Saturday, January 11, 2014

Hair Texture Still Matters

By Briana Whiteside

Whether it be weaved, braided, relaxed, twisted, locked, or cut short, we are inclined to think about the complexity of our hair. With natural hair, that complexity persists as well.

New naturals spend countless hours on hair sites trying to predict if their hair would be categorized as 3a/ 3b/or 4a. They wish that could pull off the wash ‘n gos, or twist outs that some of the natural vets can. Yet, when making the decision to go natural, we experience hair texture changes, months of tightly coiled or curled hair that doesn’t seem to be growing, and we secretly wish for the days when our hair just looks “acceptable.”

I’ve noticed that naturals develop curl envy for different curl patterns. For instance, if a natural has tightly coiled hair, she might covet the looser curl pattern of another natural woman. As a result, in most cases, curl envy exposes larger insecurities about one’s hair and her appearance.

Another example of curl envy is wrapped in the form of an initial compliment that then turns into a conversation of how “I wish my hair did that!” While it is true that naturals encourage one another to keep going on their hair journey, it is also true that we wish for “better” more manageable textures of hair. This is not an overgeneralization but a reality for some natural women who do not view their hair as “good hair.”

Hair insecurities do not stop at the big chop, and we should not be naïve to believe that once one goes natural we are done with stereotypical views of appearance. The journey continues. We must think more critically of the implications of natural hair and work to develop more strategies for embracing varieties of hair texture.

Briana Whiteside is a graduate student in English at SIUE and a contributing writer for the Cultural Front.   

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