What I absolutely love most about being natural and about all of the men and women within this "community" are the various textures of hair we have. From kinky to curly to lose curly and tight coils, our hair is so dynamic and powerful. In recent years there's even been a hair texture "system" created to help us identify the best products for our particular strand framework: types 1, 2 and 3 with sub-textures in those categories.
The depth of diversity in our hair is astounding. While all ethnic cultures seemingly have physical variations among their people, none are as vivid and obvious as ours. From complexion to hair, our differences are what make us unique—and unified at the same time.
However, I can’t help but notice that lately, there has been more talk about the quality of natural hair, than natural hair itself. By quality I don't mean healthy vs unhealthy. Yes, here we are again, it seems, facing a battle we know all too well. Cue Spike Lee's vintage film School Daze, "good" versus “bad” natural hair. That may have been 25 years ago, but there is a certainly a conversation today we can’t pretend isn’t still happening.
I’ve really started to question whether or not we really accept all natural hair textures. Besides contemporary mainstream America (read: White) feeling uncomfortable with our natural hair, there is also a trace in the air of many Blacks only aspiring to certain types of natural hair textures, styles and looks. Why do we favor certain natural hair textures and styles over others? And more specifically, are Black women being influenced, on the low, to strive for a particular curl pattern when returning back to their roots?
Are women with looser curl patterns and longer hair favored over those with kinkier curl patterns and shorter hair? And what about locs? Are they a part of this conversation, too?
While I’m all for creating systems to help us understand our curl patterns easier, I’m against any hierarchies and stereotypes placed on various categories. For some reason society has suggested that the less coarse the hair, the more beautiful—but they couldn’t be more wrong. And that isn’t to say that the more coarse the hair, the better, either.
Comedian and actor Chris Rock made an attempt to address our hair issues in his 2009 documentary, Good Hair and while it was absolutely hilarious, it definitely had some deeper meanings and truths. He was dealing primarily with relaxed hair and weaves, though, not the stigma in the natural hair community..
If in our culture, we are ever suggesting that hair with a less coarse texture is “desired” or “approved," we are overlooking the point of being natural in the first place. Coarse, kinky, curly, coiled…it’s all beautiful. Let’s do ourselves a favor and let go of the good vs. bad hair competition. What matters most is the upkeep and maintenance of any hair texture.
LaParis is a freelance beauty writer from St. Louis currently residing in Brooklyn, New York. She is also the creator of the blog tailoredsilhouette.com