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Let’s Talk About Colorism in the Natural Hair Community

Avatar • Jan 6, 2016
https://www.instagram.com/zebablay/

https://www.instagram.com/zebablay/

By Zeba Blay for The Huffington Post

I only wore my hair natural maybe a handful of times last year.

If my hair wasn’t wrapped up in box braids or faux locs, it was blown out and flat-ironed straight, or thrown under a scarf. Why is that? Part of my reasoning would be “protective styling” — low manipulation hair styles that will protect my hair during the winter months as I try to grow it out. But if I’m honest, another reason is that, while I love natural hair, I don’t always love my natural hair.

I love my kinky-curly texture of hair, but I don’t love the time and energy it takes to take care of it. Wash day spans over two days. Detangling alone takes hours. The only way to define my curls is through an arduous process of twists and braids to stretch out my incredibly tight curls. My full hair-length never shows because my hair shrinks to about 50 percent of its actual length if there’s even a drop of moisture in the air, which is especially annoying. This is my hair, and I love it, but I’d be lying if I said that it doesn’t frustrate me sometimes, that I’ve never, for a split second, contemplated just giving up and slapping a relaxer on my head.

But part of my frustration also lies in being unable to turn to women who share my hair texture or hair woes. My hair’s difficulties doesn’t make it any less beautiful, but in the natural hair community, hair that doesn’t perfectly “lay,” that doesn’t respond to gels and pomades and yield easily defined twist-outs is neither celebrated nor admired nearly as much as hair that does. Deep down, perhaps part of my desire to deal with my hair as little as possible is a symptom of colorism in the hair community — the idea that because my hair is more kinky than curly, I shouldn’t be as proud to show it off.

Read the rest at HuffingtonPost.com

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laila
laila
4 years ago

we can’t keep denying the fact that there is favoritism towards certain physical attributes in the natural hair community.i personally don’t think it is strictly based on color, but more based on hair texture/ curl pattern because there are darker skinned girls with curly hair that still benefit from the same favoritism that serves the lighter skinned girls with curly hair. The looks that are highly coveted by a large number of naturals, for example big hair, laid edges, sleek smooth roller sets…are looks that are easier to obtain on curlier/finer hair as compared to kinkier/coarser hair. For instance, just… Read more »

S. Williams
S. Williams
4 years ago
Reply to  laila

all hair has give and takes. a woman with looser curls and finer hair most likely has massive volume when the hair dries. but the caveat to that is there hair is usally way less thick/dense than that of a woman with type 4 hair AND she most likely won’t flat iron the hair bc it’ll showcase the fine, thin strands. vice versa, our hair (type 4) is mostly dense, some of us also have coarse strands as well. so what it doesn’t hang and it shrinks to our scalps. we don’t have to work hard for volume AND we… Read more »

laila
laila
4 years ago

Also we need to promote more kinky hair girls on youtube and instagram so we have places to draw inspiration from. i’ll start the list. Please add if you know any more:

1)livenaturallylove
2)westafricanbaby
3)gerimua
4)iconicafricana
5)jostylin
6)igbocurls

Rine
Rine
4 years ago
Reply to  laila

Basically anything from Islandbiophotography on Instagram or just search Joey Rosado on Instagram

cryssi
cryssi
4 years ago
Reply to  laila

Excellent solution.…I don’t have instagram though, are they also YouTube handles?

laila
laila
4 years ago
Reply to  cryssi

yup!! instagram and youtube

KosmoKhaos
KosmoKhaos
4 years ago

I get what she is saying but what she’s describing is called Texture Discrimination not Colorism. She feels this way because of her hair’s texture not because of the color of her skin.

Dana Brown
Dana Brown
4 years ago
Reply to  KosmoKhaos

Read the whole piece. She discusses colorism in the context of texture discrimination, i.e. darker skinned women with looser curls being accused of having “mixed” heritage.

maralondon
maralondon
4 years ago
Reply to  Dana Brown

I’ve read the whole article and colourism has nothing to do with what she is talking about. The shade of your skin has nothing to do with the texture of your hair. She’s making it something which it’s not.

KosmoKhaos
KosmoKhaos
4 years ago
Reply to  Dana Brown

I did read the entire article? Where did she mention darker skinned women being accused of being biracial? She literally says “perhaps part of my desire to deal with my hair as little as possible is a symptom of colorism in the hair community”. Not something like “Light skinned girls with my texture are more valued or appreciated over me because of my darker complexion”. So that means that this article is about texture discrimination, not colorism. They are NOT one in the same even though they are closely related.

