Only Certain People Should Go Natural…?

I naturally have that so called ‘hard’ kind of hair.

Many people who meet me, don’t believe me and it almost becomes a contest to determine who has ‘harder’ hair. I can forgive them because before I went natural, I believed that my hair was the so called ‘ugly’ kind of natural hair that no one wants….praying that what sprouts from my scalp will be curly and springy strands only for them to… not be.

I watched a video by a reader of mine and she said something very
interesting. To paraphrase, she said that before she went natural, many
people discouraged her because apparently “only certain people should go
natural”
and she wasn’t one of those people who should because of her hair texture. (NB dear My Fro & I reader, please re-send me the link to
your vid so everyone can watch!)

And a lil while later, read this article: Making My Natural Hair Look Acceptable Takes Up an Obscene Amount of My Time

OMG!
I had to laugh at the part ‘Even at 5.a.m., my vanity gave me the
strength to stand in that bathroom and twist my hair for an hour before
going back to bed’. That was something I’d do!! As soon as I read that article, I had a montage of flashbacks to when I’d rock
up to work or a social gathering with my shrunken, unstyled fro and how
people would look at me quizzically and ask (in secret or aloud) “What
happened to your hair?”, “Did you cut it?” “You look…different”. From the increased
compliments when I wear a twist out, or when my hair outgrew the TWA
stage, it seems that we think certain textures are more attractive than
others and if our hair doesn’t naturally look like that texture, we
break our backs to conform to it – which is quite the contradiction
considering many naturals go natural so as not to conform to another
beauty ideal. Hmm.

If I wash my hair and do nothing to it, my hair looks like this:

Approx. 6 months after the BC

 
…and
feels like crap. It’s dry, it’s hard and an absolute nightmare to pull a
comb through. Tell me that’s not ‘hard-looking’ hair. But here’s the
thing: so what if it is? Why can’t I love my hair as it is? Why did I think only one kind of natural was beautiful,
funky, sexy? Many people didn’t used to see me with my hair as is. And many of you are used to seeing Fro like this:

 


And I get so many compliments when my hair is stretched. But really though why is the above more ‘acceptable’ and revered than below?


6 months post BC


I no longer believe that if your hair looks like this, it’s not attractive, but many people would probably think that or say something along those lines either explicitly or implicitly. I know because I’m experiencing this reaction more now that I choose to wear my hair unstretched and unstyled more often. I used to personally prefer to always style my hair in a stretched state purely for aesthetic reasons but now I
also see it’s actually better for my hair too. If I don’t stretch it,
it knots on itself like crazy and makes it impossible (not to mention
painful) to detangle. If my hair was ‘manageable’ without me having to
do twist outs etc to stretch it in order to make it more manageable,
would I still do the twists? 
 
Tseli mailed me her hair story and her the end of her long search for the prefect curls:

“What I didn’t realise was that their hair is not my hair – nor will
it ever be. ‘Natural’ is not an all-encompassing type or texture, it’s a
state of being. Like being happy: what works for some, won’t work for
others. I thought maybe it was because I couldn’t get the same products here
in SA that those US chicks used – but after discovering you (and a 4C
youtuber called Jouelzy) I realised that it was far simpler than that –
their hair is just not my hair, that’s all.”

I responded: And yes, African hair, as ‘stubborn’ as it some of it can be is beyond beautiful. I’m
glad you’ve let go of the search for the ‘perfect’ curls and accepted
your hair for what it is. It’s a battle many of us don’t ever win.

I’m glad to say that I now no longer think there’s such a thing as only people with a certain hair type or curl type should go natural. If it’s loved, it’s beautiful. Now, I think that the only people who should go natural are those willing to learn how to care for it.

Behold, my hair in all its shrunken, hard, unmanageable and not-as-funky-as-the-streched-out-fro glory!

This is for all the women who believe their hair isn’t ‘beautiful’ enough or isn’t the ‘right’ curl pattern to go natural.

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32 Comments

  1. June 11, 2014 / 4:06 pm

    aisha i m really inspired how u wear your hair even in her tweenie stage.

  2. March 4, 2014 / 9:57 am

    I have exactly the same type of hair. Combing it is a nightmare. So hard and coarsely packed. U can't make it any softer. Have been natural for a year now. I prefer doing braids so as not to deal with my hair everyday. Can a perm damage the natural hair journey? What can I do to make it manageable and soft? Am at a verge of tears lol….

    • June 26, 2014 / 5:10 am

      If you perm your hair you're no longer natural. Have you tried stretching it? Or only combing it whilst damp with some conditioner? Finger detangle first before running a comb through it. Begin combing at the bottom of the hair shaft and work upwards. Find some more tips on the Newbie Natural page.

  3. March 3, 2014 / 4:23 pm

    Oh wow this is exactly my hair,shaved the whole thing off June 2013 & iv been trying to figure out what to do with it as its really thick and hard as well.Ild try the look no extensions/no stretching and let y,all know how it turns out!.*sigh*.

    • June 26, 2014 / 5:08 am

      My 'hardness' is overcome with using products that suit my hair, keep it moisturised and keeping it stretched as often as possible.

  4. March 2, 2014 / 2:35 pm

    I'm at the almost 9 months post big chop and this week I just realized that wearing wash and gos are not for me, not because I don't like my hair and how it looks but because of how matted it becomes and detangling is a chore. Of course we all know that knots can lead to breakage and split ends so, even though I've enjoyed wash and gos now its time for twist outs and bantu knot outs. I have accepted my hair texture for what it is, I have yet to achieve a bantu knot out or twist out which is defined but that is absolutely fine. So for me its not about the look but more so for manageability.
    Dee
    Ms Dee Kay

    • June 26, 2014 / 5:06 am

      Ditto. And it's the same with me. I'm just glad now that I know the reason why I don't do wash and go's or leavign my hair shrunken is because of knots – not because of vanity/insecurity about how my hair looks.

