THEN AND NOW: Is Natural Hair Becoming More Widely Accepted in Society?

Okay, time for a little history lesson on hair loves.
From the time that Black people were first taken from their land to work as slaves for White people, their mission was to make African-Americans conform to the White man’s ways and abandon their own traditions so that they could better control us. One of the ways they did this was by making Blacks believe that the things that were unique to them, namely their hair, were ugly and made them less than Whites. They pushed up those who had long, flowy hair and lighter colored skin, while mistreating those whose hair was “wooly” and skin was darker. Through the 245 years that Black people were confined to these White peoples’ plantations, they began to see that the only way to succeed in a society that hated them was to become more like the status quo.
The standard of Black beauty was altered into the characteristics of White women, and from then on women would carve out half of a day every month or so to sit and have their scalp fried so they could walk the streets with straight, glossy hair. Men took to the process of conking their hair, chemically straightening their hair with a relaxer gel to achieve a more slick and shiny look. The legacy was passed down from generation to generation, and soon a culture of hair-shaming had developed.
From the first time their mama sat them in the little wooden chair to comb their hair, little girls were informed-whether by their mothers directly, overhearing grown folk talk, or by the outside world- that their hair was hard to manage and nappy, something that had to be fixed. They waited for the time when they could get a relaxer, and look like the big girls with their pretty straight hair, not knowing that they were doing their hair a huge disservice every time they sat in that chair.
The norm of relaxers and straight hair was never so widely challenged as in the 1960s, when the Civil Rights Movement was at full impact, and Black people were determined to break free of the European standards that had become so ingrained in Black culture. Women and men alike proudly sported beautiful fros to say that they didn’t need to conform in order to make it in the world. And although the movement generated much support from Black people all over the country, mainstream society still clung to the age-old idea that proper grooming meant straight, long hair achieved with relaxers or hot combs.
Fast-forward to today, and Black women have created a billion-dollar empire that has put Black natural hair in the spotlight and empowered Black women who have made successful business. Coily styles, locs, and fros have expanded from rebels raising their fists in Black Power to the everyday young woman on her way to work. It is now something that women are embracing and becoming more proud of. But there are still those who say that natural is too wild-looking, unruly, rebellious, or even a distraction in proper society.
So Teen Diaries poses the question, is natural hair truly accepted in today’s society, or are its opposers just too scared to speak up? Let us know your thoughts!
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TEEN REPORTER (Hair) | Kristen Harris is a vibrant suburban girl with big city dreams. The 17 year-old has a strong sense of personal style and creativity, and loves experimenting with her style and hair. With a passion for justice and writing, she plans to use her skills to help further our society's efforts to become more tolerant and accepting. Catch up with her on Instagram and Twitter @blaccboldbeauty