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Are Natural Women More Evolved? Not Necessarily…

Avatar • Mar 21, 2015

by Erickka Sy Savané

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Are natural women more evolved?

It’s a tricky question. When you consider that evolution is a gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form, you want to say “yes” all day. Because women who choose to wear their hair natural are changing into a more complex and better form.

Just think about our history and how far we’ve come. We all know the negative perception of black hair started during slavery. The idea that our hair was bad, nappy, ugly and any other negative adjective that comes to mind permeated our culture. Those with hair that emulates the European standard has always been viewed as better. Black women have lived with that through generations. For many, it was a belief passed down from our grandmothers and our great grandmothers.

Although we can’t say that it’s been the belief of every black woman, it has been the dominant one that we see perpetuated everywhere. Even with black men. Some actually run from girlfriends who go natural during the relationship because they didn’t sign up for it. Additionally, let’s not forget white folks. You were talking to a friend the other day that recently started wearing her hair in a big fro and a white co-worker told her point blank that she looks better with straight hair. Your friend told her that she’s entitled to her opinion, but this is her hair and it’s better this way. Furthermore, the co-worker laments the reason she likes it straight is because that’s what she’s used to seeing.

There’s also the banning of natural hairstyles— twists, dreadlocks and large cornrows — in the United States Army. What is even more intriguing besides the fact that they attempted to ban these hairstyles is according to an Army spokesperson, the individual leading the discussion on what should be banned was an African American female. So the struggle is real from within and without.

Yet still, you have black women stepping up to the front line. When looking at what’s happening within the natural hair community, one might be in awe at the sisterhood that’s developing. Black women are sharing information and supporting each other in ways that never existed before. If you’re interested in going natural, a sister will hold your hand through the process. She will talk you through the tears and be there for the triumph. She will share every last piece of information she has.

Ganohon, a Los Angeles hair braider from a long history of braiders, stemming all the way back to the Ivory Coast,(in fact, she did some of Solange’s early box braids) believes that women with who have gone natural are more evolved.

The way she sees it, “Natural haired women have had a light bulb moment that can be described as spiritual. They’re doing more research. They’re more curious. They wanna know why they relaxed their hair in the first place. They’re more selective about their products. They’re breaking it down.”

Okay. However, can we say that because these women are up on everything hair related they’re more evolved than the rest of the pack?

Ganohon says, “Yes, because it’s a lifestyle. Once you find that light, you start asking questions in the other areas of your life.”

She gives an example of a client who came to her with relaxed hair and went natural at her encouragement. Four years later, this woman has blossomed from a shy woman who barely talked to a confident person who researches everything. She’s now vegetarian, and according to Ganohon, has changed for the better in many ways.

It’s a story you can relate to because you’re clearly not the same person you were back when you were relaxing your hair. And while your journey has taken you to locks and then to a fro that you wore mostly in two-stranded twist, it wasn’t until you chopped your hair off short and kept it down to a manageable length that your real confidence began to shine through. Because with hair no longer the center of attention, you’ve been able to develop other areas of your life. You’re writing more than ever and you’re more present for your husband and kids. Not to mention you really don’t give a toss what anyone thinks about your hair. Sometimes you have to remember to oil and condition it because you simply forget it’s on your head. All this is from a girl, who in elementary school refused to go on her front porch to get the mail without her hair fully combed. This is the same girl who rocked an asymmetrical cut all through high school because she refused to cut the damaged side and the same woman whose husband threatened to throw her in a psych ward for obsessive hair touching syndrome. You want talk about evolution?

So getting back to it… Can anyone deny that natural haired women are more evolved?

According to Felicia Leatherwood, a celebrity stylist and natural hair expert who’s been educating and inspiring women on how to care for natural hair from here all the way back to the Motherland, they are not.

When you say evolved, there are so many levels. A woman can be evolved as far as how she sees herself without a relaxer, but we still have a lot of issues with how we judge and treat each other.”

