A Curly Conundrum

The words we use to describe our hair are so loaded with significance and so often lead to complex, thorny issues.

“Long

I try to choose my words carefully, but even still, sometimes I get tripped up in what’s acceptable and what can be offensive. I personally don’t care for, and consequently don’t use “nappy.” But I do use “kinky,” and “coily.” And I’ve been called out in the past for describing natural hair as “curly.”

But the fact is, not all natural hair is curly. And if you do decide to go natural, you shouldn’t necessarily expect your hair to be curly, or to look a certain way.

When I first started this blog, I did it to reinforce my belief that all textures of natural hair and all shades of black skin are just as beautiful as the mainstream ideals I felt bombarded with in magazines.

But now, curly haired women are becoming an advertising norm. Think of how many commercials you’ve seen featuring a beautiful, smiling afrobella with a lush head of curls lately. Curls have become common sightings. But, as a fascinating Racialicious article, Are Curls The New Straight Hair? by Carolina Asuquo-Brown, points out — it’s a certain kind of curl. The kind you see in the photo above.

Asuquo-Brown’s article takes a fresh, international angle on the issue. The author resides in Germany, where curly hair has become ubiquitous. It all began when she was flipping through a magazine with her friend, and they came upon an image of “an obviously biracial black/white model sporting a huge curly ‘fro.”


“the model’s medium-length curls were something I really considered desirable. The hairstyle did strike a chord with me, but my friend Jen, who has two African parents, is many a shade darker than I am and has shiny and fantastically healthy-looking relaxed tresses (which I have never managed to obtain) was a lot less enthusiastic about the model’s look.

“That’s something mixed girls get away with” she said, “They can get their hair to look like that – I couldn’t. I feel that curls are something like the latest fetish – it’s like there are black girls with great curls all around, advertisement, movies, magazines. And lately it has become a bit like what straight hair used to be-you’ve got to have it.”

It had never occurred to me, but speaking to Jen, I realised that she might be right. Over the next weeks everywhere I looked, be it the streets of my city or most of he few female black German TV-presenters – it really seemed that nowadays the fly mixed or black girl hast to have curls. Generous, semi-loose curls that is, tight enough to give you the volume but loose enough to be considered beautiful in a more mainstream way.

Suddenly I noticed that there were other mixed women like myself sporting curls and curly fros, short or big hair and that black girls with curls really seemed a growing trend in German cities. I also realised that hardly any women with tightly coiled hair, like Jen’s, wore their hair out or natural.

“That’s because of the pressure to have hair that at least gets near the look of ‘typical’ mixed race curls,” Jen complained and I feel that she definitely has a point.

The new trend that I and many other women of color have happily embraced seems to have it’s downside.

Obtaining a certain look hair seems to be almost as pressurising as it was to have bone straight hair back in the day. Only now curly hair is the new straight hair.”

You really should click here and read it yourself, I thought it gave a very interesting insight to German culture, and to an experience that’s happened to me many times. The “you can go natural but I can’t” experience.

If I had a dollar for everytime someone told me that… I wouldn’t need to work so frickin’ hard.


I love to see natural hair in all its diverse and beautiful forms, from loose spirals to tight z shaped kinks, dense and thick to silky and sproingy. Every time I’ve been told by a bella on the street “I love your hair! But I can’t go natural because my hair isn’t like that,” I take the time to let them know:

a. I once thought the same of my hair and honestly didn’t know what my texture would be until I gave it time myself, and

b. the point of going natural isn’t to achieve a certain look — or at least that SHOULDN’T be the point. The point is to embrace your hair as it grows from your head, to keep it healthy and strong, and to learn to work with it in a way that’s relatively stress free and enjoyable.

I think hair should be an extension of your personality. An expression of self. So I always want my hair to be happy, healthy, a little wild, and free. Just like I always want to be.

Having said that, I completely see where the author of the Racialicious post is coming from. Sometimes I look around the natural world and it seems some of these styling methods and products require way too much work — which is one of the things that drove me away from chemicals in the first place.

Sometimes it seems like the natural standard bearers serve to reinforce the same standard of beauty we’ve so often criticized, and tried to move away from. In the comments on that Racialicious post, Tami of What Tami Said referred to it as a “nappy hierarchy” — an expression that’s funny, sad, and true. Then there’s the system of hair typing, which so many natural haired women have taken issue with. With valid reason.

