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My relationship with beauty, specifically my own, has been a rocky one.

Read that sentence aloud in a room-filled with women and I dare you to spot the person who doesn’t nod or lower her eyes with an Amen. When I was a kid being the only mixed person, seemingly in the world but definitely in my neighborhood gave me considerable doubts as to what I was supposed to look like and if that look was beautiful. I did a lot of DIY things to my hair (without the help of YouTube gurus so please insert the most absurd mental picture here). In my teens the only women who looked like me that were considered beautiful were video vixens so I dove into the whole fried orange hair, straightened to a crisp vibe like it was the coolest thing since butterfly clips!

My twenties were a time of great exploration in beauty, in self, in sex – you get the picture. Here is where I discovered the beauty of my dark, curly hair and best of all, I did it with an army by my side! Slowly the curly/ kinky movement had begun to take shape right beneath my coils and for the first time since bad perms went out of style, I began to see women like me wearing their big hair within big roles. It was a revolution, one that if you weren’t apart of may have seemed frivolous but these budding affirmations in my beauty were monuments.

This, to me, is where the kinky/ curly-hair revolution shined bright, during a time when many of us needed to know that it was more than okay – it was fabulous – to feel beautiful in your own hair. With so much pain and alienation associated with the way God made our tresses fall, yes we did need that.

But after a revolution must come normalization not alienation.

We shouldn’t press on with the same steadfast, headstrong approach that was necessary to break that wall for the rest of our days. Because through gaining outward acceptance, acceptance from within should follow suit. Finding your beauty is a wonderful amazing feeling and anyone who is able to attain that, in their own, evolving time is lucky!

This is pretty much why I find issue with the group of people who found their beauty by styling their hair without chemically altering it or adding additional tracks, dubbing themselves as the “natural” ones.

Without taking away from the spirit and historical relevance of the movement, let’s dissect the word – what does it mean to be natural and what historical context has it been used in?

The word natural order is used to justify racism, prejudice and classism by claiming that there is a pre-ordained explanation as to why one group deserves better than the other. The term natural love is used to rob people who aren’t heterosexual of their dignity while following their hearts. And natural selection, essentially gives people the power to play God.

The more I thought about it, the more I saw natural as a way to control, not empower. And then I looked within my own community – the weave shaming, double standards, peer pressure and sometimes straight bullying that went on. And I do believe this sense of entitlement is directly derived from the word, a word which I also believe few can live up to. Once you add color, a particular cut, a mountain of product, damn even a twist-out you are altering your “natural” hair. So why feel so bold as to shame others who choose more overt methods?

As I mentioned I am extremely grateful for the kinky/ curly revolution but I can’t support the natural one. Especially since after understanding my hair I began to experiment to find what worked for me and in the end texturizing my hair every six months and adding 4-6 extensions on days I intend to have a good hair day, became apart of my routine. Every other race who finds their hair to be beautiful and powerful experiments openly with its capabilities without so much as a raised eyebrow so why the heck shouldn’t we all do the same? Love your hair the best way you know how and have love for anyone who has done the same or is on their own journey to doing so.

I don’t believe there is a true natural, no one lives exactly how God intended, we are all just doing the best we can to see that light in our own eyes.

