Discussing issues within natural hair community
As I’m sure most of you have heard over the past week, there's been much in the natural hair news about Solange Knowles and her Twitter rant. As helpful as the natural hair community can and should be, situations like this often come up that tear people down rather than build them up. Some people have even gained the nickname of the “natural hair police” for being bold with their criticisms of styling decisions or even hair type. It seems that the focus is sometimes less on the aspect of community in the natural curly hair realm and more on an apparent bias towards certain styles or “types” of hair. We are all different, and every curl, coil and wave should be appreciated because it contributes to the greater collective of naturally beautiful people.
I would say this initially stemmed from the “relaxed vs. natural” and “curly vs straightened” debates, but has now filtered into the natural curly hair community. The emphasis on hair type, curl pattern, and styling options has erupted into heated discussions and arguments. We are a community and our differences are what make us unique. How people choose to wear their hair is their choice, their sole decision, and others don’t have to like it, but at the very least, people should be respectful. Just because you don’t necessarily agree with the way someone wears their hair, doesn’t mean you have the right to be rude and disrespectful. That’s not right, no matter how long you’ve been natural. You don’t have to like it, but if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. That old adage still goes a LONG way.
The issue of people being overly concerned with someone else’s hair isn’t just confined to celebrities and their hair. Recently on the website BlackGirlLongHair.com, a dialog was opened when a young lady was featured as a “multi-textured icon.” In the article, Jess, of the blog www.hairgetskinky.com, described herself as having type “4a/3c hybrid with a bit of 4b in the back.” Although most of the comments on the article concerning her hair were complimentary, the main topic of the comments was hair typing. One of the commenters felt that her hair was not 3c/4a/4b, but that it was more 4b.
A problem arises where people are seeing someone else’s hair while it is in a style, not without products or manipulation. The hair typing system is meant to be helpful for those looking for products to meet the needs of their hair. However, it could also be attributing to other issues within the natural hair community. In my opinion, visual hair typing isn’t completely accurate. There is more to the science of hair than curl pattern. Some people are using this as a reason to criticize or belittle others when it’s not even their hair, and that, my fellow naturals, is not cool.
I’ve always placed emphasis on learning your own hair, and becoming a master of the hair that grows from your own scalp. Yes, we all have different hair types. No, you don’t have to wear your hair like mine. Yes, it’s okay to have hair icons and be appreciative of how other people wear their hair. What’s not okay is for people to blast, condemn or disparage others. This goes beyond hair and should be applied in everyday life.
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I personally love all natural hair, no matter how it’s styled. We should be empowering women to wear their natural hair, not being negative about curl pattern, definition or choice of style. This is not what the natural hair community is about. My hope for those who find themselves making negative comments towards other people wearing their natural hair is to think twice before speaking those words into existence. The opinion that matters most is the person who’s rocking their style. So, let’s celebrate the beauty of all our various hair types.