Regardless of your ethnicity or culture, natural hair is all the rage, it is even, dare I say – mainstream? Case in point, awhile back the skin, hair and beauty company Dove came out with a heart wrenching commercial about little girls and curls. It was sappy and cute all in the name of advertising their new line of curl-friendly products, but the trend to embrace natural hair has moved out of the shadows and into the spotlight.
While reality television is rife with women with their long, long extensions, commercials – the bread and butter of television – mostly shows women with natural hair. Why? Because commercials aren’t selling glamour and aspiration, they’re selling a product and want down- to-earth, relatable models and actresses to get that message across. Natural hair is authentic and authenticity sells products.
Women of all colors are getting back to basics, cutting out chemically-treated hair, embracing curls and using organic fruit, vegetable and essential oils to improve their scalp and hair health. And why not? There is nothing wrong with the natural state of our hair, whether it’s a slight wave, huge barrel curls or tight kinky coils. However, many factors are often considered before deciding to “go” natural, like are you ready for the change to your style routine, are you truly committed to having natural hair, do you understand your hair texture’s needs… but even more importantly, before you decide “To curl or not to curl?” you have to consider image. Why? Because everyone around you will force the issue. Co-workers, your mother, the random dude on the street, your local barista, even your postal worker…
Women must deal with public perceptions when they opt to rock their natural curls, kinks and waves. Society treats all women differently based on the texture and style of their hair. Whether you’re going from blond to brunette or long to short, somebody somewhere will have something to say about it.
And many times, women feel differently about themselves based on whether their hair is long and sleek or a bouncy mane of springy curls.
I personally have naturally curly hair. Besides a phase in high school when I got a burgundy tint in my hair AND a relaxer (which pleased my mother but horrified my father “Don’t you cutrelaxcolor your hair!”), I’ve always been natural. Sometimes I wear it curly and sometimes I’ll go to my Dominican hairstylist for a magically-delicious blow out. It just depends on how I feel, what I’m doing and where I’m going – Oh – and the weather! It always depends on the weather.
Forget for a moment that I am a picky eater (low-carb, gluten free and mostly Pescetarian) who makes my own medicines, bath, beauty and hair products, cares about my vibrational health and listens to alternative music – we’re talking perception folks! I do not want people to judge me on the basis of my hair texture. But the funny thing is, while people may see me differently when my hair is natural, I actually feel different based on how I’m wearing my hair, so it follows that others would do the same.
So first, when I’m wearing my shoulder-length hair curly, I feel very free and creative, like the cute but quirky girl in a sitcom. I’m a little more prone to ditziness, more confident in my uhm… alternative-ness (?), less worried about my appearance… and generally more myself. I’m fearless in a rainstorm and going to the gym is easy-peasy lemon-squeezy.
When my hair is blown out I feel gorgeous and sexy, but it’s sooo stressful to maintain, so many constraints – constantly checking the weather reports, being afraid of the rain, lugging style products AND my flatiron with me (just in case), constantly checking my hair in any mirrored or glass surface (plus the camera on my phone) for frizz. Not going to the gym, not taking a long hot shower or bath, not doing anything that will cause me to sweat. BUT once I’m comfortable my hair looks good, I’m all #IWokeUpLikeThis I feel sophisticated and elegant and serious and smarter even- add my glasses (no contacts) and I’m like Einstein in heels. But gah, it takes work!
Like many others, when I wear my hair natural, I have gotten comments from others on the street. How did you get your hair like that? Is that real? Oh, you got that good hair! (Please don’t call it good hair.) The one time that really stands out for me was when I was in line at a Chipotle (Yes, I’m living the stereotype.) and a cute guy made a point of walking across the room to me and said “I re-e-e-e-ally like your hair like that.”
The statement was innocuous enough, but his tone was extra, like I was sooo brave and he had sooo much respect for me. I probably frowned at him as I thanked him because his tone was so inappropriately awed. Like I’d given all of my money away to charity or rushed into a burning building to save a kitten. But anyway.
I get the feeling that while society as a whole is generally more approving of straight hair,
I think they secretly covet curly hair and all that it implies. Freedom, independence, non-conformity, creativity, courage… whatever people think about when they see curly hair, I think in some odd way, a small part of them wants it for themselves. As time passes and more women join the movement towards more natural hair, the tide will turn in how naturalistas are viewed.
As far as me? I don’t care what people think. I take a screw them approach. Like me, love me or hate me, it’s all the same. It’s my hair and I’ll wear it the way I want. Now, if I could only get the weather to respect my authoritah.