I was amazed when I saw a picture of my friend wearing a cute new pixie cut that was laid perfectly. My friend played a part of my love for Black culture and its aesthetics . So much so that shortly after meeting her I started to transition from chemically processed hair to wearing it all natural. I often wore protective hair styles such as weaves and wigs to assist in my transition. So for me to see her hair laid with the creamy crack I had to ask, “But why sway?” In coming to terms with the backwards display she shared that she first became natural in 2009 after she received a really harsh chemical burn that left the back of her head bald. She then in an attempt to grow her hair back catered to what she had left and started a 7 year journey that consisted of trying new products, twist outs, and other protective styles and regiments. She, like many women of color that embark on the natural hair journey started feeling confidant, and liberated. However, within that journey she expressed that she felt a little bamboozled.
“When I started my natural hair journey I had a goal of having this big fluffy Diana Ross, Erykah Badu fro. The types you see in movies, magazines, and hair commercials. I co-washed, did my twist outs, made my own conditioners, everything. Unfortunately, I never achieved the hair I wanted. I watched as friends did their big chops and grew these huge luxurious Afros in 6 months and here I was 4 years later looking like buckwheat with a struggle fro.”
I think what she and a lot of black women fail to realize on their journey’s is we can’t just wake up and choose what curl pattern we’re going to be. You may big chop and want this huge 4c fro but, factors such as diet, genetics, and hair care routine determines whether or not you’ll be blessed with a tiny 4B do, or 4c waves, or anything in between.
What I found interesting and worth remarking on is the fact that media and the images that are conveyed played a part in the image she had of herself and her hair. As black women we have been trained to take in these images of what “good hair” is and for the longest that was what Becky was rockin’. But, now what’s even worse is that within our own movement the media perpetuates what is “good” natural hair. We recently saw this in the f*ck up which was Shea Moisture’s commercial that was suppose to be accepting and embracing all natural hair as a woman of color but they only displayed homegirl with the long luxurious 3B curls. What about the black girls that have natural hair like Lupita Nyong'o, or Viola Davis?
As a stark contrast to this recent display in media, I had the opportunity to sit down and ask Jazmund Walker, Birmingham, Alabama’s 2016 Miss Natural Hair and Health Expo Beauty pageant winner, her thoughts on what seems to be a never ending discussion on black hair and media.
“I don't feel the media controls the image and beauty of natural hair per se. I believe the natural hair community and the individual has a huge say-so in how natural hair is represented because its been a staple in our community since the beginning of time. However, the acceptance of natural hair has not been a major staple in our community since the beginning of time to now. The media has, in some way, been influential, but the acceptance of natural hair goes much deeper than how it's portrayed in the media. It starts within. Once you release control over your journey and become accepting of your hair as it is, you'll find that your confidence in your hair builds as well as the manageability of your hair.”
For me both women made valid points. Something worth noting is my friend did not feel any more or less love for herself after she got her perm. The fact of the matter is the hair journey, as a whole, has to be your own. At the end of the day how you want to rock your crown (straight, kinky, curly, weave, locs, permed, natural, bald) is up to you. What makes you feel good, builds you up as a woman of color, and helps you love yourself, is your choice. Stay cognizant of the influences that can play a part in how you see yourself within your journey (whether that is media, friends, or the opinions of a stranger) and take it with a grain of salt when exercising your own self-determination.