Do you remember a while back when Solange Knowles broke the internet with her wedding pictures? It wasn’t the white dress and cape that caught almost every black woman’s attention, it was her beautiful halo of unprocessed natural hair –a veritable sponge cake of afro textured deliciousness – and we ate it up, didn’t we?
Of course, the natural hair revolution had been happening for some time before Solange’s big day, but it was this moment that some of us will remember as the trigger, the moment that gave us the extra push we needed to ‘big chop’ and rid ourselves of that over-processed hair.
It is still so very rare to see black celebrities sporting their natural hair. So rare in fact, that when actress Viola Davis took off her wig to reveal a TWA (teeny weeny afro) firstly at the Oscars, then again more recently in the hit series ‘How to get away with murder’, it actually made the news. WTF?
I often question whether we as black women should care what other black women decide to do with their hair…whether on screen or off, on their big day or just nipping out to Asda.
The truth is, I do.
There is a long and complicated history of black women being told by society that their natural kinky hair is unprofessional, messy and even ugly. There have even been cases where companies and schools have had regulations against natural afro hairstyles. I truly believe this has had a negative impact on how we view ourselves and others and I am glad that it seems to be taking a kicking.
Thankfully, the lack of positive representation has birthed a natural hair revolution, and I am witness to it everyday. What’s more, it is gaining momentum online. 2014 was a significant year for the online ‘natural hair community’, with many women sharing their hair nurturing advice online to encourage others to do the same. From 2015 and now 2016 this has grown exponentially, as ever more black women upload content promoting the beauty of their natural hair and shunning the use of chemical relaxers. #teamnatural.
Disclaimer: I have nothing against relaxers and weaves, my issue is with how much black women are ‘encouraged’ to go down this route, often by people who are neither female nor have afro textured hair.
Things are changing, as from Youtube, to Pinterest to Instagram, there really is a wealth of advanced information being shared – many black women are now measuring the curl structure of their hair against a strictly followed grading system (just Google 3a-4c), so that they can find specifically tailored hair advice on anything from products, to styles, to what to wear to bed to protect their hair.
Those who started and are continuing those conversations include superstar Youtubers like Taren Guy, Jouelzy, Hey Fran Hey, Mahogany Curls, Naptural85 and Breanna Rutter (to name a few) and they receive hundreds of thousands of views – influencing women of colour around the world.
…And this can only be a good thing.
There was a time when black women sharing such in-depth information (with real life demonstrations) on how to tend to natural afro hair, was confined to mother daughter, sibling or girlfriend to girlfriend discussions and were kept in the salon or behind closed doors. Now, it is out there for all to see.
What the online natural hair community must be praised for is teaching and reinforcing that afro hair is varied, beautiful and deserves airtime, discussion, analysis and nurturing. This new and passionate focus on the particulars of natural afro hair has started a real discussion – both online and off. A discussion that is forcing us to look at ourselves in the mirror and see our hair and our bodies as they really are – beautiful.
A huge step in the right direction.
Our list of top natural hair bloggers and vloggers, 3a to 4c!
Mahogany Curls / My Natural Sisters / My Hair Crush / Donedo / Afrobella / Jouelzy / Hey Fran Hey / Mahogany Curls / Naptural85 / Breanna Rutter / Taren Guy