If you haven’t noticed, kinky-curly natural hair is everywhere: in movies and magazines, in the cities and in the suburbs, from the runways of Paris to the sidewalks of Crenshaw Blvd. Across the world more and more black women are ditching their relaxers and embracing their natural hair textures, joining what is being called a natural hair movement.
According to a study conducted by Mintel, a consumer spending and market research firm, the number of “natural” black women (those that do not use products to chemically relax or straighten their hair) rose from 26 percent in 2010 to 36 percent in 2011. According to this same study, the sale of at home relaxer kits also dropped 17 percent between 2006 and 2011.
Shakonda Harts, 37, a songwriter residing in West Adams, found the inspiration to ditch her relaxer from her six-year-old daughter.
“I was dealing with her hair and saw how fast it grew, how strong it was and how beautiful it was. I realized I don’t ever want her to ever think that she needs to relax her hair just to look like me,” said Harts. With that in mind, Harts did her “big chop”, cutting off all of her relaxed hair leaving only a ‘Teenie Weenie Afro’.
“It was very freeing. It was like, ‘this is me and I don’t care who likes it’,” said Harts.
A problem that many naturals face is that some people, especially those close to them, don’t approve of their decision. When Nkoyo Adolf, 32, first went natural in 2002 with a big chop, she recalls her Nigerian mother screaming, “What did you do to your hair? You look like a baby! Nobody is going to want you!” to which she responded, “It’s not a big deal, it’s hair. Hair will grow back.”
While many argue that natural hair is not for everyone, naturals like Jemila Pratt will tell you different.
“Our hair is beautiful, irrespective of however it grows out of your head and you should rock it, it’s yours,” said Pratt, who is a 6th grade teacher living in Inglewood and a natural of 17 years. Though, she admits to having her fair share of natural hair struggles, from breakage to overall bad hair days, she says that she always knew that no matter what she would never return to relaxing her hair. “There’s a certain amount of confidence you have to have irrespective of what other people say around you. It’s who you are,” said Pratt.
Many naturals gain that confidence and find support from the online natural community that is the driving force behind the movement. With natural hair gurus on YouTube, blogs, forums, and websites giving expert advice and encouraging women to embrace their natural hair, taking the leap into the natural hair world is a lot less intimidating.
Angel Jordan, owner and creator of “K is for Kinky” (kisforkinky.com), provides readers with the latest and greatest in the beauty, fashion, and natural hair world. Jordan started her site in 2008 in hopes of starting a conversation about kinky hair for which at that time there was no platform.
“I started my site because I needed a therapy for myself and I thought maybe there would be one or two people who could relate,” said Jordan. After about a year, as the natural movement spread, Jordan noticed that she had a serious following. Now “K is for Kinky” is one of the top go-to sites for naturals all over the world.
The big question left about the natural hair movement: Is it just a trend? Maybe.
“I think for some people it is a trend and for others it is a right of passage in our life, its life changing,” said Jordan.