Is kink the new straight?
The natural hair movement has seen tremendous growth in recent times. The narrative on the conversation around the appropriation of black culture in the West has changed from thinking less of natural African hair, to being part of main stream culture going beyond just black women but other women as well.
What has this done in our continent? There has been a rise of not only women sharing their stories of natural hair and how to keep natural hair by beauty bloggers, lifestyle experts.
Companies are also recognizing the need to custom-make their products to meet the growing need for natural hair products. We are seeing advertising specifically targeting women with natural hair. This has also challenged women who usually kept straight to embrace the new wave of the natural hair movement, and become the naturalista woman of the 21st century.
What this has done is challenged not only maintaining hair for the average women and diminishing notions that natural hair is difficult, but defied and revolutionized beauty standards. For a lot of us, growing up meant you had your monthly appointments to the salon, the lady who does your hair was always disappointed by the “growth” in your hair and you only looked pretty once you straightened your hair with a relaxer or hot iron. However, what a lot of us didn’t realise was the damage was not only to our scalp but also our pride. We now recognize that natural hair is pretty legit and here are some of the effects of the growing movement.
Cultural shift because of natural hair
The return to natural hair has given confidence to African women to embrace their “crowns” as pro natural women like to call it. We have seen celebrities like Janelle Monae, Viola Davis and Chimamanda Ngozi celebrate natural hair which has given women the permission to embrace their hair. This has also defied the western notion of straight hair as the standard for beauty. The biggest market for natural hair is in Africa, and this has meant more and more women feel comfortable with showing their kinks which is becoming the new normal.
Costs for keeping natural hair
Unfortunately (and ironically) maintaining natural hair is still quite expensive compared to straight hair, as it requires organic hair products that are costly. Some entrepreneurs have recognized this gap and demand for natural hair products and have thus exploited the demand for natural conscious salons and hair dressing. While tips and tricks on how to care for the kink exists online, it still is difficult to find affordable products locally. Countries such as Ghana, Nigeria and others have moved forward in this regard and are thus the main suppliers to the rest of the continent. Natural hair lovers do share affordable ways to maintain hair by yourself which is what a lot of women prefer to do considering the cost currently.
As the shift takes place, women who choose to keep straight hair are now considered “plastic” or “fake” due to the celebration of kinky hair. While this new embrace if natural hair is beautiful and necessary in moving us forward to embracing cultural heritage, women feel beautiful in the way they are born and texture of their hair should be loved, it has now made those who choose to keep their hair straight criticized unfairly. Women in consideration of celebrating differences should be allowed to embrace their “crown” no matter which style they decide to rock.
Embrace YOUR choice of crown.
By: Lesego Otlhabanye