Natural Hair, which is a style that is centuries old, gains new life each day. New members join the worldwide community of natural hair, following current trends and paying homage to their Cultural Roots. But once upon a time, a style that was normal for the everyday African Male or Female, was deemed unacceptable to all.
Natural hair, for an African American woman, is typically a coif of thick curls, piled atop the head in an upward motion, spilling over each ear with coils and kinks. It is untouched by chemicals, and by nature, grows upward and outward. Yet because of slavery, employers, and eventually the media, the Afro style was seen as dirty, unkempt, intimidating, militant and unprofessional. It looked harsh and scary and was feared to symbolize a culture that was vicious, whom no one cared to know more about. The standard of beauty was set by people who only knew their own skin color, hair type and texture, and was comfortable with them. Therefore it made the most sense to have others who entered into their communities, to conform to those standards. This simple case of ignorance imposed, in many cases, a lifetime of insecurity and discontentment for people of color.
Natural beauty is now being challenged on every hand. From architecture, to vehicles and even literature, things that have always been, are being transformed into new standards of beauty. It’s not just happening in the hair or skincare industry, but it’s happening in the world around us. Retaining historical artifacts is becoming a lost cause because of the cost of maintaining and preserving them since it’s easier to get or make a new one. When things that have always been are changed into something almost unrecognizable, it is hard to attach to them because the foundation has been uprooted.
Today, a home in a historic neighborhood, built by hand, brick by brick and stone by stone has less value than a brand new home, built with machines and sub standard materials. You pay more for a new car, primarily made of plastic that will only last until the note is paid off, while cars made before the 80s can withstand weathering and even fender benders. Well written novels are being replaced by popcorn text, to meet the demands of publishers and the microwaved generation who cannot wait. Movies that had a tempo and timing for a story to develop now delve right into the action, often leaving the story behind. The score which set tones for scenes has been replaced with sonic booms, synthesized rhythms and flashing lights.
And now, Women are wearing hair extensions down to “there”, false lashes, botoxed lips, silicone bosoms and bottoms and colored eye contacts, paying more to achieve instant “beauty” than investing in the time it takes to develop and sculpt their own bodies, naturally. It is now very difficult to know and appreciate what natural beauty is because it has a whole new meaning.
The truth about beauty is that fear prevents people from being able to accept things as they are. Whether it be spouses, children or careers; we are always looking for the brighter and better side, not realizing that the light is already shining directly in our faces, deflecting negative spaces and revealing natural goodness. Our reflection cannot disguise who we truly are, but our perception can.
As history repeats itself, true beauty remains an ancient artifact. However, learning to accept the things we cannot change and seeing that the present truly is a gift, we may find ourselves traveling back to our roots where self love and the love of all creation is reborn.