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I Hate My Hair: Texture Discrimination and Natural Hair

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She had been planning it for months. My friend, Tumi, wanted to do an s-curl on her short hair. She had recently big chopped (back then, we didn’t even know what big chopping was!) We scrolled through tons of Pinterest images of African-American women with sleek, short and curly hair. Finally, she settled on one. New Year, new hair!

@mrs_tahirah In the morning, we took a taxi to a hair salon in the middle of Jo'burg. She showed the hairdresser the picture of the style she wanted and she was on her way.

Cue the Shampoo.

Cue the Conditioner.

Cue the gel.

“It doesn’t look curly enough; it doesn’t look like the picture!” Tumi shouted, nearly in tears.

The hairdresser tried adding more gel. We didn’t understand why the black woman’s hair in the picture looked amazing while Tumi’s just wasn’t curly... wasn’t defined. It wasn’t because the hairdresser didn’t know what she was doing, it was because the woman in the picture had 3C hair and Tumi had 4C hair. This was the first time I encountered hair types.

CAN I CHANGE MY CURL PATTERN?

Remember when it was relaxed hair versus natural hair versus weaves? Now, the natural hair community is debating over what good hair actually is; or as some like to call it “That Pearl Thusi” hair. Women who have 4C hair, are told that good hair is type 4A/ B hair like Pearl Thusi’s. While, many women of colour with 3C hair are told 3A hair is much better: it’s curly, but still acceptable. Now, the media separates naturals into two groups: good hair and bad hair. Good hair is long and, good hair is not 4C. This has women all over South Africa trying to fit into a new beauty ideal.

PLEASE DON’T TELL ME YOU’RE LEAVING THE HOUSE LIKE THAT!

@chiziduru4C Hair is often seen as untidy, unprofessional, and described as wiry. “It doesn’t have a curl pattern. It’s just not beautiful.” And yet, it’s the dominant hair type on this continent. 4C Hair is magic and can be whatever it wants to be. The international natural hair community has been dominated by those with 3C hair, with people praising 3C hair as being beautiful. 4C Hair is regarded as the before and 3C the after. We use the word curly for looser hair while we use the words kinky and coarse for tighter curl patterns.

I WISH I HAD YOUR HAIR!

What matters the most is not that your hair is long, but that your hair is healthy. Why can’t good hair mean healthy, delicious, moisturised hair? Let’s decide that no matter how tight the curl or how loose the strand, no matter if it’s high porosity or low porosity, whether it's feminist faded or bra strap length, in braids, or twists, edges laid back for the gods, or edges out to play…It's all good hair. It’s time that we decide our hair is collectively beautiful and mean it. It's time we decide what good hair is. And we've decided that our kinky, curly, coily hair, in all its glory, is good hair.

Archaic Human Guest Blogger

Image 1: @mrs_tahirah | Image 2: @chiziduru

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