Hard Core Naturals, Where Does It Stop?


Do you really keep to the word or the spirit of being natural?

My hair is natural. By that, I mean that my hair is not relaxed. Until recently, I assumed that the whole black community had the same simplistic view that I did but how wrong I was. Apparently there are degrees of ‘naturalness’ of which I would probably not even qualify in spite of the fact that you cannot put a comb in my hair without the fear of losing it in its wiry glory. Forgive the note of sarcasm but I’ve never believed that exclusion is the best way to get people on your side which you may have gathered from a previous article about relaxed hair just being a hairstyle.

So who are the hard core naturals? They are a breed of ladies either whom have never relaxed their tresses or who have transitioned from a relaxer at some point. So far, quite normal but this is where by large the similarities end. Hard core naturals believe in natural hair care to the exclusion of all else. To further understand you would have to visit their forums and without specifying any names some of these forums will not even allow discussions on hair straightening or get this, even the words ‘straight’, ‘straighten’ or ‘straightening’ in any form to appear in their threads! These are stringent rules that moderators in the forums will follow to a tee with warnings being handed out to any who dare not comply.

Now I don’t know about you but this strikes me as rather exclusionary. There are plenty of natural ladies with gorgeous locks who wear their hair straightened occasionally; do they not count as truly natural as their tresses are often changed by the ‘evil heated tools’? How about the natural ladies who enjoy a bit of colour in their hair; does changing their hair colour mean that they are no longer natural?

You will find that the members of these forums will braid, twist or curl their hair all without heat for styling purposes and while these are good hair practices, I am curious as to who writes the rules and decides what it means to be a true natural? Does heat free mean you are a true natural or is it a question of avoiding any possible hair texture change by chemical or mechanical means? On the subject of mechanical texture change and without stating the obvious culprits like flat irons or pressing combs; many ladies know that braiding hair can also change the texture of some of your strands. Overstretching the strands during the braiding process happens often which leads to traction alopecia which can be a permanent change leaving hair follicles damaged and unable to produce new hair.

All this makes me think of some vegetarians who believe that eating any meat replacement product (e.g. steak flavoured veggie grills or vegetarian bacon rashers) is not true vegetarianism as it does not adhere to the spirit of being a vegetarian. They would have you believe that as a true vegetarian you would have to suppress the urge to eat any meat flavoured product even though no animal had to die for it. That would be akin to trying to suppress your humanity, surprise surprise the vast majority of humans enjoy the taste of meat, but that’s an argument for another day!

If you were to apply the principle of the so called ‘true vegetarianism’ to the hard core natural’s view on hair care, then it could also be argued that changing your hair texture by any chemical or mechanical means does not adhere to the spirit of ‘naturalness’. Braid outs are out of the question then because they stretch the natural hair’s curl pattern which is an evil mechanical change right? Banding is also out as this is the same as straightening (Am I allowed to say straighten?). Braiding, cornrows and twisting are also out; your hair does not grow out looking like that! So what are you left with, how should the hard core natural wear their hair?

To keep to the spirit of naturalness, the hair would have to be worn as it grows from the scalp for complete adherence and that means a shrunken afro! Now if you know anything about caring for natural hair, you will know that a shrunken afro is the worst possible way to wear natural kinky curly hair if you are looking for length and health.


While I’m all for teaching black women to be proud of and to see beauty in their natural hair texture, exclusion just compounds the problem by creating a black or white (excuse the pun)situation. We all know that the world is different shades of grey, my hair is natural but I like straighten it often, I colour my hair and enjoy braided styles too. I’m sure that there are plenty of ladies who prefer to have relaxed hair but curl it or braid it when the urge strikes them.

Black hair care is about learning the limitations of your texture and working with it to obtain healthy hair. I don’t believe in limiting styling choices, too many rules make it difficult to truly enjoy your hair. It’s only hair right?

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About Alma Ruddock


I’m Alma Ruddock, the founder and editor-in-chief of Blackhairinformation.com. I stumbled on a hair care forum back in 2008 frustrated with my breaking relaxed hair and the information that I found there changed the fate of my hair, and quite possibly my life, forever! I immediately started to transition to natural hair and started BlackHairInformation.com as a way to help both myself and other women of color achieve their dreams of long healthy hair. I have now achieved my goal length and I continue to help others achieve their dreams too. My three passions are hair, art and entrepreneurship and I love to be able to bring my unique view on hair growth and successful hair journeys to our readers. I am an eternal optimist and workaholic. In addition to BHI I have founded quite a few other websites and businesses including Elongtress Hair Vitamins and Urban Gyal which all fall under the umbrella of my company Coils Media Ltd.

