Big Chop are the words of the day. Black women are returning to the hair they were born with. Myself included. I began transitioning to my natural hair about 18 months ago. I haven’t seen my natural hair since I was in high school. Even before then my hair was always straightened with a hot comb. Black women are making the decision to give up the “creamy crack” in favor of their natural tresses for various reasons and through multiple methods. I didn’t want to big chop because I felt like it would be more work than my busy life style would allow. I needed the weight and length of my hair to keep everything “under control” while I trained my virgin hair. The hair journey is very personal. I decided to go natural for a few reasons. First, my hair just seemed sick, tired and lifeless. Second, I was ready for a hair change. Third, I had been eliminating toxins from my environment and realized I was paying good money for the worst toxin of all.
I was initially concerned about how my new curly and wild hair would be received at work. Most Black women who relax there hair do so to fit in to society. The general belief is that having straight hair makes one pleasant to look at and relate to in Corporate America. In the last six years there has been a significant shift in the hair journey of Black women. The shift has been so significant that even White people are taking note. A White male acquaintance asked me if it’s true that Black women are fed up with chemically straightening their hair. Of course, I had to have the conversation about how I don’t speak for all Black women or Black people in general. But I did point out that statistically speaking, yes there is strong trend to love the locks per our DNA. According to a report released last year by Mintel, the hair relaxer segment has declined 26% since 2008. Since 2011 it has declined another 15%, the only category which saw no growth. The relaxer segment is expected to continue to decline given that their research reveals 70% of all Black women currently or have in the past worn their hair natural. My gut says that 70% of Black women are not currently wearing their hair natural, it’s hard to determine from their research. Of course the shampoo, conditioner, moisturizers and styling products segments have increased.
I am no natural hair care expert. I get on the boards and follow others who are. Something I find interesting following these boards is that some in a community are supportive while others are critical. The criticizers are known as natural hair snobs. They tend to tell people what they should do with their. For example, if someone posts a picture of their hair in transition, some will tell them to just cut it off. The natural hair snobs are then told by what I call the neutrals to stop telling people what to do.
Is this about evolution or is it just the in thing to do? I have found that women who have always been natural or at least have been natural for a decade or so say everyone else is just trying to be trendy, as if it’s a bad thing. It could very well be a trend, but so what? The first hair evolution came with the invention of the hair relaxer. While Madame C.J. Walker is attributed with inventing relaxer it was actually Garrett Morgan who discovered the effect of lye on the hair accidentally while creating a polish for needles. He then created a hair care company and began to market his product. Morgan is also responsible for the invention of the traffic signal and gas mask. Madame C.J. Walker played a significant role in the hair evolution at the time, but one could argue it was a trend. If someone wants to go natural because it’s stylish, more power to them. If they do it for other reasons, more power to them. Frankly, going natural is easier than it was even five years ago. There are so many more resources and hair care products available today to support the choice.
When I walked in to work with my natural tresses and curls my co-workers couldn’t stop wanting to touch it. We had to have that conversation too. I do still have concern rocking my curls, especially on bad hair days, in Corporate America but my hair is super healthy now. It no longer just lays there begging for mercy. What do you think? Is it an evolution back to the beginning or just a a trend? Do you have a favorite website you like to follow for tips, share below?
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