But then this begs the question, what next? I see the ubiquity of curly natural hair in the media as a step in a more inclusive direction. A baby step, but a step nonetheless. In the three brief years that I’ve been blogging, I’ve already noticed a change. Will this continue and grow to include bellas of all shades and textures of beautiful? Only time will tell, but I have a good feeling. And the more we blog, share photos, and celebrate each other as beautiful, unique, and worthy of respect and admiration, the better it will be.

I would sincerely love to hear what you Afrobella readers think about the curly conundrum, and what we as a community of beautiful, intelligent, natural haired women can do about it.

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Comments

  1. I think that I am seeing a lot more of the “mixed” hair curls. But I am also pleasantly pleased when I see more and more z-shaped curls being rocked in various commercials. I look forward to the day when there are more of these heads on mainstream tv and (dare I venture here) hip-hop videos.

    Natural hair of all sorts is beautiful to me. I have grown to love my natural mini-fro since I stopped shaving my head almost bald and look forward to being able to rock a nice poof on my head with a beautiful scarf or head band.

  2. “Sometimes it seems like the natural standard bearers serve to reinforce the same standard of beauty we’ve so often criticized, and tried to move away from.”

    THANK YOU FOR SAYING THIS.

    I’ve felt this way ever since I became aware of the online natural hair movement, but I never spoke up because I didn’t want to be seen as one of those “bitter” relaxed girls. Why can’t we just let everyone choose their choice and define beauty for themselves, hopefully after dissecting and rejecting (if that’s your thing) the social reasons we do the things we do.

  3. Bella.. thank you for this.. I’ve been quite upset this evening after a falling out with a “friend” about my hair.. We are both natural but her hair is a little more dense than mine..

    I’m going to send this to her!!!

  4. 1. I have kinky coily hair. I like the word but I know others don’t always
    2.When I went natural in 96 I felt everyone had to also but I was 16~mainly I thought it would help me not feel like my hair was so different because I did not relax well.
    it took me 3 years to embrace “do you”
    I think with time and fads coming and going I think people will go to whatever… this will be the new trend…. what works for you.
    I like the new trend… it helps me find stuff for my hair, even if my coils are tighter and more coarse than whats pictured and ” in”

  5. Yea, definitely been there. Especially with other naturals. Once I was talking to a close friend about my hair and she made some disparaging remark about my hair being nappier than hers. I just smiled and said yes. It wasn’t even worth going there. I love my hair so what she thought about it didn’t matter much. It was, however, disappointing to hear somebody who claims to be so enlightened say what she said.
    People should realize that being natural, heck life, isn’t about how beautiful others think you are, it’s about how beautiful YOU think you are!
    Yes, sometimes we like to hear it from others, but we shouldn’t wholly rely on that.

  6. Very true! Look at the obsession many of us have with Tracee Ellis Ross or at the popularity of “Turn your Kinks into Curls” Miss Jessie products! Sounds like “good hair” in a jar to me. I’m just saying…

  7. I despise the hair typing system. If we’re going to play that game, than we need to call it by its name and not pretend its anything but the “good” vs the “bad” hair debate. Not to mention, how many people fall squarely into just one of those categories anyway? When I first ditched the weave, I was very apprehensive about my hair. Would it be accepted, would I be able to achieve a look I not only felt comfortable with, but made me feel beautiful? What I love about the natural online community is the willingness of so many naturals to share their journey and experiences. I’ve come across so many different naturals, with so many different hair textures, that I am now able to feel confident that my kinky coily locks to are beautiful, and will rock them confidently without ever looking back.

    • melzwork says:

      Thank you. Why do we hair type? Perhaps for obtaining products and styling, but it reeks to me of the branding that was done to us in slavery.

  8. This is everything I’ve been thinking since going natural in 07. I have definitely noticed the curly haired sisters in commercials over the last couple years. I always thought it was an attempt to make the black girls look obviously black rather than showcasing the newest fad. But I also noticed that there was a lack of kinkier hair textures and darker skin. And when you do see a coarser texture its never loose but rather twisted, braided, etc.

