or lack entrepreneurial drive. This is a conundrum

    I have natural hair–NATURALLY. We don’t go natural that is our normal state–we “go relaxed, or go curly perm or go straight and to be fair, over 80% of humans have naturally curly hair many with curls that can rival a lot of blacks replete with frizz and poofiness.

    What is odd but is changing is that the minority even in hair (blonde and straight hair) is dictating to the masses–but that is changing with not only black people reclaiming their natural texture, but with our European sisters doing the same, and for the same reasons–SELF ACTUALIZATION AND VALIDATION.

  • Crystal Blissfully-Married Fow

    Returning natural should be the term. Whether its eating healthy with virtually no animal products, or natural exercise such as running walking, yoga, calententics …with out fad diets potions, and expensive gym plans, or removing yourself from a toxic environments and lifestyle practices such as people, places and things…returning to what is Godly and natural about humanity should always be the goal… LOVE, EDEN, HEAVENLY, GODLY, ONE SOUL…TEMPLE:).

  • http://www.youtube.com/kolanashatori Ko’lana Kurls

    I agree that returning to natural or going relaxer free is probably a more accurate term…. But, in my opinion, relaxing, perming, coloring, curly styling, straightening, or cutting hair is one of the ways we can represent ourselves. I don’t know if it’s right to condemn those who have not embraced wearing their natural texture. Wearing a straight style doesn’t always mean a lack of self acceptance. And it doesn’t always mean a rejection of our history. How we wear our hair is a choice, one that can very well mean we accept ourselves, and we love our history but choose to wear a style that works for our lifestyle. We shout from the rooftops that “natural hair is freedom from society’s views of beauty.” That’s all well and good. But saying that our relaxed, or chemically colored counterparts are not free is neither fair nor necessary. We are not our hair. WE wear our hair how we see fit, but our hair does not wear US. We should be able to make a “bold statement” about ourselves with our hair without receiving condemnation from our own community. The natural hair resurgence does give us a chance to unite…but unity shouldn’t come with criticism and a judgmental attitude. Everyone should have a choice in how they wear their hair. For me, I feel it’s more important to have HEALTHY hair, than natural hair anyway.