I have not gone natural to follow a trend or to join a movement; I am natural because I was born that way. Even more so, I did not “go natural,” I embraced the natural beauty that I had chemically altered for ten plus years.
From the time my hair was chemically altered I went unnatural. Did I chemically alter my hair to deny my blackness or to purposefully deny its “beauty?” No, I did it for the typical reasons. For one, my hair was relaxed when I was a little girl so I didn’t make the initial choice. Two, I did it for “easy maintenance.” Three, I was not exposed to any other options. I did not know anything about my natural hair. Whenever I saw my natural new growth hair that did not match my already chemically straightened hair, I thought, “OMG I need a perm!” I never gave that new growth a second thought. It was simply a mistake to be straightened out. Even if I did not consciously hold that position, that is how it was treated.
Eventually, I came across numerous women who had stripped their hair of the chemical treatments and were educating their viewers and followers on natural hair. This was a beautiful thing to see. It was as if I was exposed to a whole knew world. I then decided to stop treating my hair with chemicals and there were many pluses to that decision. There were also challenges that I am still learning to overcome simply because for more than half of my life I have not gotten to know my hair.
From my experience of being a natural haired girl I have learned a lot of things about not only my hair but also about people, about society and about the various perceptions of beauty. I have also developed a variety of questions. I have come to the conclusion that there is no reason why anyone should feel that they have to alter their natural state to be beautiful. No mistakes were made on me. God made no mistakes neither on any of my biologically inherited features nor my features as a Black girl. This is how God made me and I appreciate the way that He gifted my beauty to me.
There is nothing wrong with following the trends in beauty but I personally believe that no one should ever feel obligated to do that. Especially since some people simply do not have that option of following those trends. I believe that everyone perceives something or some features as beautiful. When we collectively endorse or encourage those beliefs through media and other outlets, that can become the standard of beauty in our society, country or even nations. There is nothing wrong with the beauty that has been represented in that standard but those standards can exclude so many people and it has.
The question that I have developed about natural hair and the Black community is why in the past have so many black women worn weave that is noticeably different from their natural texture and why did so many relax their hair? I didn’t think that in a malicious way but rather a genuine inquisition. I came to the conclusion that it was because we loved the variety that it offered (although now we realize that variety is not depended on that), the “easy maintenance”, and because it offered a plethora of ways to express oneself. I believe that those reasons are amongst the primary reasons for which Black women wear weaves.
Now, when discussing this someone will object and say “Well why only mention Black girls when White girls or Hispanic girls wear weaves too?” While this presents an important point I believe what creates a larger point is that why are Black girls wearing hair extensions that do not match the texture of their natural hair texture? The former question encourages my position that it is undeniable that the standard of beauty within this country has had a huge effect on the community of African American women as well as others and it is an effect that extends beyond hair textures to body types, skin tones and etc.
I do not mean this in a malicious way at all, but it is quite weird that some black women pay so much for hair that does not match their texture when they have beautiful hair underneath it all. It is interesting to see that women quickly disregard their beautiful hair only to embrace it after its been chemically altered. My argument is not about whether someone should chemically treat their hair or that we should no longer wear weave but rather that we must learn to accept, appreciate and embrace the beauty that comes naturally as much as we accept, appreciate and embrace the beauty that does not.
However, it is easy for me to understand why in past years Black women as a community have embraced the beauty of other races with such ease. This is because many times our beauty has not been represented or perceived as beautiful on the mainstream platform. I believe that if it were things would be very different. Again, I am not stating that women should not have the option to relax their hair or wear straight weaves but rather that we should appreciate our beauty because if we don’t, who else will? I do not believe that anyone should feel obligated to meet those standards of beauty. They are just based on opinions anyway. Find and define your own beauty.