Growing up, my mother always commented on how coarse and thick me and my second oldest sister’s hair was. Our oldest sister had soft, fine hair like our mom. Anyway, my mother never spoke of our hair in a negative way, and she never treated me or my sister’s hair like it was an annoyance. She took the time and put in the work to care for our hair. Hot oil treatments, olive oil, mayo conditioners, raw egg conditioner, etc. She was, and still is, a firm believer in natural hair remedies. When I began to go to the salon to get my hair done in my late teens, I’ve had beauticians comment on how thick and STRONG my hair was. I had never heard of my hair being referred to as strong before, so this was news to me. I’d reply “Yeah, my mom always said my hair was pretty coarse.” Then I heard this: “Your hair is gorgeous. You know why? Because you can do anything with coarse thick hair, style it any way, and it holds curls. Women would die for your hair, trust me.” Later on I would hear similar sentiments from other beauticians regarding my thick, coarse hair, and I can honestly say that this was when I began to appreciate my hair for what it was and for what it could do.
I say all of this because there are many women who have 4c hair who would rather DIE (exaggerating…somewhat!) than go natural because they’ve been told all of their lives that they have “bad hair” or hair that was “too nappy.” They’d rather continue to get relaxers and perms than to have to deal with their natural hair. Then there’s the media and their very warped perception of what beautiful hair is – which is always bone straight and very long. Now that many black women are embracing their natural hair, you have cosmetic companies jumping on the bandwagon with products that claim to be for African American women with “natural hair” and made with natural/organic ingredients. They promise to give ALL natural hair these gorgeous spiral curls and light and fluffy hair. And the models they choose for these ads are usually bi-racial women with 3a-b hair that is already naturally curly. This is so misleading and disgusting on so many levels because at the end of the day all these companies care about is making money. They are desperate to find a way to recoup the money they’ve lost since many black women aren’t buying up relaxers and other chemicals to straighten their hair anymore. Not only that, but many of these companies have been busted for having the complete opposite of “all natural ingredients” in their products. They actually have harsh chemicals in their products that can damage your hair. The only difference is they’ve changed the label and make false claims to appeal to the natural hair community. Just another reason why reading labels and understanding what these ingredients with names you can’t even pronounce is so important. When you consider all of these factors, it’s no wonder why women with 4c hair have a hard time loving their hair, let alone the courage to go natural.
I have one question for these cosmetic companies: Why aren’t there more 4c hair models in advertisements that target African American women with natural hair? You do know that we exist, and there are MANY of us, don’t you? It’s false advertising to make claims that your product can make all natural hair do certain things when it is simply not true! And even if some companies don’t make that claim in writing they still show it by using models who clearly don’t have 4c hair to show how your hair could look after using their products. That my friends, is false advertising at it’s finest AND kinky hair discrimination.
Not all hair can do the same things, not all hair react the same to certain products. I LOVE my 4c hair, I think it’s beautiful and I appreciate it for what it can and cannot do. I’ve been natural for a year and some months now and I’m STILL figuring out what works and what doesn’t. I’m still tweaking my natural hair care routine as I go along. Do I get frustrated at times? Of course! But guess what? That’s what hair accessories are for! Head bands, head scarves, head wraps, barrettes, and pony tail holders. Having 4c hair is not the end of the world. It’s not the worst hair you could ever have. For many years society, from slavery times until now, have made people believe that straight and blonde hair is the definition of beauty. There were laws that prevented black women (during slavery times and after) from showing their natural hair in public. They had to cover their hair with scarves and wraps. That hair shaming unfortunately has continued through the centuries and into today, and it needs to stop.
There is no such thing as “Good hair.” Every time I hear that term I cringe. Because you are bi-racial or (my personal favorite) you have “Indian in your family” and your hair doesn’t kink up doesn’t mean your hair is better than someone with 4c hair. Just because you can wash and go and have beautiful ringlets that bounce all day long doesn’t mean you have good hair. We need to abolish that term and the meaning behind it because it has slavery roots. (Divide and conquer based on skin color and how straight or curly one’s hair is.) It’s stupid and it’s sick. If we all had the same type of hair can you imagine how boring the world would be? Imagine a world where everyone had straight, blonde hair or curly black hair. We were created with various skin tones and hair types and colors for a reason, and in God’s eyes they are all BEAUTIFUL! Why can’t we see things this way too? Love the hair you were given regardless of whether it’s straight, curly, kinky, or somewhere in between. And to my ladies who have coarse, kinky, 4c hair like me, please learn to love your beautiful natural hair. It’s not bad hair, it’s not ugly hair. It’s beautiful and it’s unique, and if you give it a chance you’ll see all the things your natural hair can do in all it’s beautiful glory.