For black women, and other women of color in general, hair has always been an issue. Not only is it difficult enough to get a job with an “ethnic-sounding” name, but our natural “nappy” hair is seen in most settings as unprofessional. For example, if you’d like to do a little experiment so you can see for yourself, do a quick Google image search. First, search “professional hair”. Then search “unprofessional hair”. Unless Google has suddenly done an update in their imagery, you’ll likely find that under “professional” styles, there are a lot of white women with straightened hair. But not only that, there are several images of black women with straightened styles. However, the unprofessional category is almost entirely composed of women of color with their natural curls in a fluffy afro or even pulled into afro puffs. The world has been force feeding women of color the idea that their natural hair is something to be ashamed of. But black women have started to fight back.
The Natural Hair Movement was popularized during the 1960s and 70s with the Black Panther women rocking their afros, and black women have been carrying the fight since then and turned it into festivals of celebration for themselves. Natural Hair Festivals are increasingly popular and have spread across the sea even. For some black women, freedom just means keeping their hair healthy and having society accept that our hair isn’t meant to be straightened repeatedly.