  5. February 26, 2014 / 4:24 pm

    I too was told the same when I told my Family that I don't want to relax my hair anymore. I was told only Caribbeans can keep natural hair and now that my hair is long, i get compliments. It's not that people don't like the shrunken look, its just that they like the longer hair better. Lots of naturals say they get compliments with their longer hair than when it was in a TWA. I use to wear shrunken looks when my hair was a bit shorter, but it's too much work detangling if i ever dare do that.
    themanecaptain.blogspot.ca

    • June 26, 2014 / 5:05 am

      Yup! That's another post – the longer/bigger fro vs the shorter fro.

    • Anonymous
      October 21, 2015 / 5:52 pm

      Caribbean person here. That is very funny what you said. Black caribbean girls get told many other things depending on their family situation or where they are located: only for mixed people, deeply religious girls, natural hair is for kids, you're not African, your hair is too tough, you are too dark, it does not look good and bla bla bla.

  6. Anonymous
    February 25, 2014 / 2:22 am

    if you figure out how to bribe the fairies to keep the knots away, please let us know 😉

  7. February 25, 2014 / 2:21 am

    if you figure out how to bribe the fairies to keep the knots away let us know

    • June 26, 2014 / 5:04 am

      Lol! Just don't sleep with your hair as is – that's the first step. No bribes needed 😉

  8. February 23, 2014 / 10:03 pm

    This is an excellent post!!! We as a people are constantly conforming to other's ideas of 'pretty'. I struggle with this myself but I really love your outlook and your looks great regardless! Thanks so much for the inspiration 🙂

    • June 26, 2014 / 5:03 am

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂 As a woman, it's hard not to contemplate conforming. The pressure is around us everywhere!

  9. February 23, 2014 / 8:12 am

    Asante for posting this Aisha! I've always been bothered by how there seems to be an obsession with "loosening your curls" for women with kinkier strands. I've got nothing against twist-outs, braid-outs, etc (I actually love them!) but I feel that if we're truly embracing our hair then that should include rocking it in its completely natural, shrunken, nappy state – that too is beautiful!

    • June 26, 2014 / 5:02 am

      Exactly! Tangles and breakage aside, we should be rocking our shrunken fros proudly – and when we can!

  10. Heather Katsonga-Woodward
    February 21, 2014 / 4:16 pm

    I thought you were going to agree with the statement "Only Certain People Should Go Natural…?" and I felt disappointed.

    I totally agree with what you say, well said! I too love hair in all its various types and forms 🙂

    • June 26, 2014 / 5:01 am

      Thanks Heather! I could never agree with that statement – it would mean I don't love my hair!

  11. February 19, 2014 / 11:24 pm

    This is a GREAT post. I always say, we are our worst enemies. Let's stop the battles and accept who and how God made us.

    • June 26, 2014 / 5:01 am

      Thanks for the comment:)

  12. Anonymous
    February 18, 2014 / 8:14 pm

    Very interesting post. I personally lack time and I am not good or too lazy for making small breading or twisting in the evenings. However, I enjoy my 4 c natural hair most of the time as you have your's in the last picture of the post. I receive compliments most of the time from European people but criticisim from mostly my family members. Thanks to God I like my hair the way it is and the way I wear it. I can't do more for the time being. The issue is not only those going natural it's also people they have to face. I have always been strong enough not to listen to negative comments on my hair but some are quite strong and disappointing, believe me.

    • June 26, 2014 / 5:00 am

      Oh I believe you, because I still experience it to this day. People always expect to see me with a certain type of hair style then when I rock up to work/social gathering with it looking more natural than a twist out it's like "huh…you didn't do your hair today…"

  13. February 17, 2014 / 4:06 pm

    Great post. Reminds me of this video Chary Jay video uploaded yesterday of her "Naked Hair".
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJKhaz5ON2o
    I am going to read the article you linked above, it sounds interesting. You and your hair are beautiful, stretched or unstretched. I agree with you that stretched hair is easier to manage but non-stretched hair is still beautiful.

    • June 26, 2014 / 4:58 am

      Thank you 🙂 I'll also have a watch of the vid

  14. February 17, 2014 / 3:17 pm

    Amazingly, I also went through the state, spent and entire year twisting and braiding out my hair, trying to stretch it. Then one day, I just didn't; and fell in love with my hair when its shrunken,kinky,coily and only 5cm long 🙂

    • June 26, 2014 / 4:58 am

      It's awesome that we can swap and change 'lengths' and looks when we want. I think that's so cool.

  15. February 17, 2014 / 11:57 am

    what do you mean "not as funky"??? i personally love shrunken hair and i've learned how to manage my hair so it doesn't break off or know so much even when i let it shrink to the max. natural is for everyone and the idea that it isn't is baffling to me because ultimately what is being said is that "whoever or whatever created us" made a mistake and i cannot accept that fact.

    • June 26, 2014 / 4:57 am

      No mistakes made here!

  16. February 17, 2014 / 6:28 am

    oh you spoke for me here. i'm sharing this post on my blog and on all other social networks. people need to know that my going natuaral is not for them but for me.
    loving my hard,stubborn hair even more. thank you

    xoxo!!

    • June 26, 2014 / 4:56 am

      Thanks Vhutali 🙂

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