Story by Selena Williams - Photos by Julie Archer
Although society does not have the ability to tell people what to do with their hair, it promotes a standard of what beauty should look like. The media’s representation of beauty is so narrow and people who are not confident in themselves can fall prey to altering their appearance in order to feel accepted.
According to Taniah Herron, a sociology major at Rose State, hair was considered to be good straight or wavy in her family. Taniah has type 4c curls and her mother, Tamica Webster, has type 3a curls.
“Growing up even to this point, I still have people in my family that believe that good hair is biracial hair or straight hair,” Herron said. “You know, the finer the hair the better the hair or the more defined the curl is, the better it is. Still, to this day, I look at it like that, you know the easier your hair is to tame the better your hair is. So, you know I do like my hair, but at times I look at it like ‘Oh, I wish I had this person’s hair,’ because society tells us that’s what good hair is.”
Soon-to-be aesthetician and Rose State biology major Olivia Tarver thought the same.
“I feel that society tells us that natural hair should be straight and you shouldn’t embrace your curls,” Tarver said. “It took a while to start loving my naturally curly hair, but I think being natural made me look at myself like I'm worth more, it made me realize that I don’t need to be what society considers unique.”
According to Herron, people prefer straight hair because it is considered to be more clean and classy.
“I remember people coming up to me when I first really started wearing an afro, they would say, ‘oh, my gosh!’ I really love the wild hair,’” Herron said. “I don’t really know what that means; maybe they’re saying that curly hair is considered to be out of the ordinary and that’s what makes them feel so uncomfortable because nobody’s curl pattern is the same. No matter if you have 4a or 4c, we all have different curl patterns. Our hair flows a certain way whereas, with straight hair, you either have thick or thin.”
Types 4a and 4c curl types do not have a defined curl pattern. It shrinks 70 percent more than any other hair texture.
How to moisturize type 3 or higher natural curly hair
Deep conditioning, oil treatments and hair masks are the best for keeping curly hair moisturized and fresh.
“I think a person with naturally curly hair should deep condition twice a week,” Tarver said. “Also, what keeps your hair healthy are scalp massages, they will promote hair growth and blood circulation.”
She also emphasized the need for leave-in conditioner.
“Wet Line Xtreme Professional Styling Gel is a great gel to use on curly hair because it won’t make your hair feel crunchy. Some other products to use are Nairobi, Shea Moisture, TGIN (Thank God It’s Natural), Carol’s Daughter and Camille Rose Naturals Products.”
How to maintain naturally curly hair
“Protective hairstyles like braids and twists are a perfect way to maintain curly hair and to promote hair growth,” Tarver said. “Also, stay away from any products that contain alcohol, sulfates and parabens; use satin hair ties when you put your hair up in a bun or ponytail to avoid breakage.” It is also important to avoid over processing hair.
“If a person with curly hair wants to switch up their hairstyle, I recommend them straightening their hair only once or twice a year,” Tarver said.
In spite of societal standards often determining what is considered beautiful, curly hair is natural and learning to care for it can help women better appreciate themselves.
For a hair texture quiz, visit naturallycurly.com.