Natural Hair Now hair styles

Reader Cierra Obioha shows off her gorgeous Type 4 hair

In recent weeks, the discussion around texture discrimination and the divide in the natural hair community has been brewing. My feelings on the topic were previously addressed in my first post for Ebony and then in a follow up video, which seemed to really hit a cord with a community of women who feel as though they’ve been largely overlooked. Response videos, blog posts and memes have been spread as women interject their own personal stories and feelings on the topic. And while I largely laid responsibility on the natural hair companies and media to better represent the diversity of natural hair, there’s been an underling murmur amongst some about the consumers’ responsibility in this situation. Should a highly texture Type 4 natural woman be watching a curly haired natural? Is it the responsibility of the viewer to watch and support those with hair textures like their own? These are questions that I saw appear in the various response videos and articles to my own video that I personally would like to address. 

I do understand where that sentiment is coming from. The people that are raising those questions are speaking to the various kinky hair typed women who haplessly fantasize about changing their own hair texture, while watching and fawning over our curly haired counterparts, leaving comments like “what products get your hair to curl?”, “what are you mixed with?”, and “I wish my hair looked liked that.” But even though we might be inclined to grab their virtual hand and lead them to the light of accepting their kinks by following similarly textured naturals, I can’t commit to calling them wrong for whom they support. People will follow and watch what they find visually appealing. We all do it on some level. Nicely edited videos, clear crisp pictures of women with bright eyes and colored lipsticks, that waist to hip ratio you wish you had, stylish outfits, perfectly angled pictures of holistic things, cappuccinos with foam hearts, common sense quips about love and how "he" just couldn’t comprehend your greatness; all of these elements play into the people you decide to follow on social media.  If we’re going to fault a kinky girl for getting joy out of watching someone with a silkier texture achieve a flat twist, then you have to cut out all the frivolity you follow, just because you like how it looks (like that not-so-smart reality star who’s face is always beat). 

 

The bigger issue with this idea is that it implies that unless someone has your exact hair texture, there’s nothing you can learn from them—and that is absolutely not true. My first natural hair tutorial was inspired by MsDanti1, a woman on the other end of the hair spectrum from my own 4C natural hair. What she showed me was technique on how to get my hair into the mushroom shape, a really simple concept that had totally evaded me. Or watching MahoganyCurls (who, compared to my naturally dry hair has curly hair that over produces sebum) use an oily product I knew she was going to hate (because I had to play some sorcery in order for it to work for me), turn out to absolutely love the product.

And that's when I had an ‘ah ha’ moment that I was using way too much. Really a light bulb went off that I was generally using too much product on my hair all the time because I had been psychologically trained that my nappy, unmanageable hair wouldn’t respond to anything other than a basketball size scoop of hair product.

In the end, technique is not something that can only be learned from people whose hair looks exactly like your own. You never know where you’ll find inspiration to try something new and step outside your comfort zone.  Even with product reviews, there are so many things that go into the DNA of your hair that someone else having the same hair texture as you is no guarantee that the product will work. Your porosity, protein sensitivity, hormones and general lifestyle will impact how your hair responds. A good product review will cover hair prep, why a product works for that person, what ingredients their hair responds well to and how they used the product, as well as other products used. That is how you deduce whether a product will work for you based on a tutorial. If you have a good understanding and realistic expectations about your own hair, you can watch and glean insight from whomever you like. 

So while it would be great if there were more awareness about the fact that us Type 4 and 4C natural hair vloggers exist, and that your hair is healthy even if it doesn’t curl, we’re not carrying on this discussion about hair discrimination because we want to further divide the community. We just to highlight the issues and offer a well-balanced perspective on the diversity of natural hair, from the curl to the kink, and encourage you to be a smart consumer who can appreciate the sisterhood of beautiful Black women. 

 

Jouelzy (www.jouelzy.com) is a YouTube vlogger who covers (4C) natural hair, culture and tech as she celebrates the diversity of smart Brown girls. You can catch up with here via Twitter (www.twitter.com/jouelzy) or YouTube (www.youtube.com/jouelzy).