Going Natural: An Unappealing Trend


PSA: Do you know, every 17 seconds a black woman declares, “I am going natural!” Okay, so maybe that’s an exaggeration and there really isn’t an actual statistic on the rate of women transitioning to natural but the point is clear-going Au Naturale has been a major movement for black women in recent months. And as more and more black women jump on the “natural bandwagon,” a part of a movement or trend,  the more “well-informed” they become.

First, it is vital to explain what going natural means.  It simply refers to anyone transitioning from chemically straightened hair to their natural texture. The process is done by permanently stopping the application of relaxers/perms.  By doing so, this allows the hair to grow out the perm and be completely free of its chemicals.

Black women who have finally become completely natural are suddenly overcome with feelings of liberation, newness, and wisdom.  All of a sudden, they are more “black” and more “informed” because they no longer put chemicals on their hair to alter their curl pattern and are more “enlightened” than women whose hair are relaxed.

A few weeks ago at a program hosted by a local African organization, the theme was about African stereotypes, although you can imagine that things tend to digress.  Somehow the focus became about Black hair after a personal comment was made by one young lady.  She started first with a disclaimer; stating that the main reason she gets a relaxer is not to favor the looks of a European as many blacks conclude, but because her hair texture in its natural state is unmanageable.  Poor word choice? An au naturale woman from the audience who wore her hair in a short fro did not like that the young lady used the word “unmanageable” to describe the natural texture of her hair.  The truth is, nappy would have been a better word but if she dared say that, she would have been verbally assaulted.  Since when did unmanageable become the new word for nappy?  Perhaps her political correctness was strategic not to agitate the “Sistah Soulja’s” in the room.  Another natural haired female took offense and accused the girl of lacking “self-love” because she chose to perm her hair.  The audacity of her to make such a statement because of someone else’s harmless choice.  And to that I say, “shut up!”  Are you more black then the relaxed sister because you grew your perm out.  Do all black woman need to be natural, dread locked with a fist up to prove that they are any more black than the next female?  No! Keep in mind, before “seeing the light,” this newly natural student was relaxed, though now she feels enlightened and wise above all.  Unfortunately, the accuser continued to speak and explained that the reason why black women have to continue to reapply relaxers to their perm-addicted roots is to maintain a texture that naturally, they do not have.  She pointed out that black hair is not meant to be straight like a white persons and that is why, even when you straighten it chemically, it still grows back to its natural state. Who knew that one lacks self-love if they consider their hair texture to be unmanageable and decides that relaxing it would make it more easy to work with and style.

Obviously, not all black women’s hair is the same.  While one person may have a looser curl pattern another may have a tighter one.  The problem is, too often people compare their hair to the next black woman though she may struggle with very tightly coiled hair.  Instead of making comparisons which make it difficult to understand that hair textures vary, people need to know that because there are various hair textures, people’s experiences are different.

Three weeks ago, an anonymous natural “recruiter” pitched some non- persuasive lines to try to get me to transition.  She said, “Oh my!  Your hair would look so beautiful natural, you should consider it.”  Uninterested, yet respectable, I tried to change topics as it normally tends to escalate into heated debate.  She then listed reasons why I should join the natural movement.  Her first reason was, I should embrace my natural hair texture. 2, It’s the best thing for my hair and 3, I will love the way it looks.  However, I am perfectly content in my decision to be relaxed.

Natural women need to quit thinking that the reason why black women are relaxed is because they are influenced by western ideas of beauty as portrayed on TV and magazines. While for some that may be the case-they want straighter hair to look less ethnic, but it does not apply to all.  The choice to be natural or relaxed should be a personal decision respected by all.

By: Ashley I. Okonkwo

Photo Credit: http://sincerelyshanae.blogspot.com/2011/07/transitioning-to-natural-hair.html




  1. I completely agree. To each his/her own. Going natural might not work for everyone. Even though my hair is natural I have my moments when I want to just put a relaxer in it to make it more “manageable”. I hate it when fellow natural hair ppl try to make ppl who relax their hair feel bad, it’s their hair not yours! Shoot I get my natural hair pressed most times and ppl criticize me for that. Oh well, it’s not that serious! Life goes on.

  2. Lol. Ok let me say this. This same attack (for lack of a better word) you feel is the same some women who went natural a few years back felt by the “relaxed” crew.

    I know a friend that went natural a few years ago and she said all her friends were always telling her to quit walking around with nappy hair like a damn slave. The same is experienced with most girls with natural hair in nigeria. Hell I have some friends who won’t talk to a girl if her hair is natural or short. For some black men, long flowing hair is considered beautiful and natural hair is not.

    Historically black women(and men actually) applied relaxer to their hair to make it more straight like the white people. Inferiority complex if you will. Just like the skin lightening creams from back in the day. Nappy hair was bad hair, and str8 hair was “good hair.” It was all part of an inferiority complex that black people in their natural form are not goodlooking and needed to either have some white traits or features to be good looking.

