How Chimamanda rejuvenated the natural black hair movement

A new breed of beautiful, strong and powerful black women has fallen back in love with their own natural hair after decades of brainwashing by fashion trends that presented straightened hair as more beautiful.

“Relaxing your hair is like being in prison. You’re caged in. Your hair rules you. You’re always battling to make your hair do what it wasn’t meant to do.”
― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah

Chimamanda wrote extensively about black hair in her acclaimed book, Americanah, which can be credited to the increased robust positive discussion around the natural black hair today.

She herself wears her hair naturally in many different beautiful hairstyles. In 2013, speaking to Jessamy Calkin of The Telegraph in London, Chimamanda said of hair: ‘I am obsessed with hair! As you can see I have natural, negro hair, free from relaxers and things. My hair story started when I was a baby. My mother had boys and she desperately wanted a girl, a girl with hair. I came out with a lot of hair and she was thrilled.

As I was growing up she would do things to my hair but what I loved the most was when she stretched it with a hot comb. I was terrified too, because when the comb touched your ear it was so painful, but I loved the idea that my hair would then be straight. So when I was three years old I already had the idea that straight hair was beautiful and my hair was ugly.’

Although Chimamanda brings up hair straightening to make her point, the new conversation about natural black hair should not be about judging those who straighten their hair. In the same article, she concedes that if her nieces want a straight wig she will buy for them because “life is short.”

As much as the conversation about black hair is about dislodging myths that black hair is ugly in its natural state, using hair relaxers also comes with risks which can sometimes be life-changing.

Medical information and advice website Livestrong explains that a person can get chemical burns “when the chemicals used to break down the hair structure are allowed to remain on the skin long enough for the skin to start to break down and dissolve. Severe chemical burns are not only painful but also can result in secondary infections, permanent hair loss, severe scarring and emotional distress. Chemical burns range in severity from first degree to third degree, with the most extreme burns requiring skin grafts.”

Wearing your hair in its natural state saves you from all these side effects in addition to making your natural beauty shine through.

Transitioning from relaxed hair to natural hair comes with some new routines though. Conditioning is noted as one of the most important routines when it comes to maintaining natural hair.

“The single best thing you can do for natural hair is — you guessed it — conditioning. From conditioning in the shower to regular deep-conditioning treatments, your hair can’t get enough. Leave-in conditioners are a great way to rehydrate and bring moisture and vibrancy to your hair on a daily basis,” – Cosmopolitan.

So, rock your natural hair proudly and reap all the benefits that come with it.

Another celebrity who embraces and shows off her natural black hair is the queen of the screen, Viola Davis. She recently posted this picture of her sporting her cool afro (we can’t help but notice the cool neckpiece too!)