Cosita
Cosita
4 years ago

I get what she is saying but why we do tend to only blame others and society for our hangups while taking no personal responsibility. If nothing else we control our own attidudes. She mentions her hair not showing its true length. She has the choice to embrace shrinkage as part of the beauty of our hair. I watch a lot of videos for styling ideas and if you want to know the truth I like loose curl gurus the least. Their styles tend to look the SAME most of time versus the versatility of tight curl guru styling. I… Read more »

laila
laila
4 years ago
Reply to  Cosita

that’s soooo true!! a lot of the curly hair girl on youtube do the same styles and their hair always looks the same over and over again

Cosita
Cosita
4 years ago
Reply to  laila

Exactly. Yawn. Maybe it’s because I have been natural a long time but if a blogger has one good look then that’s not enough for me to want to subscribe. And if your hair looks heat damaged I’m not subbing either.

Victoria Owl
Victoria Owl
4 years ago
Reply to  Cosita

I totally agree and understand where you’re coming from in both of your comments. Then there are those who subscribe to bloggers and vloggers for informational reasons. I am subscribed to a few women who wear the same hairstyles both loose and tight textures but that is because their purpose content is invaluable. All based around health care tips and techniques. I don’t care too much about different hairstyles for myself. But I do enjoy watching them. I care more about finding out new ways and techniques that improve the health of my hair, new products, growth tips etc. And… Read more »

Cosita
Cosita
4 years ago
Reply to  Victoria Owl

Yes exactly I agree. people can be looking for different things and what they look for can change over time. it’s good we have something-for all. I am not as interested in care tips because through 8 years old trial and error mistakes I know pretty much what works and doesn’t for me. I like diverse styling videos. If someone asked you to rec a channel for style ideas would you say Taren or Fran? Likely not. There are some loose naturals who do well stying. I just meant overall I think kinkier gurus better at it. I have low… Read more »

Elle P.
Elle P.
4 years ago

Yeah, I don’t think colorism has anything to do with the politics of hair. Our natural hair journeys are different. It’s relate-able because there is still this stigma of ‘how will this fit into society’s standards of beauty’ or ‘how can we make this acceptable.’ That’s what’s really annoying. The meme that accompanied the story I think were made by some ignorant idiot with very little time on their hands.

LBell
LBell
4 years ago

I agree with you for the most part. I know texture discrimination isn’t completely made up but I don’t think it’s as rampant as the writer implies. She sounds very sensitive and insecure about her hair…and I’m saying that without judgement because I’ve been there. However, once I realized just how much better my hair does in its natural state, I refused to accept the notion that just because it’s fine-stranded, high-shrinkage 4b/4c that means I’m condemned to a lifetime of struggle and ostracism. Eff that! I love my hair…if you don’t love it, DON’T LOOK AT IT!

Junie
Junie
4 years ago

You’re absolutely CORRECT Dana.

Rose
Rose
4 years ago

This essay took a turn that I was not expecting. A huge issue the author is having is in maintaining and styling her natural hair. She unfortunately blaims the internet and YT bloggers. Without YT and blogs a lot of us wouldn’t know a thing about natural hair. The author should log off the web, and look inward. This author should consider locks in my opinion. Many people with hair she describes (4c, thick, super coily, shrinking up 50% or up to 80%!!,1hr+ detangling, matting) need to consider that the techniques YOU use to maintain your hair are innappropriate. So… Read more »

mds29
mds29
4 years ago
Reply to  Rose

I agree with everything you said. I think mini twist are another great option. Instead of paying to get box braids, why not learn more about my hair texture and do mini twists. I have 4c hair and so far it’s been working for my hair. I also understand mini twists are not for everyone and that is ok. I am comfortable with my 4c hair and love it.

S. Williams
S. Williams
4 years ago
Reply to  Rose

I agree that the author of this post appears to be a little lazy and impatient when it comes to styling her hair. but it is more than possible for 4c hair types to achieve a wash n go. the only hair types that are not curly or coily in nature are straight hair and 4b (due to its Z pattern). on top of that, it doesn’t even look like she has a good moisturizing or style routine. not taking the time to properly care for her hair seems to be the problem. blaming it on “mixed looking hair vs… Read more »

Cosita
Cosita
4 years ago

Exactly. My hair and I got along much better once I stopped trying to force it to do what it did not want to do. LISTEN TO YOUR HAIR. It wasn’t an overnight process I admit. I bought three expensive blowdryers before accepting that when my hair said it hates direct heat it meant it. Put a leash on a stray cat then try to take it for a walk and see how well that goes. I get preference but some people are not taking ownership that their own attitudes are a big part of their problems.

