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What Qualifies Your Beauty!?

Although the natural movement has been going hard and strong for over a decade now, the comfortability level for women is still an issue at hand. My job as a Natural Hair Care Specialist is never complete. I spend countless hours encouraging my clients to be comfortable within themselves with what The Most High has blessed them with. For decades we have been conditioned to think that our natural curls and coils are not beautiful, and that society would be more acceptable of us if we were to wear our hair straighten and in nontraditional natural styles.

One of my guilty pleasures is to partake in viewing reality television a few times a week. One program that I tend to go to is The Real Housewives of Atlanta. Surprisingly enough, they touched on the subject of being comfortable in your natural tresses. In Episode 16: Bye Wig, Nene had a Bye Wig party where all attendees were to come wearing no extensions or wigs. Immediately, there were concerns from the ladies as to why they should attend the party sporting only their natural tresses. In the beginning of the party you can notice the ladies' comfort level was very low, but as the night went on their comfort level seemed to rise (maybe due to the constant flow of libations). While watching this episode, I was reminded of the many individuals I have encountered (whether in my chair or out of my chair) who are completely terrified of wearing their hair in it’s natural state. Most of the time I am a little annoyed by the fact that some do not think that their kinky, coil, curly hair is beautiful, or that the kinks, coils and curls in their hair does not define their beauty. Then I had to realize and understand that conditioning has been going on in our communities for centuries.

In the 1700s, many enslaved African women wanted to fashion their hairstyles after popular European powdered wigs. This was done with hopes that they would be accepted into society. Other enslaved African women chose to create new styles with their own natural hair. The creation of these hairstyles, mostly braided, were baffling to the slave owners. The beauty created was so astounding that abuse tended to follow from some slave owners, because it was their belief that the slaves had too much idle time, and that they were developing self-expression and self-esteem which could have potentially been a threat to the slave owners. So much that during the last years of slavery the wives of slave owners would cut the hair of young African girls and women, especially if they were the object of unwanted sexual advances of their slave masters. The adornment of the slave’s naturally beautiful hair became such an issue that in 1786 in New Orleans, the governor signed a law requiring Creole and black women to wear a tignon or kerchief over their hair, to display their “lowly status” in society. This law backfired in a way which still allowed creativity and caused just as many issues with slave owners.

So, why is it that we are still hiding our natural kinks , coils and curls so many hundreds of years later? It is understood that we as people wanted to be accepted in this new world for which we were brought to. Therefore, we did what we felt that we had to do to conform at that time. However in 2019, it is no longer necessary to conform to society’s standards. We have been here for hundreds of years, and have sculpted our own standards within society. Have we done this by adopting and holding on to their standards of beauty? Shouldn’t we based our standards on our own make-up, that are specific to our needs?

It was proven then that our hair texture is one of variety and extravagance, so much that it was a threat during slavery. So much that beauty across the board is being based off of our trends. You know the quote, “beauty lies in the eye of the beholder” well we should behold our own beauty first and foremost. Embrace our kinks, coils and curls. Know that we risk the health of our hair and bodies just to conform to the beauty standards of society, when society believes that our beauty standards are indeed beautiful. The question, “what qualifies your beauty?” still stands. Kinks, coils and curls are absolutely gorgeous, and should be embraced. Our natural beauty has been embraced globally, and is often duplicated. It seems that we are the only ones that seem to have a problem with our beauty. Plus, we have variety and versatility on our side. We can walk out of the house with a different hair style every day, and would be adorn with amazement and adoration. Is it worth risking your overall health and hair just to conform to a standard that no longer needs to be upkept? Let's help prevent the generations to come from developing the standards that have kept us in hiding for so long.

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