I made the transition from weave queen to naturalista back in 2008. For me, my identity was tied to my hair. Back then, all of the major celebrities were rocking long, luxurious weaves and unfortunately, they helped shape my standards of beauty.
Although I loved a good sew-in, something shifted for me twelve years ago.
Long before you ordered bundles and closures, my monthly hair appointments with bi-weekly wash and maintenance was an expensive service to maintain. Hair shopping consisted of going to your local beauty supply store and purchasing packaged hair for no more than $50.00. After buying hair, paying for the install, and returning for a bi-weekly wash, I was shelling out close to $300.00 a month. For a 24-year-old on a 25K salary, I was living way beyond my means.
So the choice to ditch all that and go natural was inevitable, but it went far beyond the expensive upkeep. I realized that I would never be able to emulate the celebrities in the industry. I had to move past that standard of beauty and create one that represented and included me. Back then there were no Lupita’s with a 4C afro. Women like me quietly groomed their natural hair while wearing them in a protective style.
But there’s the good news: Times have definitely changed!
Not only are celebrities showing us what’s going on under those protective styles, but they’re also wearing their natural tresses on talk shows, red carpets, and in TV/film. Natural hair is no longer reserved for weekends home with the family. It has been fully embraced, thus reshaping beauty standards once again.
Just yesterday, Keke Palmer, Sanaa Lathan, and Lil Mama posted photos of themselves with their natural hair. Each caption spoke to the beauty of embracing your crown, which is a much-needed and important message.
On Monday (Feb. 24), Sanaa posted via Instagram, “Can’t believe it’s been 2 years since I shaved it all off. It’s been a long journey and I definitely have a new appreciation for my natural hair. BUT I do need help though. It definitely ain’t easy! Thankful I have amazing people to help me take care of it. Check out Kim Kimble’s youtube tutorial for this natural twist out style. Coming soon. ”
Also on Monday, Keke said via an Instagram post, “BLACK HISTORY MONTH!! I remember when I was a little girl in school and some of the kids would say “why is your hair so crunchy and hard”. I would come home crying to my momma and she would tell me that I had beautiful hair, yet people teased me so it was hard to believe. Then later on I’d be on the sets where none of the hairdressers knew how to do my hair.”
Adding, “I would either come with braids already done, or have to spend time in the room with the few minutes I had left to fix whatever they had done before going to film… As a little girl that was a source of anxiety for me “uh oh, the hair conversation” but as I got older the more I stopped letting others project their ignorance and confusion about my hair on to me. Just because someone else doesn’t understand it, doesn’t mean you have to own it. I am who I am and it just is what it is. ”
Lil Mama chimed in saying, “Scrolled and Thought to myself “This Girl Looks Like Me”… DeepSplit second in, I realize it is me…Embrace your natural Crowns Queens. Don’t you want to Recognize YOURSELF”
These are the posts I needed to see at the beginning of my hair journey. Messages like this brought me back to a time where I was uncertain of how to manage my hair. I relied on wigs to help me look like everyone else when the truth is, I was meant to stand out. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with rocking a protective style, it is vital for us to see the celebrities wearing their natural hair as well. While, these women aren’t the first to do it, but being vocal about your natural hair journey can only empower others to embrace their own.
We need to continue to see more of it because representation is key, but so is the acceptance and acknowledgment of our hair in its natural state. By doing so, we can also be included in conversations about the standard of beauty, which despite white acceptance, we have always been gorgeous.
Looking back at my own hair journey, I wish I had these examples 12 years ago. But I’m still excited to see posts like Keke, Sanaa and Lil Mama’s now. I feel like a lot of us are still learning how to love the hair that society has tried to convince us is not gorgeous, professional and desirable. Yet, watching Black women affirm the beauty of the way their hair grows from their head naturally, is truly empowering and beautiful.
Thank you ladies.