What is Natural (Black Hair)?

U-News Staff

In lieu of the UMKC NAACP’s “Natural Hair Show,” which will be at 7 p.m. Friday, April 17 in the Student Union Theater, here is a brief as to what it means to be “natural.”

Being “natural” in the black community has a much different meaning than being natural in other cultures. But, it also has various meanings in the black community as well. In a meeting with some UMKC NAACP members, there were several meanings voiced.

“Natural means that you don’t have any chemicals in your hair.”

“Natural means you don’t use heat.”

“Natural means that you don’t wear weaves or extensions in your hair.”

Some even argue that one doesn’t just “go” natural. Natural is the state of returning to ones roots.

These are just a few definitions of what being natural is to some natural hair people on campus. But, there is no set definition.

Having natural hair in the black community has just started to really become mainstream within the past five years. Many black women and men are putting down the chemical boxes and are starting to embrace the natural texture of their hair. In other words, embracing how the hair grows from your scalp without additives.

For some, going natural may mean doing the “big chop,” meaning that they cut off all of their hair and start from scratch. For others, going natural may mean cutting off the chemically damaged parts of their hair. This wondrous experience allows many people to finally learn how their natural hair behaves, minus the damage.

Since the natural hair look isn’t for all, many naturalistas tend to wear protective styles such as weaves, wigs, braids or twists. This is mainly to protect new undamaged hair until it reaches a desirable length for that newly natural person. But, once again, everyone chooses how they wish to style their mane.

Embracing natural hair allows black people to be more comfortable and proud of who they are. Most black people “go natural” because they are tired of assimilating to society’s image of how hair should look.

“Being comfortable with natural hair means that you don’t have to pretend to be something that you’re not,” said sophomore Nelson Atkins.

Some say that going natural is such an empowering experience.

“When I went did the big chop I felt so liberated. I didn’t have to worry about itchy perms or purchasing new weave every time I wanted to change up my hair,” said sophomore Cortasha Thomas.

No matter how you choose to manipulate your tresses, it doesn’t take away from your naturalness. Being natural is all about attaining healthy hair. With natural hair comes a new, rejuvenated you.

Black hair seems to confuse and fascinate a lot of people, but the “Natural Hair Show” is a fun way for students to gain an understanding of another culture. Therefore, all are encouraged to come out and learn more about “natural” hair.