Are White Women Entitled To The Original ‘Natural Hair’ Claim?

Black woman playing with hair

Found at The Root

“I am a young white woman, though one who regularly reads The Root and associates quite often with young black women. Because I am almost always the ‘girliest’ friend, I inevitably get onto the topic of beauty and, on a related note, hair. After all this time, I have learned quite a lot about the many differences between my hair and my friends’ hair.

“One friend in particular often posts things from a natural-hair Facebook page. After I saw one of said posts, it occurred to me, do white people claim ‘Team Natural’? My first thought was that it would be totally ridiculous and racist, even if it could be ‘technically’ true in that most white people don’t regularly perm their hair. My question is, what would your reaction be if some random white person were to start posting things about ‘loving my natural’ and such? To prevent any misinterpretation of my query, I myself do not and would not ever dream of doing this.” –Curl-curious

I can tell by your “I do not and would not ever dream of doing this” disclaimer that you’re pretty certain that a white woman (But not you. OK. If you say so, we’ll go with that!) publicly proclaiming herself a member of “Team Natural” would fall in loosely with stories like actress Julianne Hough’s Orange Is the New Black blackface getup or Miley Cyrus’ twerking-with-black-women-as-props train wreck.

It does seem as though there’s a new quarterly, if not weekly, addition to this list of incidents in which perpetrators disregard sensitivity, cultural context and/or critical thought while passionately defending their right to have some fun. (No one ever said they didn’t have the right, just that they should have to deal with the backlash. But that’s another article altogether.)

Read The Rest Here


Should I even ask yall to discuss this?? I know you will anyway

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  1. I am a bit confused…isn’t their natural hair what we and others imitate? Why would they need to claim ‘Natural love’?

    OUR declaration of love of OUR hair is NONE of their business…I dear say that WE would not have to declare love of OUR original state if the spectrum of ‘standardized’ beauty included US or WE were not constantly told that WE had to conform to another’s image in order to be considered ‘acceptable, beautiful, intelligent’….if she has Black friends who subscribe to and proclaim their confidence in their original then she needs to leave it and them alone….This question in my humble opinion is laced with condescension and an attempt to highlight some perceived absurdity…i.e. ‘u don’t have to declare u are proud of your natural hair others don’t do that!’ ….OUR history and experiences across the world is not ‘others’ and the direct, constant, concerted message of OUR inferiority is not OUR imagination and OUR declaration of OUR love of OUR original hair is a strike at that message….LEAVE IT ALONE…u don’t have to understand all that WE do…u CAN’T understand all that We do….

  2. *sigh* they are always trying to get into our business, it never fails

  3. zarengurl says:

    you know what’s funny? the natural hair group that i saw this posted in had commenters seriously thinking this made sense and when im like “fuck white women, apparently we really cant have nothin, i got called racist, angry bitter black women, plus accusations that a white women stole my man. self hatred and ignorance is a bitch. they are literally quoting what white people use to dismiss us even though i re-contextualized my original statement with “my response of fuck white women was a response to “white women want to join the natural hair space that black women have constructed for themselves in order to fight back the notion that you can only be a woman and be beautiful if you have straight long hair”. my reaction was fuck those particular white women. i can understand how that sounds. i just hate that black folks struggle for self affirmation in this kind of society yet when we try to unify ourself, we get a lot of white people complaining about us being separatist. THAT is my issue.”

    1. if you write “fuck white women” then yes you’re not only a racist but a bitter black woman. Get over yourself, see if a white person says fuck black people, how well that sounds. But you’re so far up your head you cant even see the hatred that you spew yourself but project on others.

      1. zarengurl says:

        context is lost on you. im not going to bother.

      2. Clearly it’s susupposed to be about self love and confidence…I think she should be able to say that, if she rocks her kinky corkscrew curls…That means she’s proud of her HAIR…Not ashamed..Of anybody has anything to say about her race then they are just haters and they are secluding said person because of RACE!

    2. Yeah saying “fuck white women” is too harsh even with context. I get what you were saying but understand that what was said was provocative; people calling you out on that shit is to be expected. Though considering it was a facebook post I highly doubt it wouldn’t have gotten toxic even if you had said it nicer.

  4. I’m sorry but Natural hair moment is meant for black people and those of mostly african decent. With tight coils, kinks and curls, aka AFRO HAIR. A space black people created so they can fee free from constantly bombarded, brainwashed, subjected and tried to assimilate to white euro beauty standards. To love and accept us as we are and ignore the constant hate for afro hair, dark skin as ugly. For a white person to wanna enter that space is pointless. Its like being cool to be black but not being black, its cool for a day or so but they can easily go back to their lives and never fully understand living in a poc shoes. A white person will always be the living with the upmost privilege, being represented positively everywhere around the world. A white person’s natural features are the ideal, it may not be your hair, but your skin and eye color and just being white is ideal. Why can’t black people have a space for their own for once without being bombarded with the one thing we are striving to overcome?

