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Is ‘Hair Autonomy’ the Next Big Thing in the Natural Hair Movement?

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In a recent newsletter to my clients, I suggested five New Year’s Resolutions they could easily get behind and wouldn’t pull the plug on by the end of January. 

This time, the pledges were not chocked full of styling advice and product overhauls. Instead, the gist of the memo was an urgent call to action: cut yourselves some slack.

Our hair is such an integral feature of our identity and history that we tend to stress a lot over how we present it. Surely making time to pay attention to its care, safe styling methods and the right product selections are clutch, but in the coming year, I urged my clients to lessen their focus on the chase for “perfect hair”.

The natural hair movement is quite possibly the most impactful Black beauty trend of our time. Having started in the 1960s (although most are familiar with the latest resurgence starting in the late 2000s), it makes tremendous strides. It encourages us to embrace our natural textures, connect to our roots and not feel shame. But, as it carries on and boosts our self-confidence, biased beauty ideals continue to compel us to overthink our hair choices. 

It might seem trivial to others, but for us, these decisions are never just about hair. The planning and execution is often intense, as it’s overrun with grueling, hours-long “wash days”, mounting piles of conflicting information and a rising, super expensive product junkie culture. It’s exhausting!

However, a new breed of hair devotees is emerging; and they’re leading the movement with the same core sentiment I expressed to my clients. These pioneers are armed with a fresh set of rules and their own prescribed rituals…and they’ve launched a sharp push-back against laborious Black hair care. 

They are designing a modern archetype; one that prioritizes simplicity and ease and abandons our hang-ups of ingrained hair perfection. It authorizes freedom from time-consuming routines, obsessions with length (they are based on racist and misogynistic standards of beauty), complicated product cocktails and the need to beat our hair into submission. An I’ll-do-whatever-I-damn-well-please approach to hair care allows space for a little experimentation and grace to just let it be

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This new liberation embraces the liberties to accept a pared-back product line-up, shorter styling times and so-called “flaws” such as shrinkage and frizz. It carves out space for wellness: more good moments with family, and friends and caring for other parts of ourselves.  It grants less worry about hair perception at work, what to do with it while on vacation, or, dare I say it, whether or not our hair choices honor our Blackness. 

It could create exactly what we’ve always yearned for – a completely open approach to how we see our hair.

Of course, there will always be a little resistance (and even an occasional need to sport impeccably coiffed hair), but the increasing number of individuals making hair choices purely based on their own preferences and feelings is promising. And I’m here for all of it

If the idea of adopting this new, Black hair autonomy doesn’t grab you, it’s okay. Do what’s right for you. After all, it aligns with this wonderful do-as-you-please energy anyway, right?  

I will continue to follow the progress for you. However you choose to frame it; ditching the idea of attaining flawless hair is a step in the right direction. Who knows?

You could discover a new go-to hairstyle you just might love!

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