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Yes they are a lot if natural nazi's as well as straight /weave nazi's. This girl I was cool with I told her I went natural and that I was never going back to perms and fake weave . I love my natural hair she said that's good for you you do you but then she had the nerve to say I was going to wear weave again . Who is she to tell me that ? So she is saying my hair is not acceptable ? We got into a big argument about how I want to wear MY HAIR NOT HERS and then she said this argument was childish and she has better things to do . That means she is calling me childish ! So i said you do you but I'm sticking with my natural hair . I'm not talking to her again ! She took it too far ! Thank God I'm moving soon so I won't have to see her again.
I'm sorry I misspelled some words I meant I was inspired to go natural and I meant to say the girls around me have natural hair now . It's my stupid ipad that keeps messing up and I always have to check my words again . Sorry :/
I big chopped a few weeks ago . I'm not doing this because going natural is the " in " thing now I'm doing it because I saw celebrities like Solange , indie arie , and many others going natural . My mom went natural las t year and people around me now had natural hair . It inspired plus I was tired of going to the salon to get perms and get my hair flat ironed . I had a lot of heat damage . I was transitioning but I had to big chop in February once I took my braids out because my hair was severely damaged from the heat and the perms . I'm almost eighteen in college . I'm black not mixed . I see none on TV that looks like me except for a few like Kelly Rowland , Naomi Campbell , Jessica White , and a few dark brown skinned models . I'm the color of chocolate and I'm skinny those are the only women on TV that look more like me and have similar body shape to me . Even rappers don't put black girls in their videos anymore all they use nowadays is mixed chicks , white chicks , island chicks , and Hispanic chicks . Good thing I hate the music now and like older music better . I watch older hip hop and R&B music videos because that's the last time I saw black girls in videos was like 6 to 7 years ago . It's sad we are just as beautiful as other races . I love my natural hair , my friends love it , my boyfriend loves it , God loves it , and I wouldn't trade it for the world . I'm going to grow it out to see what my beautiful natural hair can do wish me luck. :)
I mean I dont shame girls who wear relaxers or weaves or such.....because just a while ago I was doing it. Its their choice...some ppl dont like the "natural" look and thats fine. I dont discriminate. But I find your title really confusing.
Completely agree with the article. I find myself starting to not so much reject the term "natural" but find it annoying because it is now such a loaded word as it pertains to the "movement".
Your article is so conflicting. What I don't understand is why you are okay with the word "kinly" to describe hair, but not "natural." I cannot think of a single instance where kinky is a good thing. Also, you say, "We shouldn’t press on with the same steadfast, headstrong approach that was necessary to break that wall for the rest of our days," but there are still so many instances where people of color cannot go to work with their hair in a "natural state." For a person to come to work where I am employed with a 'fro, dreads, or braids is deemed to be unprofessional, but a person with natural state straight hair can come to work with a ponytail. To me, the word "natural" in this context means that a person's hair has not been altered by chemical or heat. You said, "even a twist-out you are altering your 'natural' hair," but how can that be true? Styling one's hair is not altering the natural state, any more than a person with straight hair putting their hair up in a ponytail.
Wow, you make pertinent points but ignore a whole other group of what I consider 'naturals' -meaning not acquired, innate, God-given, etc. My choice to go natural earlier this year had nothing to do with what you call the "natural movement" to the extreme of shame or class exclusion. I finally felt confident that I could let go of a perm (extreme damage, shedding, no growth) with the plethora of products and education that exist today. A lot of women just had no idea of what to do to care for their hair. When the Jheri curl left the station in the late 80's, early 90's, most went back to perms and thus the cycle continued. No, I have no idea what my natural hair looks like since my hair has been chemically altered since I was about 11years old and today I'm 42. I'm not disagreeing that 'straight' hair for years was the acceptable form of beauty, but I am saying that now "most" of us have a lot more to be comfortable about in our own skin with the right products and right knowledge. I'm still wondering what I'll look like "natural", but this is simply because I've never done it before- I have no reference. I don't count childhood, my mom did my hair then. I trust that you'll see the 2 perspectives clearly. Thanks.