    So I will politely say no, white people should not be in the natural hair community cause its made for black people by black people. They have the face all around the world praised and idolized. Let poc have their own spaces for once.

  5. Why not? I mean natural hair is hair that is not chemically processed or altered by any means. I think some black women( noticed that I said some. If the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t wear it) believe kinky, coily, curly hair is the all be all when it comes to being natural. This is untrue. Another thing is you don’t have to be black to claim you have natural hair. Ladies this issue is not that serious. I am not seeing the severity of the situation. If a white or non-black women wants to take a photo of her unprocessed hair and post it on the web with #teamnatural that is fine with me. Kudos to her. Kudos all the women who love what grows out of their head. I mean isn’t that what the natural hair “movement” is all about; empowering women to love who they are naturally? No one told me it was only reserved for black women; I didn’t get the memo.

  6. Jagdeep Gill says:

    Thanks for the blog.Nice blog it is.Great to read it.

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  7. I am the Black woman whose image is being used for this article. I am an author who has written a children’s book about natural hair entitled “Maggie Sinclair, Will You Please Fix Your Hair?!” to promote self love and acceptance of natural hair for children of color. In the future, research the metadata associated with the images you use before making making assumptions and ultimately offending others.

    1. I love it!!!! I’m going to read ur book too. I have been going natural since March and I love it plus ppl around me do too

  8. Good Morning,
    My sorority sister, pictured above in association with The Roots article originally dated October 2013, is an esteemed African-American woman, one whom I know personally. It is disheartening and manipulative to note her image has been paired with an article provoking thought regarding racial appropriation vs. racial participation. I would ask that she be contacted and this image be removed from your website. We as African-American/Black women come in all complexions across a continuum of “color.” Thank you in advance.

  9. I am a curly haired white woman. The curls are natural and I am constantly searching for the next best way to manage them. After many years of fighting them, I’m actually kind of proud to be a curly girl.
    That said, I will NEVER refer to wearing my hair curly as “natural hair” because I know that particular phrase has come to mean far more than “naturally curly hair.” I also understand that white women playing dress up with an Afro is a cultural appropriation on par with wearing a Native American headdress in a photo shoot because they think it looks cool. The history of racism, identity, and self-worth that relied on having “good hair”–there is so much there that isn’t part of my experience of just trying to get my damn hair to lay down and cooperate. As a white woman, I cannot begin to identify with this. I can be sympathetic. I can be an ally, but I cannot and should not pretend this is anything like my experience.
    I owe a huge part of my education on this particular issue to the woman in the photo attached to this article. Hilary Dixon, the gorgeous woman up there, is black, so she is actually the exact opposite of the white women playing at natural hair. She has written extensively about her own hair odyssey and learning to embrace her natural hair. (Full disclosure: I am lucky enough to count her as a friend.) She cares so deeply about this topic that she wrote a children’s book, Maggie Sinclair, Will You Please Fix Your Hair?, to help young girls love their natural hair.
    I am sure that the choice to use her photo was done with no malicious intent, but perhaps the redemption in this story is that it presents an opportunity to get to know a smart, funny, kind advocate for natural hair. Knowing her has made me smarter and better able to explain to others why natural hair is about SO much more than curls.

  10. While I’m a white girl and I have a 4a afro. My 4a hair is no different than a black person’s 4a hair so I have no reason to treat it differently. People tell me my hair is weird, crazy, and uproffestional too. If I wear my hair unstreached or straightened I’m wearing it natural just like any black person in the same situation would be wearing their hair natural. What my race’s ancestors did is not my fault, I’ve done nothing harmful against African Americans. I’m not going to stop wearing my hair in a natural afro because a bunch of people say it’s racist. Hate on my genetics all you want. You don’t own a hairtype and people have every right to recreate kinky hair as long as they don’t go around saying “ha ha I’m a stupid ugly black woman.” African Americans have contributed a lot to hairstyling and that’s really awesome, but they don’t own the sole right to create those hairstyles. As long as somebody gives the creator credit then they have every right to wear whatever hairstyle they want unless they’re purposly using it to insult people. Just because people are offended doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. Many African Americans pour out tons of hate out on hair because they’re angry about injustices done to them, but it’s not helpful. Anger and hate don’t lead to progress. Do whatever you want with your hair as long as you aren’t purposly using your hair purposly degrade someone.

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