Ah, the natural hair community. Such a wonderful community of fabulous ladies loving and caring for their God-given hair. Since its boom a few years ago, the community has continued to flourish with new techniques and products invented by Black women who have decided to reclaim their hair and image. There have now been more Black women in the media saying no to relaxers and sporting their natural curls than ever before. In the midst of this jubilee of natural hair acceptance, are there still some groups within the natural hair community that remain underrepresented? Do hair types such as thin hair remain in the shadows?
Thin natural hair seems to be an oxymoron within the natural hair community because when people reflect on natural hair, the image of a colossal afro frequently comes to mind.
Natural hair only seems thick because curls combined with shrinkage give the illusion of fuller hair but in reality, many are still struggling to fully embrace the thinness of their hair. In the grand scheme of hair, many non-Black people might easily confuse thin natural hair as thick but within the Black community, thin hair does not fall into the Black standard of beauty. Although it is something to be celebrated that Black people are beginning to define their own standards of beauty, it cannot be ignored that not everyone falls under thick hair.
Moreover, it should also be taken into account that although relaxer sales are going down, weave sales have remained strong.
This is not to condemn any woman who chooses to wear weaves as it can be a great and creative protective style but it begs the question- do we sometimes promote an unrealistic perception of our hair?
With the surge of natural hairstyles and flawless concealing methods rising in popularity over the past few years (e.g. Marley crochet, faux locs, clip ins, and weaves in our texture), it would be easy to falsely conclude that all, if not most, natural hair is thick and voluminous.
It should be noted, however, that there is a difference between thin and fine hair. Thin hair falls into the category of having low density hair. If one’s hair is thin, then that person has less follicles of hair on one’s head and thus less hair in general. If one’s hair is fine, the diameter of the hair strand is smaller than medium or coarse textured hair. Many people might also fall into both categories.
With all this being said, the community of thin naturals has remained underdeveloped because of the lack of information and acceptance of this hair type. Although there are a booming number of naturalistas on blogs and YouTube, hardly any of them have showcased thin hair. This is not to say that this population does not exist, but many who struggle with this hair type find it difficult to fully embrace it and to display it on the Internet. Hopefully the lack of representation improves in the near future as more women begin to embrace the true nature of their hair.
Jumoke E. Ayo-Ajayi
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By Heather Katsonga-Woodward