Naturals: The “Real” vs The “Fake”
Are you a natural if your hair is natural under a weave or wig or if you regularly flat iron? The answer is: It depends on who you ask. This was never a debate when I was growing up as a natural or even a few years ago because there was no natural hair community and natural hair wasn’t a “thing.” Instead people were just confused as to why I wouldn’t just look like everyone else.
It’s a question of what you consider the natural hair movement is TO YOU. Some consider it to be a movement towards abandoning relaxers or the “creamy crack” as we have now learned how damaging it can be to our scalps and overall health. I suppose if you subscribe to that thinking, simply not relaxing would make you natural, meaning wearing a weave, wig, any protective style and even flat ironing would still be natural.
Others believe that the movement is actually geared towards embracing our hair texture and challenging the European standard of beauty after feeling the need to conform for so long in order to be more accepted by society. For those of us that take the latter position, sewing the hair of another person into your own or even flat ironing regularly further pushes the European standard of beauty. Now you’re just doing it without a relaxer.
The problem with disenfranchising a person is that we all stand to be disenfranchised in the eyes of someone else. Am I a real natural because I mostly do wash and go’s? It depends on who you ask. See, sometimes I use a hooded dryer to avoid an 8 hour dry time. In the eyes of someone, that could be an offense. I’m using a tool and one with heat at that. I actually purchase products and don’t whip up butters and creams in my kitchen. Is that another strike?
It seems to me that we’re just looking for more categories to put people in. Natural vs Relaxed, 3c vs 4c, good hair vs bad hair, light skin vs dark skin, etc. It’s beautiful when the movement is about encouragement, empowerment, education, and health, but it’s dangerous when we turn it into finding a way to tell someone “I’m better than you” or “more of something than you.” We all know how it feels to use proper grammar and to be told we’re “not black enough” or to wear our natural texture and be looked at as “not white enough.” Do you want to do that to someone else?
We have to understand sometimes there are steps to things and everyone doesn’t jump all the way in immediately or ever. Maybe someone wants to wear their natural texture but they’ve had a relaxer their entire life and they’re just not comfortable yet, so they wear braids. I hardly think you commenting on their Instagram to tell them they’re not a real natural will help them. What if you encourage them to embrace their journey and share how you became comfortable? And why is it that the most common aggressor I’ve seen commenting are those that have been natural for a year or two?
You just found “the light” but you’re trying to dim someone else’s? Sometimes letting people know what they are not enough of, makes you feel like you’re more of it and that’s a frame of mind we have to get out of. I’m sure an oppressor somewhere rejoices in the division that WE CREATE.
So where do I stand? It’s up to you to define yourself and be proud of the standard and image you put forth. I consider myself a natural because I wear and embrace my natural kinks and curls, but my journey is a little different and not at all new. My parents never allowed me to relax my hair and always told me “your hair is fine the way it is.” I simply carry that on in my adult life. My hope is always when a little girl sees me in Target, she feels she doesn’t have to change either.
Growing up, I saw plenty of relaxers and wraps, but I can’t help but imagine how encouraged I would’ve been to see a big curly fro. I try to be what I wish I had to look to, so a silky press or Brazilian bundle isn’t really my ministry, but maybe seeing someone with those things will show someone else an alternative to a relaxer. In my mind, anytime someone is not risking their health for a relaxer, it’s a victory for all of us HOWEVER they decide to do it. Even if you have a relaxer, I’m more concerned about your spirit than your hair.
How do define natural?
[By Ashley via My Hair Crush]
This is complete nonsense. smh. (1) there has always been a natural hair movement. It was a part of the black consciousness movement. There are entire families where the women AND men have been wearing non chemical, non perm hairstyles since the 1930s. Even if you start at the 50s there are thousands upon thousands of black people who have been holding the natural hair flag high – along with the read your history, your body is a temple, your politics are important message. (2) putting other people's hair in your head isn't natural. it doesn't even sound natural. if you want to do it, great. but don't call it something else to make yourself feel okay about doing it. you're only fooling yourself.
Thanks for sharing.
I mean what is "natural"? I believe the reason behind the hair is more important than the hair itself. As my consciousness rose, so did my relationship with my inner spirit, which led me to not only ditch the perm, but the weaves as well. However, just because someone wears a weave does not mean they are not enlightened. There are tribal families in Africa known for wearing braids, hairpieces, paint, metallic objects, and clay in their hair for generations. A matter of fact, hair design and ornaments, was such as big that it designated which tribe you belonged to. So is it any less natural for Black Americans to wear hair dye, weave, box braids, etc.? There are several people who hopped on the natural hair "fad" lacking any awareness of self, just b/c you see someone with natural hair does not mean they are conscious or understand the politics behind their decision.
Excellent points! Thanks for sharing.
I agree wholeheartedly with this. I have been judged by other naturals for not being natural enough because I straighten my hair. I like variety. I love my curls. I also love feeling my hair flowing with the breeze. I love braids. I love twists. Judging is isolation and isolation is the best way to destroy community.
You are correct. Division seems to stay with us as we find newer ways to find it. Thanks for sharing.
Love this! Well said and I couldn't have said it any better. You echoed my exact sentiment!
Thanks for sharing!
I agree agree agree. It is a shame that even when we try to find something good, we also find more categories to put ourselves in to make others feel less than. I went natural because I was tired of having my scalp burned to hell by relaxers, but my first couple of months I wore a wig, not because I was ashamed of my hair but because my scalp needed more time to heal not more manipulation. I feel like we should empower each other and strengthen each other. Great article. This should be published in a magazine or something, more people need to see this!
You spoke volumes in this response! Yes, the word needs to get out to let divisions among black women go! Thanks for sharing.
This is a beautiful article
Thanks for commenting!