Black Women In The Valley Connect To Celebrate Their Natural Hair And Beauty
“I’m a natural.”
This phrase has thousands of meanings. But in my world, it’s been adopted by black women to mean that you have natural hair, without any processing.
Tanishia Bailey and Nadjege Casimir both have natural hair and are members of the Phoenix Natural Hair Meetup Group.
“I get more attention with natural hair then I ever did with straight hair," Bailey said.
“I do too," Casimir said. "I’m a queen now when before I was just a shawty.”
“I love it," Bailey said.
I personally have decided to embrace my natural hair and say no to the lye, which is the main ingredient in chemical relaxers and perms. I wanted to learn more about my roots, if you’ll pardon my pun, because I really didn’t even know what my unprocessed hair looked like.
I had been getting relaxers since I was 12 years old when my parents finally gave in to my pleadings to have straight, easy-to-work-with tresses like all my friends. But now, I’m going natural and preparing myself (and my hair) for something called the "Big Chop” — when I’ll finally cut off of my relaxed hair and only wear my natural texture.
It’s hard to explain to people, though, and everyone seems to have an opinion. When I told a close friend that my hair naturally grows kinky-curly, she was shocked. And on more than one occasion my friends or family have told me they prefer my hair when it’s straightened. I’ve even been asked if I can get a comb through my hair.
One woman I spoke to from the meetup group shared a story of being confronted by her supervisor about why she came to work with natural hair. It’s moments like this that prove to me and to other black women that there is a war against being proud to be black, and against expressing that pride by wearing natural hair. We’re constantly told it’s a negative thing. Young girls need to know that nappy hair is OK. I just wish I had known years ago.
Now, having natural hair is an instant connection I share with other women of color. In Arizona, the black community is pretty small and finding a natural hair community is tough. So I started my own YouTube channel where I talk about my journey of going natural, which products I use and how the people around me react to my hair.
Now that I’ve found a group that meets on a regular basis, I can start getting the in-person support that I’ve been seeking online.
For many of us, like Dee Robey and Tiffany Agee from the Phoenix Natural Hair Meetup Group, natural hair is the building block for self acceptance.
“It’s my hair; it’s what God gave me," Robey said. "And I think that every child should grow up and know that what God created in them is OK. It’s not just OK — it’s good.”
“It’s OK to be different," Agee said, giggling.
“And that includes your hair," Robey said. "Own it, be proud of it and walk with confidence."
Our hair is beautiful because it’s represents who we are. And I’m glad that very soon I, too, will be able to say, “Yes, I’m a natural.”
Tiara Vian is one of the producers at KJZZ. If you’re part of a Valley community, tell us about it for our "We Are The Valley" series. Just send us a note at: [email protected]