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Redefining Natural

June 10, 2010

1nat·u·ral: \ˈna-chə-rəl, ˈnach-rəl\ Function: adjective

Definition: 1 a : being in accordance with or determined by nature b : having or constituting a classification based on features existing in nature 2. occurring in conformity with the ordinary course of nature 3 a : closely resembling an original : true to nature b : marked by easy simplicity and freedom from artificiality, affectation, or constraint c : having a form or appearance found in nature

Well, that’s how the dictionary defines natural, but when speaking about natural hair, what does ‘natural’ mean exactly? This is a question that has been coming up more and more often in conversation these days.  For many, the term “natural hair” may conjure images of a large-and-in-charge, picked-out, supafly  icons of the 70’s.


Angela Davis

Pam Grier as Foxy Brown

Soul Train!

Don’t get me wrong, I think these vintage heads of hair are gorgeous and I am well aware of the statement that an afro made during this period of social revolution. However, here we are in 2010, in the midst of another, perhaps even larger (and what I believe permanent) movement of natural hair becoming more popular among the masses and I think that we need to redefine what exactly natural means to us now.While natural still refers to the wide world of non-chemically altered curls, coils, kinks, and waves, since becoming an active part of the natural hair community through this blog and on forums, I’ve learned that natural hair can be represented in so many more ways than just the aforementioned afros. Naturals now have TWAs (Teeny-Weeny Afros), BAAs (Big A** Afros), locs, twists, braids, knots, straw sets, buzzcuts,  roller sets, presses, and more.  I’d like to give a shout out to Le Coil for beautifully documenting the diversity and versatility of modern naturals.

As we’ve seen in the Pomp and CURLStance series, people with highly textured hair, whether it be the curls the size of pen springs or  larger waves, all have had to deal with similar challenges of managing their hair and making their texture thrive, no matter what ethnic background they may come from.

To have natural hair means accepting the way your hair naturally grows out of your scalp and embracing it as a part of your own individuality.  To me, natural means true self-awareness, real self empowerment, and honest self-expression, in whatever form that may take.  Today, natural is less about making a political statement and more about just being.

What do you think?  How do you define “natural hair”?

8 Comments leave one →
  1. June 10, 2010 1:02 pm

    Great question!!

    I think that “being natural” is about loving yourself. It’s about about embracing who you are fully both inside and out.

    My natural hair journey has helped me discover what my hair really likes(water) and what it doesn’t(everything else). I love that no one else looks like me when I walk into a room, I love that I don’t have freakout about what kind of activites I’m going to do because it may mess up my hair…I used to be that girl who won’t go the beach or do anything that would make her sweat-out her perm. lol! Now I’m like, bring it on!

  2. Fatemeh permalink
    June 10, 2010 1:05 pm

    Definition: 1 a : being in accordance with or determined by nature. Our natural hair was/is determined by nature. Other words for determined is intent and purposeful. So, mother nature made our hair this way on purpose. It was her intent.

  3. Lakeisha permalink
    June 10, 2010 3:42 pm

    Great post! Being natural is accepting yourself just the way God made you. It’s about having confidence in yourself and defining your own standards of beauty!

  4. June 11, 2010 12:18 pm

    “Today, natural is less about making a political statement and more about just being.” Exactly and I think it’s here to stay.

  5. June 15, 2010 2:54 am

    My favorite thing to see amongst natural haired ladies are the wide range of looks and styles than can be done with just a little effort…and for some, a bit of talent. I mean…natural hair to me is versatility, it’s about me accepting my God given right to wear my hair ANY way I want it, unhidden & free for the whole world to see. The pictures of those fros from the sixties are a great source of inspiration because they were essentially the first ones to spark the movement, and I really do feel that the ladies (and gents) of today are picking up the torch and carrying it through, putting their own spin – I think because we needed a change, different looks to try etc., that the natural hair community is growing at an even greater rate. This time it doesn’t just have to be for political reasons, women these days are choosing to go natural for deeply personal ones, and I can truly respect that.

  6. June 24, 2010 4:43 am

    Hi Cassadie,
    It’s Nyota, Thanks for calling me yesterday to tell me about your blog I am enjoying your articles.I really have an affinity with this article in particular. For a couple reasons, I grew up in San Francisco California’s Haight Ashbury district. I was in high school in the 70’s right smack dab in the middle of a couple of movements. And I begain my journey with hair design, while I was in High school. I am still just as passionate about that fact today as I was then. i Need to say when I came upon the “Redifining Natural” article all I could say is “Right On”. You are very on point, and if I might add to your opinion. Todays natural haircare movement conforments are sure to make the ancestor who have paved the way over the past 145 years of freedom and self expression proud to have been a part of that movement so. “Keep on Keepin on” LOL

    • July 8, 2010 9:35 am

      Nyota— it makes me so happy to read this! I have no intention of stopping “keeping on” 🙂 See you on the 31st!!!

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