Natural Hair: Fad, Trend or Movement?

Have you seen the September issue of O magazine? Oprah is wearing her hair natural, and boy is she rocking it!

With all the talk about natural hair, one of the most important questions that come to this: Is wearing natural hair a Fad, Trend or Movement? Well by definition, a fad is a “temporary” fashion, notion, or manner of conduct followed enthusiastically by a group. Clearly the longevity of the popularity of natural hair has exceeded the term of a fad.

A trend is often referred to as something that is stylish. It can refer to the latest in fashion, or something that is in vogue.  Two traits are common for those who are trendsetters; first, they are bold enough to be different, and second, they are confident enough to sport the trend and make others imitate their actions. There is no question that wearing natural hair is trendy. I can cite countless instances when a woman with a “twist out” walked in a room and turned every head. However, the initial concern of the natural hair movement was if it would be accepted by mainstream America. A person wearing natural hair was considered to be defiant, and refusing to conform to “social norms.” Despite this, confident and bold Naturalistas continued to press forward and found ways to make being natural more and more desirable. In the 90’s Lauren Hill and a few other trend-setting entertainers burst on the scene and introduced new ideas for Black beauty.  These days, natural hair is rocked everywhere – from the boardrooms of corporate America, to the catwalks of storied fashion houses, to the red carpet of the Oscars – and even on the cover of O magazine by Oprah! Now, instead of being viewed as militant, Naturalistas are seen as fierce Fashionistas.

So, is wearing natural hair a movement? Well, let’s take a look. By definition, a movement involves the actions of a larger group that focuses on political or social issues. A movement will always make a social change. The forerunners of the natural hair movement took on the issues of self-love and inner beauty, which ultimately lead to outward expressions. Even as wearing natural hair became more popular, one was still hard pressed to find major manufacturers making hair products specifically designed for natural hair. Many companies scoffed at the idea, thinking it wasn’t worth the investment because for so long, relaxers had been the strength of most companies. With major manufacturers’ refusal to address those needs, we saw the rise of entrepreneurial companies like Miss Jessie’s, Kinky Curly, Mixed Chicks, and others that dared to take on the challenge and make the investment. Now, the pendulum has shifted, and for the last five years the same companies that refused to cater to the needs of Naturalistas reported a steady decline in the sale of relaxers.  This has resulted in many companies now creating product lines specifically geared towards natural hair care needs. Additionally, wearing natural hair is now so prevalent that cosmetology boards in some states have even adjusted their licensing requirements for those desiring to become natural hair specialists.

As a licensed hair stylist, I believe it is safe to say that wearing natural hair has indeed progressed to a movement. For those who ask, “How long will it last?” my response is that I believe the movement is here to stay. I’m happy to say that I am most proud of the fact that the natural hair movement has women more conscious of what they put on their hair, and instilled in them a vested interest in how to take care of it. As a stylist, my biggest joys come when women have the freedom to express their inner beauty – and when women have a more informed approach to owning their own beauty. Natural hair rocks!





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