December 30, 2011

Kinky Curly Paradigm

A year ago, I decided to cut off my locked hair of 8 years.  I blogged about my "Big Chop", it's significance, and the politics of black women's hair.  While I was reflecting on the past year, I stumbled upon Larry D. Rosalez-Lewis, a freelance photographer.  He was recently featured on BGLH (a natural hair blog), and he had something very profound to say about hair:
Wearing my hair natural was never an epic decision or affirmation of my blackness, but the way people respond has caused me to really examine my thoughts about natural hair, blackness and race relations, and the spiritual aspects of hair.
This is exactly what I have been pondering for the last year.  Both men and women of African descent have the same curly/kinky, Afro-textured strands growing from their heads.  Yet, until now, black women have been held to a separate set of standards for hair and beauty - a white paradigm instead of a black one.  I discussed the white paradigm of beauty at length in my blog post a year ago.  So I won't rehash it here.  I will say, however, that Black women who "go natural" are met with the most resistance from other black people.  There are still too many black people who believe that natural hair is "unprofessional," "unkempt," "unclean" and just plain "ugly."  However, naturals all over the country attest to the acceptance and even intrigue their hair receives from whites.  


Things are changing, though.  The new generation of natural haired black women are trailblazers in the quest for affirmative black female identity.  Bloggers like Curly Nikki, Afrobella, Kurly Bella, Natural Chica, and Vloggers like Kimmaytube, BeautifulBrwnBabyDol, and KinkyKurlyQueen have reconstructed black female identity (literally) from the hair follicles down.  I don't know which came first - the blogs or the changing attitudes about black women and natural hair.  Whatever the case may be, everyone is fascinated with kinky, curly Afro-textured hair.  I no longer get aggravated when people "just want to touch it."  I understand.   Hair that grows out and not down is like nothing else.  There is a spirit about it that is difficult to articulate.  


Although, there are some unenlightened black folks still lurking behind weaves, wigs, pieces, and lye, naturals represent a significant percentage of the black female population.  According to a recent USA Today article, "The number of black women who say they do not use products to chemically relax or straighten their hair jumped to 36% in 2011, up from 26% in 2010, according to a report by Mintel, a consumer spending and market research firm. Sales of relaxer kits dropped by 17% between 2006 and 2011, according to Mintel." Maybe one day we can put the "relaxer" folks out of business.


I feel a kinky, curly paradigm shift in the air.