After reading this article, I got really angry. I can sympathize with your argument about being upset with extremists in the natural hair who criticize women who choose to get a texturizer. Yeah, if that's what you want to do with your hair, that's your business and your body. You shouldn't have women nitpicking about your decision. The reverse is true for women with relaxed hair who do the same to natural hair women. It's okay for you to "revolt" against a movement you do not feel you belong to. But I have a big problem with the specious and ignorant arguments you've used to defend yourself. You've conflated the natural hair movement with Darwinism (natural selection) and Friedrich Hayek's natural order. Do you sincerely believe that? Or were you just throwing those words in to bolster your argument and make it sound legitimate? If so, you've failed. You say you're against extremists in the natural hair movement, but your words are as inflammatory as an extremist. Before I begin, Darwin wasn't a racist (he was an abolitionist who fought against slavery). Natural selction is related to evolution, where good genetic traits are kept, and "inferior traits" are weeded out over time in order for a species to survive. Hayek's natural order is related to a caste-like system that classifies human beings as either "inferior" or "superior" (usually based on their relation to a higher power). I realize that natural selection and natural order have been used by bigots in the sciences and major societies in order to denigrate and subjugate ethnic groups including African Americans. But, the natural hair movement is the opposite of this. The term natural means that we're embracing our hair as it came out of our head. The term natural is used by many groups for anything that grows in its original state. Would you call a company that uses the word "natural ingredients" on its products racist, or conflate it with natural selection. I think not. Black women started the natural hair movement in response to the systematic denigration by a dominant culture that said it was not okay for us to embrace our kinks and curls. Black women have straightened their hair in an attempt to be seen as beautiful by the dominant culture, and more than often it does not work. As militant as some natural hair women might seem, it's often in response to a culture who wants them to feel ashamed of their looks. There have literally been court cases for African American women (and men) have had to bring lawsuits because they were fired or discriminated against for wearing their natural hair, locks, dreads and even braids. It's happening even to this day. Google it, my friend. I'm just astonished that you published this article with a straight face and believed your arguments were valid. It just seems more of a "hit piece" against the natural hair movement. If you want to wear your texturizer, that's okay. I don't care. That's your choice. But to conflate the natural hair movement with bigotry and racism, is ignorance. You are harming all African-American women who want the freedom of choice to wear their hair in whatever style they choose (whether natural, relaxed or texturized). You want to wear a texturizer, fine. But don't smear an entire movement because you want to defend that choice.
I'm agree with this article and i HATE when STRAIGHT hair NAZI look at my hair in the metro every day (my boyfriend can confirm that) , they have contempt for my hair type. At the hair dresser, i have lot of negative comments from black women on my 4C hair. 0,1% Natural Nazi but 80% Straight hair nazi . Don't worry about chinese straight hair and looser curl, everyboy in the world love that. Beyoncé curls seems better than kinky hair for the entire earth. With my regular african hair I have to live with that. So, I think you can live with your 0,1% Natural nazi.
I totally agree with this article. I HATE how natural girls shame other women for weaves and relaxers. There is nothing wrong with doing whatever you feel. I made a promise to myself to never become a "NATURAL NAZI." Stop doing this you are just continuing the pattern! Give it a few years and women will be trending relaxers again. I am natural and time to time I wear a lace front. So screw any other natural girls who want to shame me for rocking a wig every n Now and then when I want to give my hair a rest and change my style for a day.
Your perspective is one that I have not taken into consideration before, and it's an entirely new perspective of the connotations of "being natural." What's more is that I did not even realise there were connotations in that respect at all. For me, being natural is about taking good care of your hair. I associate being natural with health. I have never associated it with beauty. Then I learned on the discussion board that it is not this black-and-white. Rather, it is an entirely personal thing. Even if being natural works for me, it might not work for other people because of insensitivities for particular ingredients, etc. In that sense, the natural = healthy association does not work at all! This realisation has made me more open to "less natural" products as well, and has shown me that I should focus on particular ingredients rather than arbitrary labels such as natural. Similarly, terms like "being CG" have connotations as well. If someone is mod-CG or not CG, then that's fine. If it works for them, then why should I judge them because they are not natural, CG or whatever? Additionally, I think that we can learn a lot from each curly, whether she holds the same ideas about curls or not. Maybe I should add that I am Caucasian and that I live in Europe. The whole idea of being natural or the curly girl method is rather unknown. Thus, discussions like this one are not present (yet).
Before reading your article I was looking at the picture associated with it and couldn't help but wonder to myself, "what happened to Shannon's curls?". They looked looser and some parts were completely straight. I thought maybe it was the product you used and started reading. Well upon reading, I got my answer; it was a texturizer. I remember watching your hair videos from "Those Girls Are Wild" on YouTube and being in love with your curly coily spirals. I miss the hair that grows out of your scalp, but hey, whatever makes you comfortable in your skin is the key to beauty! Being multi-racial myself, (with a black mother who did shape the way I see society and how I wouldn't relate to it since I don't look like a white woman) I can understand your point about not having people who look like you growing up. I also agree that it's fabulous that there's a "revolution" if you will of women wearing their natural hair. However, your points I felt about why you revolt against the negative connotation of the word "natural" felt weak to me. I wish you would have dived deeper into the attitudes and division that occurs. I wished you would have explained why that is damaging to the community instead of using terms like "natural love" and "natural selection" to try to explain why "natural" has negative connotation. In my opinion giving me the definition of these terms doesn't support your argument enough-in fact, to me it's unrelated; but i understood your intent. "Natural" is simply a word and unfortunately women have found a way to divide themselves and try to make one group superior over the other. The real issue is that we need these same women to deal with their own issues instead of projecting them onto others.
