Thenatural hair motion accepts black hair that is devoid of extensions, wigs or correcting chemicals. But why is natural hair viewed as political and exactly what sort of assistance does the motion have in Britain?
WhenKadian Pow was going to London from the United States in 2009 she was influenced to have her unwinded hair cut off and grow her natural curls after seeing a Matalan advert including a black design sporting an afro.
Shestates: “I was jealous of a model on a billboard. But I quickly snapped out of it, realising my own hair could do that.
“Bythe time I went back to the States, I had actually solved to stop unwinding the roots of my smooth bob. Four months prior to moving completely to the UK in April 2010, I had my hair stylist cut off the unwinded hair.
“I was left with a short crop of curls, what we in the natural hair community call a teeny weeny afro (TWA).”
Whileshe settled into her brand-new life in Britain, where she was a PhD scientist and assistant speaker in sociology at Birmingham City University, she started looking online for the best ways to look after her “growing mane”.
Shestates: “No-one ever taught me to properly nourish the kinky hair that naturally grows out of my scalp.
” I was taught just to tame and control it, as if it were some frightening monster. And, to be truthful, black females are frequently made to feel that method in casual and expert environments that register for stiff European charm suitables.”
Her experience is echoed by other black women, who have reported being told to straighten their hair for work in the UK, and in the US where natural hair advocates took on the army.
Presumably even someone as prominent as Michelle Obama felt the pressure to sculpt and straighten – last month a rare photograph emerged of her wearing her hair au naturel, in sharp contrast to the years she spent in the White House.
Khembé Clarke has been styling natural hair since the age of 15. Now 56, she organises the Return to your Roots natural hair event in Birmingham.
She says she started with a small-scale event in 2008 and since then there has been a “genuine cravings” for going natural.
When she opened her own salon in 2005 she said hairdressers offering to do natural hair were rare, but they became more in demand as women moved away from the weaves and perming chemicals that can lead to hair loss.
She says: “Weavingpositions stress on the hairline, which begins to decline; our hair is rather delicate and there was a motion in the States far from weaves and perms and to going natural.
“There was also a drive towards heritage, identity and a reawakening that our hair is part of who we are.
“Therewas a political resistance: why modification to be accepted or thought about expert?”
(********************************************************************************************************** )states that while the United States is “way ahead” in regards to the level of assistance for natural hair, the motion has actually acquired a great deal of assistance in the UK, especially amongst girls.
“It’s changing slowly, it comes from us not backing down. This is our hair, this is how it grows,”she states.
“There has been an unconscious bias and a lack of understanding for how our hair is, with schools thinking perms are standard without realising the regime required to achieve that.
“Professionallytoo, a great deal of our females are worried – they currently feel victimized for being black, [they worry] can I go to be and work accepted [with natural hair]?”
Indeed hair care product company SheaMoisture recently faced a backlash over its advertising campaign which was accused of making black women invisible.
The natural hair movement is huge on social media; in the UK vloggers have created hundreds of YouTube tutorials about caring for and styling natural hair.
Shannon Fitzsimmons, from Mitcham, London, who blogs as UK Curly Girl, says women regularly contact her with questions about natural hair.
She says: “Themost popular concerns individuals have about going natural are; ‘ButI have no idea if I will like my natural hair?’ ‘Wherecan I get my natural hair cut?’ and ‘Whatitems should I utilize to stop my hair from ending up being dry?'”
She has written a book, titled Get My Curls Back!, which is all about her natural hair journey. It includes a small dictionary of the phrases that have sprung up around natural hair.
Co-wash – Washing your hair using conditioner only, to avoid the harsh chemicals in shampoo and to retain moisture
Pineapple – The style of wearing your hair up in a loose ponytail, which is great for sleeping as it will reduce frizz and keep curls intact
She says when she began blogging in 2014 the natural hair movement in the UK was just beginning to take off but since then it had seen a huge rise in popularity.
“I am so delighted to have actually belonged of the entire scene, seeing a few of my preferred natural hair brand names going from tough to obtain a hold of to now being quickly available to everybody in the UK by means of mainstream charm/cosmetic shops.”
Alongside the videos, women use a variety of hashtags around natural hair to share their own experiences, styles and advice on sites like Instagram and Twitter.
According to social media analysis tool Spredfast there were 554,048 posts using the hashtag #naturalhair on Instagram in the first two months of 2017. The posts received 1,646,842 comments and 81,303,058 likes.
On Twitter for the same period 49,745 tweets used the same hashtag.
It was this online community that Kadian Pow turned to, where she found mostly black and mixed-race women sharing their own journeys and knowledge.
And she says while her reasons for wanting to grow natural hair weren’t political, she feels calling it a movement is correct.
“‘Movement’ is an appropriate term for the broadening constellation of natural hair care masters, companies little and big, hair care videos, style and devices generated from the resourcefulness of black females.
“There is an economic advantage that has come from all this, but most movements are inherently political, as they involve people working together to advance shared ideals.
“Thestructure of the natural hair motion is that the hair curling from our heads is innately stunning and ought to be complimentary to exist that method.”
Black natural hair by: Pamela Hendrix published: