July 26, 2011

Natural is Natural is Natural…Right?


There has always been this sense of competition among black women.  I am sure other races experience it too on some level but it seems to be more prevalent in our community.  It starts on the childhood playground and spills over into adult hood.  You feel it in the office when you walk into the cafeteria.  A table of black women look in your direction, eye you from head to toe followed by the twisted curved lips to the left.  You return an awkward smile but in your head knowing they have somehow formed an opinion about you prior to ever meeting you. 

Its girls’ night.  You and your girls go to a nice lounge for drinks, good music and the opportunity to dish.  What happens as soon as you walk in?  A woman standing at the bar with her man gives you and your friends the once over and suddenly moves closer to his side.  The natural community is unfortunately no exception. 

The hair typing system created to aid naturals in hair care has created a great hair divide.  Andre Walker, Oprah’s stylist credited with creating one of the systems which breaks down hair textures based on curl pattern and shape.  When I first went natural, I did not know such a formal guide existed.   I simply learned through trial and error, what worked and what didn’t work.

Click here for a detailed breakdown of Andre’s system.

We’ve all heard about Walker’s recent interview with Elle which has caused quite an uproar in the natural hair community.  As a result, he responded and you can check that out on his site.
I recently went to a dinner party and 90% of the women present were naturalistas.  When I walk in, right away, I have a big smile on my face because of the obvious commonality and say my hellos.  Quite “naturally” the conversation turned to hair and how long you’ve been natural, what products everyone uses, etc.  I immediately was met with the “oh, you have good hair, you don’t count”.  What the what?  *eyes widen*.  Excuse me?  So I don’t count because I have what is considered type 3 hair?  This is not the first time this has happened.  I have frequently received the cold shoulder from fellow naturals who don’t deem my hair kinky enough, or not nappy enough.  Some say my struggle isn’t their struggle because I don’t have the same issues or challenges that a type 4 may experience.  My response is usually that all hair types have pros and cons.  No two manes are alike and it is important to educate yourself on your hair type so that you can combat your hair struggles.  I’ve heard someone say just because two women share the “natural hair bond” doesn’t mean they will automatically be natural sisters.  I agree from the standpoint that not all people will get along, regardless of hair texture.  However, our hair texture differences should not automatically put as at opposite ends.  Why not use that commonality as a source of bonding rather than a point of contention?  I find that to be trivial and non productive.  Why do we need to find yet another reason to conflict?  Why all the focus on hair type anyway? 
Let’s be clear, I’ve had some very positive experiences as well so I am not saying this happens 100% of the time. 

What about everyone else?  Have you been snubbed by a fellow natural based on hair type?


Samara said...

I am guilty of thinking women with a looser curl pattern has it easier than I do. However I don't shun them, or belittle their advice. I agree that natural is natural. Everyone is welcomed to give advice to me.


Curly Chic said...

Hey Samara! I am glad to hear that. I think that the blog world helps with presenting info for all hair types and perhaps that understanding will cause some attitude adjustments.
Thanks for commenting!