    And yes I am a sister with the ever popular “3c/4a” curls. And so many of my friends have stated to me that “their hair wouldn’t do this” if they went natural. I’m not sure what else to say in these moments to convince women that there is beauty in all hair types and furthermore that I don’t wake up in the morning with hair as they see it when I go out. It’s frustrating. Thanks for addressing this issue.

  9. It just goes to show that many still believe black is ugly. It’s a shame.

  10. The natural community has, in many ways, become it’s own worse enemy. I feel like the naturals are the main ones keeping this ish going. Too many people obsessed with trying to get their hair to do what it won’t naturally do, spending too much money on products and junk that’s completely useless. I went natural because a) I loved natural hair and b) I wanted to simplify my life. Some naturals get on our permed sisters because they put chemicals in their hair and pay $ for the salon, but these same naturals ae spending $hundred$ sometimes to acheive whatever “natural” look they’re going for. So hypocrital.

  11. paradisebird says:

    Carolina Asuquo-Brown hits the nail on the head. Being black and german with ancestors both from congo and germany and growing up here in the 80ies was for me exactly as she described it and remembering makes me smile…
    And though it was a relief to see the first black models in the mass media with hair like mine it still with the bitter taste of -yes- colorism with it.
    When it comes to the -isms my first step is to decide what I want to do. Ignore it, fight it, laugh about its ignorance or whatever I think and feel would be right in this situation. So this is what I decide to do on the Hair-colorism -ism….
    Personally I am tired of defining my or a sisters beauty on how often she or I are portrayed in the mass media. Thank godess, in these days with acess to the internet I can shower myself with as much positive, beautiful images of women (and men)as I want every day (like here@afrobella ;-).
    Yes, there is a huge imbalance how black people are represented “out there”. and, yes it has a huge influence on us. But in the very moment I am aware of this fact I am able to change this, to do something about it. I don`t buy these mags. My wellbeing does nor depend on how often a lookalike of me or my sisters is portrayed in the mass media. I refuse to give anyone outside of myself this kind of power. I simply cannot afford this, on no level, be it emotional, physical, cellular or financial. The price is way too high. Because the price is my peace of mind , the integrity of my soul and my personal freedom. This is what I learned over the years with a lot of trial and error ;-)…
    The better investition I can make is to look fly and fab and work on some other severe -ism problems we have around here…and loving and enjoying my life and my self hile doing this
    Love from Germany, Monika

  12. Some of this is true no doubt.
    There was a time, not too long ago, that even the 3b-3c hair was deemed “unacceptable”. There were no photos anywhere, except in “Black Hair” magazine where “kinky, curly, coily” hair was represented. There also were no hair care products available, at least to the degree there are now, for kinky coily curly hair.
    I choose to see this as, at the very least, a beginning for all of us to begin to love hair that is other than straight and “mainstream”.

  13. Urban Sista says:

    This way of thinking will never change until Black women start doing what makes them happy and not worrying about what is acceptable to others.

    Having dark skin and kinky hair is not acceptable to others — we deal with a Eurocentric beauty myth every dayum day. By virtue of who I am, I don’t see many images of people who look like me. But for the year I’ve been fully natural, I’ve gotten more compliments on my Type-4 hair. Not because it’s good hair (everyone’s hair is good if it grows out of your scalp), but because I feel good wearing it.

    We have to reach a point where it doesn’t matter if our hair is wavy, curly or whatever because all the ways of being Black are beautiful.

  14. It’s a new way to say the same thing. With human nature, there’s ALWAYS a hierarchy. How tall, how light, how articulate, how rich, how educated…again, it’s human nature. It’s still not right, though!

    Whoever thought a “good hair” mentality could be erased in ten years was sadly mistaken. I’m going to say it: we as women (collectively speaking here) often find ways to “one-up” each other when it comes to beauty. Looser curl patterns are a concession, in my opinion, for what is aesthetically acceptable within the wider scope of society. It’s not straight, but it doesn’t look non-European. It’s actually (I think) part of an out-growth of the popularity of health and natural beauty among women in general. (Think green — as in nature/environment and money.) The natural hair movement among women of color (and curly women in general) is keeping the momentum.

