Article by: Tyler Taylor
Picture by: Keturah Ari’el Nailah Bobo
Black hair. What is it? Is it confined to styles like cornrows and box braids? Is it afros that are kinky or shoulder length hair that’s curly? Does it have something to do with kitchens? Does it not grow? Why can’t you get water on it? All these are reasonable questions, as black hair has been a mystery to almost everyone who doesn’t have it for many years. There’s no set way to describe black hair because just like the rest of humanity, everybody is different. Black hair can be categorized by hair textures, ranging from type 1a-4c, with many black people being in the 3a-4c area. 3a-c curls are looser while 4a-c is a more kinky coily type of hair. When a black person decides to have their hair natural, it means that it is free of chemicals and dyes and natural products are used. Now that you’ve gotten some basic information about black hair types, let’s talk about some of the myths and tales held in the black natural hair community.
- “Water is detrimental to your hair” FALSE
Contrary to what our non-natural sisters may say, water is not bad for our hair. In fact, our hair, along with everyone else's, needs water to thrive. Many naturals incorporate water into their daily routine because when your hair is moisturized, it is healthier. The reason non-naturals tend to not want their hair wet may be because the water will cause their hair to frizz and puff up which can be the opposite of what they want. For example, when a person whose hair is not naturally straight gets their hair straightened and water gets on it, the entire style ends up ruined and their hair is back to its natural state, which is what they were avoiding. The water isn’t necessarily bad for their hair, just bad for the style.
2. “All hair is natural because it grows out of your head” TRUE/FALSE
By definition, yes all hair is natural. But being a black person with natural hair means much more than just having our hair grow out of our scalp. Black people in America are surrounded by eurocentric beauty standards everyday, one of the most prevalent being straight hair. As black children grow up, they rarely see people with hair like theirs and, as straight hair is praised, they begin to believe that having straight hair is the right thing. When you go natural, you are refusing to succumb to the standards set for you by society. Being a natural means learning to love the features and hair you were given. When you’re a black person that’s natural, it’s more than just hair. It’s about defying the norms and learning love yourself for how you are.
3. “You can’t cut your hair because it won’t grow back” FALSE
Although many black people themselves may tell you their hair doesn’t grow because they’re black, it is false. Attributing the fact that their hair may not grow to the fact that they’re black is not only detrimental but spreading lies. Many black people are able to grow long hair perfectly fine. Hair grows based on your genetics, the environment, and how well it is taken care of. Hair growth has nothing to do with your race.
4. “Black people don’t grow long hair” FALSE
Again, many black people may tell you themselves that black people don’t grow long hair, but they are spewing lies. It all comes down to genetics and health. If your hair isn’t taken care of, it will not grow. Being black won’t hinder people from growing long hair. Adding on to this idea, many curly haired people experience shrinkage, the hair coiling or curling back up to be closer to the root where the moisture is held. Often when those curls are pulled lightly, it is revealed that the hair is actually longer than what it seemed. Basing hair length off of a hair type that isn’t yours will lead you to believe that black hair doesn’t grow when in reality, it grows just like everyone else's.
5. “Natural hair is the strongest type of hair” FALSE
Because some naturals have hair types that tend to look rougher than others, it is perceived to be stronger than other hair types. This concept is actually incorrect. Natural hair is very fragile, with it being prone to breakage and dryness. It needs to be handled very carefully as to not cause any unnecessary breakage or frizz. Though it may look tough, natural hair needs to be cared for gently because it is stripped of the chemicals used in other products that cover the entire hair strand.
So, that’s the gist of what natural hair is and what it means to be a naturalista. Some of the assumptions above can be very offensive and close-minded so please, make sure you do your research on such topics. Remember, natural hair is more than just hair. It is culture and loving yourself for who you are. Coming in all different lengths and curl patterns, no naturalista is the same. While we do have our differences, one thing is the same: we love our hair no matter what.