From baby boomers to millennials, black women from all over this country could change their hair weekly and still have endless options.
We’re talking protective styles like box braids and crochet weaves, ponytails, afros, dreads, press and curls and much more. But one thing that many weren’t afforded as young girls growing up was a choice. At least, that’s what four New York women realized when they came together for a candid conversation about natural hair.
Just a minute and a half into the first episode of 4th Ave. Market’s “Stoops and Strands” video series, Darnyell Eveillard, discussed the trivialization surrounding natural hair for black women. She noted the very definition of natural hair – something that grows out of her head – making the argument that it should be deemed as professional as natural hair of other ethnic groups.
“Most of us, just thinking about our age group, we didn’t even have a chance to formulate our own opinions about our hair,” she said.
At that statement, the other women chimed in recognizing perhaps for the first time, that they too, had little to no say about their hair – the regimen or texture.
“We were getting ‘Just for Me’ thrown into our head,” said Sadé Council before trailing off.
It’s a story that black women from every state, city and even borough know all too well. For most of them, it was decided when they needed (with a capital “N”) a perm. Once the decision was made, mothers, aunts and even grandmothers gave strict orders not to scratch your hair. If you’ve ever had a perm, you know that seemingly simple request made your hair itch much much more.
Though this group of millennial women has since outgrown their love-hate relationship with their l hair, Q’tyashia Arrington provided insight on why those decisions were made for black girls, which is derived from a history that is more tangled than each woman’s curls, coils and kinks.
“And our parents were making those decisions for us because they knew like … they used to frame it around manageability, but we also recognize that it became about acceptance,” she said.
The group of women also talked about the journey of going natural. More specifically, they spoke about that trial period that every natural goes through to figure out how your hair is going to act from moment to moment, day to day and even throughout the seasons.
As with most things, with time, comes an appreciation and sense of self, which has been showcased in neighborhoods all over this world due to the natural hair movement.
“There’s a sense of pride that came about I feel like for people of color,” said Arrington. “Once upon a time, we would be working really really hard to assimilate. Now there’s a newfound comfort with going to work with your hair natural.”
And it doesn’t hurt to have legal protections surrounding natural hair and discrimination, which Council, stated was a bright side and a marker for just how far we’ve come – though there is still room for growth.
What’s your hair story? What can you add to this conversation? Let us know on Instagram.