Natural Hair is a Trend. There, I Said It.

If you want to be mad at me, fine. But before you go off, please allow me to explain. Let’s look at what a trend is exactly. From Wikipedia:

A fad, sometimes called a trend, meme or a craze, is any form of behavior that develops among a large population and is collectively followed with enthusiasm for some period, generally as a result of the behavior’s being perceived as novel in some way.[1] A fad is said to “catch on” when the number of people adopting it begins to increase rapidly. The behavior will normally fade quickly once the perception of novelty is gone.[1]

The specific nature of the behavior associated with a fad can be of any type including language usage, apparel, financial investment, and even food. Apart from general novelty, fads may be driven by emotional excitement, peer pressure, or even a desire to be outside social norms (counterculture).[2]

Though the term trend may be used interchangeably with fad, a fad is generally considered a fleeting behavior whereas a trend is considered to be a behavior that evolves into a relatively permanent change.[3]

I think the parts that I bolded are the most important. Regardless of why YOU went natural, you cannot deny the increase in enthusiasm for going natural, not only amongst natural haired women themselves, but also men and the media. Five years ago, did you ever think that there would be a muppet on Sesame Street singing about natural hair, or a news story with the reporter doing her big chop? What about the increase in women in commercials and magazines with natural hair? I just saw a tshirt that said, “Relaxers are evil” and frequently run across tshirts repping natural hair (I won’t lie, I want one.) – where was this years ago?

OR – the noticeable increase in men taking an interest in our hair, and frequently commenting on natural hair. You know you’ve seen it. On YouTube, blogs, magazines…it’s hot off the press to hear the thoughts of a man on natural hair, whether it’s positive or negative. A man disses nappy hair? Instant 4,000+ views. And lawd baby Jesus, don’t let him be an attractive man praising natural hair – you might as well set that man up in his own penthouse and put him on 24/7 webcam. And they know this. Piss off the “natural hair community” – get attention. Delight the “natural hair community” – get attention. But I don’t recall them caring so much back in the day, do you?

Sometimes, when I say that I don’t care if women get relaxers or not, relaxed women look at me like I’m a KKK member who just said I don’t hate black people. And why shouldn’t they? I’m “one of them,” I’m natural, I have a natural hair blog, I participate in natural hair discussions on the internet and Twitter. They find it difficult to believe that someone so “dedicated” to the “cause” could also be so nonchalant about the other side. The enthusiasm of the trend has caused activity on the side of the social norm as well, and it’s obvious.

I recently saw a poll on a hair site asking whether the members were natural, transitioning, texlaxed, or relaxed. Many of the answers from the natural haired women went something like, “All natural baby!” or “Natural!!” while the relaxed women were like, “Relaxed, and I do not plan to go natural,” or “Relaxed, not into the natural thing.” Honestly, I had to give a giggle at these comments – because I was like really chile, why so defensive? But then I thought about it – they’re still in baby ts, flares, and Sketchers…while others have moved on. Or at least, that’s how it can be perceived. The saltiness is visible. Warranted? Probably not, on either side. But…I already did a video about how natural women should sit down next time they want to call someone with a relaxer a self hater.

To the women who have been natural since birth, or for ten years, and want to be mad at the influx of natural haired women…I’m going to say this in the nicest way possible. Giiiiirl, go somewhere. You did not invent natural hair. I’ll tell you a story – when I was in 4th grade, I found a pair of flare jeans at a Guess Outlet in the middle of nowhere with my mom. I fell in LOVE with them, and wore them all the time. People at school called me a hippie, a flower child, all of that mess. They made fun of me because my jeans weren’t straight or the stylish cut back then. A few years later, you were a loser if you DIDN’T own some flares. Was I running around all pissed off because my often ridiculed fashion choice became the new “in” thing? Hecks no – I was happy I could continue to wear my flares and not have to be called a dang hippie! And yes, I am quite aware that getting made fun of for some jeans is different than hair, but you get my point.

Now let’s look at that last sentence – “a trend is considered to be a behavior that evolves into a relatively permanent change.” Are there going to be some women who go back to relaxers? Sure. Will men eventually stop trying to get our attention by blowing a whistle and screaming, “NATURAL!!!!”? Sure. But will everyone go back to relaxers, or forget that natural hair ever happened? I doubt it. Even if straight/relaxed hair stays the majority, by comparison, I think there are going to continue to be more women wearing their natural hair – whether it’s curly, kinky, whatever. If that makes it a trend…well…I’m fine with that.

