“Going Natural” in the black community refers to a woman deciding to embrace the natural texture and curl pattern of her hair. While this might not seem like a big deal to most people, for black women it is a big step.
Going natural is the moment you decide to not be ashamed to wear your hair how it naturally grows out of your head. Wearing your hair natural includes but is not limited to afros, dreads, twists, twist-outs, bantu knots, or wash n’ go’s.
Some black women have always worn their hair natural but for a majority of millennials, going natural meant stopping the heat damage caused from constantly straightening your hair every day or to stop getting perm, also known as relaxers.
A relaxer is a mixture of chemicals combined to break down parts of the hair’s structure in order for it to take on a new form. Perms are very damaging because they cause constant breakage and strip the hair of much needed nutrients. They can even be painful and oftentimes stunt hair growth.
Not only can relaxers damage the hair and cause burns or ulcers on the scalp, the fumes and toxins from the chemicals could also be linked to bodily health issues and according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), can even cause blindness if the mixture comes into contact with someone’s eyes.
The shift between black women straightening their hair and wearing it natural is prevalent. In the 90’s, people thought that the straighter the hair the better, but as time went on more and more prominent black women began to embrace their hair. Erykah Badu, Solange Knowles, Tracee Ellis Ross and more are celebrities that aren’t afraid to wear their real hair out and in its original form. There are even more commercials and movies with black women wearing their natural hair now as compared to back in the day.
Christian Fontenot, a first year political science student says she was not always natural, but seeing some of her favorite celebrities with curly hair encouraged her to transition. Not only were her favorite celebrities going natural, her older sisters were also huge role models for her to transition into being her genuine self.
“I started to encourage girls to go natural because it was cool seeing others in their natural state, and when you feel free you want others to feel that same freedom and be comfortable with it.”
The benefits of going natural are endless. It gives a new sense of confidence, there are countless styles and different versions of how you can wear your hair because of the versatility, you save money on getting your hair done because you can simply do it yourself, and it is healthier for your hair and body.
Jahmai Barrow, a first year business administration student stated, “Your hair is your natural crown, and being natural makes me feel empowered because I can wear my hair however I please.”