In 2014, I conducted a “Natural hair” campaign on my Instagram page niragir.a in order to encourage and inspire my young African sisters to care and proudly wear their hair in its natural form meaning without adding any chemicals to straighten it.
You see, In many parts of Africa women use chemicals to straighten their hair because it is associated with beauty and elegance. Few women had received affirmation from family, friends, or lovers when choosing not to straighten their hair. You would be amazed by the number of advice girls with natural hair, receive from everyone, including total strangers, urging them to understand how much more attractive they would look if they would fix (straighten) their hair.
The campaign was mainly Inspired by a book called “Humans of New York” the idea was to share photo portraits of girls with natural hair along with a caption highlighting their natural hair story.
Today I decided to share with you all, couple of quotes I picked from some of the “Naturalistas” I had the chance to photograph.
“I wear my natural hair because one day, a light bulb went off. The question then became, why don’t I wear my natural hair? It’s a statement of taking back the power of identity”
“The PanAfrican /black consciousness bug bit me and I started to seriously question WHY the way my hair grew in its natural form was considered at best cool/funky/artist/free spirit but never professional/corporate/serious/classy in other words, natural hair would not get you that great paying job”
“I decided to go natural, when I started to realise how black women all over the world try to live up to a european beauty standard by bleaching their skin and relaxing their hair and so on. Since then, I started a journey inside of me to completely own my identity as a black woman, to stop assimilating trying to live up to a beauty standard that is clearly not made for black women”
"Do it! Don't be scared! Hair grows and natural hair grows much faster, only thing it needs is TLC (Tender Love & Care)".
“Having natural hair makes me feel free. I fell much less restricted than I did with relaxed hair. And I think having big(ger) hair fits my personality.
Going to salons was too expensive, and maintaining processed hair was too time-consuming for me. I can't believe the amount of time and money I wasted trying to go to salons every two weeks. At that point, I was waiting so long between relaxers, that I figured I might as well go all the way natural. I was also moving to a new city at the time, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to make a drastic change"
"I want to stay as real and true as possible and what other way that to rock the natural hair that I was blessed with. Also I get bored with hair very easily so I like to switch things up, having natural hair actually allows me to do more to be honest. It's awesome!"
The term "natural hair" only applies to girls with afro hair which hasn't been treated with any chemicals. So for black girls, wearing their natural hair is knowing and being proud of who they are as a black women. So with that campaign I wanted to highlight that.
P.S In Precolonial Africa, for women to relax their hair wasn't uncommon. It was actually a practice which was very much accepted. The difference between now and then, is that women back then used natural technics like "Hot Combs" to relax their hair, therefore their hair kept its natural afro texture. I invite you watch to this video ( it is in french ) if you want to learn more about the history of african hair. Stay Blessed.