For centuries African-American women have been taught to hate their nappy hair. Today, the descendants of those women have learned to embrace their kinky strands.
President of BOB Wholistic Health Natural Hair Studio Bob Johnson believes history and society play a role in African-Americans rejection of natural hair.
“I think that negative connotations and history have a lot to do with the way we as blacks view our hair,” Johnson said.
There is no such thing as going natural. “You can’t go natural. What you’re going is hot combed and relaxed,” Johnson said.
Misconceptions have kept African-American women from wearing their natural hair.
“It is too often that I hear people say they’re afraid to go natural because their natural hair is bad and unmanageable,” Johnson said.
According the book, “Going Natural: How to Fall in Love With Nappy Hair,” transitioning to natural does not have to be the headache it’s perceived to be. In the book, Author Mireille Liong- A-Kong advised readers that learning to deal with natural hair will make transitioning easier.
Natural hair model Ebony Lunsford said that before going natural, it is important to seek information.
“Do your research especially if you’ve always worn relaxed hair,” Lunsford said. “Get books on natural hair or go online. ”
The model also encouraged women looking to go natural to schedule a consultation with a local natural hair salon. With the help of a beautician, women can get assistance with finding the best route to take while converting to natural.
Women may choose to start their journey with what is commonly known as the “big chop.” Writers at Clutch Magazine said the big chop takes place when all chemically processed hair has been cut all at once.
Some women may not want to wear the small afro that comes after the big chop.
Clutch magazine informed readers that transitioning is another option. When transitioning, processed hair is gradually trimmed as natural hair grows, according to the magazine.
According to Liong-A-Kong, the inability for hair to grow long is a common misconception. She informed her readers that retaining length isn’t impossible. However, because of its fragile structure, it must be handled delicately.
The perceived lack of versatility and style often cause African American women to stay away from their curls.
Johnson said there is far too much emphasis placed on style.
“If we take the emphasis off artificial beauty opposed to true beauty and put it on health of the hair, then it somewhat helps a person,” Johnson said. “I believe in health over tradition.”
Lunsford agreed that health is extremely important. However, she viewed natural hair as the most versatile hair.
“There is so much you can do with natural hair,” Lunsford said. “You can wear your hair in locks or an afro. Your options are endless.”
Sharese Liggins, a second year biology student from Jacksonville, said that after going natural she became more conscious of the hair products she purchased.
“I pay close attention to every ingredient found in hair products,” Liggins said. “It becomes costly to buy natural products, but I think it’s worth it.”
There are several natural products on the market. However, Johnson said that few of them truly fit the bill.
“Most of your true natural products don’t come from your mainstream manufacturers,” Johnson said. “They come from small companies in the neighborhood who make the products themselves.”
The transition from a relaxer to natural is a process that starts from within.
“I think the hardest part of the transition process is the psychological aspect,” Johnson said. “Looking at going natural through a health prospective can make things much easier.”