I titled this post “Self Preservation and the Case for Natural Hair,” because when you really think about it all any of us are trying to do is preserve ourselves from day to day. Yet there are some things that Americans just can’t give up – debt, cigarettes and reality tv come to mind. Just the same, there are some things that black women refuse to give up as well. Everything Mary Jane Paul wants in life comes to mind. Relaxers and long, luxurious hair come to mind when thinking of this in the context of black women.
Even with relaxers losing popularity every day, black women still have a preoccupation with long hair. Yes, I wear my hair longer, but I’ve worn it short before and enjoyed it just as much. Natural hair does not automatically equate to healthy hair and if you ask any good, honest natural she will tell you healthy hair doesn’t come easy or cheap.
So why make that change and give up the creamy crack? Because not too surprisingly the natural hair movement has also equated to somewhat of a natural well being movement among black women. Some feel that they no longer have to worry about sweating out perms so are free to go to the gym. Others begin a lifestyle change with only using natural products on their hair and then decide that they don’t want harsh chemicals anywhere else in or on their bodies. For example, the use of natural oils and products such as coconut oil on hair have opened up the door for discovering their uses and benefits on skin and in cooking as well. And then there is the camaraderie among naturals. Possibly nothing else has brought black women together in decades as much as the most recent natural hair movement. Inquiring sisters are not afraid to ask others questions and the network of bloggers, stylists and healthcare gurus seems almost limitless at this point. Instead of tearing each other down we are complimenting each other on hair, asking each other questions and giving genuine answers. There is really nothing like that moment when you see old acquaintances and meet natural hair superstars at natural hair events. Conversations quickly turn to more than just hair care and all of a sudden women are having an open dialogue about relationships, colorism, sexism, workplace politics, pop culture and everything in between.
I hope this bonding goes beyond the natural hair care aisle and natural events and reaches out into the community. Black women are often so busy making sure that everyone else is okay that we forget about taking care of ourselves. You’re no good to anyone else if you haven’t taken care of yourself and get worn out. I have to remind myself of this more and more lately. Ironically, sometimes when I really need to clear my head and some me time, wash day is a must – whether it is at home or an appointment with one of my stylists. That me time is usually much-needed and while it is work, it is also time with yourself. Hopefully with beautiful results.