In case you haven’t noticed, natural afro hair has grown more and more popular in the past decade. I’ve been wearing my hair in its natural texture most of my life and in a way, it is not a big deal to me. I don’t assume that a woman rocking a fro means anything political by it. I don’t try to convert women with relaxers to a life of afropuffs and two-strand twists. As India Arie sings, I am not my hair. I am however fully aware of how complex and loaded the topic of “black hair” is. So I thought it would be fitting to write this post now, during black history month.
Long before I discovered the bra blogosphere, I’ve somewhat felt that there was a parallel between the relationship of black women with their hair, and the relationship of women of all ethnicities with their boobs. It is often messy, passionate and well… complicated.
This being a bra and boobs blog, most readers might not be familiar with the afro hair community. There is a whole world out there with boards, blogs, youtube channels and so on all dedicated to the glory of natural hair. I came upon it back in the early 2000s. While I was very excited to get tips and ideas for new hairstyles, I sometimes couldn’t relate to those new to that natural hair thing who felt self-consious or ambivalent about it. That is, until I drew the paralell with boobs. I think that some poster on a hair board mentioned how people were staring at her hair and I wondered why she thought that someone staring at her did so because of her hair. And then I realised that at the time, my first thought if someone stared at me was that they checked out my boobs. Now, that was not a completely paranoid thought, but one based on past experience. But then again, maybe so was the reaction of the woman from the hair board.
In natural hair lingo, the big chop is the haircut where you get rid of the chemically straightened ends of your hair. It is a very emotional moment for lots of women. Some who used to view hairdressing has a chore start to marvel at every kink and curl of their little fro. That can be compared to the bra epiphany of women who suddenly realise that they had been wearing too large a band and too small a cup for years and that their bras hadn’t done justice to their boobs.
More and more Black women choose not to straighten their hair. Still, they are a minority. Similarly, it is said again and again, that 80% of women wear the wrong bra size. And they’re not helped by all the bad information laying around and “fittings” by the likes of Victoria Secret. For lots of women, breaking out of the “Bra Matrix”, as Venusian Glow calls it, or dumping their relaxer is a choice that sets them apart from the norm.
Then, there is the whole evangelizing thing. Some women get very enthusiastic about their journey and would like to share it with other women… which brings them on a quest to enlighten those still in the dark. As someone who hates unsollicited advice, I’m not too big on that. Still, I have helped friends with bra and hair woes in the past and I’m glad I did. And I must admit that zealous ambassadors often do a great job spreading the word and helping women so that they can consider all options before making their choice. And that, dear readers, is sisterhood at work!