Natural or Relaxed: A local conversation about the Natural Hair Movement

Banea Photo

Beaunea McNeil, Unite Contributing Writer

by Beaunea McNeil, Unite Contributing Writer

Look around. If you are in a public setting, how many afros do you see? Maybe one? Maybe two? Three? Becoming the norm for many Black Americans, the love for kinky and tightly coiled hair continues to grow in all forms of life.

Embracing these roots, blacks of all ages and genders are giving in to what is being called the “natural hair movement.” With the coming of this movement, many are asking why. Why then? Why now?

“I think people just wanted a change,” said Brecka Henderson, a beautician of 16 years. “People are being more health conscious and now you’re seeing more and more people wearing natural styles on television. I think that has kind of encouraged women to see what their own natural curl pattern is like.”

Henderson has been natural for nearly four years.

“I’ll never get another relaxer again,” she said. “It’s really damaging to the hair. Plus you become a slave to the chemical. You have to keep going back every six to eight weeks just to maintain the style.”

While some people, like Henderson, agree that going and staying natural is the healthy way to go, others think differently.

“A lot of people think that not getting relaxers will make their hair grow,” said Catrena Moseby, a beautician of nearly 27 years. “They think it’s better when it’s really not. A lot of people are actually going back to getting relaxers because they see that being natural is overrated.”

Moseby is currently natural but is considering going back to relaxed styles.

“Natural hair isn’t for everybody,” Moseby said. “Some people just don’t know how to wear it. They’ll take it and throw it into a bun and to me, that just isn’t presentable.”

The issue of presentability has caused friction among some employers and their staff, yet it seems as though women aren’t letting up. According to the consumer research group Mintel, sales of relaxers dropped by at least 50 million dollars from 2008 to 2013. Natural hair products are continuously on the rise and it may be due to a reduced price in products and expenditure.

“It’s cheaper,” said student Jordan Parker. “To get a relaxer, you might spend like 65 dollars at the shop. If you’re natural, you don’t even have to bother with that. You can do your hair yourself and save that 65 dollars.”

Parker is also a licensed beautician in the Springfield area.

As the natural hair movement continues to grow, the essence of natural hair is making an impact on society as the norm is continuously being challenged by people of color.