Natural hair appreciation has exploded in popularity in the last decade or two. For many years the only option for black women was to straighten their hair with harsh chemicals to be deemed societally acceptable or work in a corporate environment. Nowadays, an increasing number of black women are favouring their natural hair with a report from Mintel revealing that 40% of women have opted for chemical-free and heat-free styling. With a further 33% preferring heat-styling with no chemicals.
Before this though, there was a period where natural hair garnered a lot of bad press, due to stigma, racism and pure misinformation. So, in honour of World Afro day this month, we present to you, 7 myths we are told about our natural hair!
- Natural Hair Doesn’t Grow Past a Certain Length
This first myth is a pervasive one that many black women still believe to this day. Many believe that natural hair doesn’t grow past a certain length. When the truth is that kinky, coily hair on average grows at the same rate as straighter hair types but because of its coily nature it takes longer to see our length. The biggest difficulty that many black women face is retaining their length, not growing it.
Many black women experience what is often referred to as the hair length plateau. This is when you can’t seem to grow your hair past a certain length, be it nape length, shoulder-length or upper back length. If you’re experiencing this, you’ll probably find that your hair is growing just fine, but is simply breaking off at the same rate it’s growing. If you’re at a growth plateau it’s likely due to a poor hair care regime (or lack thereof).
We’ve got you covered, though! For tips on how to formulate your perfect hair care routine, click here!
- It’s Hard to Maintain
This is another commonly held misconception that is thrown about, often by people who don’t even have natural hair! Certainly, if you are used to having relaxed hair, weaves, or wigs, figuring out how to manage your natural hair will be a learning curve. This isn’t necessarily synonymous with it being harder to manage, however. Many naturals find that once they’ve got a hair care regime down that works for them, their hair is much easier and cheaper to manage!
- Natural Hair Isn’t Pretty or Attractive
For a long time, the media has perpetuated the idea that women with straight hair are more ideal. And if we’re going back even further, during the days of slavery black people were differentiated amongst if they had lighter skin or “good hair”. Essentially, the closer black people met the European standard of beauty, the more humanely they were treated in society. This created discord amongst the black community that still remains to this day.
Recently, however, natural hair appreciation is on the rise, and every day we see more and more women in real life and the media sporting their beautiful natural hair with pride!
- Natural Hair Doesn’t Look Professional
With the increasing popularity of the natural hair movement in the past two decades, beauty standards are changing. Previously, it wasn’t uncommon for black people to experience prejudice when wearing their natural hair, especially professionally. The texture of black people’s natural hair was a distinct target of discrimination during Jim Crow and slavery eras, of which we can still see the ramifications. Natural hairstyles such as afros were viewed as unruly and unprofessional, leaving black people who wanted to progress professionally to hide their hair away or alter it hair with chemicals or flat irons.
But beauty standards are changing – and so is the law. Virginia is soon to become the fourth state to enact the CROWN bill. The CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act, is a bill that protects people who feel they are being targeted by racist grooming obligations. And in the UK petitions have to put toward to end natural hair discrimination in the work place.
- The “Good Hair” Myth
Although completely untrue, it’s understandable why over the years people have this misperception. You don’t have to look far to find countless blogs, videos or articles describing natural afro and curly hair as “unruly, hard to tame or unmanageable”. The texture discrimination that exists around curly, kinky hair types is very real. With straighter hair types, that are more similar to European standards, being idealised.
Here at Curly & Wild, we know this to be completely untrue, of course.
We know natural hair is beautiful, versatile, has the ability to be moulded into almost any shape. Every texture of hair has pros and cons and whilst it may be true that natural hair requires slightly more specialist care. This doesn’t mean it’s not “good” hair.
- Natural Hair Is Too Dry
Dryness isn’t exclusive to kinky, coily hair and every hair type can experience dryness if not cared for correctly. It is true that due to the tight curl pattern of type 3,4 hair that the natural oils from the scalp take longer to distribute down the strand of hair. This is easily rectified with a hair routine that hydrates and moisturises the hair, however.
Check out our blog on the L.O.C (leave-in/liquid, oil, cream) method for tips on how to revive dry natural hair!
- Natural Hair Is Tough and Strong
Due to its voluminous nature and tightly wound coils, many people presume natural hair to be tougher and stronger than straighter hair types. This couldn’t be further from the truth, as anyone with natural hair will know type 3,4 hair requires a much gentler approach than other hairs types. Kinky, coily hair can be easily susceptible to breakage if not handled with love and care.
We’ve grown up with a lot of misinformation about natural kinky, coily hair over the years but with the CROWN Act and natural hair awareness increasing every day, these myths and misconceptions are being left in the past, where they belong.
If you don’t already, consider rocking your ‘fro or natural hair on September 15th for World Afro Day and always remember to love your natural kinks and curls and celebrate your hair with pride!