Light skinned women with loose curls are hijacking the natural hair movement. Huge hair care brands seem to endorse this biased image, that excludes the dark skinned woman with 4C hair. So just how revolutionary is the natural hair movement, if it only celebrates one type of natural? New documentary, Kinks and Curls delves into the politics of black hair as girls and women celebrate the different type of natural that isn’t always at the forefront of the movement.
The natural hair movement started when black women began to put down the relaxers. The iconic Black Panther afro circulated the black community, and black women refused to live their lives according to the European beauty standards. The same European beauty standards that the Europeans themselves couldn’t even live up to.
The natural hair movement was for the black women who grew up hearing “nappy”, “picky”, “unprofessional” and “untidy” on a daily basis. The movement was for the black women who were told that their natural hair, the hair that grows tall and strong is inappropriate. The need to survive, work or go to school in peace required a lot of black women to relax and straighten their hair. Women began to use wigs and weaves to blend into society, the same society that wouldn’t even class them as human.
Obviously not all light skinned, mixed race women with loose curls lived a life free from discrimination, abuse and ignorant comments. However it isn’t a bad thing to admit that, me a lighter skinned woman has some sort of privilege. I can admit that with ease because it doesn’t take anything away from my blackness, I am not less black, I am not immune to discrimination, however I am aware that my skin tone and hair type is the archetype for the black woman in the eyes of the media.
My hair takes to products well and I can achieve curly hair styles without much effort. This is something I have only recently started to pay attention to.
I didn’t pay attention to the “your hair is so nice like that”, “how did you get your hair curly like that” comments.
I make a conscious effort to encourage women and men to explore their hair and to respect and love their hair as it is. Once you begin to focus on your hair, you begin to appreciate it; when it’s in “doodoo” plaits, when your satin scarf comes off whilst you’re sleeping, when your braid out comes out wrong and when you haven’t detangled your mane. Those moments that were once disasters or bad hair days become moments of laughter and creativity.
There is too much history within natural hair movement, for it to be ignored. Yes the natural hair movement is inclusive, but people and brands seem to be very specific about what naturals to show to the public.
Do you still love and appreciate your hair without the curl enhancing creams?
The natural hair scene has such variety; there are so many colours, lengths, textures and densities. There shouldn’t be a bias to a specific texture, length or skin tone. Your hair doesn’t need to curl a certain way in order for it to be classed as good hair day. Change the way to think and talk about your hair. If a larger variety of naturals are shown more, the natural hair scene will reflect what is being celebrated.
By Saabirah Lawerence