We have written about natural hair before, but this time we wanted to know more about where this wave of women who are going natural, is coming from. Within the last 5 years, a growing group of women around the world are growing their hair natural. These women are taking the transition from having chemically relaxed hair to growing their hair naturally, either by letting it grow or undergoing the ‘Big cut’.
Natural hair is described as Afro hair which has not been altered by flat irons, chemicals, such as relaxing, perming and straightening. To some Africans and even non-Africans, it is a perfect example of hair which is unmanageable, thick and painful. Yet, more women are embracing their ‘nappy’ hair and going natural. It seems as if African fashion is not the only thing that is taking a worldwide turn.
Most of the women who have gone natural have done it mainly because they discovered that the chemicals which are in, what we know as relaxers, are damaging to their hairs. And some of the women simply felt tired of going through the harsh treatments of straightening the hair by hot combing or by chemicals. So, they cut it all off to start new.
Going natural and why
The main reason why women are growing their hair natural is because they have allowed the perception that Afro hair is difficult to manage to be changed. To some, the natural hair movement appears to be political, social, vain or sometimes even too much out there. The reason for going natural differs per individual, but it seems that every region has different reasons as to why women are going natural.
Most of the African-Americans regard going natural as taking a stand against colonialism and wrong perceptions that ‘white’ America has about African hair. African-Americans regard the relaxing and flat-ironing the hair as a way of black people adapting to the western world. Some are simply undergoing the Big cut, because it is more easy and cheaper to maintain. Also African-American celebrities, such as Erykah Badu and Solange Knowles are showing the world that Afro-hair can be managed and worn fashionably.
Most of the women in Africa and in the African Diasporas grow their hair naturally simply because they have experienced chemicals of the relaxers as damaging to their hairs. 25 year old Kenyan singer, actress and radio personality from Kenyan radio station One fm, Patricia Kohoro also went natural last year.
She describes to Runway 457 her step to going natural as the ‘Big chop’. For her, going natural was a reaction to a small incident which included beach sand and braids. Any woman with Afro hair knows that the combination of those two can be more horrible than it sounds. African Movie Academy Award actress Lydia Forson from Ghana also went natural.
Naturalism in African communities
African communities embrace the natural movement. It is not too long ago that African women were wearing natural hair. The 70’s and the 80’s were the decades of the hot comb and from the 90’s till now, chemical relaxers are most popular to soften or straighten the hair. Some of the women I have interviewed receive great responses from their colleagues, family members and friends. One pointed out that most men didn’t necessarily love it, because the preferably like long hair. Yet some men who have a keen interest in natural hair, loved the new look.
Natural hair styles
In Africa, hairstyles used to represent social, cultural standards. Thick and clean hair was often desired. Till this day, some African tribes use hairstyles to distinguish themselves. Many of their hairstyles are considered as fashion in other African communities. Take for example the ‘short cut’. Many African women know this haircut from boarding school. Celebrities such as Amber Rose, challenged young women to take the same bold step to the Big cut and even die their hairs blond. Also Cornrows have been applied by Africans for centuries and is now considered as fashion by Africans and non-Africans.
Afro Hair and hairstyles today
Celebrities, blogs and international media are focusing on sharing How to treat natural hair with their readers and viewers. Some share their current hair journeys from the moment the do the Big cut. A popular element is that most naturalists mix their own hair crème. Products, such as Shea butter is very popular to maintain natural hair moist. As a reaction to this movement, websites such as Curly Nikki and Kinky Curly Coily Me focus on natural hair treatment.
Below is an example of a woman who has naturally grown her and shares her hair experiences with others trough Youtue.
Video tutorial on Youtube for natural hair