Thoughts on Hair Texture
I recently watched a natural hair vlogger on youtube discussing the issue of hair texture within the natural hair community. She asked a number of good questions regarding the attitude of some within the natural hair community towards tighter, coarser hair textures. She felt that there was a hierarchy of natural hair, with looser curl textures perhaps being favoured above tighter coarser textures. She suggests that there is a natural hair 'look' which is more acceptable and sought after by many naturals or those looking to go natural, and how those with the idealised natural hair 'look' were seemingly more popular on youtube than those with tighter textures.
I thought the questions she raised were very good and I would agree with many of the points she mentioned as I have seen in my own experience how these attitudes are very real. So is there really a hair hierarchy in the natural hair community? Is there one particular hair aesthetic which is idealised within and without the natural hair community?
To these two questions I would answer yes, I think there is.
But why are looser hair textures seemingly preferred?
It seems to me that many prefer loose textures or hair textures which have a bit of 'hang' not first and foremost because they are more 'manageable' but more so because of the way they look. That particular aesthetic is desirable to many. I think this preference can be seen within the natural hair community and wider afield too.
I believe this is the attitude of many even outside of the natural hair community as I have experienced this attitude personally in regards to my daughters. My daughters are of mixed heritage and they have loosely curly, ringlet type texture. I have had so many comments from strangers about their "lovely" hair. I wonder why is their hair seen as better than any other hair type? There is beauty in all hair types and textures! When I receive these comments I usually say something like "your hair is lovely too". To which the reply is usually "no, it's not".
But why not?
Another experience I had was when someone had made another lovely hair comment about my eldest daughter and then another person who was present turned to me and said " I bet you're jealous"!! I couldn't believe it! I then calmly answered, "No i'm not, why should I be?". There was no reply. I then continued to tell the person that I was happy with my hair texture...but there was still no reply. Perhaps that person thought that I must really hate my kinky hair, probably first and foremost because of the way it looked. If I had the same hair texture as my daughter's or straight hair like the person commenting did, I doubt whether such a comment would have been made.
I am so thankful that I can now say that I love my kinky texture, and I love my daughters' ringlet curls and my husband's wavy caucasian hair too!. There is no hierarchy in my mind!
Is aesthetics at the heart of why perhaps many women who have kinkier, tighter hair feel insecure about wearing their own hair texture? If really kinky, coily tightly curled hair was highly desirable in today's society I believe many people would happily put aside the "it's not manageable" excuse and be prepared to wear their natural hair because it was idealised and stylish.
I know that I desired a particular texture when I first went natural and it was only after I big chopped I realised that my hair wasn't like the 4a's and b's I had been watching on youtube. Since then I have grown to appreciate and see the beauty in my really kinky hair but I think there are still many who follow a hair hierarchy.
Society's construction of aesthetics play a major part in our perceptions of beauty. Our perception of what is beautiful is shaped by many external factors like our upbringing, our social groups, television, film, literature and the internet. I'm sure there are so many reasons why a hair hierarchy has developed, probably too many to discuss in one post.
But one reason I would mention, which naturalfashionista highlighted was the fact that kinky hair is under represented in the natural hair community. If there were more images and videos of really kinky haired women growing their hair well then perhaps many more people would start to feel more comfortable with their own kinky hair texture.
We need to be satisfied and confident with what we have regardless of the mainstream idea of beautiful hair is. I hope that in the coming years kinkier hair will be more represented in the natural hair community and in the wider community too.