By Maria Stuart
Being natural most black women who chose not to permanently alter their hair with chemicals. Natural hair refers to texture not color. While dyes change the natural color, they do not affect the texture significantly. As Head Naturalista in Charge at my university (literally, I started an org "Naturalistas" and am the president) I get boatloads of questions about what does it mean to be natural. I have for the longest wanted to give a clear definition so here's my chance. The following are responses to some of the most common questions I get about natural hair. Please feel free to let me know what I've left out!
- Changing the color of your hair does not mean you are no longer natural. If your coils still kink, then you're all good.
- If you wear weaves, extensions, wigs and your hair is natural underneath, meaning the hair growing out of your head has no chemicals at all, you are natural. Don't let no one tell you otherwise. The debate here is whether or not your hair is ALWAYS hidden beneath fake hair or if you are using the extensions as a protective or transitioning style. As a non weave wearer, I feel I don't have a say.
- Just because you do not wear weaves, extensions, weaves and so forth does NOT mean you are natural. Natural refers to texture not length. So if your hair does not coil when wet because you apply chemicals to it, every 2 weeks, six months or whatever, it is not considered natural.
- If you flat iron your hair from time to time or otherwise straighten it with heat, but also wear your natural texture, you are still natural. Now, if your intent is to "train" your hair with the heat so as to alter the texture (heat damage) so it never coils back up, your hair is damaged. Natural? I'll leave that for you to decide.
- If you are growing out a relaxer you are considered a transitioner. Please, PLEASE don't declare you are natural when you have 2 weeks of new growth. Going natural is a process and the ONLY instantaneous way to it is by shaving your head. Women who attempt to wear afros and blowouts with half relaxed/ half natural hair and insist they are fully natural give the rest of us bad names. No wonder so many people think the natural look is whack!
- Being "a natural" DOES NOT mean you can't wear makeup. It also does not mean you are vegan.
- Being "a natural" does not mean you only use nuts and berries on your hair. It also does not mean you cannot use store bought hair products with ingredients such as alcohol, mineral oil,WhaW sulfates and so forth. That is a personal choice.