Natural Hair IS 'Good Hair'

Natural Hair IS 'Good Hair'

Deconstruct the stigma against natural texture.
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My eighth birthday marks my earliest memory of straightening my hair. I dreaded the routine; having waist-length hair gave no aid to the seemingly endless process of hot tools being held to my roots and dragged downward, steam rising from my scalp. Burnt ears, brittle ends, and complaints of tangles and frizz were trademarked experiences. However unfavorable, the process never failed to elicit: “Your hair looks so nice like this! You should wear it that way more often.”

From age eight onward, I tried to. A majority of the people in my life are certain that my hair is straight and have never believed it to appear otherwise. I have worked diligently to maintain that popular understanding. I’ve invested in expensive titanium tools, smoothing shampoos, and the like. The girl with curly hair is not one that many know to exist.

It took me years to understand the power of the words I heard at age eight. This inherent preference for straight, sleek hair is one that women have obsessed over for centuries. Hair discrimination is largely systematized, and permits that women who wear their natural curls be disadvantaged in schools, the workplace, and other social settings. Black women have experienced the most negative societal repercussions for wearing their hair natural. The “Good Hair Study” implements a Hair Implicit Association Test to measure the implications of the term “Good Hair.” Overwhelmingly, findings indicate that “good” denotes smoothness and silkiness, and abides by normalized European beauty standards. They note that “while the ‘good hair’ standard has historical roots, it is perpetuated by pervasive cultural messages that idealize this vision of hair and offer treatments or products to achieve it.”

My experience is not comparable to theirs. As the study states, “women of other races and ethnicities who have curly or textured hair may experience pressure to conform to these beauty standards; but black women, in a sense, are often pitted against them.”

There is, however, a remarkably evident generational difference in hair perception. Recent years have seen the rise of ‘naturalistas’: women who spearhead a movement towards acceptance and normalization of natural hair in society. Per the study, “79% of black millennial (under age 30) naturalistas currently wear their hair in a natural style.” In addition, “millennial naturalistas have more positive attitudes toward textured hair than all other women.”

In conversation with peers that now proudly wear and celebrate their textured hair, the impact of those millennial naturalistas is undeniable.

One student recalls: “I was seeing a new image of black women across all kinds of media, and all those women wore their hair naturally. The natural hair movement was far reaching, especially on the internet...I was sick of not being myself. I wanted to finally accept myself in ways that I hadn't before. Growing up, black girls are often told that their hair was not ‘good hair’...So basically at 17 I was like f*ck that shit and stopped chemically straightening my hair.”

Another, who was raised natural states: “My grandmother didn’t know how to take proper care of my mother’s hair when she was growing up and a lot of the braiding techniques she’d do would put such strain on my mother’s hairline that her edges started breaking. She started doing her own hair in her teens, but perms were so popular at the time, that she gave in and went along with the trend, only to regret it years later. So she raised us natural, so that our hair wouldn’t end up like hers did.”

To those considering going natural, they say:

1. Be patient- your hair may not be flourishing right away, give it time. Rome wasn't built in a day.

2. Love your texture. Most of the time, girls who are going natural haven't seen their true hair texture in over ten years. When you're able to feel it and touch it and comb it, you're gonna love it.

3. For healthy, long natural hair, you must go fully natural. Forgo products with harsh chemicals in the labels (i.e. ones with silicones, parabens, etc.) Stick to products made specifically for natural hair.

On the hardest things about going natural:

“Don't get me wrong, I love my hair, but it's high maintenance. It requires a lot of care and sometimes I get lazy. My hair was far more manageable when it was straight, but I'd rather trade manageability for healthy hair.”

Furthermore, “the hardest thing for many is that it is very time-consuming. To take care of your hair, you must be gentle with it.”

Finally, on the topic of gaining the confidence to wear natural hair:

“Don’t be afraid to take on the challenge. It won’t be easy, and a lot of the time, you may feel like you’ve been working hard on your hair for so long and aren’t seeing any results. The journey to healthy hair is tough, but it is so worth it in the end.” Additionally, “people will not like it and that's okay- some of those people will be your own family. They may even say ‘your hair looked so much better straight.’ Ignore them and carry on.”

Their words are resonant with anyone fearful of going natural, in the process of it, or advocating for it. Though my own acceptance of my hair has yet to come, it is refreshing to see the transformative shift in attitudes towards natural hair, and the movement that accompanies it.

Natural hair IS good hair.

Cover Image Credit: Samantha Sophia / Unsplash

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20 Small Tattoos With Big Meanings

Tattoos with meaning you can't deny.
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It's tough to find perfect tattoos with meaning.