Very interesting perspective indeed. I agree that all black women should be proud of their hair. Through colonization, we were taught that white hair was good hair. I am proud to wear my hair in its natural state. Natural to me means the hair I was born with- not what is 'normal', (I think that this word could be easily substituted in her article). I have vowed never to perm, straighten, or colour my hair again, because I think it reinforces the colonial project. However, this is MY opinion. What others decide to do with their hair should be respected as well. It could be the case that they have never learned this before. I do take into account that I was privileged to have learned this in a Women and Gender Studies course. Also, some people think that things change over time; maybe it was the case before, but not now. I also think that since my hair is curly, it made the decision easier. However, there is a sense of community among those who decide to wear their hair natural. I just think it makes us visibly stronger. For me, it is a form of resistance. BTW: my hair is in braids right now. I think it lies somewhere in between weave and natural. It is also a great protective style for the winter.
But why does our hair need to be referred to as natural. Why cant we just call it what it is,. If its chemical free, thats it. Newspapers , tv shows, everybody is talking about this natural hair movement. We're being exploited by the media and not in a good way. Eventually this will be over. Everyone will grow their hair and once it gets long, they'll,go back to straightening. This is just a fad for most. Just look at who our heroes are on youtube. They all have long jair and always some idiot asks them "are you mixed" .p because no way were they able to grow all that hair unless they have some other race on them. I agree with the article, this needs to stop. And yes you can be a part of a movement that you never joined.
Revolt though? Why is this political? You couldn't come up with a better cause to lend yourself to then throwing passive agressive shade on team natural because you are mixed and therefore cannot identify with women with kinkier hair types? The fact that this has this many views is silly. If you were looking for respect and acceptance in your community, there were many needful ways to go about it such as volunteering, other than vainly and shallowly dealing with racial microagressions over the texture of one's hair. I don't want to hear this mess about image issues from a young woman that looks like her. You'll be fine, you're slanging your spiel on Youtube with no problem as far I can see. Why people are eating it, I cannot understand. I need women of color in general to stop obsessing over defining ethnic beauty, and start just doing the work of actually being beautiful people, because I sense an ugly undertone in a positive so-called movement. I'm not feeling it, and I'm not here for hating on one to uplift another. Girl, bye.
(Sorry. Hit the enter button too early.) Anyway, your hair is your hair, whether you claim to belong to a “movement” or not. There are lots of "movements" that I just kinda steer clear of if they’re not for me. No announcements necessary, unless you're specifically trying to throw salt. I love the natural hair movement because at least the parts I've been exposed to have been wonderful and supportive. For some reason, it’s incredibly easy for me to avoid the “hair police” that so many others seem to encounter out there. *shrugs*
It is so completely unnecessary to "revolt" against a movement that no one asked or required you to join.
I absolutely agree with this young lady! It is completely insane that others have reached a place in life where they can not accept who they are or who others are enough to let everyone be who they want to be. My mom always taught that those who judge others on what they look like/what they do have things to deal with within themselves. Deciding to "go natural" is a choice just as deciding to be a vegan is a lifestyle choice! Those who decide not to join forces with either isn't beneath anyone because of it!
oops, I meant to say I DO AGREE with the Author. Yikes, this is my first time posting with this comment section, please bear with me. Is there an edit button?
I always just like to use the words 'sans chemicals' I agree with the poster who alluded to the aspect that one person's term of endearment might cause consternation, even offense to another person but I don' agree with the author that embracing your curls in their natural state should be empowering not shaming to anyone. I sometimes see posts on social media where people feel like absolute failures if they cannot achieve the look that someone else has achieved, especially if they believe that someone is their 'hair twin'. I myself admit that I am still learning for what works for my hair and I am often amazed at the vast knowledge that people have about what works, sometimes thinking that I'll never get to that level of knowledge and understanding but thankfully, I'm learning to give myself a bit more leeway and simply opt for optimal health above all else and I've felt better for it. One last thing that is completely off subject: I watched that You Tube clip and couldn't believe that I was listening to the exact same song at the SAME TIME! I was listening to a pre-made mix. I had to stop the mix and let the video play because I was in utter disbelief. Manic Monday, here I come. Peace!
