#TeamNatural?

As the natural hair movement grows, Black woman of all ages are being exposed to different standards and faces of beauty. Straight and long locks are no longer the only kind images that are portrayed by major companies such as this featured photo from fashion magazine, Vogue Italia.

As the natural hair movement grows, Black woman of all ages are being exposed to different standards and faces of beauty. Straight and long locks are no longer the only popularized images. This is a featured photo from fashion magazine, Vogue Italia.

The natural hair movement advocates self-empowerment and creative expression, but is #teamnatural advancing is own set of restrictive rules and unrealistic beauty standards?

#TeamNatural or #TeamPerm? As I struggle with the state of my own hair on a day to day basis (like most other woman on the planet), I constantly find myself flip-flopping between the decision of going natural or keeping my hair processed and experimenting with the endless weave options that are available to me. When I was younger, the decision was extremely easy. I wanted straight hair that flowed in the wind, like the woman I saw on TV who I absolutely idolized. As I watched the latest episode of Xena: Warrior Princess, or Baywatch I would say to myself: “If only I could look like them.” I thought the same thing when I would brush the long and straight hair of my beautiful Barbies. It wasn’t the beauty of other African Americans that I looked up to, but the prominent European beauty that I was so heavily exposed to through media. This became my standard of beauty. I remember heading to the hair salon for the first time at twelve, ecstatic at the idea that soon I’d have the same smooth locks I’d always longed for. When the perm and straightening was finally complete, it came out exactly how I wanted…for a while at least. Soon after my appointment however, the breakage started; long locks became short locks and short locks turned into weave. Now, not even my own grandma can catch me without some sort of extensions.

So, as I struggle every morning with my hair, the natural hair movement always comes to the forefront of my mind. But, the more I think about joining #teamnatural, the more I think about the ideals and standards of the natural hair community. I think about the absolute complexity of actually having to deal with and take care of my natural hair. And the mountain of rules and things I can and can’t do stop me every time I come close to going natural.

The whole idea behind the current natural hair movement is for African American woman to let go of the European standards of beauty and to embrace our kinky, wavy, curly, natural hair. Because, that is who we are right? But, just like any fad (and yes, the natural hair movement right now can be classified as a fad), there are those who take their excitement for it to another level. Rules about staple beauty products, the right hair texture, smooth edges and the difference between casual, professional and formal hair seem to have one right answer. There are suddenly natural hair standards that are pushed onto others and that need to be adhered to if an African American woman can claim to be a true part of the natural community.

I love the idea of an African American woman being empowered by naturally being herself. But the process should be an organic one, and not one that comes with a set of rules and guidelines. We are not our hair. It’s not hair that empowers us. What will empower African American woman of today is the knowledge that we are working to change the standard of beauty so that everyone can learn to love themselves, just the way they are.

By Danielle Palmer

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3 Comments

  1. I can really identify with the sentiment of this post due to my own experiences with rocking my afro. I have been natural since 2001,but I would still get my hair straighten until 2010. I have found over the last 3yrs a sense a heightened sense of sisterhood and empowerment from seeing other Black Women who adorned their crowns with twists,cornrows, bantu knots etc. I can understand the feeling that the whole #TeamNatural could feel like a fad,but I really get the sense of power of the movement that is rising up!

    The overall message of redefining what “beauty” looks like in the face of the current images that are pushed via media everyday is the legacy I hope will stick around long after the social media world moves on from #TeamNatural. The true transformation begins inside and can’t be bound by the right products or imaginary rules of natural hair etiquette.

    Koren Martin

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  2. Kimberly Walcott

     /  March 31, 2015

    I understand the concerns regarding the natural hair movement and you are correct in that for some it is a fad. For me it was after studying what was actually in the chemicals I was putting in my hair that compelled me to stop processing my hair. While I love my natural locks and still wear braids as a protective style during the colder seasons. I do feel that as long as your are nourishing your hair and using the best products that will benefit not only your hair but your body as well, its all good. There should be no judgement although their are on whether or not someone is truly natural because its all about what makes sense to you as an individual.

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  1. A Response to ‘#TeamNatural?’ | The Progress

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