Happy Thanksgiving my pals, and stay well.

xoxo

 

29 comments

  1. I’m just glad that I can go out in public and my natural hair is no big deal. I don’t stand out because I look different. I don’t have strangers coming up to me and touching my hair like I’m a pet anymore. Most of the time my hair goes unnoticed which I love. It’s great that I can hold a conversation and share tips with other natural chicks. I don’t like to hate on my relaxed sista’s either. It’s just another option. As women that’s all we want anyway is options and variety.

  2. Has anyone considered that maybe so many women are going back to natural because there is more information on caring for natural hair now. With the internet, women who already knew how to take care of natural hair had a way to share their knowledge with other women on a grand scale. Now that there are more products, tools and education, there are less reasons for a women to feel that she has to permanently straighten her hair (and become dependent on a costly and possible unhealthy styling choice) just to keep their hair in a style they like.

    1. Of course this is a huge factor, I agree 100%. However, it does not cancel out the trend “analysis” as described in my post. The popularity/visibility is still heightened, regardless of the reason.

  3. I can’t agree any more! Natural hair is almost an “it” thing. You’re cool or you’re worth more attention if u rep the #teamnatural crew… And I’m saying this as a curly girl. Whatever you choose to do with your hair, just make sure its healthy! I never went natural to be cool or because it was popular. I did it to preserve my hair, regain a healthy state, and be me! I’m a little confused that people r piggy backing off of the “natural thing” because they saw a picture of some cool hair- or back in the day they saw E Badu or Jill Scotts fro… OR they were ridiculed for perming their hair… Being chemically free is a decision for you, and like healthy eating, healthy hair is a lifestyle change. People following the fad of natural hair don’t understand that. As a trend, that reality is being spread and heard by individuals who are expecting to endure this lifestyle change. Trending natural hair lends more responsibility to a bigger picture than turning the choice into a potential minstrel show based off of coils and kinks

  4. I don’t understand why people get so mad when you refer to hair as a trend. Clearly, they forgot the last time that big afros were all the rage. It was called the 70’s people.

    Also, I’m tired of people incorrectly stating that they didn’t see natural women in commercials. Actually, a lot of commercial actresses have natural hair. It’s a good outlet for actresses who aren’t pretty or glamourous but are still telegenic and can act. A lot of black women like that do a lot of commericals. Mind you, they aren’t black women that other black people would cast, but we aren’t the ones making those decisions. There is a woman who is a correspondent on CBS Sunday morning who has been a successful commercial actress for years and years. There is the Pine Sol lady. And there are plenty of others. What I always thought was funny and noticed is that women with kinky fros and black fathers would be given a son who looked similar but frequently a daughter who was much lighter with much straighter hair. The average black commercial family frequently has that quirk.

    The places where you didn’t see as much natural hair was the black magazines, but commercials for many consumer products use regular looking black women with short natural hair on a regular basis, and it’s not a recent phenomenon at all.

  5. I must live under a freakin rock because I had transitioned for four months and knew nothing of a “natural movement” or any of the blogs, boards, and youtube vids until 1 week after my BC. Go figure. It’s totally nice to have so many resources available now though.

  6. I ask myself all the time is it a fad because more and more I see people BC-ing or talking about cowashing. Its very odd to me. I’ve been natural for nearly 2 years now, but just starting wearing my natural texture (I was pressing/flat ironing before) I think its pretty cool though, that black women are getting interested in their natural hair rather than NEEDING the weaves/perms/etc.

    I don’t feel the need to side eye the relaxed folks, because to each his or her own. I do crack a smile when I see them running for shelter in the slightest rain shower though.

  7. Great post Elle, and I have to agree with what you said. But to be honest, I get the most saltly looks from other naturals!!! Crazy right!?!? It’s normally the ones with hair kinkier than mine (which I find very beautiful) but they always giving me the stank eye and what not! I think naturals should appreciate each others beauty and not try to ridicule or bring down one another.

  8. I do see natural as a trend, I agree with your post. One point I wanted to touch on was the defensiveness of “relaxed” ladies and the rudeness of natural women, this needs to stop.

    I hate that women who are natural often walk around with a chip on their shoulder. It looks stupid. Honestly, at the end of the day we aren’t doing anything too special. We are just wearing our hair as it grew out of our scalp.

    And for a lot of us that has proven to be quite easy.

    I just hate how some women are making us out to be some kind of “crazies” when we all aren’t.

    I know I went OT but, this trend does have a few cons.

