Natural Hair Movement
Twisted, coiled, kinky, curly, matted, tangled, and frizzy. These are some of the words used to describe African American hair in its natural state. Natural, as in the way Black hair grows, free of relaxer, free of perms, color, and free of chemicals, period. In the Black community, hair relaxers are no strangers to the scalp. Relaxers contain a chemical known as sodium hydroxide, which breaks the disulfide bonds that are responsible for the curl pattern in one’s hair. This may be ideal for a person who finds it difficult to manage curly, kinky hair that is fragile, thick, and naturally dry. In fact, many young girls who relax their hair do it not so much for aesthetic reasons, but for the fact that the relaxer softens and straightens out the kinks that can be hard or even “scary” to comb.
Moving into the 21st century, women transitioning from relaxed hair to all natural hair have become widely accepted in the Black community. Black women have started to embrace and accept their hair, caring for their tightly coiled strands while viewing YouTube tutorials and researching what hair care products help nourish our dry, brittle strands. Each person has sebaceous glands under their scalp that secrete oils that moisturize our hair. With a person who has a straighter hair texture, those oils can easily travel down the hair shaft, giving the hair strand elasticity and making it resistant to breakage. For someone with curlier hair that bends and turns at each corner, those oils have a harder time traveling down the hair shaft, making the ends of the hair dry and prone to breakage. With this information available, Black women are now learning the science of Black hair and understand the importance of adding moisture, protecting, and avoiding manipulation to our strands. There are many celebrities who have embraced their natural hair texture such as singer and actress Solange Knowles, singer and recording artist Corinne Bailey Rae, and singer Janelle Monae.
The most beautiful thing about this natural hair movement is that Black women have come to love themselves the way they are naturally, and have gained a sense of pride. Whatever way we choose to wear our hair, relaxed or natural, Black hair is beautiful.
-by Araba Apau