The hierarchical fad in the shadows of the Natural Hair Community
When I first stumbled onto the natural hair scene four years ago YouTube was my main source of knowledge and inspiration, as it is for almost every 21st century natural. I spent hours watching vloggers diffuse, detangle, twist and stretch their hair, and honestly, I was captivated. After all these years of relaxing and straightening my hair, could it be possible that I, too, had soft loose bouncy curls? Imagine my disappointment, after my big chop, when discovering that these babies were coiled, tight and dry as the desert itself.
This brings me to the topic at hand, curlism. The natural hair community is seen as a space of freedom and liberty, a space where every woman, black, coloured, mixed, has a platform to be who she is and embrace the hair she has, unapologetically. So why is it that certain hair types are still favoured above others? Why are loose, bouncy, type 3 curls valued and promoted above kinky, coily type 4 hair? So, what is curlism you may ask?
In short, curlism is discrimination/prejudice based on hair texture. It is when someone holds the belief that one hair type is better and more acceptable than another, whether they express this subtly or explicitly. Too many kinky and coily haired beauties have been slammed for having hair that is too coarse or too stiff, but is there a way to squash this mentality? The bad news is that Rome was not built in one day, so it will take some time to completely eradicate the notion of curlism. The good news is that it is a complete myth! No hair type, texture or pattern is superior to another and it’s all about (cue the cliché) loving the hair you have, and more importantly owning it. Your crown was custom made for your head and you better believe that it fits you perfectly.
If you are having trouble accepting your hair type or texture, there is nothing wrong with you. It’s not called a hair journey for no reason. Many of us start out with expectations and hopes which are not always met. It’s okay to feel disappointed and it’s natural to want something that is perceived as popular or more accepted. Instead of allowing this feeling to linger for too long, see it as part of the journey. As you become more involved with treating and taking care of your healthy hair you will slowly but surely fall in love with it. It is yours after all. A good start is to find a product range that works for your hair and the key to this is experimenting. It is all good and well to take advice from others, but ultimately you have to find something that works for you. Find a sulphate free shampoo/cleanser and a good chemical free conditioner, and build up your product collection from there. I started out with My Natural Hair, and even though I have tried and continue to try out new products, the range remains indispensable and is my primary source of hair care.
So, here’s what I say to curlism. You are but a word with artificial power. People who use you do not understand that the true power lies within the belief that every strand is beautiful, every strand is equal. Every curl, coil and kink is an extension of a fierce real women who is not defined by her hair or an opinion of her hair. You are a word used to suppress and subdue, but ultimately you are rooted in fear. The fear that every woman might discover that she is equally as beautiful, equally as wanted and equally as natural as her counterpart.