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Coming out of Hiding

 

By Megan Davis

The Truth Contributor

 

In the last decade, more black women have been Going Natural than was previously the case. Many have given up the “creamy crack” and have grown out their relaxers to embrace their natural tresses.
 

Joining thousands worldwide, going natural has been surging and is being acknowledged publicly with wonder and amazement! We are going places – the mall, the supermarket – and seeing women of color, with their OWN hair!

 

Megan Davis

It’s locked, it’s in a cute fro. There are short cropped do’s and there are full heads of kinky, coily ringlets cascading from brown faces! It is as if we are walking into a new culture, although it has always been our culture.

 

It’s just as normal now to see Natural Hair as it was in the previous years, to see un-be-weaveable hair of all lengths and textures. In the 90s, women were wearing all kinds of braided extensions in loud colors, and BIG hair weaves that stretched “down-to-there.” If you weren’t wearing a long, sleek pony tail or even longer ropes of box braids, you may have been an outsider.

 

Today, beauty is not solely defined by bone straight, waist length weaves and heavy makeup. It has evolved into bouncy, lively coils, stretched waves, cropped Afros and nude skin. Years of wear and tear on the hair and scalp have been caused by the excessive wearing of weaves, wigs, hair color and other types of extensions as well as excessive heat.

 

We are seeing an increase of Women of Color being represented on runways and in magazines with natural hair or at least, textured hair weaves. We also have Issa Rae, Ava Duvernay, Tracee Ellis-Ross and Viola Davis leading the big screens with their natural coifs and beautiful skin.

 

Now that women are going natural in higher numbers, it’s great news. However there is

another side of this coin. We took the plunge, we are liberated, so now what? What do we do

with all this thick hair, high texture, and full on fluff?

 

Back in the day, we wore braids. To maintain them, we put a scarf on and used braid spray on

the scalp here and there. With weaves, all we did was wrap it up, then brush it down and go.

Now, with natural hair, we have to wash, condition, detangle, moisturize and style. It isn’t as

easy as 1-2-3 like before. But if we really think about it, we had to learn, by experience, how to

wear and care for extensions. The process is the same with natural hair.

 

What happens when the curls are defined when hair is wet, then puffs up like a sponge when it

dries? And why is it long when it is wet and during the detangling process, then shrinks up

when it dries?

 

We spent a great deal of time transitioning to natural hair under weaves, wigs and extensions

only to go natural, then return to weaves, wigs and extensions because we don’t know what to

do!

 

Curl Definition. Trying to maintain curl definition is difficult. We love what we see when the

hair is wet, lovely, perfect little ringlets, each dancing as if nature choreographed every direction each curl would fall. But when it dries, it is as if we need to exorcise whatever consumed the curls with demonic strongholds that won’t release them!

 

The solution doesn’t have to become a Hollywood production, but we do have to develop

a regimen. The wash and go has been perfected a few times over now using the co-washing method (aka The Curly Girl Method) or shingling.

 

You can use a hand-held dryer with a diffuser to hold the curls without disturbing the pattern or you can also sit under a bonnet style hair dryer on a medium to low setting to gently set the curls.

 

In the hotter months, however, even the most expensive products that proclaim the wonder working powers of retaining curls, may be no match for high heat, humidity and perspiration. The best thing to do is to accept the fact that natural hair grows with great variety. Some hair will do fine with retaining curls, and many will not.

 

Dealing with Shrinkage.

There’s nothing like a clean head of hair that is detangled and ready to go until shrinkage starts. This is happening to ladies everywhere, seeing all that length virtually disappear before our very own eyes! What can be done to remedy this?

 

For braidouts and twistouts, you can roll the ends which will give the overall texture, shape and a bit of stretching. For loose natural hair, you can section the hair, then plait it loosely, then when it dries, unfurl it so it keeps some of the length.

 

Finally, you can blow dry the hair on a low setting, to gently stretch the hair bit, then style it as desired. There are temporary products out there that help straighten the hair until the next wash, but that is another issue.

 

When we become frustrated with the fact that our hair shrinks to sometimes less than half of its actual length, we want to straighten it. The problem with those products is, that they may alter the hair texture over time, if repeated and used with extreme heat, leaving the hair thinner, limp and fuzzy.

 

Coming out of hiding. At some point during the shampooing, conditioning, detangling and styling process, we become discouraged. Some of us have second thoughts about plunging into what seems like a bottomless pit of hair issues, while some just become ashamed of what is on top of our heads because we can’t make it “presentable.”

 

So we resort to wearing weaves, extensions and wigs. We would rather cover up the “problem” than to figure out what works best for our hair. We run out of patience quickly and become content with at least going natural, and leaving it at that.

 

What’s the big idea? How do we wear our own natural hair? After investing the time to research the benefits, do we give up?

 

No, the key to rocking our natural successfully is knowing our hair! We should know our hair type and texture and how it behaves from season to season. Those are the basics, then learn some simple techniques to create a variety of styles (i.e. braid, twist and knot outs) And for as much research that was done before going natural, we should continue to utilize all the resources we can find to discover inspiration and encouragement throughout our journey. Also, we should network with others who traveling with us and exchange information and tips with one another.

 

Natural hair doesn’t mean we are going back to slavery, bound by negative perceptions, oppressed by natural naysayers and bullied by hair nazis. Natural hair is freedom, and the key to coming out of hiding is being true to ourselves, understanding the African-American esthetic and embracing what is organically our own, then walking in boldness; being our own kind of beautiful!

 
 

Copyright © 2017 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 09/29/17 00:19:15 -0700.

 

 


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