It’s no coincidence that the natural hair business and communities are booming. When I went natural almost five years ago, I was excited. With an absolute foreign sense of my own hair, I embraced my natural hair because I didn’t “know that it could do that.”
When I finally big chopped and came to grips with my natural hair, I felt conflicted. Yes, I was happy to be in love with my hair, but I saw dissonance among the natural hair community; dissonance that although one was natural, you needed to be a certain kind of natural, that you had to enter the cause in another way and usually due to a political reason. It was in that space that I learned about a kind of “natural hair recruiting.” Not nearly as in your face as some other groups, natural hair recruiting can also be introduced as education or enlightening. I saw women show powerpoints and slideshows to their friends and their daughters because they wanted to “show them what we could be.” I was never opposed to the principle, but questionable of the method.
My issue with some natural hair recruiting methods comes from the incentive to go natural. Instead of showing beautiful inspiring pictures, they are often replaced with horrifying images of chemical burn or the “no edges crew.” Tales of self-acceptance are often replaced by stories of women permanently damaging their scalps through the misuse of relaxers, weaves or lace fronts. Words of encouragement are replaced by captions telling you to “go natural before it kills you.” I somewhat understand bringing the ignorant to the light, but why would such images be necessary? Surely the beauty is enough, right?
But for some, it may not be enough. I envision horrifying tales of relaxers to the same involving steroids – yes, we know they aren’t good for us, but those who want to use them will do so anyway. Furthermore, with education it’s completely realistic to have healthy relaxed hair. Wearing my natural hair was the right thing for me to do, but it may not be the same for someone else.
People will stick to what they’re comfortable with. When women want to go natural, they will. We all have different journeys and we sell ourselves short by forcibly creating someone else’s.
Do you recruit other women to go natural? What do you think of videos meant to encourage women to go natural due to the dangers of relaxers?
This article also appears on Black Girl with Long Hair.