What Does Being Natural Really Mean?
It’s front and center that African-American women all over the world are choosing to return to their natural roots.
The decision to ‘go-natural’ is varied and apparently so is the definition of the word ‘natural.’ The result leads to a heated debate in the natural hair community about what being ‘natural’ really means.
Here’s the scoop.
Some naturals think that wearing weaves, wigs, or braids (with added hair) is not being “natural”. The notion is, how can you claim to be natural if you’re hiding your own hair or wearing it that way? Even more, that wearing these styles indicates you are ashamed and lack confidence regarding your natural hair.
On the flip side, other naturals say that wearing a weave, wig or braids is a protective style option to help grow their own hair or switch up their style options. They prefer more variety or a break from dealing with their hair and sometimes go this route.
After speaking with naturals on both sides of this debate, I gather there may be some hidden truths on both sides. Strangers have admitted to me that their hair is natural and yet I didn’t know it because it was hidden under a wig and they stated flat out they weren’t ready to wear it out. Others have long healthy and natural hair yet opt to style it with braids or an occasional wig for a change. I say it all depends on each person’s journey and their chosen way to cope with something we all went so long without understanding, and to each his own.
Here’s my take on why it all gets so twisted.
I believe that ‘natural’ refers to hair in its natural state, unaltered with chemicals, such as relaxers that permanently change the texture of the hair. Therefore, to me, how this textured hair is styled beyond that doesn’t determine whether it is natural or not. You can and should style as you wish without being judged.
You can wear a ‘natural hairstyle’ that shows your natural texture. However, if you braid up your unaltered natural hair and put a wig on, does the wig change the texture of your own hair? Heck no!
When we assume natural hair texture is always equal to natural hairstyles, a debate will soon follow.
Consider this. After observing several of my natural-haired friends, I noticed something consistent. Before they went natural, they were prone to coloring their hair, wearing a weave, wig, braids, and even cutting their hair often. Since going natural, not much has changed. They still do all of these things because that is already who they are and what they believe in. Why would they need to change just because of hair texture?
Using myself as an example, I did not prefer the wigs, weaves or braids (with added hair) prior to going natural (although years ago, I did rock braids for a whole week). Since I stopped chemically treating my hair, I still don’t prefer them, so my styles will pretty much show my natural textured hair. Now this is absolutely who I was before going natural and nothing has changed.
In both cases, we are being consistent with who we are and what we believe. I personally won’t change how I am, what I like and how I choose to wear my hair just because of it’s natural texture, so why would we expect that of others?
What is your definition of ‘natural’? If you’re a natural why do you prefer the styles you wear?