Texture Politics

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By: Ruby Chikwiri

When you look at international #naturalhair campaigns what do you see? Do you see coarse, kinky type four textured hair or do you see loose and bouncy curls? Do you see dark skinned women or do you see bi-racial, light-skinned women?

The natural hair movement is a community that promotes relaxer-free and chemical free natural hair. It aims to be inclusive and allows for natural hair-care tips and advice to be shared. However, the way in which society, hair care brands and the media perceive this movement has been highly biased towards the looser curled texture.

I do not think that bi-racial women have purposefully chosen to flood the natural hair movement. I do however, believe that there is a social privilege associated with the bi-racial looser curl pattern that must be acknowledged and dealt with. The portrayal of the #naturalhair movement in society has perpetuated the derogatory connotations linked to coarser hair textures whilst promoting bi-racial women’s hair texture as ‘desired’.

We have been made to believe that looser curls/ type three hair texture is “good hair”. Just think back to last year’s Pretoria Girls’ High School scandal. How absurd is it that black girls are being attacked and traumatised for wearing their hair the way it grows out of their heads.

As a type four hair textured girl, I have had to wait twenty-one years to see minimal representation of my hair in the media. It has taken me many years to accept and love my natural hair. Hence, I am passionate about this movement.

Do I think that the natural hair movement should be strictly for black women and exclude bi-racial women? No, of course I do not. That would be counterproductive to the inclusive nature of the movement. I do believe that the way in which the movement is showcased is EXCLUSIONARY to women that do not fall under the so-called ‘good hair’ category.

There exists a texture hierarchy and we need to break it down. Ask yourself this, will we continue to perpetuate Western hair standards? My answer is no, I will embrace my kinky crown and I suggest you do the same.

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