There was a time when big Afros were a craze in the 1960s, but this brief movement was politically motivated in the time of the Black Panther Party. Today, the natural hair movement is an extension of what was started in the 2000s.
I believe this movement is vital in today’s day and age because it’s not just about hair; the movement is about empowerment, pride, and identity.
“Let me be real,” shared a schoolmate. “Natural hair is hard; it’s a struggle. But it shows my culture and true roots. I feel like back in the day, there was an image that everybody had to uphold. [the slick back, straight hair] Now, with technology, you can embrace who you are.”
People have come to realize that hair doesn’t have to be straight to be beautiful. All types of hair, from 2a to 4c (there’s a system to categorizing each type of hair), are unique. Afro-textured hair has been stigmatized as unprofessional, ‘nappy,’ and undesirable. It’s still a struggle to wear natural hair, especially in the professional workforce, but society is definitely making progress.
It is empowering for women of color to show off their curls (or waves) after natural hair has been condemned for centuries. It’s almost like taking back our identity. People understand the important relationship between natural hair and pride.
From the “fro” to hair wraps to braids, Black women use their hairstyles as a personal expression of who they are and to show the evolution of Black culture over time, an evolution which has brought us to a time when more and more Black women are embracing the natural beauty of their own hair. — “The Connection Between Hair and Identity in Black Culture”
Styles of hair say a lot about a woman. I wear my hair down when I’m carefree, my hair in a puff on a work day, and my hair slick back for sophistication.
Natural hair also has a lot to do with pride. Many women have done a ‘Big Chop’ or cut their hair to transition from permed to natural hair. For them, it is a hair journey with many ups and downs to a final victorious end. I had several obstacles to overcome in my natural hair journey. Although my hair was never chemically damaged, I failed to take care of it throughout middle school and I had to cut it quite a few times. I had a lot of hair that I didn’t appreciate so it was always in a messy tight ponytail. I take a lot of pride in my hair now. Cutting our hair makes us appreciate it more. And like many others, my healthy hair today looks much better than it did years ago.
We should not be ashamed of our natural hair. It is our choice whether we want to perm, straighten, or leave our hair natural. Whatever style we choose, we should embrace it fully.