Happy to be Nappy?
Recently I was in conversation with a beautiful, natural sister who made a few very disturbing statements. She seems not to understand why any woman with a hair texture more pronounced than a 3c (I ONLY use that term to help bring visual context) would go natural anyway. There does not seem to be any beauty in those textures to her eye (she herself being about a 3a with very fine strands). She has developed a quote that she teasingly claims she wants to put on a t-shirt, “Natural is Beautiful. Nappy is Not!” I think this was meant to be a comment toward sisters whose texture is just too tight to try a little harder not to let those dry, kinky tendencies show! Now y’all know I was totally red, right?! But, seeing as she is my senior I sufficed to respond to her, “Well, unfortunately my DNA says, ‘Nappy’, so…” I saw the slight change in her face as I think she picked up that she may have offended me a bit. But I tried not rub it in. And I also sensed that this would be the wrong time to school my elder on the “New School” philosophies of natural hair.
One of the basic tenants of the Naturalista Movement is unapologetic acceptance of your natural texture, no matter what it may be. This still seems to escape some. The elephant in the Naturalista room is that being natural is cool, AS LONG AS you can manage to achieve some level of curl definition or silky appearance. Otherwise, why on earth would you go natural at all, right? It is like we mentally still bear the scars of the slave chains that used to wrap around our wrists. The choice to freely express your ethnicity is OK, just as long as it doesn’t embarrass me by fitting into a stereotype that I desperately want to leave behind! I would go as far as saying that “Nappy” is the new “N” word. Even those of us who accept the texture as having its own beauty can shudder if someone mentions the word “Nappy”. So what is a girl to do when the “N” word actually does apply?
“Be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 ESV
One must remember to be gracious to those who came up in a different time or culture than what we are in now. If someone 20+ years your senior who has gone natural but still insists on religiously straightening her hair and shuns any treatment regimens that include methods that may seem too “ethnic” criticizes your wild twist-out, rebellious fro-hawk or motherland Bantu knots, be gentle with your judgement of their mentality. They have their reasons why they feel the way they feel. Their beauty has also been placed on the measuring scales of society by many before you and there is no telling by what means they were conditioned to judge that beauty. This is an awkward time for the matrons of our respective ethnic backgrounds. Times have changed and sisters are generally embracing a more irreverent and less standardized system of beauty. This can drive a wedge even further between ourselves and the women who desire to mentor us. Insulting their intellectual or spiritual aptitude based upon a misdirected opinion is not fair to them. The healing that takes place on the journey of embracing the you God created should also extend to those who may not fully grasp the concept in totality. “Angry Naturalista” is NOT the business! Just ain’t a good look, ya know?
So, we should learn to pick our battles. Learn that not every woman of color is going to agree with you. They may be smiling dead in your face and secretly thanking God, “At least I don’t have THAT hair!” That should be forgiven. They may be rambling on and on about how they only need water and a dime of conditioner for their locks and just don’t understand all this oil and butter that everyone is ranting about. Let it go. Bloom the Naturalista from the inside out. Your crown begins to glow when the texture of your heart is seen rather than the texture of your hair.