Let’s be honest: There is a very real hierarchy when it comes to natural hair. At the top are women with loose curly light-colored hair, and at the bottom are those with kinkier dark hair. I’m somewhere in the middle. The top Youtubers and Instagramers—those with the biggest followings, the most shares and reposts, and therefore the most sponsorship opportunities—all have loose curly hair. I rarely see kinkier hair types represented and when I do it’s shoulder length or longer (like mine).
I’ve also noticed an increase in the number of curlies going blonde. Now don’t get me wrong, one of the great things about being natural is having freedom and space to express ourselves through things like hair color. It is also true that in the 1800’s, lighter-skinned, straight-haired slaves commanded higher prices at auction than darker, more kinky-haired slaves. And then, internalizing this color consciousness, black folks joined in, promoting the idea that women with dark skin and kinky hair are less attractive—and less worthy.
This is our history and we must acknowledge our place in it. I know my experience is a mix of privilege and oppression and overcoming—and all these things, alongside the choices I make, are to credit for where I am.
Don’t get me wrong, none of this is meant to disparage anyone with loose curls or blonde hair, or discourage these people or anyone else from continuing their work—the natural hair life can be difficult for all sorts of people. I’m SO HERE for every successful natural hair blogger, artist, and entrepreneur, because their work celebrates natural hair, and helps me feel more free to be my best self.
That said, I believe the natural hair community (I’m talking to you too brands!) needs to work to be more inclusive of kinkier hair types. We owe those crowned by these curls loud proclamations of their beauty, because the people who have been saying, “If you have kinky hair, you are less than,” for over 400 years, are just wrong.
To get you started, here are a 20 of my favorite natural babes, representing lots of different textures and vibes:
Words inspired and adapted from @curliee_gurl.