One of the most unique methods of self-expression for women today is undoubtedly the hairdo. Today’s hair styles range from interesting to outrageous; from modern to classic! Depending on your personality, style and hair type, there is a stylist, expert or YouTube video just ready and available to teach you how to work that style and rock that do!
As time goes on, we seem to come up with new and unique ideas to help us stand out from the crowd which sometimes involves color, chemicals, specialized products and just the right tools to achieve that desired result. No more are the days when every girl has to look the same, there are so many great looks out there to try. Straight dos, updos, curls, waves, braids, hair extensions, locs, and twist outs are among the plethora of hairstyles that are available. With all of these amazing options at our disposal, one highly contested subject remains open for discussion… “to be natural, or not to be natural?… that is the question.”
This decades old question has long been the subject of great debate among women with kinky, coily, curly and wavy hair. But don’t think that this subject is limited to black women or women of African descent; about a week ago, I saw a piece on Good Morning America surrounding the class action lawsuit that has been brought against Suave regarding its Suave Professionals Keratin Infusion 30-Day Smoothing Kit. Women, mostly white women, were finding their hair severely damaged as a result of using this kit in an attempt to straighten and de-frizz their hair. So it seems that this issue is one that is applicable to any and all women, and the question of whether to wear processed vs. natural tresses is one that is confronted daily.
Personally, I feel that regardless of what you choose to do with your hair, as long as you regularly exercise care and caution, keep things neat and well put together, and ensure that you consult the experts when needed, one should be free to experiment with various styles and looks. Upon becoming old enough to be charged with the care and upkeep of my own hair, I’ve experimented with both relaxed (chemically treated) and natural tresses. I’ve worn long flowing styles as well as short cuts. My styles have included braids (one of my faves), cornrows, wraps, rods & curls, ponytails (of course) and at the ripe old age of 30, I tried my very first hair weave. Since then, I’ve also been introduced to wigs and happily go back and forth between looks depending on how I feel and what suits my look and spirit at the time. I enjoy the flexibility and while I have not fully committed to either relaxed hair or natural hair for the rest of my life, I like the idea of having options.
Some people subscribe to a different hair theory.
There are some that believe very firmly that their way is indeed the best way. I can remember a time when it seemed that most African American women/girls that I knew relaxed their hair to make it more manageable and to increase their ability to achieve certain styles. Today, however, it seems that I would be hard-pressed to find a significant amount of women in my circle who have not gone completely natural with their hair. Everyone has her own reason for making the switch – or rather – getting back to her roots. Whether that reason is faddish, thoughtfully contemplated, accidental, based on economic feasibility, or done for some other reason… perhaps only she knows. What “I” know is that I applaud women for making the choice that works best for them. I also know that what works for some does not work for all and I’m hopeful that we’ll all continue to move to a place where we can respect that.
I wish we all respected each other decisions and not pass judgment.” ~Tisha M.
I’ll use myself as an example. On three or four occasions, years apart from one another, I have had the experience of taking my hair back to its natural state. In all instances, my hair was most certainly healthy, which is one of the reasons that I decided to do it, but I found myself doing nothing more with my hair than pulling it back into a ponytail, or a rather large bushball. I loved the look for a while, but I’m not one to wear my hair pulled back all the time, so I soon grew tired of that style.
I’m not very experienced with natural hair styling on an adult and thus, I found myself pretty short on options. I didn’t really have the patience that it took to seek out THE RIGHT products for my grain of hair, THE RIGHT hairstyles that would complement my style and I certainly didn’t seem to have the time it took to achieve all of the amazing looks that I see on other naturalistas! Now I’ve discovered that there are tons of blogs and things out there for inspiration, but at the time, I hadn’t sought out these things. I wasn’t committed. Maintaining my natural hair was certainly NOT easier (as I somehow thought it would be) and as a work-outside-the-home mom (yes, I say that intentionally – my reasoning… well that’s another post) with children to look after, I had to look at other options that were easier for me to maintain and that made sense for me.
I love a great look that doesn’t require too much maintenance, especially for those lazy days when I’m simply not in the mood for the routine. Now that I’ve become a mom x2, that is increasingly more important to me. I totally admire natural hair and hairstyles and if I had the time and patience, I would probably have the biggest curliest natural hair ever – that’s my confession. Perhaps at some point it’ll happen for me… we shall see.
The point of all this background is that in this day and age, people have a lot to say about everything and hair is certainly no exception. Today, non-natural sisters have a tendency to be accused of everything from hating themselves to being ashamed of their God-given beauty. Serious accusations, especially for those who like me are very comfortable in their skin and just need to create a manageable hair situation.
On the flipside, there are many situations where we have to stand up for our right to be natural and express our style. We’ve all heard stories about employers that have frowned upon women whose hairstyles included afros, braids or locs as opposed to straight hair or loose flowing curls. Quite recently, I was involved in a group discussion with a friend about whether or not she should wear her beautiful, neat, newly installed braids on a job interview. Fascinating that in 2013, a group of high level professional women had to even have this conversation. But alas we did and it is something that professional women have to consider daily.
Early in my career my braided styles were somewhat frowned upon. I think now that has changed but the response is still mixed. A few of my co-workers have said they prefer my hair straight over my natural style (curly fro or braids.)” ~Theresa B.