It goes without saying that the Natural Hair Community has been transformed by the rise of Social Media; with the emergence of YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook - the inexperienced Naturalista can now readily discover how to maintain a fresh wash and go, preserve a banging twist-out, and create their own deep-conditioning treatments.
Unfortunately, while the online presence of black women embracing their hair has proved revolutionary; it does highlight the undeniable reality that women of fairer complexion, and looser curls dominate our feeds significantly more than our tightly coiled, kinky-haired sisters. Angela Johnson argues that 'within the black community a large part of physical beauty rests upon one’s skin colour, tone and hair texture'; consequently reflecting the damaging repercussions of slavery. Evidently, images publicised through the media emulates society's preference of a European beauty standard, there for affecting how black women and men perceive their hair.
Admittedly, after 10 long years of being dependent on hair straighteners and relaxers, I consciously decided to embark on my own natural hair journey. Despite purchasing identical hair products, and adopting similar styling techniques, I became disheartened in my quest to achieve the unattainable tresses of my beloved bloggers. A transition that should have encouraged self-love and identity, instead left me deeply discouraged. Undoubtedly, while I now love the unpredictability of my mane, there was a fleeting period where I made negative comparisons between my hair, and the hair of those often celebrated on YouTube and Instagram.
This demonstrates the importance of representation; particularly within the black community, it is crucial that we examine why women with a kinky-curly texture are considerably over-looked. Women of Colour and Social Media Multitasking: Blogs, Timelines, Feeds, and Community explores how the beauty industry thrives on this all too familiar concept of ‘good hair’:'
None-the-less the beauty industry not wanting to miss this opportunity of consumption-orientated marketing jumped on the natural hair bandwagon and has switched gears to advertising products that will ‘tame’ 'de-frizz’ and create ‘manageable’ natural hair. These terms, very much in line with the attempt to ‘ban’ or ‘fix’ ‘matted’ and ‘unkempt’ hair, are often used to describe natural hair including the afro hairstyle, as the hair naturally grows up and out, not down’
This ‘good hair’, ‘bad hair’ divide exposes racial undertones reminiscent of slavery, signifying a deeply-rooted problem amongst the black community. The preferential treatment of certain hair textures is not only discouraging for women who venture on starting their own social media platforms; but it is also detrimental for new naturalistas, unfamiliar with how to tend to their curls, to predominately be exposed to hair dissimilar to their own. As women we make the majority of our beauty decisions based on what we see advertised around us. I, myself, fell victim to the belief that I could purchase a product that would miraculously stretch my curls and prevent shrinkage.
Looking back, I wish I appreciated the initial stages of my natural hair journey a lot more; saving myself the frustration (and wasted money) of wanting my curls to do something that they simply couldn’t. While companies exploit this damaging hair-hierarchy, preferring to endorse those with a looser curl-pattern, it is important that we unify to showcase our love and support for all natural hair. We have to remember that our kinks and curls should be a symbol of empowerment and pride, we cannot celebrate one hair type while disregarding another…
…As Erykah Badu once eloquently said ‘I'd rather see a person with a natural mind and processed head than a processed mind and natural head’…