After critically looking at the Natural Hair Movement and what it is today, I can’t help but give it the side eye. Two years ago, when I finally cut off my relaxed hair and was rocking a twa (teeny weeny afro), I turned to the natural hair movement YouTubers on tips on how to take care of my hair, and of course for styling inspiration and the like. All these YouTubers were from all over the world, miles and miles away from me, but it honestly felt like I had a community to turn to and share my natural hair glows and woes. So now that you know I’m not just a hater, let me begin to break down how my relationship with this movement became so bittersweet.
Over these two years, I started to notice that a lot of the very popular YouTubers and Bloggers had 4a or 4b hair. Now I don’t really want to go into the politics of hair-typing cause that’s a whole other story but in a nutshell, the kinkier your hair the more likely it is to be deemed unattractive. Yes, even in the natural hair community, there is still some discrimination. I became a part of the natural hair community (well honestly, do you really become a part of this or finally choose to embrace that you are a part of it?) to learn to take care of and accept my kinks and coils. So it baffled me how women and men who claim to be conscious of the Eurocentric standards of hair-beauty and grooming that have been imposed on us still subscribe to the notion that curly 4a hair is the “good hair.”
Let’s look at braid outs and twist outs. Why is it that hairstyles that change our curl pattern to a 4a or maybe 3c are more attractive than an afro hairstyle (I’m talking Erykah Badu and Lupita Nyong’o looking afros). Just google the most notable natural hair icons and you will find that more than half of the ladies on that list will have extremely loose curl patterns. This is not meant to knock my beautiful 3a to 4b haired sistas and brothers, but to tell us to WAKE UP and realize that the purpose of the natural hair movement, which was originally meant to provide us black folk with information on how to take care of and love our hair, is turning into a trivialized battle of the curl-patterns fiasco.Would men be able to handle childbirth better than women?
Finally, and this may not be as a direct fault of the Natural Hair Movement, my last qualm is the spawn of ridiculously expensive quasi organic hair care products. Now I am all for proper organic hair products and I am very willing to spend those extra shillings on some sulphate-free shampoo. Organic products are hard to make so we understand the price tag. However, my problem is with those products that claim to have ingredients like argan oil and aloevera that will ‘restore your mane’s fullness and shine.” If you look at that product’s ingredient list, your argan oil will be number 22 after some chemicals you can’t even pronounce. The basic rule of thumb is that the first 5 ingredients are the most active, and they are usually arranged in order of quantity. So that moisturizer that claims to have argan oil is basically a bunch of chemicals with a few microlitres of the actual beneficial stuff. You are literally being scammed out of your money to pay more for the same old products you’ve been using all these years in the name of “going natural.” I personally continue to use my sulphate shampoos and my kawaida alison’s olive oil and I’ve successfully grown my hair past collar-bone length in two years.
I’d just like to make it clear that I am in no way bashing the Natural Hair Movement, and like I said earlier, we have a bittersweet relationship. I still watch videos on YouTube and follow some note-worthy blogs. I’m just here to tell the newbies that it’s not what it used to be and although you will definitely find a lot of useful tips on there, you need to take everything with a grain of salt. You don’t rock a twist-out to have a nice looking ‘fro, you don’t need lay your edges, you don’t need to buy the latest “organic” hair products that a YouTuber recommends. Do what works for your hair, your lifestyle and your budget. Above all else, remember that no matter your curl pattern, your hair is beautiful.
**Kenyan Mwananchi is a second year University student and avid blogger at wondalandavenue.blogspot.com