From Hair Trauma to Hair Glory

A little history on black hair

The concept of "good hair" is something we've all heard about and it has influenced how many of us view our natural hair. From a young age, we have been told that our hair wasn't good enough, that our curls needed to be tamed, smoothed, or changed to fit in with what society deemed acceptable. 

But this wasn't always the case. In pre colonial times, black hair was associated with personal identity and belonging. The way in which you style your hair and the hairstyle you chose was a way to tell the world who you were. From mothers to daughters to soldiers, everyone had a particular style that represented the group or tribe that they were a part of. So, hair was much more than a symbol of beauty, it represented identity.  However, when the slave trade began, all of that changed. Eurocentric beauty standards were enforced rigorously and black traits were deemed inferior. Black hair became a source of shame rather than pride. 

This set the stage for the negative perceptions and stereotypes surrounding curly and coily hair that still influence society today. And as movements advocating for black liberation emerged, the topic of hair naturally took center stage. As a symbol of pride in their black heritage and resistance, people began proudly wearing their afros in public. 


How Hair Trauma still affects black people today

Unfortunately, even today, black hair remains highly politicized, and individuals with curly and coily hair still feel compelled to conform to European beauty standards. We continue to hear that the natural hair growing from our scalps is too much, too big, and unsuitable for certain environments. Our hair remains a tool used to oppress us in various ways.

Take the story of Chastity Jones for instance. In 2010, she received a job offer from a company called Catastrophe Management Solutions, but with one condition: she had to cut off her locs. Allegedly, the person hiring Jones told her while referring to her hair “They tend to get messy”. Appalled, Jones refused to cut her hair, resulting in the withdrawal of her job offer. Five years later, Lettia McNickle, hostess working for Madison’s Grill in downtown Montreal, was sent home when she showed up to work with braids in her hair. Allegedly, she had already worked several shifts before her boss decided to confont her about her hair in front of the customers. 

Three years later, the story of Faith Fennidy, a young black girl, gained national attention after a video went viral of her being expelled from Christ the King Elementary School in Louisiana because of her braids. And that is just the beginning. Many black people continue to be discriminated against both in the academic and professional settings due to their hair being considered too distracting or unprofessional. 


From Hair Trauma to Hair Glory

Despite the challenges we've faced, we continue to rise above and have created numerous spaces and movements to celebrate our crowns and heritage. One such movement is the natural hair community. Through this community, we've shared stories, tips, and experiences, committing to learning how to care for our beautiful crowns.

There's also a growing recognition of the importance of representation in the media. More and more, black actors, singers, and celebrities proudly showcase their gorgeous natural curls in movies, TV shows, and advertisements. This increased visibility not only challenges traditional beauty standards but also celebrates the diversity and beauty of black hair.

These initiatives serve as a reminder of our strength, beauty and resilience. And, by wearing our crown with pride and refusing to let society dictate our worth, we're rewriting the narrative of what it means to have "good hair." We're creating our own standards of beauty, one curl at a time.

Because here's the truth: “good hair” comes in all shapes, sizes and textures. And embracing and celebrating diverse hair textures is not only an act of self-love and empowerment but it's the first step on the journey from hair trauma to hair glory