Au Naturale: Exploring Natural Hair
What is going natural? Refusing to shave your legs and underarms; not wearing deodorant or makeup. Living a healthy, alternative, and environmentally safe lifestyle; akin with exercise, green products, and solar paneling. Throwing out all your electronics and material possessions and returning back to nature. Vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free dieting; only eating food that doesn’t contain high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors/dyes/colors,, and MSG.. No, not exactly.
The term going natural, is the reemergence and popularity of a lifestyle trend in the black/ women of color community. It means stopping and refraining from hair practices such as straightening and perming/relaxing your hair. It also means returning back and embracing your natural hair texture. Meaning hair in its natural state, before the perms, relaxers, wigs, weaves, hair pieces, flat-irons, texturizers and all the other complicated techniques many women of color practice.
A Long Tradition of Natural Hair
The concept isn’t new; let’s take a step back in history. During the 1970s Black Power movement, I’m Black and I’m Proud with the legions of Black women and men rocked fierce Afros. Well strip away most of the strong political connotation and speech and pretty much you have a naturalista; a community of women of color who dares to explore unfamiliar territory.
Returning to Your Roots: Why Go Natural?
Why do women of color go natural? There are a lot of reasons, the most being;
Damage: From Perm/Relaxers, Heat:
Black/Afro textured hair is unique because it’s a shape shifter. It can be straight or curly, depending on what you do to it. Straight styles are often achieved through unnatural methods, such as perms/relaxers/flat irons/blow-dryers/excessive heat. If abused this in can lead to dry, uneven, weak hair strands damaged by heat, harsh chemicals and/or lack of moisture. You must also know that naturally black/Afro textured hair is an array of tight coils and curls that are very sensitive, dry and in need of constant and consistent moisture. So these styling practices are often detrimental to the very nature of natural hair. This damage can be irreversible. So women have an option to go natural or continue the downward spiral of damage. Some choose the natural root.
Time for a Change/ Upgrade in Style:
Pregnancy and college are all common life stages that all signify change; so what a perfect time to make a change and start anew; than with hair. As you know with pregnancy comes restrictions, you can’t eat fish, smoke or drink alcohol when you pregnant. The same can be said with relaxing/perming your hair. The harsh chemicals in your hair can be potentially dangerous for your unborn baby and its development. So some mothers-to-be op-out of relaxing and perming and in the process discovers and come to love their natural hair textures.
College is also a different time in a young adult’s life. More than likely the college student is away from home, stressed, broke and with no time to spare. College is expensive and constantly perming/relaxing your hair can get expensive and tiresome especially if you’re away in college and don’t know your area well enough to explore and find a salon that can do your hair right and is budget friendly.
Curiosity didn’t always kill the cat. Many women of color never remember or knew what their natural hair texture is like because they got perms when they were really young. What better way to satisfy this curiosity than to go natural and discover this?
Whether a journey of self discovery, a quiet protest or a refusal to live up to society’s unhealthy and unrealistic expectations of beauty and embracing natural beauty. There are many reasons why a woman decides to go natural.
How Can You “Go” Natural?
Going natural is just as it sounds; meaning refraining from using products or techniques, meant to change your hair texture indefinitely. Natural hair doesn’t just fall in the Afro-textured community, legions of biracial, multi-racial, multiethnic, naturally curly haired individuals of all races, genders and ethnicities have taken it upon themselves to embrace their natural hair. There is a whole community and support system out there. Going natural is meant to celebrate the diversity of beauty, and is part of a bigger lifestyle meant to promote and encourage healthy self esteem and confidence.