She goes on to recall the way women in the natural hair community talked negatively about Beyonce’s daughter, Blu Ivy’s hair, even though she sports the same afro as they do.

It goes to show that we still have a lot of work to do.”

She has a point. There is a lot of judgment in this community. Women get real high on that horse. Even you were accused of wig shaming in a recent article right here on this site. Perhaps we naturals get overzealous like Christians who find Jesus and want the world to get saved too. But when you think about it, can we dismiss the contributions of women like Michelle Obama and Oprah just because they choose to wear their hair in a European style? Was Jada Pinkett Smith more of a role model when she was rocking her hair in a short natural? Can we naturals say that we’re putting ourselves up on a pedestal 24/7 just because our hair has kink?

Stacy who has been relaxing her hair for about 20 years had something interesting to say.

You got women with TWA’s going around mouthing off and it’s just not right. I’ve seen some women with weaves that have way more self-love and balance than some women with naturals. Just like I’ve seen dudes in kufis that I thought would be deep but were a mess.”

Point taken.

Okay, perhaps you need to slow down. To say that women with natural hair are more evolved may be pushing it. However, you can’t front on what’s happening within this group and how powerful we’ve become. Imagine that hair is just the beginning and next we could tackle some of our other major issues like obesity. According to the American Psychological Association, 60 percent of black women are obese compared to 32 percent white women and 41 percent Latino women. Then there’s depression. Did you know that black women have an estimated 50 percent higher depression rate than white women? We may not be there yet, but if we continue on this path we could walk each other through those doors as well. There’s really no telling what we could do.

 

Share your thoughts! Do you think transitioning to natural hair changes how you perceive the world and others?

Erickka Sy Savané is a former model, actress, MTV VJ and writer.  Her work has appeared in Essence, Heart & Soul, Uptown, clutchmagoline.commommynoire.comxojane.com, and others.

Currently, she writes a social commentary blog called THE BREW and when she’s not doing that, she loves writing about the psychology of hair! Find her in Jersey City where she resides with her husband and two girls. Follow her on twitter and instagram

 

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Chevanne
5 years ago

Finding a style that suits you or fostering body acceptance helps tap into your confidence. If we were all free to do so without criticism in our society and communities, than many women would find similar enlightenment. But hair is a single component and getting to a better place mentally or physically can involve a lot more work than shunning perms.

And to directly answer the question: No, naturals are not more evolved. Changing your hair doesn’t make you less ignorant, it just makes one Sunday a month unavailable to visitors.

OXxo
OXxo
5 years ago
Reply to  Chevanne

I don’t understand this comment. I actually spent my Saturdays (or when I was lucky and worked at home, one morning every 6–8 weeks) in a salon. Now the longest it takes to get my hair “done” is 2 hours.

obby
obby
5 years ago
Reply to  OXxo

I think it all depends on one’s regimen, techniques, and maybe the amount of hair. For someone who does not use heat, it can take hours to dry, especially during the cold months. So just imagine someone with super thick long hair waiting around for their hair to dry/set in braids or twist. Even some with shorter hair, it’s the same thing. So it differs for everyone. And, one Sunday out of the month isn’t that bad at all! That day can be used to dedicate time to oneself. A spa day if you will! It’s all about perspective.

Chevanne
5 years ago
Reply to  OXxo

I wash and deep condition every two weeks and it takes more than 2 hours from start to finish. If I’m getting it braided, it shaves off time and eliminates the need to style for 2 weeks. Our regimens are different.

Dee
Dee
5 years ago

I can’t speak for others. After I became natural, doing so made me want to learn more about Africa and how to live in a country (America) which wasn’t created for you.

