Yes, I'm Natural..But You Should Stop asking Me About It


I'm extremely excited to see sistas and brothas embracing their natural roots. From the dreads to the afros and kinky curls there's nothing more beautiful than to see people all over embracing their natural blackness. The Natural Hair Movement (NHM) of 2015 reflects its predecessor of the 60s (during the Civil Rights Movement and Black Power Era). When the common ideals of the Black community decided to do away with White European beauty standards and redefine what it means to be beauty in America. 

Internally, "the pressing comb and chemical relaxers became oppressive because they were tools that symbolized the shame associated with black hair in its natural state”. Externally, rocking you hair in its natural afro was viewed a too political, unprofessional and unruly. In 2015, with the rebirth of the movement the women and men a part of this community seem to find themselves facing the same stereotypes defining what it means to be natural. And today, I like to consider myself a natural. I've been a natural for 17/20 years of my life. I've been through many ups and downs with my hair journey! However, nothing has irked me more than other people trying to decipher if I'm eligible to be a part of the natural club. #IAMNOTMYHAIR

I noticed early on there was something special about Black hair or inparticular the natural hair of black children since grade school. In Kindergarten, I had shoulder length thick hair, when Mama would wash it, it blew up to tight curly afro. She would always tell me "you got some good hair girl, you know who can where yo curly hair like this to school." And I would wear it in the Mikey Mouse poof ball and side ponytails that were popular among little black girls. Back then I didn't get questions like am I natural but I often was asked is your hair real? My hair was much healthier during this time. I never used relaxers and or heat. When I reached junior high, this all changed.

Pressured by the ills of my environment, I started to experiment with my hair and paid the consequences. Excessive heat damage, relaxers, and wash-n-go's left me with thinning hair (let's consider this a severe hair break off). Struggling with my balding appearance, I reached out to a Hair Dresser to bring back curly goodness of my past and struggled for three years to get my hair on a healthy track.

I adapted blowouts and protective weaves until my curls were restored. It wasn't until my Freshman year of college I started to see change, and I also discovered a community of Black women who adapted natural hair to save money and promote positive black beauty images. It was a different world from high school.

Consistently, rocking my blowout and slapped with the ideas of what it meant to "be natural" I began to get tumbled with questions surrounding my hair journey. For instance "how come you don't wear your natural hair"? "Is that your real hair?" "Is your hair permed"? I think it would be fair to say these are typical questions regarding hair at least once a Black woman has encountered once. I went through my entire life with people asking me these questions, in fact, I often remember being referred to as the Black girl with long hair.

In the Black community, there's a strong sense of identity and beauty associated with our hair and I observed this early as a child. I can't count the number of times my sister and I were praised for our hair, lectured on why we didn't need a weave. Comments like these would come from people at the supermarket even to family. Over time, it became sickening to see how people within our communities perceived Black women based on hair. Let's not even mention how people reacted to me when my hair fell out, and I became a girl who needed weave as a means of protective styling. The comments then became "what happen to your hair", "you still don't need a weave, and you don't want to be associated with those other girls". As if wearing weave placed you on a different scale of attractiveness.

However, in college I didn't start to analyze truly hair in the Black community until a similar comment was made to the ones above and people began to categorize me because I wore my hair in a straight bob (yeah I was about that cut life).
 It was like folks didn't notice I was natural until I washed my hair. People would say, "girl I didn't know you were natural" as if wearing your hair straight only meant you have a perm or "girl you should wear your hair like this more often" as if my wearing my straight hair often meant I was oppressed by European beauty standards. Every time I was faced with a conversation like this my face would turn to the trending frog meme on social media because some of these people had the nerve to press me on my strands! It was like knowing that I was natural meant I belong to some Black elite society. I would think did people even know what it meant to be natural? I thought the great thing about natural hair its versatility: the braid out, the twist out, THE FLAT IRON, the flexi-rod set, set, the cut, the wash-n-go.

Hell, I even found myself corrupted by the corrupted ideals of what it meant to be natural and would say things like "girl I'm going natural" in the back of mind thinking "girl you are natural, you mean you want to give your hair a break from the heat". 

Media: GIPHY

It's not that I would be upset with those who innocently asked those questions, but I guess my annoyance surrounds the people who I feel the need to classify others!!

(I feel like I've been ranting lol)

Anyway, so if anybody ever has to ask yes I'm natural. I've been natural for 17 /20 years of my life. 

Nowadays regarding my hair I learned not to take things too seriously. However, you know what makes me feel better?  If people realized that HAIR DOESN'T DEFINE ME!