The other day I was reflecting and browsing my brain to find someone in my circle of friends and family who had natural hair or who were transitioning to natural hair. Sadly, I couldn’t find anyone. This got me thinking why? Why is that so? The reasons can be many and diverse and there are a few natural hair myths that could be at the root of this.
One thing is for sure, ever since I was bewitched by the beauty of natural hair I assume this love with no shame and wait anxiously for the day when it’s “consummated”: my Big Chop day! (wow, I think I got a bit carried away, and my poetic side came through…). My decision to become natural was the result of frustration. There was no reflection about the unknown difficulties in that path, the exasperation with my relaxed hair gave me just enough courage to slay them away.
Although I am still in that path, now I can look back and see those difficulties as pebbles in my journey. I believe these can be as big or as small as our commitment, our patient and faith that our hair will come out stronger, and more beautiful in its natural state. It came to me, as I was thinking about these pebbles, that I should bust some of the myths surrounding the difficulties of natural hair. Let’s have a look att them.
1| Relax It or Loose It
Everyone was hitting this keynote: “If you don’t relax your hair it will break!”. A vision of uneven, short and matted hair is what crossed my mind, and it is probably one of your worries too. Please don’t host the deepest and darkest scenario. It is true that as your natural hair grows strong, your relaxed ends will be weaker and can break at the Line of Demarcation. However, you just need to protect your hair by keeping it moisturised and preferably wearing protective styles! You won’t get a bald head, for this to happen you had to be really careless with your hair or have a serious health condition.
2| Too Much Time
So you’ve heard stories of long washing days, taking as much as a whole day to get natural hair done. Well, it can be as long or as short as you want it to be. Just think about this: “How many hours did you waste at your local hair salon to get your hair all nice and pretty?”. Once you develop a hair regimen that caters for your hair, with the right products, that fits your life routines the time spent doing your hair will be a fraction of the time spent at your hair stylist, and your hair will be so much healthier. The question is are you willing to do your own hair? Are you willing to get to know your hair?
3| It Doesn’t Look Good
Your hair will be beautiful because it is your hair and the one you were born with. The problem is that western perceptions of what beautiful hair is, are the antithesis of what African natural hair really is. This social perception is now so entangled in our own beliefs that we can’t accept anything other than Caucasian-like hair as the norm. As part of a society, we need to own our differences (read the Natural Hair Resistance post). Natural Hair can be and is beautiful, look at these inspiring examples from Curl Appeal, Naptural85 and Mini Marley.
4| Too Strong
Actually, this must be one the biggest misconceptions of natural hair. Natural hair is, in fact, the weakest of all hair types. Because of its curly shape, which can be wavy to kinky, the natural oil (sebum) produced by the sebaceous gland in our hair follicles is unable to lubricate the hair in its entirety and consequently unable to delay moisture loss. This means our hair is naturally dry and prone to breakage, therefore, weaker than other hair types that don’t face this struggle. So, you need to always keep your hair moisturised and be gentle when manipulating it.
If natural hair appears too strong for you, it’s only because your relaxed hair was/is too weak when compared.
5| Grows Very Slowly
There is evidence that African hair grows at a slower rate than Caucasian and Asian hair nevertheless, It Grows! There are many factors that have an influence on hair growth such as your diet, hormones, birth control pill or styling practices. Even the level of hair moisture can indirectly influence your perception of hair growth. If your hair is not properly moisturised, it becomes dry which leads to breakage and then stalls your hair length goals – meaning your hair will break at the same rate it grows, therefore you see this as no growth or slow growth.
6| Not Suited For Work Environment
Yes, there is still pressure for us to relax, straighten, wear a weave, wig or whatever method makes our hair look more caucasian. However, if we don’t take pride in our hair who is going to take pride on what is ours? While many are ashamed and relax/straighten their hair on the clock to not let their natural hair be seen, others are “bullied” for doing the opposite.
We need to grow in numbers and force so that this social perception of what beautiful hair is, actually changes. We need to be able to wear our hair whatever way we want (relaxed or natural) without being intimidated. Our hair does not dictate our abilities to perform a duty, it’s just an expression of who we are. If you’re starting your transitioning journey and you’re worried about hair appropriateness for work and/or you don’t know how to style it, there is plenty of information out there you only need to look for it. Here is a video to get you started by Naptural85 giving you some options.
7| Too Matted/Unmanageable
Our hair has its challenges and detangling can be one of them. Relaxed hair faces fewer tangles because its straight strands don’t intertwine with each other so much, which makes it easy to style, wash and detangle. Curly hair, on the other hand, will tangle easily but with a pre-poo treatment, the use of a good conditioner, effective and gentle detangling and protective styles you can avoid it.
8| Can’t Be Straightened
Absolutely not! Natural hair can be straightened, however, it will take you longer and more care to achieve it because your curls are tighter and stronger, which means your hair’s natural behaviour will be to curl up again, especially in contact with water. However, you do need to be aware that using heat styling tools the way you were used to can, and will eventually lead to heat damage. This disrupts your curl patterns and your hair strands will have a similar look to relaxed hair. So, if you want to wear your curly hair straightened you can. You just need to use heat styling tools sparingly, set for medium or low heat and always use a heat protectant on you hair.
9| Too Expensive
This is not necessarily true. If you buy into the hype of commercial brands, YouTube vloggers, magazines and the like you will end up broke with a pile of products that don’t work on your hair. Stop believing you need to have a certain product to achieve a certain look or goal. Start with the essential, if you have too many products you won’t know what is working or not. There are many supermarket brands that have a good quality-price relationship such as Shea Moisture. Plus, think about the money you’re saving from regularly relaxing, straightening and maybe even from wearing wigs or weaves. Read my article on “Transitioning To Natural hair – Budget Control!“.
10| Won’t Find A Partner
All I have to say about this is short and simple. If you don’t love yourself for all that you are how do you expect him/her to love you!? Love yourself from your the tip of your hair to the tip of your toes, respect yourself and demand respect from others. Don’t let anyone step on you just because you are different or have different hair. If he doesn’t like the way you are I’m sure there are plenty of people of out there that will have him/her. You were just not one of them. I am also sure, that God placed him/her in your path just to show you What You Don’t Need in a Partner. Be happy for that.
Love yourself and you will attract the same type of energy, love will eventually fall into place. Oh, don’t forget to distance yourself from naysayers, they only suck your energy away. If what I said here sounds too easy to believe here is a blog post showing you what black men really think about your natural hair journey.
Well, darlings, I planned on writing a small(ish) post for you but, as it just so happens, I guess I had a lot to say about myths surrounding natural hair, and trust me, I could go on about the subject. This post is not meant to convince, attack or campaign against those you are not natural or transitioning. It is meant to enlighten, inform and demystify natural hair. Maybe some of you wanted to join the natural hair movement and believed all of this “hocus pocus”, and maybe some of you will continue to reject natural hair, and you know what? That is OK! I just want to inform you, this is not a cult, you are free to do whatever you want with your hair, just be happy with your decision and love your hair, don’t bully others for loving theirs.
What myth were you a victim of? Share your story!