    1. I absolutely agree – there are many aspects of the trend that piss me off. For instance, I hate it when people bring God into hair like…”My natural hair is how God made me…” Like shutuuuuup, because I know yo’ ass doesn’t go to church and isn’t running around quoting the Bible. Stop that mess! I also hate when people equate natural hair to an entire “look,” and think we are all supposed to be walking around listening to Common and sitting in poetry corners. That’s one of the reasons I liked the newscaster doing her BC – because she is clearly a professional woman in the media, wearing her natural hair without turning into Jill Scott. Oh my, you’re going to make me start ranting now. Smh.

  9. -shrug- I’ve always been natural, my entire life. Outside of coloring it I’ve never had any chemical treatments. Heck, I’ve never worn weave either. I come from a family that’s always been very “embrace your roots” type of people. Yes, it’s kind of snobbish but they are who they are.

    With natural hair being a trend/fad though I’ve learned some new techniques,new products and companies are developing new products that I can try. I’m ecstatic that it’s popular. I learned some new tricks and people don’t stare at me all the time like I just stepped out of 1978. 🙂

    1. Thanks Niki! ITA with your reaction to its popularity…I don’t understand why more women aren’t the same way. Rather than having to order everything online, you can now get a ton of stuff on the ground, and why? Because of supply and demand. It’s even increased significantly since I cut my hair almost a year ago…I love it, it saves me money!

  10. I was all ready to disagree with your blog…until I read it. 😉

    This is the part that completely made me agree: “a trend is considered to be a behavior that evolves into a relatively permanent change.”

    I think it’ll make a bigger impact over a longer period of time. I think this because there isn’t any statement behind it. Not for the most part anyway. There are more and more messages out there today than before about accepting yourself for who you are. There was a time when it was about fitting in now it’s switched over to being yourself to fit in.

    I agree some women will go back to relaxers but it’ll either be about half or less than half. They’ll be the ones who jumped onto the bandwagon for the wrong reasons.

  11. Trend, fad, whatever, it’s still nice to see so much hair diversity. I’ve been natural 6 months now, but I appreciate a great and healthy looking hair style on anyone. I still covet those really short relaxed styles that my nappy edges never allowed and the waterfalls of locs that I don’t have the patience to deal with. If you like how you look then do you!!

  12. I am thankful for the trend. If it weren’t for the “trend” and a hair person, I would have never had the confidence or the possessed the knowledge to wear my hair. I am thankful for the trend.

    It is always disheartening to hear other naturals say, “I was natural before the trend.” OK. Um. Thank you?

    Great post.

  13. Wow. This post really hit home. It has made me admit to myself that I had indeed succumbed to this “trend” especially since, when asked, I couldn’t give a true concrete answer as to why I went natural… (“my sis & cuz are natural, I did it for my daughter, etc.). Because I never really had problems w my relaxed hair. It was long and full and great… I mean, I thought I was the ish. Now that I’m natural, it is totally reshaping my personal idea of what makes ME & my hair beautiful. Now (w my conceited self) I’m thinking if I thought I was fly w a chemical relaxed, how much more hot will I b rocking my natural hair! Whaaat? Huh? Aw yeah boyee! Plus my husband and daughter will b equally doting. I just bc’d one month ago… and I am still adjusting to my new self. But I am excited (and still nervous) about this journey ahead of me and I plan to stay natural!

  14. I’m not typically a “trendy” person, however this “trend” I am most happy to be a part of! FAAAAABulous post Elle! Fabulous.

    1. Thank you! I’m with you, I think there is a negative connotation to the word trend sometimes, and some people are taking offense to labeling natural hair a trend. However, its visibility has increased so much, that even if it’s not a trend FOR YOU (like, I don’t think it’s trendy for me, I don’t want a relaxer again, nope nope!), it can be seen as one in society with a long lasting impact.

  15. You know, you have a great point! Back in the day, you hardly ever saw a natural haired woman in commercials (of any kind) unless she was Hispanic, Bi-racial, etc. Today, you can’t watch two minutes worth of commercials without seeing natural hair (not that I’m complaining 🙂 of ALL textures, lengths, and styles.

    I agree it’s a trend. Hell, even my boyfriend references hair style choices of patrons when describing the vibe of a new spot.

  16. You are absolutely right, it is a trend. You can safely say this based not only on personal observations, but also the fact that the media has caught on to the “trend,” seeing as though they create publicity based on current trends :-). Hence all the natural heads in commercials, where just a year ago, you wouldn’t see a single natural head in commercials, magazine adds, etc.

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