In Defense Of Natural Hair: Why Black Is Beautiful, And Powerful Too

by Dontaira Terrell

Recently, a controversial, fake study claimed “women with natural hair have lower self-esteem.” Before people could affirm whether or not the story was real or fake, the Internet was abuzz over its misleading findings.

Aside from being a stellar display of faux journalism, and a terrible attempt at simplifying scientifically-collected data, the article raised a much more important question: Why does it matter?

The News Nerd (the site where the "study" first appeared) article began with:

According to the study by Bountiful Hair, natural hair being viewed as a messy look is causing many women, who wear their hair in that manner, to feel inadequate and less desirable as their counterparts. Those feelings of inadequacy causes women with natural hair to lash out at women with treated or straightened hair, and in turn lowers their self-esteem.

They also offered no link to the published findings and no lead expert on the research. Aside from the obvious problems, the study succeeds with damaging effort: It made women with natural, beautiful hair feel badly and "other" about the way they look. In place of celebration, it demeaned. In place of encouragement, it ostracized.

What the abhorrent article couldn't control, however, was the mass of women who'd rise to the defense of their natural hair. And whether you choose to rock braids, locs, an Afro, extensions, wigs, perms or natural curls, your hair doesn’t, and shouldn’t, define who you are.

Your hair is a form of self-expression, not self-hate, and The News Nerd only perpetuates the latter attitude, misguiding legions of women into feeling self-conscious and ashamed of their natural beauty.

Women don't belong in a box.

Women’s hair varies in length, texture, curl pattern, thickness and color, which makes our hair unique in so many ways. To imply and group all natural women into a specific category and arm them only with low self-esteem is disheartening. It belittles who we are as individuals, the stories we share, the truths we carry.

One supposed "participant" of the study, Pilar Ciara Jones, expresses her deep-rooted disapproval of her natural hair by stating:

At one point I was using a gallon of milk and a dozen eggs on my hair every day to try to soften it. That’s when I knew it was time to make a change. I got a relaxer and a Brazilian weave down to my butt, and I have never felt prettier.

Let's talk about the racial implications of that. It blatantly perpetuates the notion long, straight locks -- better known as white-girl hair -- is more desirable than anything else. And if we can for a moment, let's fast forward to the 2015 fashion week runways, where beautiful women touted their beautiful hair without consequence or comment.

Our worth is not measured in products, cuts or colors.

Personally, I enjoy the flexibility of changing my natural hair on a consistent basis. I have control over who I am today, who I am tomorrow, and who I choose to be on Sunday morning.

I am not controlled by how I style my locks, by whether or not I wear a weave or if my hair is straight.

Not only do choices about my hair reflect my personal style and creativity, they also empower me. I feel confident when I am myself. I revel and take great pride in my natural hair -- on both good and bad hair days -- because my hair is my crown. It is “inadequate," "nappy" or "undesirable," but so the f*ck what?

It is also beautiful.

My hair is my crown.

Shows and movies like "Blackish" and "Home" have paved the way for scores of younger girls and women to feel confident, seeing themselves reflected on television.

It goes back to what Shonda Rhimes said: You should be able to find your tribe on TV. Whoever they are, wherever they are, however they are, they should be there and you should feel confident knowing you are not alone.

Your hair is your crown, and it should always be worn with the utmost confidence because it is reflective of the queen you are. Your hair doesn’t determine your self-esteem and worth. Beauty starts from within, and that's something a fake article can never take away from you.