    MY hair is just like my “red-bone” daddy’s: coils about a mm across. And Lord willing they will stay that way, ads be damned. Either we as women will be a slave to the media standard, or we won’t. THAT type of slave mentality…the one that chains itself to an impossible standard of the whims of fashion…isn’t going away anytime soon. I didn’t go natural b/c Vogue said it was cool. I did it for myself. I did it because I wanted healthy hair and I was tired of thinking I wasn’t pretty. I was tired of feeling ashamed of my hair. So I’ll keep rep’n for the nappy ones in my own way, and I won’t bother those who don’t understand. Maybe the rest of the world will come around eventually and we can all shine without any shade thrown our way.

    Thanks, Afrobella, for highlighting this piece.

  15. Tdotcurlie says:

    Lawd…it always amazes me how on time afrobella is with info on topics that are so current for me. I made the decision FOR ME about 2 years ago to stop relaxing my hair. Though I had close friends / family who were on the natural path, and encouraged me, I have also faced the disdain of my mother and some other people about wearing natural hair (had people tell me they could use my hair to mop the floor, it was inappropriate to wear my “fro” to work, etc). But now having perservered, my hair is healthy and just past shoulder length.
    A cousin of mine has been wanting to go natural, but her hairdresser (the lady who last relaxed my hair), and her sister are telling her she CAN’T do it because she doesn’t have hair like mine. The lady told her she wouldn’t advise her to do so until AFTER she gets married. WTF??
    That in itself is upsetting to hear, but my cousin isn’t so much worried about those 2. She is more concerned with what her grade 8 students will think of her wearing her type 4b hair(according to the system) natural. “Kids can be BRUTAL!” she says.
    Where do we get off tearing each other down?! Why have we allowed HAIR to be just another “status” symbol?? When can we as human beings accept that we are all unique, and that what I have is not better or worse than you…just different. I have noticed that everywhere i look now, I see naturals. And i have also noticed “the look” in the media. Fad or not, hopefully it will bring more acceptance of natural hair, rather than bringing futher exclusivity.
    As far as I am concerned i have good hair – I have brought health to the hair that god gave me (relaxed or natural) and i am not afraid to ROCK IT!! I have imparted this on my cousin and can only hope that she has the strength of character to “DO HER” and not concern herself with everyone else’s opinion. You can always aim to please, but will find yourself failing to please all at the same time.

  16. Oh…one more small thing!

    I was walking past an Aveda store yesterday. The huge poster in the window featured a white woman (she looked white) in a long flowing dress with cornrows going straight back. I was startled (pleasantly so) and then I saw the rest of her hair. The ‘rows were done up in a french roll in the back! THAT look took me back to 8th grade for real! Part of me was happy that they even thought to do ‘rows. A great part of me is still amused that Aveda highlighted a throwback style. And, of course, there’s that part of me that wondered…does it take a white face to “normalize” that style? Can of worms, I know, but I had to share that bit.

  17. When you accept your hair, it’s GOOD.

    When you reject your hair, it’s BAD.

    If you accept yourself, no one can say a damn thang about you and your thang that would make you reject your thang.

  18. This post is the bomb! I’ve been feelin this on a subtle level and couldn’t put my finger on it until I noticed all the people wanting curly weaves and extensions which make their hair looks “loose curly” as I call it. I guess the advertisers know that coily and kinky is not going away…so they gave in a “little bit”. Oh thank you for posting this.

  19. Wonderful post. I would love to get paid every time I hear … you can go natural… since I’d be a gazillionaire I could spend my day reading blogs :o)

    But I have also noticed this trend in the media – print ads and such featuring ‘curly’ models both men and women.

    When I first decided to start wearing my hair natural I tried everything to get that ‘look’. And because I was a new natural who decided to go natural in part with a certain ‘look’ in mind, and couldn’t achieve that (unrealitstic) goal, is one of the reasons why I reverted back to relaxing.

    It wasn’t until my third time going natural that I began to really start to see the beauty and versatality in my hair texture and change my focus from achieving a certain ‘look’ or length to one focusing on the health of my hair.

    Again – great post :o)

  20. Buffy the Vampire Slayer says:

    Good Lord. Its no wonder why so many black women have such low opinions of themselves!

    I will be so happy when the day comes that black women start to love and appreciate themselves, no matter their complexion or hair texture, and start to enjoy just being!!!

    I’m so thankful that I am happy, healthy, and there is no drama in my life to even care about this kind of ridiculousness anymore.

  21. @ Kat: “When you accept your hair, it’s GOOD.

