The Natural Hair Movement: Changing the Conversation By Shahida Muhammad



The natural hair craze has been taking the world of Black hair care by storm. Over the past couples years I’ve seen the dialogue and topics surrounding this movement range from: ‘celebrating women who’ve gone natural’, ‘how awesome it is to be natural’, to ‘more sisters need to be natural’, and most recently, ‘I’m tired of hearing about women who’ve gone natural.’ The growing number of sisters transitioning from relaxed to au naturale, has inspired a strong sisterhood of within the haircare community, yet it has also spawned slight divisions between those who opt not to stick with chemically-treated hair.

In the mix of all this, I think there is something being overlooked. Instead of debating about relaxed vs. natural hair, we should discuss how this movement is bringing about an important cultural change in attitudes towards our hair.

For starters, my hair is natural. But not in the commonly held sense of what that means. I usually wear it straight, although it’s not with the aid of chemicals. My Sunday afternoons are often spent washing, sectioning, blow drying and flat ironing. And through my adolescents and college years I had every hairstyle you can imagine from braids, sew-ins, highlights, to a mohawk–some styles inspired by convenience, others impulsive experiments of self-expression. Yet, I never thought of this as a big deal because I’ve worn my hair natural most of my life–before it was trendy. If anything it was a challenge.