The Natural Hair 'Movement'
Updated: Mar 12, 2020
If you didn’t already know, you’re about to find out…there has been a hair revolution within the Black community. Simply put, we are getting back to our roots and letting our natural hair lead the way.
Social media (PinterestÔ, InstagramÔ, YouTubeÔ, FacebookÔ, etc.) are full of videos and other posts promoting, explaining, styling, and otherwise presenting natural hair for the Black community in a positive and healthy way. You can find demonstrative videos on styling, washing, and otherwise caring for natural hair. To be clear, when referring to ‘natural hair,’ the community means the various curl patterns generally indicative of ethnic heritage.
Although within the Black community, there are as many textures of hair as there are people, there is a general “curl pattern” chart circulating out there in the atmosphere. The “Curl Pattern” chart demonstrates and defines the various types of curls someone’s hair may have. As shown in the picture, the patterns have been given a number/letter combination. The higher the number/letter, the tighter the curl.
Of course, this chart is just a general view of the possible curl patterns.
The ‘movement’ has made it more ‘acceptable’ for women and men of color to embrace instead of hiding or altering their natural hair texture. Instead of seeing advertisements, promotions, models, celebrities, etc. with relaxed (or otherwise straightened) hair, Black people (and other people of color) are able to open a magazine or watch a television show or movie and see a person who looks like them while wearing an Afro, braids, dreads, etc.
Although there are many representations from the 70’s and earlier eras that showcase Black people wearing their natural curly/kinky hair texture, more recent decades tended to put in the forefront the straight hair motif. During those times, Black women in entertainment were generally seen with long straight hair (although at times a short straight Halle Berry/Nia Long-esq cut was prominent), whether it be their natural hair—meaning they relaxed or otherwise straightened their own hair—or a wig/weave.
This ‘movement’ has created a noticeable lift in confidence and pride within the Black community. I have seen us supporting, complimenting, and otherwise encouraging one another more online and in real life when it comes to our natural hair. For example, I see us complimenting the height one’s Afro has reached, the moisture in one’s curl, the thickness of one’s puff, and so on.
I absolutely love this ‘movement.’ I love what it is doing for our young girls and boys, what it is doing for our self-esteem, and most importantly, what it is doing for our self-image as a group in this country.
That being said, I do have concerns. My concerns lie not in the movement itself, but in the details of said movement. Specifically, I am concerned that the ‘movement’ is not embracing and encouraging all natural hair textures equally. I have noticed that the kinkiest or tightest curl pattern (4C, per the Curl Pattern Chart) has not received and is not receiving the same attention, support, and encouragement that looser curl patterns have been and are receiving. I have found that it is more difficult to find videos, photographs, etc. via social media promoting and representing this “nappy” curl pattern. I have also found that it is more difficult to find hair stylists and other hair care professionals who know how and are willing to work on “4C” hair. Additionally, I have noticed that there is generally less content for styling and caring for “4C” hair texture.
In general, when searching for “4C” related content online, I have noticed that I must craft my search terms very specifically. I must specifically include “4C” or some similar variant within my search to find related content. In contrast, when searching using more general terms (i.e. natural hair care products), content that includes most all other hair textures appear.
I know that I am not alone in this concern because I continually see in social media comments others pointing out the same issue. In fact, there are Instagram pages specifically catering to “4C” hair in an attempt to counteract this phenomenon. However, one must still specifically search for “4C” terms to find such pages.
While this, uhm, oversight, concerns me, I do take a measure of relief in the fact that others have noticed it and have already begun to counteract the issue. I imagine that eventually there will be enough ‘counteracting’ that “4C” texture will take its rightful seat alongside all of its curly counterparts and help push this long awaited ‘movement’ into the mainstream.