    When you reject your hair, it’s BAD.”

    Can I hear an AMEN!

  22. 1. I’m new to this site. What’s with the numbers and letters describing hair type (ie 3a/4b)? Someone please translate. 2. on the subject, I have seen more brown skinned (not many dark unfortunately)women with tight kinks in commercials lately. Of course they are outnumbered by the loose-curled variety, but I still see it as something positive. In the 80′s it was unusual to even see the representation that we now have. The wheels of change are slow, but I believe they are moving. As some others have posted, it is much more important that we define our own beauty and stop buying into the mold others may have of us. This is from someone who has traveled the journey from hatred, to tolerant, to accepting and finally ending at LOVING all three grades of the hair on my big head (big curls at the nape; tight, tight kinks in the middle; and somewhere in between in the front — what are my numbers?). I hope our attitudes will change until we can all truly embrace every part of ourselves.

  23. It’s like you told m entire hair story in this post. My hair does not, will not ever, have any sort of “curly” look, and I spent lots of years, and *hundreds* of dollars, trying to make it look that way, until I realized that it was simply not possible. I never thought about this, but you’re right, as long as the curls are “loose,” then I guess it’s okay, cause it still looks “non-African.” And don’t get me started on how tired I am of seeing nothing but loose-curled children, as if a dark-skinned black girl with tight coils couldn’t possibly be seen as adorable.

    I’m kind of at the opposite end of the spectrum – my hair is considered “wiry,” so it hangs down like a giant triangle (think Roseanne Rosanadanna for those of you who grew up during the 70′s and remember Gilda Radner), with only a hint of a wave after I washed it. I have no idea why folks called my hair “good,” but you know how folks are.

    I finally gave in and let my hair exist in all its curl-less glory. After 14 years of unsuccessfully trying to loc my hair (no curl pattern=no locks, or at least I thought), I found a very talented loctician who fulfilled my dreams. I spend a lot less time fussing with my hair. While this is not an option for everyone, it was the absolute right choice for me.

  24. Good for me says:

    There’s a big elphant in the room, that I haven’t seen really disccussed. The elephant in the room is how many men of our own race seem to fetishize straight hair (have you listened/watched BET lately). Our minds are still so colonized, also I think there’s defenitly a class element. Maybe some black men feal they’ve been sh*t on for so long, that they have the right to sh*t on/ rank women. I’m natural bc my mom’s hair is falling out, and I don’t like the thought of putting drano on my head, yet if you talk about the health risk of some of these products to my family, they really get bent out of shape.

  25. the other elephant in the room is the Obama family. isn’t anyone going to comment on the articles published in the NYTimes about black women and hair in the last day or so? it seems that there is no end of fascination/disgust with black people and their bodies. my favorite moment is when a white person dismisses whatever pain, trauma or frustration a black person has just described and says ‘oh but it’s not just you i go through that too.’ difference is important.

  26. While we’re on the topic of European standards and accepted forms of Beauty, I used to wonder if the movement to cease the use of hair grease was just another way to associate with white methods of hair care. I understand that many women don’t use grease simply because they feel that their hair has better results without it. However, I have always wondered if on some subconscious level these women were adjusting their hair care to fit ideals closer to white standards of maintenance.

    I am asking this because I fell upon an old college year book of my parents in the ’70s at their HBCU and almost EVERYBODY in the yearbook had afros. Considering that it was the ’70s and black hair care options weren’t as wide then as they are now, they still managed to get their afros to grow beautiful and big w/ the use of hair grease. All in all, I know they weren’t using Carol’s Daughters or Miss Jesse’s to take care of their ‘fros so it makes me wonder if the desire to not use hair grease is really based on the “health” of the hair or could there be an underlying motive behind it.

    I just figure that if it’s possible to be obsessed with white DEPICTIONS of beauty, is it not also possible to be obsessed with white PRACTICES/METHODS of beauty? i’m not saying this is the case with ALL women, but if relaxed/texturized women are viewed as hiding behind the guise of “manageability/easy styling” can’t the same also be said about women who claim “healthier hair/better hair growth” without grease? (like I mentioned earlier, our parents seemed to have no problem with hair growth in the ’70s)

    [On a side note, I was at the book store today, and saw this white girl who totally had a curly perm, and all of her girlfriends were just gushing over it...does anybody think that with the resurgence of 80's style clothing, that the ever popular 80's curly perm is making a comeback too?]

