Is all that your real hair?

imageAlexis Beauford
Normal, IL

2 years ago I decided to go natural. A lot of non-ethnic people don’t know what that means. When an African American woman gets a perm, it’s to make her hair straight and more manageable which is the opposite of when some other ethnicities get a perm. When someone decides to go natural it’s to rid their hair of the toxins and bad chemicals often put in your hair by perms, colorings, or just poor maintenance of ones hair. Some do that by chopping it all off (the big chop) and some transition by cutting it off with monthly end trims. I transitioned; I couldn’t cut off all of my hair because it was already a nice medium length when I decided to go natural. When I began to go natural my hair became more full and healthier. A term used around the natural community is “shrinkage.” My hair experiences shrinkage when it’s wet and although it curls right up, it shrinks and the appearance makes my hair look shorter than it actually is. In the provided picture is my hair blown out (with a blow dryer) and one with it just curly and you can see a huge difference in the length and texture. I often get asked by all of my peers (Caucasian and African American) if my hair is my real hair. I feel that sometimes it’s to say that I couldn’t possibly have grown that much hair on my own (the false perception of African American women and their dependency on weave). Another one is that the big change in the length and texture of my hair is to say that it’s “unrealistic” for hair to change dramatically like that with it being “your real hair.” I love my hair shrunken or long and bone straight. It adds to the diversity of my appearance and who I am. I don’t think it should be that hard to believe that my hair is the length it actually is naturally and I want everyone to embrace the fact that yes I’m an African American woman and yes all of that hair is mine.


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