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Embracing natural hair, the way it grows from your head

There are some misconceptions about being natural and having natural hair. Some people think that they have to wear their hair in an afro in order for them to be considered “natural.” This is a false.  The only real requirement to being natural is to have hair that has not been chemically altered, meaning that the hair is free of harsh perms or texturizers that denature the hair follicle. There are several different types of natural hair. They range from extremely kinky hair to wavy hair.

With natural hair, like any other nature of hair, it is important to know exactly what your hair type is. This makes it easier for you to research what does and what does not work on your specific hair type. “One hair type might need a little more moisture than another hair type,” stated Brittany Henderson, president of Kinky and Curly, the natural hair club.

According to blackgirllonghair.com there are four types of natural hair. There is type 4, which is defined as being the kinkiest of them all. Within this type there are 4a and 4b. Both of these hair variations have up to 75 percent of shrinkage.

There are 3 subtypes of type 3 hair. 3a is naturally big curls and usually very shiny. 3b has smaller curls than 3a and bigger than the curls in 3c. The 3c hair type is one that was recently developed. It falls so close in between 3b and 4a no one was quite sure if it needed its own category.

Type 2 hair has 3 variations. They all, though, are considered wavy hair; the difference between the variations of type 2 hair is how easy it is to style this. 2c is more resistant to styling, 2a styles with ease and 2b is somewhere in between those definitions.

Henderson has been natural for about 2 years now. She went through a long strenuous process to get to where she is at, length-wise, now. Henderson started to go natural with a process that is called “transitioning.” This is a process where the hair is worn in protective styles allowing it to grow until “the big chop” is done.  “The big chop” is when all of the chemically processed hair is cut off; and only the natural hair is left.

Some people forgo this transition process and do their big chop when they make the commitment to go natural.

According to Henderson, “Relaxers were tearing out” her hair. She went on to say, “I had to figure something out in order to have a better…grade of hair.”

Mainstream media has millions of African Americans convinced that the only way to have manageable, beautiful hair is to have straight hair.

For example, Nicki Minaj, a famous female rapper, has made it her signature style to wear pink and blonde wigs. Even though this is a costume, this image forces her younger audience to believe there is something wrong with wearing their own hair.

Even though Nicki Minaj is used by the media to represent this bleak, misconstrued version of an African American woman, there are some women that natural hair transitioners look up to. For example, Alicia Keys is a beautiful black woman and she has natural hair.  She makes it easy for women to feel like the skin they are in is great and the hair that spouts from the tops of their heads is beautiful. She is not the only one; women like Macy Gray and Tracy Ellis-Ross also proudly rock their natural hair.

The media is forever changing. According to Ciera Hoosier, CAP Biology major, perception of natural hair has changed from “being [considered] ‘nappy’ to acceptable.” She has been natural her entire life, but she admits that she has thought about getting a perm. She confessed to feeling like this because her older sister always got them and they “looked really straight” in comparison to her hair.

Hoosier went on to say, “I feel the media portrays getting your hair permed or chemically done or even having fake hair [as socially acceptable]; they don’t show the beauty of your hair—your natural hair.” As unfortunate as this statement is, it has been true for the last decade, but now wearing your own hair has become more acceptable.

People don’t like change, which is why it came as a shock to society when women decided to wear their hair as it grows. “A lot of people think it is so radical to wear your hair, the way it grows out of your head,” according to Grace Latimore, CAP English major. Latimore is on the Kinky and Curly executive board. She confessed to being natural since she was in eighth grade. She, like a lot of other woman who wear their hair natural, went through a transitional phase where she wore protective style until she did her “big chop.”

“Once you can embrace that [having natural hair],” Latimore continued, “It changes your perception of yourself.”

The reality of this natural hair movement is that “a lot of people are not accepting of it,” said Henderson. Women need to know that someone is there supporting to them. It is a struggle for Black women across the globe. Having a support group alleviates some of the strife.

Wearing your hair natural is empowering. You do not have to compromise with society. While going natural is an optimal choice you are welcome to wear it how you want to. You can wear it curly or kinky—braided, permed or in a weave; just make sure that you love it. Going natural to many women is more than a movement, it is a lifestyle. So embrace it.

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