  27. This is so spot on and timely. We just can not get over the hump when it comes to creating, recognizing and overplaying our differences. Good hair, bad hair, kinky, curly it is HAIR for crying out loud. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard “I wish I could go natural but my hair is not like that” give me a friggin fraggin break. Folks don’t go natural because they have in the back of their mind that for it to look good it has to be of the curly variety talked about here. The way I see it, which is the way my mama taught me. All hair is good if you have any. If you don’t have any hair, that’s good too. We have to put the nail in the coffin of this separation based on texture. The difficulty lies in the continued bombardment by the media of what natural hair is supposed to look like. We have to stop it and then change it there, then maybe we can get it in our heads.

  28. Great post, as usual! I always feel a bit dishonest referring to my hair as “curly.” Because it’s not. I use the term nappy, and rarely, coily. I agree with the ladies who have friends/family/etc. who say they would love to go natural but their “hair won’t do that.” First of all, you don’t know what your hair will look like until you just do it! Secondly, even those of us without loose curls can love our natural hair! If you use hairtyping (and I won’t get into how I feel about that) I’d be a 4B. So I’m amazed at how people go on and on about how my hair is “curlier” than theirs would be. Um, sure. But I have to say I am pleased with the amount of natural women I see in the media now, am becoming even more pleased when I see a darker skinned woman with a twa, and will be ecstatic when I will some long, loose nappy hair!

  29. my hair is short and very kinky. It will never be curly ala Tracy Ellis Ross. I’m not biracial and it annoys me that many people/the media/hollywood thinks the “best” kind of natural hair to have is that type.

    Can’t we stop with this madness? How can the hair that grows out of your scalp be considered “bad”. it’s 2009 and this is still an issue? crazy.

  30. Well one of the reasons why I’m wary about “going natural” is because of yet another goalpost about acceptable hair. I’ve worn my hair in many different styles and am secure in my blackness. I don’t like the implication that those who use chemicals are “bad” nor do I like the natural hair mafia mentality that I see emerging. It’s just another way for black women (be they biracial,multiculti, light skinned or other) to bash each other. The other issue is how loudly some proclaim to hate their hair. It really makes the entire group seem so insecure because sorry but white people don’t care about our hair UNLESS we bring it to their attention. I’m also tired of having other people discuss our issues. Like Chris Rock doing a documentary about how black women style their hair. I haven’t forgotten the horrible things he’s said during his last comedy special where his disdain for black women was waving like a freak flag. I’m not supporting anything he does. Especially when it’s to make money from our confusion and pain. Let’s face it a lot of this hair angst has everything to do with the indoctrination that many black women have for thinking of themselves as the community gatekeepers, black male protectors and by their race, seldom by gender and RARELY for themselves as individuals. It’s time to leave all of that mess behind!!!

  31. that is so true. people are striving for curly hair. when my hair is wet it is curly but dries to a frizz with no product. I dont really care for my hair the way I should but that may change in time.
    what I find funny is on YouTube you get people attacking others for their hair descriptions, eg no your hair is not 4b/3c you hair is definitely nappy lol. some people take things too far and they do so on some natural hair boards. hair is hair right.
    Oh and my workmates assume I can wear an afro but my hair is fine and dense and does not hold an afro style unless freshly washed no products or lightly blow dried.
    nice article btw
    sorry for the ramble

  32. wow! I thought I was the only one who suffered from Mulatto Girl dreams – that’s what I call it when I want loose bouncy curls. don’t get me wrong I love my thick, frizzy, cotton-y, poofy hair. The bigger, the better and I don’t mind nappy. sometimes it is. But I sometimes want a more relaxed curl where my hair lies down and does poof out into a halo.

  33. Frankly I am not feeling this article at all, and it’s purpose seems a bit murky. It appears to be packaged as “progressive” political commentary only to feed off of some perceived de facto insecurity that “real” black women as a collective supposedly share. Or ought to, as this writer seems to imply. What solution was she trying to offer here exactly?

  34. UnalteredBeauty says:

    I’ve been saying this for YEARS! Just read some of my past posts here on the afrobella website if you don’t believe me (i.e. Carol’s Daughter forums).