You probably want something permanent on your body to mean something deeply, but how do you choose a tattoo that will still be significant in 5, 10, 15, or 50 years? Over time, tattoos have lost much of their stigma and many people consider them a form of art, but it's still possible to get a tattoo you regret.

So here are 20 tattoos you can't go wrong with. Each tattoo has its own unique meaning, but don't blame me if you still have to deal with questions that everyone with a tattoo is tired of hearing!

SEE RELATED: "Please Stop Asking What My Tattoos Mean"

1. A semi-colon indicates a pause in a sentence but does not end. Sometimes it seems like you may have stopped, but you choose to continue on.


2. "A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor."


3. Top symbol: unclosed delta symbol which represents open to change. Bottom symbol: strategy.


4. "There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls."


5. Viking symbol meaning "create your own reality."


6.Greek symbol of Inguz: where there's a will, there's a way.

7. Psalm 18:33 "He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights."


8. 'Ohm' tattoo that represents 4 different states of consciousness and a world of illusion: waking (jagrat), dreaming (swapna), deep sleep (sushupti), transcendental state (turiya) and world of illusion (maya)


9. Alchemy: symbolizes copper, means love, balance, feminine beauty and artistic creativity.


10. The Greek word “Meraki" means to do something with soul, passion, love and creativity or to put yourself in to whatever you do.


11. Malin (Skövde, Sweden) – you have to face setbacks to be able to go forward.

12. Symbol meaning "thief" from the Hobbit. It was the rune Gandalf etched into Bilbo's door so the dwarves could find his house.


13. “Lux in tenebris" means “light in darkness."

14. Anchor Tattoo: symbolizing strength & stability, something (or someone) who holds you in place, and provides you the strength to hold on no matter how rough things get.

15."Ad Maiora" is translated literally as “Towards greater things." It is a formula of greeting used to wish more success in life, career or love.


16. A glyphs means “explore." It was meant as a reminder for me to never stop exploring.

17. "Aut inveniam viam aut faciam," meaning roughly, "Either I shall find a way, or I will make one."


18. Lotus Flower. It grows in muddy water, and it is this environment that gives forth the flower's first and most literal meaning: rising and blooming above the murk to achieve enlightenment.

19. The zen (or ensō) circle to me represents enlightenment, the universe & the strength we all have inside of us.

20. Two meanings. The moon affirms life. It looks as if it is constantly changing. Can reminds us of the inconsistency of life. It is also symbolizes the continuous circular nature of time and even karma.


SEE ALSO: Sorry That You're Offended, But I Won't Apologize For My Tattoos


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Cutting My Hair Set Me Free From More Than Just My Morning Routine

Every woman, at one point in their life, wants hair like Rapunzel. But some girls want to be like Mulan and cut it all off.

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When I was younger, I loved being told that my hair was longer than the other kids but it was such a hassle. As time went on, I started to develop a love-hate relationship with my long brown hair. I bleached it and dyed it every few months until I got tired of it. My hair got thin and my confidence went down. Cutting it all off made me realize 5 things.

1. Getting rid of that weight is such a euphoric feeling. 

Mulan

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Not all of us can be as dramatic as Mulan was but the feeling is still there. I still remember that for weeks after I cut all my hair off, I constantly ran my fingers through the hair I had left and it is such an unforgettable feeling. No tangles. It's soft. Fluffy. I even felt more empowered when I did.

2. Your hair dries in such a short amount of time. 

Ruby Rose (the most beautiful woman in the world)- Orange is the New Black

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I take a shower right before I go to bed and as soon I am back in my room, it's almost dry already. With my hair, it only takes 45 minutes to dry. When I had long hair, I would go to bed with wet hair and it was a nightmare. Right after you get out of the shower, your body naturally wants to sleep off the fatigue after you relaxed with hot water.

3. No more problems you didn't (or did) realize you hated.

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No more clogged shower drains. No more hair getting in your mouth when a light breeze hits you. It won't take forever to brush which leads to static just messing up your hair. The beauty of short hair is so buried in bad Feminist stereotypes that the beauty is right there in front of you.

4. Ever noticed that when celebrities hit rock bottom they cut their hair?

Ruby Rose in her short film Break Free

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Cutting your hair is a ceremony of sorts. Some people do it to start over and get rid of the "past." I mean just think about the 2007 Brittany Spears and 2012 Miley Cyrus, they both had to do something that would make people think different differently about them. Miley wanted to escape her pure image and Brittany was going through rehab. They cut away their past to start anew.

5. Your hair will grow back in time (if you don't like it) 

Although it is unlikely to happen, you may want your long hair back. If you just wait a few years, it will be back and along the way you can find out what length of hair is your favorite. My sister likes it long but not too long while my other sister likes it super long. I don't understand them because short hair is the best. But that option is still there, in case you don't like it (which I highly doubt).

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