A Response to ‘#TeamNatural?’

Image Courtesy of Ariel

Image Courtesy of Arie L.

The day I decided to go natural, it was strictly about my health. At the time, I had a discolored shade of blonde that was created in the sink of a sketchy hair salon. The thickness of my hair, that I grew to appreciate by the time I hit 18, was no longer thick because of the continued unhealthy manipulation of my hair. My diet did not help either. Once I did the “big chop” and began rocking my TWA (teeny weeny afro), I started to question why I was transitioning to natural. Was it strictly about my health and growth, or was it something deeper?

Not only did I realize that there was something powerful in owning my natural blackness; the idea of being myself was so freeing. When I say, “being myself,” I mean being able to participate in activities that make me happy such as, swimming and working out. When I had a relaxer, it was draining to constantly worry about my hair and stopping myself from doing things that brought me happiness.

At the beginning of my natural hair journey, I was attending an HBCU, so it was amazing to see all these beautiful Black women and men own their natural Black beauty. This is not to say that those who choose to relax their hair do not own their Black beauty. One of the issues with this mentality of natural versus relaxers is that the hair choices that Black women make should not be dependent upon what they think is right or better. Choosing to be natural is not equivalent to joining a cult. It is equivalent to empowerment, cherishing the skin you are in, and choosing to feel beautiful regardless of what society says or thinks. There is nothing wrong with relaxers when it is solely based on what makes the individual happy and not based on the internalized racism that some perpetuate within themselves and others. Whether you are natural, relaxed, dreadlocked up, or weaved out, it is all about how a woman feels on the inside, which then projects itself on the outside.

At the end of the day, the “rules” for Black hair care on both ends of the spectrum and the opinions of others should not dictate your own personal decision to go natural or remain relaxed. You do not owe anyone an explanation for your appearance.

This is in response to previous post, #TeamNatural?

By Shannon Smith, follow her on twitter

Masters Candidate in Media Studies at The New School for Public Engagement

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3 Comments

  1. Kimberly Walcott

     /  March 31, 2015

    I love all things natural hair. I find it really interesting when people question my hair choice, especially in the work place. As a black woman working in the corporate arena you can only guess the type of questions that came flying my way when I pranced into my office six years ago with my shoulder length permed hair cut down to a mini cesar. Most of the surprise came from the blond hair blue eyed women in the office. And they were some of the most ignorant questions (are you sick, did you have an allergic reaction to something)? They just could not fathom that I would ever embrace my natural hair. The best part of my natural journey like Smith’s was my ability to enjoy all of the wonderful sports and activities without worrying about my perm suffering. Freedom is the best way to describe it.

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  2. Shari

     /  March 31, 2015

    I decided to join #TeamNatural about 8 years ago. In my experience I was away at school and not taking the best care of my relaxed hair and became tired of straightening and styling it, along with the financial commitment for upkeep. Although I felt that perming my hair was a burden for me, I continued to do it because I was told that was the only way for me to have straight hair. I also felt like it was the only option, I was socialized to think that my hair had to be pin straight and long and flowing to be beautiful.

    It was not until a friend of mine was over and was watching me do my hair and said, “why do you keep straightening your hair? Your personality fits more with curly free hair.” And with those few words, I started delving into more natural styles and eventually stopped straightening my hair all together. It has been a very freeing process to let go of all the upkeep and ideals of what my hair should look like and embrace it in its most natural state. I found myself owning my curly hair and feeling more confident and self aware on #TeamNatural. I also learned that I never needed a relaxer to have straight hair when I wanted it, a flat iron and blow dryer could do the trick …which lead me to feel like I was being lied to for so many years prior.

    I am so happy with my decision, but it is really a choice that is personal. I think that which ever team you want to join is perfect as long as you feel your personal best and beautiful!

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  1. #TeamNatural? | The Progress

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