Before the natural hair movement became "trendy" or the go-to way for styling your curls, coils, and kinks, going "natural" was frowned upon. The struggle for public and personal acceptance to wear our natural hair free of relaxers, straighteners, sleek ponytails or "professional" has been an endeavor many curlies have encountered at some point with regard to their hair. Whether it was being teased by a classmate, bullied, pressured to straighten by family or friends, or looking "appropriate" for an interview, hair discrimination is hard to overcome.
Me personally, I experienced the ongoing pressure of people always wanting to experiment and transform my curly hair straight. Magazines and my peers impressed upon me that straight hair was pretty and I aspired for crimped and bone straight hair that I could never achieve. I was taught that wearing my hair void of a hairband, clip, barrette or something to tame it was letting it be "wild" and primal. I'm happy I was finally able to not only learn how to accept my hair in whatever form it's in but to not allow other's opinions influence my own self-worth.
A few of our favorite curlies and influencers share their tips, advice, and experiences overcoming hair discrimination below:
"My tip for all the girls who are trying to go natural, but their family or friends tell them 'you look better with straight hair' or 'how are you going to manage it' would be: Don't let those people get to you, the beginning is the hardest part, once you are transiting you will flourish! Your natural hair is part of you! It's not something we can change it grows out of our head! We have to embrace it and love it!"- Sue Portillo
"You can't try to justify that straight hair is the only acceptable hairstyle in the work place. I'm tired of 'taming' my hair to please someone else. My hair should not affect your work performance." - Bree Lee
"I straightened my hair out of fear of not getting a job. I felt extremely ashamed after I did this, I could not believe I let this fear hide the real me. I wanted to share my story to inspire women to be proud of every kink, curl and coil you have on your head. If someone thinks your hair is too 'nappy' they just need some education on black culture. Please do not change yourself for anyone, remain natural, remain beautiful and most importantly remain true to yourself."- Dominique Washington
"I used to get taunted for having long hair before it was a 'popular' thing. To those who are struggling with their natural hair I say to them. 'Never be afraid to embrace what was naturally given to you from God.'"- Dawan Pearson
"I don't think it is fair to bully anyone about their hair. The ignorance regarding hair can be so discouraging! I would encourage anyone in this situation to counteract hair bullying with ultimate confidence! Be proud of your hair. Be strong and courageous in your beauty. You can silence bullying with confidence!"- Lorelle Oliveira
One of the best ways to combat hair discrimination is to find a community that allows you to be open, honest, and receive advice from others who can respect your story. NaturallyCurly,CurlsUnderstood, KinkyCurlyCoilyMe, and CurlyNikki: Natural Hair Care are just a few online resources that provide information on loving your natural hair and having an active community to interact with.