Slowly but surely women of all ages, including women over the age of 50, are embracing the the movement. We tend to think they should be more experienced than others with wearing natural hair, since most of them have worn their natural hair before. Perhaps this is the reason that the product companies tend to market heavily to the younger demographic. However, many women over 50 are the true rookies within this natural process and need just as much support.
You see, the journey to natural for women over 50 is different for women in their 40s and younger. These women, born in the 1960s, arrived when the hair straightening trends were at an all-time high.
A Brief History
- Hot combs, also known as "pressing combs," are created by the French in 1845 and arrive in America in 1880. -Refinery29
- In the 1950s and prior, the press and curl was popular, developed by Madame CJ Walker. Relaxers were first introduced by the G.A Morgan Hair Refining Company in 1913. -eHow
- While most women wore relaxers and press and curls, the 1970s marks the onset of a small group activists, like Angela Davis and Pam Grier, who challenged the straight hair trend by embracing the controversial afro (style, not texture).
- The “natural” began to catch a little fire, until its rise was interrupted by the Jheri Curl, which was introduced in 1977.
- During the 80's and the 90's, West African traditional hairstyles began to resurface in the black community. Many people were getting braids with the traditional West African patterns. – The African American Registry
It was not until 2000 that you started to see the natural trends very slowly start to take shape. This demographic of women was well into their professional careers and many would not dare to attempt such a drastic change at the height of their career climb. So, they continued to wear their relaxers consistently. After decades and many iterations of natural hair trends, we arrive at the present day. Fifty year old women and older are currently facing the challenge of deciding whether to return to wearing one’s natural hair. For many the choice is not their own, as age can sometimes bring about drastic changes in hair type. For others the choice is theirs to make.
Regardless of how you have arrived at this crossroad, here are a few tips for women fifty and above, shared by women fifty and above.
Enjoy it and be patient
Enjoy it and be patient. You have had chemicals for years, so think in terms of years, not months. Have an idea of what style you want. I had no clue and I am just now figuring out what I want. You will need a lot of self-confidence. Know why you are doing it. I think older women do it because they feel called to it for some reason other than just style. Personally, I was thinning on top.You are wonderful natural visions of God. - Felicia Hopkins, less than 1 year natural
Know what to expectRemember, natural does not mean low/no maintenance. You still must carefully care for your hair. - Dee Robinson, 2 years natural
Be boldYou made the decision to go natural, enhance it by getting a cut or trim. Add some color or highlights. Play up your eyes. Arch those eyebrows. Buy a bold lipstick to rock that natural look. Most of all, be confident in your decision. Have patience and peace. It will take some time and effort to figure out what works for you. - Lynthia Jackson, 2+ years natural
How do you encourage your fellow 50+ naturals?