Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Let's LOVE Being Natural

This past Saturday I went to my stylist Giselle for a trim.  We started talking about how the rise of some negativity in the natural hair movement has saddened us.  Some of this is from women who are glad they went natural, but are not satisfied with their "grade" of hair and cannot see the beauty in their hair and themselves.  Others are criticizing women of mixed ethnic heritage or whose hair is a looser curl pattern, saying that those women's natural hair experiences don't really count because they don't really have "kinky" or "nappy" hair.

Giselle's new location is great; check it out!.
Salon: Dailey & Co.
Address: 1105 Mt. Vernon NE, Atlanta, GA 30328
Intersection: Mt. Vernon Highway NE and Peachtree Dunwoody Road NE

My discussion with Giselle reminded me of a post a friend of mine forwarded to me by a blogger named Veronica titled “Why I Stopped Blogging About Natural Hair.”  The writer bemoaned the online exchanges about who is really natural versus who isn’t based on hair texture, skin color, whether they wear their hair curly or blown out, and other such notions.  She called it “the equivalent of questioning whether one can be ‘black’ enough.”  I believe her assessment is spot-on.

I named my site Love Being Natural because LOVE is the operative word.  In bell hooks' book All About Love, she quotes M. Scott Peck's The Road Less Traveled, defining love as "the will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth."

I would say to anyone who is looking at herself, her hair, or someone else’s hair with a critical and hard heart; love and accept yourself; love and accept others.  Nurture a healthy self-concept and help others to do this as well.  A person who loves being natural would not hate on someone else’s experience or invalidate her own journey by saying that her hair isn’t good enough.   Black people have endured so much pain from outside our people-group, from our own people, and within our own families.  Some have watched a sister be treated poorly due to having darker skin and more tightly curled hair than her siblings.  We’ve seen the pendulum swing in the other direction, where lighter-skinned folks have to prove their loyalty by speaking, dressing and acting a certain way to be “down.”  This is not new.  This is rooted in the history of slavery and oppression and the ongoing journey of Black people to define their own humanity.  (A book that explores this history in detail, including the ugly intra-race hierarchy rooted in slavery-based colorism, is Hair Story by Ayana D. Bird and Lori L. Tharps; an enlightening read.)

What is tragic is that just when we are growing into self-acceptance in a non-politicized, organic way stemming from self-analysis and experimentation in self-expression, some are holding onto these “tests” without realizing the wide-ranging, long-term harm such words and actions are doing to us as a people-group and as part of the human race.

This movement to wear our hair in all of our natural textures is a wonderful thing.  Let’s not squander this great opportunity to develop healthy, loving relationships among each other as people of African descent.  Instead of continuing a legacy of hate, let us discover that we are all worthy and beautiful as we are.  Let’s embrace this understanding and wisdom, passing it on to our young girls and boys as the great legacy of this time.  Let’s truly LOVE BEING NATURAL.