Is It Just Hair? Or Is It More Than That?

This morning, I was doing my usual web-trolling and hit up one of my faves, Curly Nikki. I love reading her "Naturally Glamorous" section that highlights round-the-way chicks who wear their hair in its natural state. I always love to read their techniques and favourite products (even though most aren't even available in Canada) to see what new and wonderful things I can try with my 'do. However, when reading about today's featured "Naturally Glamorous" girlie, I read something that made me do a serious *pause*:

"How do you maintain length? Moisture? My routine is all about moisturizing at each step and often with water, oils, and leave-ins. I avoid heat and tension at all costs and never go to bed without covering my head or otherwise allow my hair to come into contact with rough materials. *I even took the headrest out of my car, partly so my hair could fit, but also because I hated it rubbing against my hair.*"

Curly Nikki's Naturally Glamorous post

Accompanying this quote was a photo of the featured Natural honey, driving her car with NO HEADREST. As in, choosing to risk serious head and neck injury for the sake of her curls. And I thought to myself, "Is it REALLY that serious?"

I ride both sides of the fence at times.

Sometimes, I sit on the side that embraces the "natural movement" as something more than hair. Because so many thought natural hair could never look good, I was fixated on making sure mine looked GREAT. When little girls (like my goddaughter and niece) tell their parents that they want to wear their hair like mine, part of me smiles at the small victory of Black girls wanting to look like themselves, not Hannah Montana. I can sometimes relate to the autobiographies of women who have transitioned or big-chopped, who shed tears of joy and self-acceptance when they first wore their Afros out proudly. Memes of embracing oneself, of rejecting Eurocentric standards of beauty, and representing a huge part of the Black identity all touched me at one point or another, and made this natural journey an all-encompassing thing.

Then, on the other hand, sometimes it's not that serious.

Men called me "Empress" and "Queen" when I started wearing my natural curls, but I never got these revered titles when my hair was relaxed. All I did was change my hairstyle....did that mean my inner spirit changed too? My flaws and negative attributes didn't all disappear with the relaxer, so while I smiled at these new titles, I didn't see the point. Sometimes I'd read other naturalistas' regimens and wonder if any of them have friends or full time work - some of their routines were more complicated than university algebra taught in Latin. Then you get the Natural Nazis, ready to jump down anyone's throat who dared flat iron, colour, or use "curl definition" products on their tresses. If I had a penny for every time someone argued about what is and isn't considered natural, I'd have a whole lot of pennies.

As the years go by with me wearing my hair sans-relaxer, the more I see the importance in maintaining perspective. At times, I think people get so caught up in what their hair represents, that they forget to just enjoy their hair. Have fun. Cut it. Colour it. Weave it for the winter and flaunt your new growth in the summer. Let it be whatever you want it to be. Do that while still remembering and respecting that for many, this is a huge deal. Maybe not for you, but for that woman who never thought you could hold a corporate position with natural hair. Or maybe for that little girl who was going to ask her Mom for a perm, but points at you and now might just ask her to do "whatever that lady did". But please, keep things in perspective. Know when to breathe, put down the Miss Jessie's (or whatever product you're addicted to), and step away from the bathroom mirror. And if you find yourself Googling "how to remove a car headrest", that might be one of those times. Just sayin'.

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