Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Curl Shaming: Are You Helping or Hurting the Natural Hair Movement?

By J.Naomi Johnson

You’re going to have to dig deep for this one. I will give you a scenario…

You’ve been natural for years. You have a hold on kinks and curls and have managed to make your hair “werk”. Your walking down the street and see a newbie or neo-natural . With your expertise you can identify that they are still trying to get a hold on this whole natural thing. Do You…

A.)Stop and demand that him or her allow you to apply a moisturizer that you so conveniently have in your emergency curl kit. The curl Yoda
you are.
B.)Keep walking. It’s not your problem and nobody helped you when you started off! Plus nobody has better curls than you. Nobody.
C.)Cross the street. You do not do well with confrontation. Especially curl on curl.
D.)Stop him or her and invite them to the next natural meet up. You don’t want to come off as a know it all and besides the journey is part
of the fun of being a natural anyway. You know from experience that everybody has their own thing.

Well, I know that you know what the right answer is but this is often not practiced. With all the shaming that someone transitioning/returning natural could receive from their own family and society (work, church, etc.) experienced natural Black Women are shaming each other as well. I am not talking about texture discrimination (which in its self has a negative impact on the natural movement). I am referring to Curl Shaming: The verbal oppression and put down of another natural’s hair care ability causing the natural being shamed to feel negatively about their overall appearance and journey.

Note: Curl Prejudice is the belief that a curl pattern is better than another naturals curl pattern because of looseness of curl or length of hair (i.e., 3b is better hair than 4b.). Whereas, Texture Discrimination is denying a natural from claiming to have a tighter curl pattern because of the color of their skin or depth of “Blackness” or vice versa (i.e., Her hair is not 4c because she is light-skinned. He is to dark skinned to have 3a hair). Often Curl Shaming is a tactic of Curl Prejudice. Both practices are false and negative. Rule of thumb is healthy hair is good hair and you don’t have to be Black to have an Afro.

So anyway… I can feel the eye roll. In your head your thinking, “Whatever, Black people are strong…we tell it straight to each other all the time…” Remember what I said about strength in Black Women and Our Limitations of Strength post? Well if you don’t, now would be a good time to review it. Remember, although strong, not everyone has the same amount of strength. Curl Shaming can directly effect a naturals progress and even end their journey.

I saw a Youtube video a month ago where a natural was providing a tutorial (on another note, I love Youtube. It’s like a natural’s utopia. Click here to see what I am talking about) and she kept referring to other naturals as “hot messes”. Although she provided wonderful insight, I pondered what in her opinion classifies someone as a “hot mess”. Last week I received personal email from a subscriber who had a similar experience. That’s when I realized that this issue needed to be addressed.

One look a curl pattern achieves may not look the same with another. Often times looks have to be achieved using different tools and styling products (an example of this is wash-and-go’s for 3b verses 4c. See Maximum Hydration Method versus traditional 3b wash and go) underneath the video in the comments other naturals criticized her. I am sure she didn’t want to offend anyone... but she did.

This movement, this thing we are accomplishing by breaking the barriers of what society believes is beautiful and developing a love for women regardless of how they wear their hair is important. Like our curls, it is fragile and must handled with care. It can be so easily ruined. I know I always say this but we must be unified in our approach. We must support and love each other.

How do you feel about curl shaming? Have you experienced it? Did you do it without knowing? Tell me about it in the comments below!

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