About Alma Ruddock


I’m Alma Ruddock, the founder and editor-in-chief of Blackhairinformation.com. I stumbled on a hair care forum back in 2008 frustrated with my breaking relaxed hair and the information that I found there changed the fate of my hair, and quite possibly my life, forever! I immediately started to transition to natural hair and started BlackHairInformation.com as a way to help both myself and other women of color achieve their dreams of long healthy hair. I have now achieved my goal length and I continue to help others achieve their dreams too. My three passions are hair, art and entrepreneurship and I love to be able to bring my unique view on hair growth and successful hair journeys to our readers. I am an eternal optimist and workaholic. In addition to BHI I have founded quite a few other websites and businesses including Elongtress Hair Vitamins and Urban Gyal which all fall under the umbrella of my company Coils Media Ltd.

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KARMA
KARMA

WELL WRITTEN!

just so you know
just so you know

I have to disagree with some of what you've written. Why does it bother you so much that Some natural women choose to exclusively care for their hair one way? How does that effect you and the way you live your life? Did someone make you feel bad about what you do with your hair? I would rather they be extremists with a healthy natural bend than the opposite. Is your hair healthier when you avoid heat? Is your hair healthier when you do apply tension from braids and weaves? Is your hair healthier when you don't put chemical relaxers and permanent colors? Of course it is! What's the problem? Why can't a vegetarian refuse to eat meat substitutes? It's their body and their choice just like it's your choice to eat what you want and do whatever you want with your hair healthy or not. For so long the Black community excluded any notions of Kinky hair, natural hair, braids, twists, afros, ect.. They were the outcasts shunned for wanting to wear healthy hair. I agree that some of the extremes you mentioned were a bit much. We should be comfortable and knowledgeable enough to change our hair in a healthy and versatile way. It's our heritage to do so! This whole natural thing that's so IN right now is very new and it will grow and transform as time goes on. So let natural Black women have what they have NOT had for over a century, the opportunity to create a strong, dynamic, positive self images of our own FIRST, and then be inclusive of any and everything. If it's all just a hair style to you, you wouldn't be writing multiple articles about it for this type of site. We ALL know that our hair ties into our identity whether that's a good or bad thing. That it the way it is. We should encourage and cheer on those who are trying to strengthen that identity so that in the future our granddaughters will not feel pressured to relax their hair or their children's hair because they cannot deal with it.
We need to get back to the basics first. It's only the beginning. There is so much in the media as well as Black culture period that uplifts and supports the straight euro-centric ideal rather than the natural African image, so lets stop adding negativity and encourage and uplift those who are trying to promote a healthier self image for Black women.

BHI

It doesn't affect me at all how they choose to look after their hair and I'm glad to say that I do not partake in their forums, especially after seeing how they all attacked (vulture like) a new member when she asked for advice about straightening her hair. It's probably annoying from their point of view that this person did not bother to read the rules of the forum before posting her question but it does not excuse such extreme behaviour.

I disagree with you there about cheering on ladies that wish to grow and keep their hair natural, I wouldn't cheer someone on for choosing NOT to get a tatoo! I wear my hair natural and in natural styles as well but I don't want to be congratulated for it, it's just hair. I guess my point is some people take things way too seriously!

Elle
Elle

"just so you know" must be guilty of that which you wrote of. She starts off with "why do you care, and how does it affect the way you live your life", then ends with "We should encourage and cheer on those who are trying to strengthen that identity…". How does other people's identity affect my life? So basically, only speak up if you agree with them; otherwise keep it to yourself? She totally missed the point; it's not that you care what they (straight hair critics) do with their hair, THEY are the ones who are overly critical of other people's hair care routines! I've seen it and agree with your original post. Sharing hair tips and stories is wonderful, but not when it gets to the point of dictating what other people should do with their own head of hair.

BHI
BHI

Exactly!

Jade
Jade

BHI, I would have to agree with you. I am 100% natural myself and I would NEVER look down on a person because she straightned or relxed her hair! Might as well throw her in a concentration camp. That's what it sounds like to me and it's SAD. The division continues and people need to realize that you are all indivisuals, YOU ARE NOT YOUR HAIR!

Jade
Jade

Also, I would like to point out that in the day and age (believe it or not) not ALL black people are straightening thier hair to look like white people. My friend does it because she PREFERS it that way, because it's easier for her to MANAGE. Not because she "wants to be white." Seriously folks.

Hair

I Couldn’t agree more thanks for your post