Society has instilled the pursuit of perfection as a core mindset. Do you want perfect teeth? No problem, get braces. Want perfect skin? Simple, make an appointment with a dermatologist. Do you want beautiful, thick lashes? A piece of cake, in two seconds Google can bring up an aesthetician within 10 minutes of your house. Almost every aspect of our lives, when it comes to outward appearances, has a star-shaped cookie cutter outline that screams perfection. But with perfection comes forward thinkers ready and willing to challenge the boundaries set in place. For decades society has been pushing the idea that in order to reach hair perfection you had to have long, shiny, thick and above all straight locks. Although this idea was easily achieved by many, African American women put themselves through the ringer to get a taste of the good life.
Imagine sitting in a salon chair two times a month for 30 minutes while a mixture of chemicals you cannot pronounce burns away at your scalp and your curls. Imagine not letting water touch your hair for two weeks straight or wrapping your hair up every single night just to keep it looking silky smooth. These are a few of the many time-consuming methods African American women use to achieve that hair perfection. If women didn't utilize most, if not all, of these methods, their hair would be considered unruly, unprofessional and far from perfection. Yet as early as the 60s and as recent as 2014, forward-thinking women have been challenging that ideal of hair perfection. African American women have been fighting for the right to call natural afros and protective hairstyles such as box braids, Senegalese twists, crochet braid and faux dreadlocks the new standard of perfection. Taking the big chop was considered a step in the wrong direction.
Slowly but surely, embracing your natural curl and kinks has been elevated to normal hair styling. As 2016 rolled around it became clear that natural hair was more than just a fad, it was perfection goal for many African American women. With the praise of influential women like actress Zoe Kravitz for her braids, singer Zendaya for her faded buzz cut and the Queen Bee Beyonce for her natural fro, it seemed as if the stigma of natural hair has almost been wiped clean.
Yet after all this commotion and social hair change, in the process of making natural hair acceptable we have also ostracized women that still choose to chemically relax their hair. Although many relaxed hair wearers make it a point to get regular trims and moisturize frequently, naturalists claim that chemically straightening your hair is not only damaging to the health of the hair but also an indicator that you do not fully accept your race; not being able to love yourself. Yet doesn’t the notion of loving oneself and being in touch with your heritage go deeper than the co-wash we use? Whether or not you rock your curls or showcase it straight, the most important factor in hair perfection is taking pride in your lovely locks.