It seems to me that the essence of going natural is being transformed into not so much of a journey of self-discovery but a journey to see how many hair products one can use on their heads to make their natural hair into something more acceptable. More like that lady they saw on TV. Wait, they SAW ON TV?
Not too long ago, and I mean within the last 5 years, this just didn't happen. It was unusual. So unusual that people who saw natural women on TV took pictures and uploaded them to NP to comment on. (TRUTH) We didn't see Zerlinas and Mayas on NBC prime time with their beautiful natural hair and locs gracing the screen on the news or on expert panels. Locs and naturals were resigned to the fringes of TV, more seen in music and entertainment and hanging out the backs of helmets of NFL players. We were not seen.
Maybe this paradigm shift was inevitable. Maybe it's just the way things go as we make progress. Remember when we were focused on our journeys, discovering how amazing our real hair truly is? Discussed how our hair was affecting those around us and how we were being judged, stared at, people reaching out to touch our hair, feeling for tracks? Women of all ages who were just starting out were talking about how since going natural they were beginning to feel different about themselves?
These changes could be because natural hair is not seen as something unusual or eccentric now. Because of the Movement we created, natural hair has hit the mainstream. Thousands of hair products promising to deliver your hair from an undefined nappy halo to something well-defined and acceptable in the natural hair realm to be envied by all who lays eyes on it. This has become the focus.
Nappturality took on the first publicized case of hair discrimination back in 2003, so long ago I can't even remember the sister's name though I remember her face and I remember she worked in government / in a courthouse maybe. I remember contacting her, but she didn't want to talk about what happened to her because of all the abuse she was getting. But we mobilized for the cause anyway. And she was reinstated.
NOW, 16 years later, 2 progressive States, CA and NY have ratified laws making natural hair discrimination illegal so what happened to her won't happen to you in those States.
This is forward progress and I will take it wherever I can get it.
But at the root of all of this, and the reason why this Natural Hair Movement must retain its heart and soul, is that most Black women still do not wear their natural hair. And not always by choice, but by design. Not because they tried it and didn't like it. But because it's what their mothers and grandmothers did. It's what they teach their daughters to do. It's just done. We are taught to "fix" that nappy, unmanageable hair from an early age. Most Black women don't even know what their real natural hair looks like except for that tiny bit of new growth that peeks through before being fried with chemicals or heat back into some form of straightness.
I still hear about heads and bodies being too big/small/fat/thin for natural hair. Skin too dark. Skin too light. Too much/not enough forehead. Boyfriends and husbands preferring straight hair. It's too nappy. Too hard. Too thick. Too thin. Too difficult. Too short. Too scared. Too ugly. Too, too, too. And the simple, I hate me in my natural (real, actual born with it) hair (because whatever).
It's this. The ignorance of the form and beauty of our real hair. How and why it is made for us - for you. How it takes years off your face. And why it is still not respected or loved or appreciated by most of us, that I am still here claiming and holding on to this movement. And whether I am speaking to thousands or to an empty room, I'm still here.