Kinky vs. Straight
It’s hard to look at the evidence and not choose better,” she ral strands.
said. “I also think people don’t realize how fast the hair grows
Meyers confessed it is the idea that natural hair is too
much fuss because it’s difficult to comb and breaks a lot, and
When it comes to attaining healthy hair, many doctors and is difficult to grow. “I just wouldn’t want it to stop me from be-
stylists agree that the chemicals inside of relaxers are too ing able to get a job,” she said.
harsh for the scalp and are damaging to the hair. Not only
Several stylists have agreed that it is better to comb curly
will the ingredients inside perm cause chemical burns on the
and/or coarse hair using a wide-tooth comb or brush during
scalp; relaxers contain ingredients such as sodium hydrox-
the conditioning process and while it is still wet.
ide, lye, or calcium hydroxide, no-lye, often found in house-
hold cleaners. These chemicals enter the hair shaft to break
“The care for naturally curly and coarse hair is completely
protein bonds, which strengthen the hair, changing the hair’s
different,” said Jessica Wilson, 26, hair stylist and Detroit na-
texture from curly to straight.
tive. “It is like comparing apples with coins. It’s a lot of stuff
that limits relaxed hair versus natural hair. A lot of times natu-
Other alternatives to straightened hair are weave exten-
By Talitha Johnson
ral hair is stronger than relaxed hair depending on the care.
sions and the pressing comb. But like most hair regimens
Detroit’s neighborhoods are saturated with hair salons these techniques must be handled with care. Applying too
“I like natu-
and women who whip up styles from home. But the issues on much heat can damage the hair and the hot comb can also
ral hair but a lot
Black hair were pivotal enough to provoke comedian Chris burn the scalp.
of people do not
Rock to create the documentary Good Hair questioning the
“Pressing or flat ironing hair is the best option to straight-
notion of what is “good” hair.
to do it. You can
en curly and coarse hair; it retains more shine, body and vol-
do a lot of stuff
This same concern inspired soul vocalist India Arie to ume,” said Ashley Boone, a Detroit-based beautician.
to natural hair
sing, “I am not my hair” and motivated rap artist David Ban-
Black women that you can’t do
ner to declare, “Blacks don’t love themselves.” Not to mention
make nearly 50 to relaxed hair,”
how “nappy vs. straight hair” has polarized sections of the
percent of hair she said. “A lot of
population to view it as good vs. bad, ugly vs. beautiful, revo-
purchases annu- people don’t ac-
lutionary or normal, hippie or cool. Why all the commotion
ally yet comprise cept natural hair
about something as simple as hair?
less than 10 per- because they
The hair industry is big business; a multibillion-dollar en- cent of the popu- feel like it’s too
terprise and Black women are the number one consumers. lation. Afrocentric. Even
The Good Hair documentary revealed that Black women will
a lot of Spanish
spend big bucks for the right do.
people don’t wear
In some respects, hair is an avenue for self-expression. on the market
their hair curly because they feel it’s a hindrance to moving
Hair has been deeply embedded in the center of black culture which allow hair
forward in their jobs.
for years, and with groundbreaking contributions from Garret strands to loosen, “Although it shouldn’t matter, that’s not the way it works.
Morgan, Annie Malone and Madame C.J. Walker, the black not straighten. Some are just not accepting of different things,” Wilson add-
beauty industry remains paramount today. Products such as ed. “Pressing is a lot healthier than relaxer.”
Natural Laxer MIX by Baka Beauty Products is the culmina-
During the Black power movement
One downside to wearing natural hair is acceptance from
tion of an herbal texturizer that may cause less breakage and
society and its fragility, making it prone to breakage. Break-
afros were the complimentary styles
tangles, and create softer hair.
age is a result of too much heat or dry ends. Oil does not
Although several people still hold negative views of Black
“It feels as if there is an unspoken rivalry amongst natural- reach to the bottom of the hair shaft, prevented by the bends
hair as exposed in Chris Rock’s documentary, more women
ly kinky vs. straight women throughout society,” said Jazmynn in the curl pattern. In order to retain length, oil must be ap-
are dropping the “creamy crack” and rocking their natural tex-
Meyers, 19, college student. plied to the ends to avoid constant breakage.”
ture for the health of their hair.
“It’s not a competition, it’s a choice,” said Tene Dismuke, “It’s about allowing the hair to grow in its natural state
“I went natural because I saw
founder and executive director of House of Bastet, a woman’s and understanding how to preserve the health of the hair,”
older women who burnt their hair
empowerment center. “It depends on where a person’s con- said Nefertiti Harris. founder of Textures by Nefertiti, a natural
from the harsh chemicals found in
sciousness is. The sodium hydroxide (from relaxer) is harm- hair care salon and spa. “The more heat you apply, the more
perms. Then I would see people
ful to your body. You’re poisoning yourself to be something damaged it becomes. I am firmly against the perms, which
with pressed, straightened hair
you’re not. I believe instead of focusing so much on what we are toxic chemicals that seep into the scalp then into the body
had more volume and shine; I
don’t have, what are some things you can be grateful of that and negatively affect your health.
decided I wanted to achieve
you do have? What can I do with my natural hair?”
“It doesn’t have to be anything profound or spiritual,” she
that look. But as I was transi-
The United States Food and Drug Administration has re- emphasized. “Mainly it’s about the health and well-being of
tioning to natural hair I found
ceived several complaints related to lye and no-lye relaxers. the body because there’s no disconnection between the head
out that the shiny look achieved
At one point it garnered the most complaints, causing compa- and the body. There are plenty of things you can do with natu-
from pressing hair is a result of
nies like Rio Hair Naturalizer System and Rio Hair Naturalizer ral hair. The limitations are in the mind.”
scorching the hair,” said Laurel
System with color enhancer to cease selling its products.
“If you like who you are naturally, then there’s no need
After knowing the facts, why do some women continue to for you to alter yourself,” said Dismuke. “But if you feel that
perm? Remember the saying “a woman’s right to choose?” you’re hair is dirty, nappy and ungroomed, then naturally
“So when you know better, you do better. I think a lot of
Well, the proclamation is not restricted to abortion advocates. you’d choose to perm. Whatever you believe yourself to be,
people don’t go natural because they don’t know better. I
Women have admitted that the connotations associated with it is so. There’s nothing wrong with your hair if you’re okay
went through a lot of learning phases while being natural.
natural hair oftentimes prevent them from wearing their natu- with it.”
• March 12, 2010
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