  35. I completely agree with you about this acceptance of curly hair but it has to look a certain way. I have tightly coiled hair and I have a friend who has curly hair but not as tight as mine. More people find her hair more “pleasing to the eye” than mine, because it’s curly but it’s not kinky, and I think there’s a definite distinction. I’m readin this blog (herthoughtbubble.com) and I love it because it’s about a model with hair that looks like mine, which is definitely rare.

    Great job Afrobella!

  36. This is a wonderful post (and great comments too!) I feel a type of guilt all the time because I’m a very light and curly haired natural lady. Other diverse natural women and aspiring naturals come up to me all the time and ask about products and hair cuts. Products and techniques are very important but to guarantee the accuracy of my advice I can’t also tell them to start out by creating my type of hair in their scalp. On the other hand I have also heard the “my hair won’t do what yours does” comment or that “but you have that good kind of hair” comment numerous times when I try to offer encouraging advice ( I write a lot about encouraging curly hair patterns). What is so ironic about it all is that I too compare myself to natural women with my complexion and thought at one point that my hair would be different than it is.

    We just don’t know what we have under our relaxers and weaves until we grow it out. The tendency towards diversity amongst us is so great that there is no way we can look at completion or “curl width” to estimate how we’ll feel about what we have. I also do hair for friends who went natural around the same time as I did and I have learned by experience that different things work for different hair types. Things they swear by are the devil to me, and vice versa. I think it would be cool if we developed a vocabulary of acceptance as opposed to processes. Like say wearing one’s hair big or small as opposed to curly or twisted. Or we could say back or out as opposed to puff or fro. etc. :-)

  37. :-+ kisses ~good topic. i was in 7th grade when i decided to go natural. I live in stockton, ca (which has recently recieved the title for ‘worst place to live in america’; but considering the fact that back in 1998-2004 i was the only ‘black’ chick in my city at the time to rock a fro, i knew that the negative attitude towards change and diversity would be my city’s down-fall. when i started high school i had built this soul sista persona because i felt i represented ‘the real’ when it came to black women. But i felt sooo convicted when a bunch of samoans enrolled in my school. They had hair as nappy and free as mine-skin brown as mine- and a true pride. they didnt wear an afro pick with a black fist in their hair or wear shirts that said things like ‘afrocentric/ black diva/ afro pride’. They were just themselves. And honestly the only people i was having real issues with with accepting my hair was the blacks. But now im done with making a statment and i wear my hair any way i feel. Imma b crystal regardles

  38. Nubeing-Queen says:

    I have worn my hair natural since I was fifteen in high school and “nappy” is still viewed differently and as less desirable within the natural community.

    I have worn every natural style imaginable from a short Cesar to braids/twists, I even wore it in locs that I allowed to grow to my behind for eight years. The point is, I realized texture and length still mean a lot to many people including naturals!

    When I wore my hair short and kinky before locing I never felt comfortable in high school. And as an adult the longer my locs grew down my back people that once detested them simply adored the style because of the length.

    I recently cut them off this year to allow my hair to be free and loose once again and it’s like dejavu, high school all over again. There is greater acceptance for curly naturals and as a result a lot of kinky and coily sistas feel marginalized when it comes to defining even “natural beauty” and as a result they buy tons products and spend excessive time for the supposedly “carefree” “shake and go” look. The author has a very valid point and it holds true for those of us in America as well.

  39. Korkscrew Kween says:

    I am a 3c/3b mix hair type, and understand how Nisus feels. After becoming involved in the on line natural hair community, have developed a guilt regarding my hair. I have definitely noticed a disdain by some in the natural community for kinkier hair types. I receive countless questions on natural hair groups on how to can replicate my curls, most if not all those with kinkier hair types, with little to no natural curl definition. I try to get them to focus on the beauty of their hair, what it will do naturally, & that a looser curl is not the Hair Holy Grail. I honestly do think that those with this mindset do not realize that they are still as brainwashed as those who perm & weave because they believe kinky hair is “ugly”. It’s still the good/bad hair nonsense. Same song, different verse.
    And please, can we stop referring to hair as having “grades”?!?!

  40. I’d have to test with you here. Which isn’t something I usually do! I enjoy reading a publish that may make people think. Also, thanks for permitting me to remark!

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