I stopped chemically straightening my hair years ago – this was before the natural hair movement had taken off in the USA. I initially stopped relaxing and started texturising for a stylistic change. And then, just like that, I stopped doing that too.
It just felt natural (no pun intended); an intuitive and organic decision. And back then, not at all a popular one. But never shying away from being my own woman, I kept to it.
As the years went by, I was thrilled to see more and more black women worldwide start to embrace the natural texture of their hair.
But then….I started to notice things.
Hair We go again (yes, I’m lame!)
The ‘natural hair texture’ categorisation system came about. I combed through (I’ll stop with the puns) whatever I could find and decided that the closest I came to in the spectrum was 4c.
But apparently this hair typing system seemed to bring over some of the colourist baggage that the natural hair community had intended to leave behind.
A step that was was supposedly moving away from Euro standards of beauty to rediscover and reclaim Afro heritage, and vindicate Afro beauty, was finding it hard to let old habits die.
I have since come across numerous comments and energies that seem to denote the hair textures closer to “Euro” textures as “better” and those closer to “Afro” textures as “oh well!” You get the picture? My 4c was at the bottom of both the spectrum and the barrel.
So apparently, 4c hair is “bad”- or, “less good” because, according to some, it does not have a curl pattern. Huh? Er…it’s curls just keep curling – hence it has a beautiful COIL pattern. And there is nothing wrong with that.
But there seems to be something wrong with the fact that coily hair takes a longer time to show length than curly hair. And apparently, “long” hair is “good” and “short” hair is…”less good.”
These standards are Eurocentric, as Afro hair generally grows up and out, not down. I don’t think it makes sense to base our natural hair textures on these unnatural standards.
I personally am more about having my hair grow thicker and fuller, than longer and hanging down, anyway. But to each her own – it comes down to individual tastes and preferences.
I just don’t like that shade keeps being thrown at 4c hair, or that there are some who feel pressured for their 4c hair to be long, or are disappointed that they have this texture as they longingly (pun) behold all the other textures hanging down from ‘above’ them.
It’s also irksome when others decide, for you, that your hair is not 4c because, to them, it is going against some rule of (natural hair prejudice) thumb. Like, I don’t know – having a pattern or growing long anyway.
Afro Hair sans Euro Hair Yardstick SVP
Okay, so we wear our hair naturally now, and yet, we still seem to base and measure our worth against “white” standards. Doesn’t that go against the very heart of the re-awakening of the movement itself?
Although many natural-haired women have taken a healthy step in choosing to wear their hair as (naturally) as they please despite society’s subliminally-imposed Eurocentric hair default, we all still have a ways to go to completely heal and not have every action be placed against a white backdrop (the very last pun intended).
Pause: I don’t believe that all black women should wear their hair naturally, at all. Do you?
As long as you’re making a healthy, positive and conscious choice based on your own true individuality and not as a function of a Neocolonialist society – then more power to you; relaxed, natural and all in between.
Afro hair is the most diverse and versatile hair type in the entire world. Let’s fully embrace and celebrate this diversity, and enjoy the various expressions of our rich Afro beauty together.
Bio: Zara Chiron is a multicultural, multilingual African woman in Europe who creatively – and candidly – explores the collective ‘Afro’ Experience in writing, image and video via her website.