Can the care and style of curly and coily hair be separated from cultural influences and perceptions? I’m sure it can with some individuals, but with a hair history rich in techniques that alter the texture of our hair, it isn’t one that’s positive. For the most part, curly and coily hair has been considered a hindrance. If not, then much of the desire to straighten would not be as prevalent or acknowledged as a preference. From the times of Madame C.J. Walker til today, the need to rid our tresses of its bends and turns has been encouraged and accepted.  

The masses cannot seem to discuss curly and predominately coily hair without comparing it to the Eurocentric standard of beauty. Our beauty is on the other side of a linear beauty spectrum, and as a direct opposite there is a crushing blow that coily hair women have been dealt when it comes to what is considered aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Beauty is supposed to be in the eye of the beholder, but if an entire country (or world even) feels that fair skin, thin lips, and straight hair is the epitome of exquisiteness, then people outside of that realm can feel inadequate.

Curly and coily hair history is dark in this country despite all the progress we have made as a people. There is still some lingering self-doubt and inequalities that further mar the accomplishments of all for promoting diversity in hair acceptance. Disagree? Well, just read a forum or watch a YouTube video and you will see there are still women being attacked for wearing their hair in an unaltered state. Curly and coily hair is not completely accepted and while the natural hair movement swells in numbers, not everyone is ready to embrace women with curly and coily hair.

Curly and coily hair has been ridiculed, looked down upon, and considered a political statement if not straightened or covered with weaves. Society says we are more appealing if we chemically straighten our hair. Face it, a culture surrounds our tresses. We have the beauty shops that many of us spent an entire Saturday getting our hair pressed, relaxed, or roller sets to remind us that our hair is a phenomenon that sparks debate. What’s considered acceptable, beautiful, or correct? Are you being culturally correct for going natural? Are you rejecting a part of yourself if you chemically straighten your hair or wear weaves? It’s a strange debate to wage, but it’s not just about forsaking chemicals to be healthy.

We see the division still exist even as curly and coily hair is being celebrated and revered in its loving-filled movement. Curlier textures are coveted and revered while the coilier textures are not. Whenever we are pitted against the other, we lose in the game of beauty and it makes perfect sense why some curly and coily women find no love for their textures.

Our hair is a personal statement even if you feel it’s only an outlet of expression or an accessory. The need to accept one’s own texture has given many women the power to step outside of the norm and allow her tresses to be natural and free. Curls, coils, and waves are in abundance, and as our culture changes to accommodate the surge in curly and coily hair, the significance of the connection is relevant. Our culture and our hair cannot be separated, even if you shout to the hills that “it’s just hair!” I’m sorry, but it’s not; it’s a statement of what’s beautiful, fashionable, and acceptable.

We are far from perfect in our quest for beauty acceptance. A texturizer isn’t necessary, loving our own texture is what’s necessary. So, the culture and hair connection is undeniable. One cannot be discussed without the other and until the broad spectrum of beauty is accepted within thyself and mainstream media, it will always be a topic of conversation.