Alexandria Carmon | Staff Writer
Natural hair is starting to become a major trend in the African American culture. More black women are transitioning from wearing relaxed hair to embracing their naturally kinky curls. For some, natural hair symbolizes the idea of self-acceptance and appreciation of African American beauty. However, others choose to stick with chemically straightened hair, mentioning that it is more convenient and easier to handle.
“It’s hard to manage, and some people may not want to wear [natural hair] because it’s not the right texture,” says Kendall Lane, a sophomore, computer science major from Bear, Delaware. “Some people’s hair is naturally full and curly, but other people’s hair might have various textures and as a result they have to style it.”
Not everyone has wet-n-go hair. Some people have to make use of flexi rods and perform braid outs to get a nice, put together style that does not require the use of heat. For a college student, it can often be stressful and inconvenient to do time-consuming twist-outs every night. On the other hand, for those who have relaxers, they are able to just wrap their hair and hop in bed.
The natural hair look has always been perceived as messy and untamed to those outside of the African American race. This can be an issue for a young African American girl growing up in a predominantly white society. Some black girls attempt to assimilate with whites by going as far as applying heat daily to their natural hair in order to mimic the straighter hair textures of European women. This leads to several problems such as low self-esteem, heat damage and hair loss once these girls realize the consequences of trying to recreate these straightened hairstyles.
However, society has formed the idea that an afro is wild and hideous, whereas straight hair is considered to be sexy and acceptable. “The girls in my middle school who were pretty and popular all had straight hair,” says Kamali Lowe, sophomore, computer science major from Brooklyn, New York, “I felt like it was a part of the culture in my neighborhood. If you wanted to be beautiful, you either wore weave or a perm. When I finally got to high school, most of the upperclassmen had natural hair, and it finally gave me the confidence to wear my natural hair.” The bottom line is, it takes time to develop the courage to do the big chop and wear you hair out without heat.
The reason that most Black people are reluctant to wear their natural hair is because they are unsure of how to style it. Although African American women have access to perms, relaxers and keratin treatments, Black males must deal with their afro. Many African American boys choose to either wear dreads, twists or keep a low haircut as a way to maintain their natural hair. Natural hair products also make managing their hair easier. “I just use olive oil and a brush on my hair. I like having waves,” said Nicholas Acors, a junior, strategic communication major from Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
It is not that our hair is not “good hair” and “hard to control,” it is that we still need to find healthy ways to maintain it. However, if African Americans do not start embracing their natural heritage, we cannot expect other races to accept us either. Once we make this happen, we can help young African Americans appreciate and define their natural curls.