Annie
Annie
5 years ago

Am I the only one genuinely confused by this article?

cherishthegeek
5 years ago

While there are some decent points shared, the problem with articles like that is they give the impression that any woman with long straight hair (as pictured on the left in the article image) MUST have a relaxer, or “non natural” hair. And yet women who are rocking “natural hair” are often picture with highlights, streaks and full (unnatural) dyed colors in their hair… as if one chemical is different from another. Regardless of whether it’s “natural” or not, confidence should NOT be based on a woman’s hair. Hair can be lost at any moment due to a number of… Read more »

Aiych
Aiych
5 years ago

What about naturals who prefer to wear their hair straight or pressed? Or those who stay in a head full of straight weave but claim they’re natural underneath? I group them with those who are relaxed since they both prefer straight locks, but they just achieve it in different ways. The natural/relaxed boundary is blurry these days. and as a whole I would not consider kink curly haired naturals more enlightened than those who prefer straight hair (whether via relaxers, weaves, or heat). There are still many naturals with a complex who obsess over looser curls and strive for that aesthetic… Read more »

Adía
Adía
5 years ago

For some people it is just hair so when they BC It’s to be fashionable not to make a revolutionary statement

Bev
Bev
5 years ago

I don’t totally agree with this. I have relaxed hair and I quite like it. If I had natural hair I would love it just as much. I’m 17 and I plan to go natural when I’m older. As long as it’s my hair I will love it!

Jasmine Gentry
Jasmine Gentry
5 years ago

I don’t believe we can say just yet that we have evolved until this mindset of being natural has bled down into multiple generations on a large scale and becomes more pronounced in our culture. Evolution is not measured on a small scale, but rather the sum of small changes that culminates in a large widespread change in ideaology. The reason that I say this is because on a basic level, being natural is a hair style choice, meaning that it is a choice to wear one’s hair in a specific way. Choices can easily change and be influenced as… Read more »

Vanessa Zacheary
Vanessa Zacheary
5 years ago

My own brother asked me if I were growing dreads because my braids with my natual hair with braids had become frizzy. I’m sure he had no intention of ill but it’s that type of ignorance especially among black males that keeps us in a dark place.

anna
anna
5 years ago

this is so stupid sorry. Not that natural black hair isnt beautiful, it so is, and the movement to wear hair natural is a great one. BUT THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH EVOLUTION OR SCIENCE. get your pseudoscience bs outta here. Evolution does not “usually evolve to something more complex” you are so wrong and you obviously know nothing about science. Evolution doesnt give a shit about your hair. That said it is a really nice trend but please please stop using fake science to empower women and just write the article sans the bullshit you call science. it… Read more »

Camille
Camille
5 years ago

I’ve been natural since 1999, and for me the biggest difference was the confidence boost of having hair that’s “done” 24/7. I didn’t see it that way until a little boy who was waiting for his mom in the salon asked me who I was waiting for. I told him I was waiting to get my hair done and he said “But your hair IS done!” Being taken to the salon every time I visited relatives made me feel like my hair embarrassed people. Years later almost every woman in my family is a natural and loving it 🙂 I never… Read more »

OXxo
OXxo
5 years ago

Age and traumatic life events change the way you see yourself and others. So saying a woman with natural hair is more evolved ignores the rest of the factors in her life that may have been one of the triggers which caused her to accept herself. These triggers may have made her go natural or may not. To some people, and I have family members who view it this way, natural hair is one of the many hair styles they sport. You couldn’t say they were more or less evolved than me when looking at them or listening to them if… Read more »

Mary
Mary
5 years ago

What’s the point of this article…taking it a bit too far don’t you think…

Blair
Blair
5 years ago

I believe returning to ones Natural Hair one become more conscientious not only about their hair, but how they eat, where they spend their money, such as supporting black businesses and Natural Hair entrepreneurs, and holding people, businesses, and the government accountable for hair discrimination, in other words we have become a lobbying group. That is powerful. Further, the movement has extended way beyond the US and have inspired women throughout the Black diaspora to return to their Natural Hair and practice the same support, education, economic spending, and lobbying that US Naturals are doing. Honestly, I never heard of Felicia… Read more »

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