Let me start by saying, I’m a mixed gal! I’m a mash up of different ethnicities and as such my hair is also a mash up of different textures; both type 3 and type 4 textures. I wanted to start by mentioning this because far too often I receive messages from women telling me they wish they had my hair or how much they hate their natural hair and how terrified they are to go natural because they don’t have ‘good’ hair’! But what qualifies someone as having good hair? Let that sink in…
Even though I am mixed, I still very much identify as a woman of color, and I too understand how difficult it can be to learn how to embrace our natural hair. We live in a society that has lead us to believe that long, straight hair is attractive and ‘black hair’ is only seen as ‘good’ or attractive if it has been chemically relaxed. These are the myths that we need to first unlearn in order to fully embrace our natural selves.
Whether you’ve noticed it or not, texture discrimination is very real within the natural hair community. We see this on hair blogs, natural hair Instagram accounts and even in natural hair advertisements. The representation of type 3 haired women is much more prevalent in the natural hair community than type 4 hair tresses. Type 3 ladies dominate because our views of beauty have been formed from European standards. So wavy, curly or mixed hair textures are more widely accepted because they fit the closest to these Eurocentric views. And though I do fall into this mixed gal category, I still see it necessary to address the issue of ‘good hair’.
Firstly, ‘good hair’ is NOT determined by the length of our hair nor is it determined by our hair texture. ‘Good Hair’ is HEALTHY HAIR! Point Blank!
My hair journey started with Tumblr and Youtube. I sat up late at nights, looking on photos or videos of women of color with natural hair. It was inspiring to find the most breathtaking photos showing just how beautiful and varied our hair could be. That said, I do not view black hair as being ‘course’ or ‘nappy’ just because it doesn’t look like the hair textures mostly seen in mainstream media. Instead I think of it as being extraordinarily stunning. Whether you have Type 4 or type 3 textures, both are just as beautiful in texture. But what sets your hair a part is when it is healthy and flourishing.
The first step to embracing your own natural hair it to first change your overall perception of what is considered to be beautiful. I once read a quote that said, ‘remove the kinks from your mind and not your hair.’ I couldn’t agree more with that statement. By adjusting your lens to black beauty you will be able to better accept your hair in it’s entirety, no matter the length or texture.
It is a beautiful thing when a woman is able to love and accept herself in her most raw and natural state. When you begin to accept yourself and obviously your hair too, there is this boost of confidence that surges through your body because you are finally feeling comfortable in your own skin. Curly, Coily or Kinky hair comes with its own quirks, but these are the quirks we must learn to love and accept. If you are set on how you believe your hair needs to look, your journey will become very frustrating. But if you love and accept your mane for what it is and focus on how to care for it you will become unstoppable.
Once you are able to view all textures of hair as beautiful then your next step is to learn and educate yourself on natural hair. Specifically your own hair. Let me start by saying, everything that I have done with my hair thus far has been a trial and error affair.
When I finally went natural, the beginning of my journey was tough because I was re-educating myself on my own hair. Through much trial and error I discovered the products and techniques that worked best with my hair and what did not. You have to find out what works for YOU and that took me a while to realize in the beginning of my journey.
Every popular product that hits the market does not have to work for your hair. My sister and I share very similar hair textures yet we don’t share the same views on all products. Case in point, Cantu’s Curl Defining Gel gives me soft bouncy curls while it leaves my sister with stiff, crunchy curls. On the other hand she loves Cantu’s Leave-In Conditioner and I am not particularly fond of it. My point is, if one product doesn’t work for you, you shouldn’t immediately give up on the brand or on your hair. You have to keep trying new things to figure out what actually does and doesn’t work.
No one, not even your favorite Youtuber or blogger (including myself) can tell you the perfect formula for taking care of your curls, coils and kinks. Only YOU can! And yes it may seem a little daunting at first but it will be worth it in the end because you will be more in tune with your hairs needs. But if you aren’t sure where to start, seek out women with similar hair textures as you and have plenty of experience with it. I know I just said our hair is very unique so what works from some may not work for others. But looking for guidance through someone else’s trials of success and failure may help reduce the stress of finding what works for you.
When you embrace your hair for what it is and what it is not, I guarantee your hair journey will get easier. Remember our hair will occasionally switch personalities, so when she decides not to cooperate with you, be patient and try again. If you feel overwhelmed throughout your journey seek out online pages that celebrate natural hair, and spend hours drinking in the beauty that us black women have to offer. In truth the mental part is the hardest part of our natural hair journey and that is the part we all must first conquer to move forward to full self acceptance.
Since I’ve been on the topic of focusing on hair health, I want to take this time to tell you guys that I’ve teamed up with another Jamaican owned brand, Tropic Isle Living! I think by now you know how important it is for me to support my roots [both my heritage and my hair]. With Tropic Isle Living I’m able to do both through their line of hair and skin care products formulated around the very popular JAMAICAN BLACK CASTOR OIL!
The usage of black castor oil for hair and scalp care is deeply rooted in Jamaican culture. We Jamaicans turn to black castor oil to help protect and restore our hair to its original state of good health. So if you are ready to embrace your hair and want to focus on a healthy scalp and having healthier, stronger hair, I invite you to try these products when or if you get the chance [P.S. I have much more to share about these oils, so stay tuned]. Talk Soon. Nuff Love, Natasha ♥