Should every African American woman be forced to ‘go natural’?

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Natural hair is hair whose texture hasn’t been altered by chemical straighteners, relaxers or texturizers. In today’s society, many African Americans women think that all women should “go natural” and “return to their roots”. I disagree with this. I think going natural is a trend that many citizens are following as a fad rather than for historical purposes.

Black women have the right to remain relaxed. There are still loads of black women in America with relaxed hair and for them, healthy doesn’t always mean “natural”. The war on straight hair must end. I am supportive of these ideas. I, as well as many of my family members and friends, have relaxed hair. You can have healthy, growing hair even when you aren’t natural. My hair is constantly maintained by my beautician when I’m not wearing protective styles such as braids or sew ins.

I honestly think that many African American women are being influenced by social media to decide whether they want to “go natural”. If someone sees a picture or video of someone with natural hair, they are instantly persuaded to do the “big chop”. The persuasion continues as they encounter or see other African American women with the “perfect” natural hair. People are not personally deciding to take the natural journey; they are looking at models or other people who have been natural for many years. It should be a person’s personal desire that motivates them to go out on a limb and “go natural”.

Even though the natural styles seem beautiful and healthier, many people make the decision to “go natural” without thinking of the process. The process is a tedious but essential part of transitioning. Many people are not aware that the curly edges and fluffy plaits take at least six months to achieve. Not only are they unaware of the tedious process but also a change of physical looks. Once African Americans transition or do the “big chop”, some people realize that it isn’t the perfect look they imagined based on pictures. For these reasons, they either decide to get a relaxer or continue to struggle with their current look. Also, many women decide to stick with their relaxed hair because it costs a lot of money to care for natural hair. As African Americans, not all women have $20 to be spend on one cream or oil products that can only moisturize their hair twice.

Going natural is a personal and private journey that one must decide on for themselves. It’s a conscious decision and some do not realize the real work that goes into it. I totally agree with this because many people are not aware of the life changes once they go natural. All African American women are not aware that it takes work because they haven’t seen their natural hair since they were younger. Working with two totally different textures of hair on mornings of work and school is a major reason many women decide not to go natural. So, I think that all African American women are not mentally capable of dealing with natural hair which is why everyone shouldn’t be forced to go natural.

Many African American women are going natural because they think the process is simpler, healthier or embraces black pride. However, I think African American women that aren’t going natural shouldn’t be ridiculed.  Going natural should not be forced upon African American women rather it is a personal decision because it involves tedious work to achieve textures, money to buy natural products and self-confidence to embrace change. At the end of the day whether natural or relaxed, African American women are embracing their looks in the best way to feel comfortable, confident and beautiful.

RaShunda Veals is a Sophomore Broadcast/Mass Communications major from Woodville, Mississippi. She will be a contributor for The Campus Chronicle for the 2017-2018 school year.

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