Her.Me
Her.Me
4 years ago

Yes there is still an ignorant stigma that curls or looser less coarse/kinky hair is better.…but why subscribe to that?.…I get so tired of all the naturals I know that stay weaved and wigged not for protective styling…but because they are ashamed of their texture.…then why go natural?.…why go around hating what God put on your head, and wearing some poor Indian girls hair???.…YEAH I SAID IT…I hate that. I hate people trying to cover up and say oh it’s for style, or to protect my hair.…maybe some people wear weaves for that purpose…but then there’s the group who literally… Read more »

CocoaGoddess
CocoaGoddess
4 years ago

Here’s how I see it. I follow people who have good quality, and good videos. NaturalNeiicy, Naptural85, Chizim Duru are some. If your gonna watch a hair toturial video, watch the person that has a similar hair texture as you. The people I just mention have similar hair to mine. You wouldn’t watch a white girl’s toturial on how to flat iron your hair, so why would you watch somebody with 3b curls when you have 4c coils. Like, come on here ?

Habibty
Habibty
4 years ago

I think that’s true to an extent, but if she didn’t manage to grow her hair super long or have naturally shiny, thick wonder hair I’m not sure she would have so many subscribers… For example, the only times I really see a person with 4c hair praised online is when they manage to grow it super long, there’s an african youtuber named Daphne who’s a good example of this.

Camille
Camille
4 years ago

Isn’t “texture discrimination” just black women watching/following women who have looser hair textures than they have personally? If everyone followed people with their pattern or tighter would it even be a thing? The whole “hair type is divisive and doesn’t matter” has a LOT of people confused about how to care for their hair. Whenever I read about people struggling to define their curls, it makes me wonder if that is even a good hairstyle for them. Not everyone even HAS curls! You would think from Texture Discrimination articles that the majority of black women were 3’s and that the 4’s… Read more »

LondonGirl
LondonGirl
4 years ago

I really don’t agree. Naptural85 who is a type4 natural has way more subscribers than most curly haired vloggers. More than HeyFranHey, TarenGuy etc put together. Naptural85 has the same amount as SunKissedAlba. The only hair vlogger I know that has more subs than Naptural85 is the Chic Natural who is also a type 4 and kinkier in texture than Naptural. I have to say I think all of this supposed curl discrimination is made up. If you are good (fun styles and informative techniques) with a fun personality and high quality video imaging people will subscribe. I am a… Read more »

maralondon
maralondon
4 years ago

Nothing to do with colourism whatsoever. There are plenty of youtubers out there with the same or similar textured hair to hers. She needs to stop comparing her hair texture with textures that are nothing like hers and looking for validation from others. You cannot force your hair to do something that it can’t do. It doesn’t matter if you can’t achieve a defined twist out or you can’t get your hair to lay flat. These are not the characteristics of your hair. Get over these issues please and embrace yours for it is unique to you.

S. Williams
S. Williams
4 years ago
Reply to  maralondon

thank you! I still meet women and men who “revere” my hair and I have to sternly but politely let them know ALL hair types have a struggle and I have definitely experienced my share. I hate when ppl let the hair become a divisive factor amongst us. hell I have hair woes talks with women of all ethnicities lol

mai-buns
mai-buns
4 years ago

I’m not understanding the responses to this article. Colorismis a HUGE deal in the natural hair community. Lightskinned and mixed women who often have looser curl patterns are upheld as the standard of natural hair beauty other Black women are to aspire towards. The more Black your features are, the less beautiful you’re considered. How many times have you seen a Black woman with darkskin and short, kinky hair be considered the face of the natural hair community? You don’t- it’s the lightskinned women with the multicolored soft, long curls who are applauded instead. How many reblogs do darkskinned women… Read more »

S. Williams
S. Williams
4 years ago
Reply to  mai-buns

her lack of personal knowledge and ability is the problem NOT colorisim. she sounds like a lazy natural and instead of addressing herself she’s making it about something its not

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