From 2007 to the present, the natural hair movement among #black women has returned in full force, showing no signs of stopping at the present date. Natural hair products and hair tips can be found with the click of a button or a trip to the store, when even a decade ago to have natural hair meant you were on your own to create your own styles or routines. To go back to our natural roots means more than just a trendy hair style, but it is a statement as well, a reclaiming of blackness and all that comes with it. This statement rejects the demands of the eurocentric beauty standards that dominate worldwide, redefining what it means to be beautiful, and what it means to have “good hair” Embracing the natural kinks and curls of black hair has also been a recognition of the racism that played a role in constructing beauty norms of long and straight hair.
As we think about the new natural hair movement, we can look back on the Black Power movement of the 60s and 70s, where the afro was a symbol of power and pride. During this time, natural hair worn by men and women was beautiful. The video below captures the feeling behind the 1960s and 70s natural hair movement. Kathleen Cleaver, former Black Panther Party member and wife of Eldridge Cleaver, an early BPP leader, describes why she and others wear their hair natural, and how many black people had embraced their natural beauty. Women wearing their hair natural was part of an awakening of awareness that gave Black women the outlet to assert that they too are beautiful the way they were born. Cleaver A difference we see today in the natural hair movement versus Cleaver’s analysis of natural hair in the past, is black women’s liberation not being tied to how men perceive them, but how they perceive themselves. Black women today continuously redefine the mainstream definitions of beautiful. Can you dig it?