Opinion: effects of the digital age on textured hair


Whether we wear it naturally curly or chemically straightened, black women have some of the most versatile hair textures in the world.

However, because we are in such an impressionable society, European standards of beauty are constantly imposed upon us in the media. You can’t open up a magazine and find five women on the pages with “natural hair.”

However, I bet you could open up a magazine and find 10 pages of women with straight hair.

One of the most common physical features of Europeans is their straight or loosely-curled hair. One of the most common physical features of African-American women is our kinky curly hair.

Due to the images of long, straight hair in the media in the past, black women have begun turning to permanently straightening their hair with relaxers.

According to Naturally Curly.com, a website geared toward women with naturally curly hair, relaxers are defined as a lotion that makes the hair easier to manage and straighten. Some black women relax their hair because it is “easier to manage,” but, in the grand scheme of things, they have no real idea of how damaging these chemicals are to their hair and scalp.

Relaxers are permanent and made of chemicals. This means that they can be extremely damaging and, because they are permanent, you either have to cut the relaxer out of your hair or grow, or “transition,” the relaxer out of your hair.

This brings me to the topic at hand. It seems that the new trend among the African American community is to go “natural,” which is the act of embracing our natural curls, chemical or relaxer-free. African-Americans have some of the most versatile hair textures on the planet; the idea of going natural should be embraced fully.

Feeling funky? We can wear our hair in its naturally curly state. Feeling exotic?There’s a flat-iron or wavy extensions for that. However, at the end of the day, we as black women are some of the most complex-ridden people when it comes to our hair — and it all dates back to the past.

Sadly, black women who have been using relaxers for some long and often that they don’t know what their natural hair texture is anymore can’t take pride in our collective history because of it.

When I was younger, my mother’s hair was natural and she wore in an afro all of the time. My two sisters’ hair, however, were both relaxed, as were most of the black girls’ hair at my school. I remember going to a parent-teacher conference with my mom in the second grade and feeling embarrassed by her natural hair in her typical, fluffy Afro. At the time, I was so accustomed to seeing straight hair that I thought her hair was different – nappy.

How often do you hear black women or men toss around the term “nappy?”

You can Google-search “natural hair care” or seach “how to take care of natural hair” on YouTube and find a multitudinous amount of information and ways to care for our curly coils. It doesn’t have to be difficult or daunting.

If you don’t know how to style your natural hair, there are websites specifically for natural hair care like curlynikki.com and blackgirllonghair.com.

With the amount of information available now, to say getting a relaxer is easier to manage is almost a cop out. Look at all of the natural hair care product available to care for different textures now.

Over time, we are slowly transitioning to an acceptance of natural hair. Thirty years ago, we did not have even half the amount of available resources, hair products and hair styles we have today. Ten years ago, if your curls were not the perfect blend of white and black hair, you didn’t even bother wearing your hair out.

Today, however, in a society so digitally driven and with so many different things available to us, we should no longer be stuck under those age-old stereotypes and impressions.

African-American people should have no reason to be uninformed of our natural hair. In the past, we had a lack of knowledge and were surrounded by European standards of beauty. Yet, despite advances in information gathering, many of us are still just ignorant and influenceable. It’s time to change.