Natural, to me, means acceptance. Acceptance of who you are, regardless of what anyone else thinks. When I was in high school this mentality did not exist. There was a stigma placed on those who did not relax or press their hair. You were subject to ridicule if you did not follow this norm. Little did we know that our hair was basically a form of our oppression in a society that has historically told us that if we did not live up to our oppressor’s image of beauty, we were not considered beautiful. Fast forward 20 years later and that stigma still exists, however, it is starting to disappear. As a high school teacher I constantly see young ladies who feel that they have to weave, flat iron, press or relax their hair – many times this is done to the detriment of their natural hair. However, thanks to the new natural movement these young ladies are at least willing to listen and learn how to care for their hair without any disguises – this conversation would have never come up when I was in school. Because of this, a colleague and I started the “Natural Beauties” club on our campus to teach young ladies that they are beautiful and they do not have to conform to what popular culture defines as beauty. Thus, although I understand the frustration of the author as no one should judge individuals based on what they do or what they don't do to their hair, I do have problems with those who use relaxers, weaves, braids, flat ironing, etc as a means to hide their natural hair because they are embarrassed by it. Remember, this mentality trickles down to our youth. Thanks to the natural hair movement the wall of oppression that had once defined our crown of glory is slowly crumbling down.
I agree with the author's opinion. I have been the recipient of comments indicating it was such a blessing to me that I went the right way to go natural while I was relaxing my hair but able to wear wash and go's. Conversations got awkward fast when I admitted that my hair would wave up with a relaxer. It also doesn't make it better, but I felt small minded when I was perusing the transitioning CurlTalk forums and realized that transitioning can mean something other than not chemically straightening your hair anymore. I was ignorant of that yes, I will admit; and I also will admit that I didn't fully understand how that might be hurtful to someone else until my eyes were opened. Especially after I read posts on the hall of shame thread. . . Perhaps that is the same spirit of why the author wrote what she wrote. I did read this article more than once to make sure I understood, because I was thinking at first she had a screw loose maybe. Then I re-read, and re-read, and what I got was that she is stating that it seems to her that natural is coming to be a divisive force as it has in so many different ways throughout history. In this particular situation of hair, she's suggesting not using it to categorize oneself unless you are free from all methods of "taming" your hair to make it look presentable. For the omission of wavies- I would re-read the article. From what she is saying, that type of under-representation and/or lack of acceptance is just why the author is saying she is revolting against it's use.
Yes, the natural hair thing is really getting out of hand with the bullying and hair shaming. Bravo on this article, you hit the nail on its head. I wish these women(and men) would realize that maing fun of someone's choice to relax, texturize, weave and/or color their hair is not different from those who make fun of our "nappy" hair. I am glad I joined the kinky curly revolution but I am not going to shame others for choosing not to.
To me, this is ignorant. You can't say that natural means racism and prejudice. That doesn't make sense. It was used negatively in times of persecutions, yes, but they were wrong. The word isn't wrong. "natural" to me, is to be the way you were born, the way you were intended to be. If anyone is exclusive, it's the kinky/curly movement, completely ignoring the troubles of a wavy. Someone who is also not accepted in society. Someone with just as many hair troubles being completely unrepresented. The natural hair movement is about embracing your natural texture, something you were born with. You weren't born with a flat iron interrupting your hair's hydrogen bonds, but you were born with hands to manipulate all you want. Natural butters and oils and gels to take care of and embrace your natural hair. I have seen people shaming women with relaxed hair, but I've also seen people shame women with loose curls for trying to join their movement. Every single movement is going to have extremists. Loose interpreters, strong interpreters, and everyone in the middle. It is extremely ignorant to think otherwise.
I agree with the previous post. "Natural" means different things to different people. Just like the word "nappy" is embraced by some and an insult to others. When I say I'm "natural" I am saying I don't use ANY type of chemical on my hair. It doesn't mean I'm passing judgement on someone else but some people assume my not using a chemicals is a value judgment on those that do. It's really no one's business what a person does with their hair, however, if that person is going to make hair videos and do blogs ect. they should be honest if they texturize.
I think being natural means different things to different people. Some people take it to a level of exclusion but I believe most naturals are open to hair dying, setting, and temporary straightening. There are a lot of positive blogs and vlogs for naturals and I don't think hair dictators should ruin what is positive for a lot of people. I think what is important is that people learn that they don't have to relax or texturize their hair to care for it and that relaxing and texturizing doesn't mean you love yourself any less than someone who wears their hair in its natural texture.

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