MIDLAND/ODESSA — There is a thin line between how much creativity you can mix into your hair when you’re a “professional”. However, with more women opting to wear their hair natural, will the new normal be a more natural look?
Joe James is the owner of Joe James Salon and Spa. As a stylist he also consults his clients on their image based on the career field they are in.
“You’re not gonna take someone with natural curly hair like mine, put them on the air without flat ironing it or softening it with round brushes or something, you’re not gonna go with a real natural look.”
The natural look he’s referring to the fluffy air-fro more African American women are wearing. It’s a look that was looked down upon for multiple reasons.
“Politics both within the black community and also feelings of pressure from the outside, said U.T.P.B. professor of modern history Derek Catsam. He specializes in race and politics in the United States.
Catsam said, many black people steered away from the natural look for fear of looking too radical for the white community, but also for fear of looking too country in the black community.
“Often times some of the biggest pressure came from the middle class and upper class black community,” said Catsam. “It was reflecting divisions within the black community of light skin versus dark skin, of middle class versus poor, of city versus country.”
Another division was between “good hair vs. bad hair.
While that may be one explanation, James said, he agrees with people feeling free to wear their natural hair but societies acceptance of it may boil down to fashion.
“when people embrace their naturalness and not afraid to go on air, no matter how their critiqued I think you’ll see the trend change,” said James.
Catsam said, there’s been times throughout history when the afro was trendy yet politically motivated
“Much of the black is beautiful, and especially the black power component of it was certainly seen as both a challenge in the black community to white power structures.”
Now he said, if the air-fro does receive a second look it’s because “Oh that’s cool.”
Both James and Catsam agree, the change to having a more accepting view of natural hair may not be too far off, but there is still a line drawn.
“There are subtle changes taking place. Can you have shorter dreads shorter cornrows? Sure, but there’s a fundamental conservatism within business and within employers that expects all employees to adhere to certain standards,” said Catsam.
“The day that you wake up and decide to go on the air all natural, is it gonna be embraced immediately? Probably not but over time you’ll influence enough people and people will be coming in asking us I want my hair done like that young lady on channel two,” said James.
Read part I >> Black Women Wearing Their Natural Hair: Fad Or New Normal?