    Now I agree times have changed and most of it now is just part of our way of life. But in my opinion, the history of how it started is what I have an issue with.

    It’s all personal choice so I don’t think it’s fair to bash anyone who doesn’t want to be natural and think they are less black. At the end of the day it’s all about what you’re comfortable with.

  3. As for me and my house, going natural has been one of the best things that we have decided to do. I even believe it has brought us closer in a way, especially with my sister because we are constantly talking to each other about our hair/ what new hairstyles we can do. I encourage everyone i know to try it because at the end of the day God gave you that specific curl pattern and no matter how much creamy crack you put in it, you still end up with the new growth which is naturally you. But at the end of the day i get your point. Everyone has the right to do whatever they want with their hair. This is a topic that black girls will always argue about even friends.

  4. I love my natural hair and I'm glad many of my black sisters have jumped on the "bandwagon". Not only does is this MOVEMENT/REVOLUTION signify the change in the way we BLACK women view beauty, its simply better and healthier for our hair.

    We weren't born during the time when perms became popular; when every black woman jumped on that "bandwagon". And who's to say this bandwagon isn't the message we needed to break free of the brainwashed mentality we suffer from. I do believe women who are natural have a better sense of SELF, her history and what it means to be black. She doesn't care what the media or society says about her hair – she is proud of her naps, she is proud of her NATURAL self.

    As far as hair being "unmanageable"..God wouldn't give us anything he felt we couldn't handle. Aside from that, there are far too many natural hair products that help untangle, condition and moisturize hair to make that silly excuse. There are also many hair styles that can be done with natural hair. You dont have to constantly worry about damaging, or your hair breaking because you don't have a perm. In its natural state, black hair is the strong; the way God intended for it to be. We were not born with straight hair and I believe we shouldn't modify our image to be accepted by society.

  5. Just because im not a walking display of my “culture” doesnt mean i dont embace it… if thats the case people should only wear lace and natives or the traditional african attire. Most of these people are following the trend and still wearing weaves. I respect those who go natural but for me it is a personal choice not to. And as a Nigerian woman I embrace my culture everyday, my hair doesnt need to look a certian way for me to do that.

  6. This article speaks volumes about this natural/permed hair issue. everyone needs to know that going natural is a choice and its shouldn't be seen as a state of being to make you embrace who you are or what you're supposed to be. I just went natural recently and there are its pros and cons. For me I only went natural because I always like to change the look and style of my hair. One day I may end up going back to perm. At the end of the day, it's my hair and I could do what i want with it no matter what anyone thinks. "To each his/her own"

  7. it's a choice! i went natural over a year ago. got tired of my hair breakin n growin but it never did grow beyond a specific length. then d chemical started messin w/ my hairline. so i gave it all up. no weaving and no relaxer. i feel so freakin relieved. mind u i was discouraged! mostly by men! and i remember 1 female friend tellin me dat no man wud find me attractive n that ny man who tells me they like my hair is deceiving me. i stuck to my decision. n im happier. less stress! i dnt even do all d routine stuff dat r recommended online. it's a personal choice; whether u choose 2 stay permed or go natural.

  8. I believe this article is very enlightening. Going natural is a decision that no one should be forced into doing. Deciding to relax your hair does not make anyone less BLACK or a SLAVE to a perm. I think that it is crazy that going natural has given people the misconception that hair texture is the only way we as women can embrace our culture. I am a proud black women with relaxed hair, and having my hair relaxed does not take part of who I am or my culture.

  9. people should feel free to do whatever they want to do with THEIR hair as they see fit.. if i say my hair is "unmanageable" and i feel to put a perm in it then what's it to you??? you're not the one combing or whatever.. and for the record, i really dont pay much mind to the folks who suddenly go natural and now they're enlightened or whatever.. i had to put a girl in her place the other day because my hair has always been natural and when i'm in the mood i blowdry it and it looks like straight hair, without the perms or breakage… so when i hear people talkin about "oh i'm natural blah blah blah".. i really feel like saying "cut the bs… there are people who have always had natural hair, other races have always had natural hair.. just because you just got put on to it means its suddenly NOW good? umm no.. you're just late to the party".. dont get me wrong.. i applaud any woman who has decided to keep her hair in the natural state in which it grows but don't hate on anybody else for their choices.. me personally, i've never had need for a relaxer, did it – just to see, most people weren't even aware i had done anything because it looked the same before and after.. so it was a waste of money to me but i personally did not like the way relaxed hair feels when wet.. it lacks the shine and luster of my natural hair… people should really just worry about their own hair…. dont worry about the next girl.. worry about you.. can you manage your own hair? if so, then there's no problem.. having your hair natural doesnt make you any more self loving or conscious.. that's a fallacy.