Why I’m ditching Western beauty standards and embracing my afro

‘Going natural’ is more than just a hairstyle

Around five months ago, I “went natural”.

What does that mean? Well, if you’re a black woman I think you’ll have a pretty good idea, but if not it’s the transformation of a woman ditching extensions, weaves, wigs and relaxer, for the purpose of choosing to embrace her natural tresses.

Now for anyone wondering, here’s what I used to look like:

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Unnatural hair

Natural hair has forever been an issue in the black community. Many years ago black mothers would tell their children stories to make them fear the rain, otherwise the dreaded nightmare of actually having to learn to look after your hair in it’s curly state would come true. Or they’d make their children go into school with frizzy or curly hair as a punishment. Now, we definitely couldn’t let that happen could we?

In the past black models have been ridiculed for wearing their hair in its natural state. Let me reference Alek Wek, a black supermodel who threw off her blonde wig and went off-script on live television. She’d had just about enough about the obvious oppression of dark skinned women’s beauty in the industry.

A lot of black men will deny themselves and explain why they keep chasing women with long and silky hair as a “preference”. But let me ask you this: why is long and silky hair your preference? The media. Media is trying to tell you that this is what you want. You praise a white woman for their hair, but knock down a black woman for wearing weave, when she is only trying to become what you would like her to be. Do you see those blatant double standards?

“Black women’s biggest hair problem is that they think their hair is a problem.” I used to think that my hair was a problem for the longest time until I actually went natural.

Here’s what I look like now:

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It was only after I went natural that I realised my hair is not the problem. The problem is the fact that I had been taught by westernised beauty standards and media that my hair isn’t manageable, so I had to relax it. Or I’d been taught that I couldn’t grow my hair long so I should wear extensions, which in all honesty ended up causing me more problems than giving me solutions.

All you need to do it teach yourself to do it, and you’ll realise it too.

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To all my girls thinking of going natural, Coconut oil, Jojoba oil, and castor oil will do you wonders when it comes to moisture. If I, as a mixed raced girl, with a white mum and a bald black dad have been able to look after my 4C, kinky and coarse hair, I’m sure you can too!

Chopping your hair off is not the only way to go natural, I chose braids:

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Since going natural there have definitely been differences in how I have been treated, so don’t expect it to be all rainbows. There’s still a certain prejudice in the world towards natural hair, and certain hair types and people won’t be afraid to talk about it.

I’ve had people tell me I look like a boy for having short hair. I happened just last night, when some random girl decided to shout it out a car window as she drives by, and another time when I rejected a guy looking for a hook up. I always brush off these kind of comments, because in regards to negative remarks, I’ve only had three, which is nothing compared to every other person that feels the need to goes out of their way to commend my hair.

I’ve come to realise that these antis are your haters, and you best put them in their place, because believe me, I’m not over exaggerating when I say that I get a random strangers complimenting me on a daily basis.

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One of the positives of my hair change is that (for the most part) guys love it, and a very diverse group of them too. When they see me and my hair they see confidence and personality –  someone who isn’t afraid to wholly be themselves despite western beauty standards. They see someone approachable, and in a lot of ways that has changed my personality for the better, as someone who I used to be particularly shy. The ones that go out of their way to hate on something so specific, are honestly the ones that want what they don’t have.

A lot of people seem to assume that if you’re a natural girl you are automatically very ‘afro-centric’. Since changing my hair, many people seem to jump to the gun and assume that I’m fully black. I have no problem at all with this, but it’s an assumption people make much more now than when I wore extensions and straightened my hair.

In the black hair community some of you readers might not ever understand, but hair is more than just hair for us. Our hair is often topic of social controversies, for many years including the question of whether it looks “professional” or not.

Overall it has been an incredibly empowering thing for me to do. So ladies if you’re wondering about going natural, but are struggling to jump the final barrier I say DO IT.

My confidence has been boosted a ten fold. I know now that I do not need to conform to western beauty standards to be considered appealing and I hope that this message will continue to be told, because for too long people of colour have been shamed for it.

I love that people see me as unique. I love that I have something that makes me stand out all the time. I love that I have something that mirrors my personality. I love having something that makes me visibly proud of my identity.

I promise you, you’ll never look back on your decision.

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