The girls saying no to pure hair

While many are ditching the straighteners, wigs and extensions, others have discovered the prospect of sporting their pure hair to be extra tangled than simple

I used to be in my early twenties once I gained the arrogance, and the information, to put on my hair in all its gravity-defying glory. And I wasn’t the one one – the trendy pure hair motion has gained severe traction over the previous couple of years. On social media, the neighborhood is flourishing with the #naturalhair hashtag hitting seven billion views on TikTookay, whereas manufacturers like Tracee Ellis Ross’s Pattern and Bread Beauty Supply are catering to and celebrating curly, coily, and tight textured hair.

The result’s that persons are saying no to relaxers – based on Romina Brown, CEO and President of Strategic Solutions, in 2009, chemical relaxers accounted for 60 per cent of the multi-cultural hair class. By 2019, that market share was simply 5 per cent. But whereas it’s clear that many are ditching the straighteners, wigs and extensions, others have discovered the prospect of sporting their pure hair to be extra tangled than simple.

“The natural hair movement eventually created a lot of pressure around what natural hair ‘should’ look like rather than encouraging people to embrace their own textures and curl patterns”, Cora Harrington, founding father of The Lingerie Addict, wrote on Twitter to over 4 thousand likes. It’s a sentiment that resonated with many. “I have a friend who wore her Afro out and was approached at the train station as someone thought she was suicidal because her appearance was so off [to them],” says 21-year-old Londoner Grace Therson-Cofie, who has attracted consideration on TikTookay for defending her 4C-textured hair and that of her buddies. Therson-Cofie feels that strain is positioned on Black girls for his or her pure hair to look “tamed” and “presentable”, resulting in widespread internalised disgrace.

But what precisely constitutes “presentable”? “It’s all about long hair that isn’t too tightly coiled”, says 29-year-old Emmanuella Kwenortey from London. “Better yet, if [your] hair has the length of caucasian hair but the curliness of Afro hair – essentially the hair you see on a lot of mixed-race men and women”. Voni Robi, a 27-year-old Australian girl who now lives in Denmark, agrees saying she used to lengthy for her pure 4A hair to go well with this aesthetic. “I always thought that type 3 is the most beautiful and my mum is half white, so I felt like I was robbed of having beautiful, soft, mixed curls”.

As Harrington suggests, the pure hair motion is commonly seen as taking part in a task in this type of considering. By glamorising looser curl patterns and prioritising them over kinky and coilier textures, many really feel it has created an unstated hierarchy of curls and perpetuated a magnificence commonplace that’s arguably rooted in whiteness. “I believe that there is an ‘acceptable hair type’ that a lot of people in the natural hair industry will push over others,” says Jenna Aubertin, a hairstylist who educated on the Aveda Institute and specialises in styling curly hair. “I think many of us, myself included, wanted a space to be free, where we felt like we belonged, but there is always someone placing an ideal as to what is and isn’t natural”. 

Amber Morrow, a hairstylist who works for CBS Studios in New York, says shoppers come to her “all the time” with reference photographs that includes photographs of individuals with unfastened curl sorts. For her, nonetheless, it’s not the pure hair motion that’s responsible. “To be very frank, it’s the marketing industry [selling] to Black women that is responsible”, she says. “While things are drastically different and we’re seeing more Black creatives having a voice on campaigns, it’s still a majority white space”. 

Robi agrees that it’s not the discourse pertaining to the pure hair motion that’s the issue however wider societal attitudes in direction of pure hair. While transferring to Europe allowed her to experiment together with her hair in a method that she by no means felt secure sufficient to again dwelling, she nonetheless doesn’t really feel assured going all-natural. “One of the biggest factors that makes me feel comfortable wearing my natural hair is my environment and the people I’m around – I definitely don’t feel comfortable in predominantly white spaces”.

“Natasha sees her natural hair as a hindrance rather than a help when it comes to finding love”

The office is one such house. My 61-year-old aunt lately informed me about an incident again within the early 2000s, when one among her white male colleagues stated he “preferred her without the natural hair look”. Nearly 20 years later, Robi experiences the identical prejudicial attitudes: “You can never be Black and just have your hair out in an office and no one’s going to ask you questions”, she says sadly. Robi opts for wigs at work, which she says nonetheless draw consideration, however there’s “no fucking way” she’d put on her pure hair out at her present job.  

It’s not simply in public that Black girls concern retribution for not having the “right” kind of pure hair – intimate relationships additionally immediate emotions of inadequacy. Kwenortey is lately married however fearful about her look whereas courting predominantly white males. “I had pictures of me [on apps] with my braids; I don’t think I had the confidence to profile myself with my natural tightly-coiled 4C hair”, she explains. Her greatest buddy Natasha Onwuemezi is a 28-year-old single girl from London who, like Kwenortey, sees her pure hair as a hindrance slightly than a assist in terms of discovering love. “I have nightmares of hair mishaps happening – like them trying to run their hands through my natural hair and getting stuck”.

A couple of years in the past, standard YouTuber VanBanter posted a video that went viral during which he interviewed Black British boys about their very best kind of girl. “Obviously mixed race” and “Coolie hair, no dark skins” had been a number of the responses, feeding right into a problematic narrative perpetuated by hip hop artists of the 2000s and onwards that light-skin girls with flowing, curly hair are the specified archetype. Although colourism remains to be rampant inside the Black neighborhood, Robi says that getting into right into a relationship with a Black man has bettered her outlook on her pure hair: “[My partner has] always made me feel like I can do whatever I want to my hair and that’s always made me feel safe”. 

For some, it’s not a lot the attitudes of others which are the deterrent, however extra so the quantity of maintenance that goes into sustaining pure hair. “Wearing your natural hair out can be very time consuming because curlier hair types tend to get more tangled”, says 19-year-old Rashaida Joseph-Staples from London, who opts for wigs or braids. “Some people assume that if you aren’t wearing your natural hair out that you aren’t comfortable with your ‘Blackness’ which is unfair”, she says.

The shift in direction of better acceptance of pure hair each inside and out of doors the Black neighborhood is occurring. Disney now has its characters donning hair bonnets earlier than mattress and Black hair is getting ready to being legally protected towards discrimination. Despite quite a few developments, nonetheless, Black girls are nonetheless apprehensive or downright averse to showcasing their pure hair – but it surely’s not the pure hair motion that’s the issue, it’s the continued propagation of outdated, prejudiced attitudes.

“I spend so much time talking about, explaining or defending my hair that it makes me constantly feel othered and dehumanised”, says Onwuemezi. When I ask her if she ever feels there’ll come a time when Black girls will collectively really feel assured sporting their pure hair, her reply is depressingly candid. “Only when we stop centring whiteness as the ideal of beauty, and only after we undo centuries of racism and misogynoir – so never”. Uneasy lies the pinnacle that wears the crown – however I’d argue that having kinky hair on prime of your head is the toughest burden to bear.

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