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Happy To Be Nappy: The Beauty Within

Natural hair has become more than a household topic of discussion. It has segued the African-American community into one of the biggest hair movements of the 21st century. The natural hair movement has caused many women to leave behind their love for relaxer and embrace its original coil as is. But with this natural hair revolution, myself and many of the brothers used to running their fingers through silky smooth tresses, have begun to question why women are running to transition from relaxed to natural? Is it simply a fad or is this more about self-empowerment? Is it possible that natural hair is causing women to redefine the definition of “beauty”? Could natural hair be the demise of the relaxed hair industry and the surge of natural hair care products? Maybe the answer is a combination of each of these thoughts. With stars like Solange becoming the spokesperson for Carol’s Daughter Natural Hair Care Products, I am excited for what this movement will bring and I support any woman in pursuit of this journey.

Jill Scott recently took the plunge and cut off her permed ends, affectionately known as “the big chop”, and happily showed off her new hairdo at her Summer Block Party concert in Washington, DC. However, when I did my big chop I was indifferent about my hair. I did the big chop after 6 months of new growth and for the first time, I questioned whether men would still find me attractive with a TWA (teeny weeny afro). I had worn my hair short before but my hair was relaxed. This new, natural hair, made my new look all the more unfamiliar.

After chopping off the familiar, permed hair, I had to take a 15 minute walk just to digest what I had done. I realized how a part of my identity as a woman was linked to my hair. Specifically as a black woman, my hair being straight and permed was the mold for what I thought was beautiful. Suddenly, my big chop made me see how women can define their beauty through their long luscious hair and if that is taken away, we can sometimes feel less than attractive, less desirable. My chop was my decision to break away from social guidelines that I was introduced to at a young age and deciding on my own how I want to present myself as a black woman. India Arie had already made this declaration in 2005 when she released “I Am Not My Hair”, and I was happy to have finally seen the light.

Joining the natural hair movement has been more than a reality check for women, but a journey of self-acceptance. I happened to be searching for empowerment on the internet from my fellow natural divas and I stumbled upon a blog entitled “Black Girl With Long Hair”. Support was necessary at this stage in the game because I needed the extra encouragement to stand by my choice. Besides, a movement wouldn’t be a movement without the support of like-minded individuals right?! So, as I continued to observe the blog I was introduced to a woman named Portia from California and began to read her interview. Her interests and reason for going natural all resonated with mine. But there’s one thing she said that truly made me burst out into tears:

“I just want to tell all of the African American women (who aren’t natural) reading my interview to stop worrying so much about going natural. It is JUST hair and I promise you that it will be beautiful and grow if you take care of it. Kinky, curly, and wavy is exactly the way God wants our hair to grow. If He didn’t, He would have made it straight.” – Portia

The revelation became all the more clear to me as to why I made the decision to go natural. It was as if this woman was speaking directly to me and every other woman that was or is in the transitioning phase. Natural hair is truly a process but it is most importantly about growth in more than one facet. Yes, there will be people who won’t understand, may make a mockery of what you look like, or simply don’t like your natural coif. But in spite of the negative backlash, a friend once told me, “The most beautiful thing about hair is that it grows.” She was right. Thank you.

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