Hair textures have become a primary topic of discussion in today’s beauty world, particularly among black women. We often hear the question, “Is your hair relaxed or in its natural state?” The ideology of relaxing your hair involves taking the hair through a chemical process to permanently straighten it. Many black women (and even some white women) undergo the process of relaxing their hair, either because they feel as though their natural hair will not be taken as seriously in the work force, their hair is to coarse or simply because they do not want to deal with the hassle of their natural hair state each morning.
History was certainly made when model Maria Borges stepped out on the Victoria’s Secret runway as the first model to ever grace the runway with her natural, golden-brown hair. In an article with the Huffington Post, she explained that she wanted other women to be empowered by her decision to do the “Big Chop.” Other big-name artists such as Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, and Solange Knowles have been known to rock the runway with their natural hair. Actress Lupita Nyongo made headlines with her completely short natural hair. Their messages were received as “I love myself, no matter what society says.” This encouraged many other women who had gone through the relaxing process to do “the big chop”—cutting off all your relaxed hair and starting again.
The natural hair movement is in no way a new concept. Many of us can look at old school picture of our mothers, great grand mothers and even our fathers rocking an Afro with an Afro pick on the side. However, these current styles were not always viewed as a movement until the 1900s. In fact, there were many inventions in the 1800s that were seen as “solutions” to the natural hair such, as the hot comb popularized by Madam C. J. Walker, who is also the creator of relaxers (also known as a perm), straightening irons, edge control and many other hair care products.
Whilst many argue that the choice to be natural or relaxed is a personal one, there have been many documentaries and films made to support the natural hair movement, notably “Good Hair” created Chris Rock. When asked what compelled Mr Rock to make this documentary, he explained on the Tyra Banks Show in 2009 that his then nine-year-old daughter ask him, “Daddy, why don’t I have good hair?” Rock said he then felt that it was important to show his daughter that her hair was in fact have “good” hair and show her, and many other black women, the dangerous process relaxers use in order to help women achieve good hair.
Since the encouragement of the natural hair movement, there have been many hair companies that cater to women with natural hair, including Shea Moisture, Cantu, and Dark and Lovely Naturale. These companies not only support natural hair, but also protective styles such as braids, threading, corn rows, Senegalese twists, Ghana braids and many more. These styles embody the versatility of natural hair and encourage black women who may be scared to undergo the big chop and do not know what to expect.
The natural hair movement is more than just a hashtag. It represents a community joining together to support each other and make things change for our future generation—one kinky hair curl at a time.
Happy Black History Month, xoxo
Photo by: Huy Tran