We are grown right? So this type of stuff doesn’t happen right? Wrong! Peer Pressure can be felt at any age and in a variety of different circumstances. So, I ask, is there peer pressure in the natural hair community?
Well, frankly I believe the answer to that question is yes. Here’s why: At Ma’Mocha Naturals we offer Beauty Confidence Consultations for women who are dealing with confidence issues related to their natural hair. In doing this, I’ve heard time and time again that they are feeling pressure. Pressure from who? Well some are experiencing pressure from family and friends who just can’t seem to wrap their minds around the fact that they no longer want to relax their hair…. we expect that though right? Yup, pretty much. We all understand that sometimes it can take a little while for our loved ones to get on board with our decision to go natural and that’s cool. Unfortunately, some may not ever get on board….. and well that’s fine too!
However, one constant and quite disturbing issue that I’ve been hearing is the fact that a lot of women are experiencing (what can be perceived as being) negative peer pressure right from within the natural hair community. One thing that makes this type of pressure more disturbing than most is that it oftentimes is completely unexpected! You would think that with other naturals you would receive the encouragement that is so sorely missing in other circles, but for some women that is not the case.
Many of us go natural to get rid of all the chemicals as well as embrace who we truly are inside. What can happen along the way though, is that we could begin to feel like we need to fit in with all the other naturals that we see at meet-ups, online, in our social circles etc. If this happens, we are actually forgetting one of the main reasons we may have went natural in the first place—individuality. Don’t get me wrong there is absolutely nothing wrong with being inspired by other women’s hair, fashion, confidence etc. Inspiration is great, however the problem comes when we feel like we need to be just like these women or when we feel like new naturals need to be just like us. I’m sure you’ve seen or heard it….. a woman goes natural and another natural tells her, “girl, all you need is some make-up and some earrings, and you’ll be fine. I wear (insert make-up brand of choice here) and I found these earrings I have on at ………” Honestly, whoever said that just because you’ve went natural you now need to start wearing more make-up than you ever did before or start wearing more accessories than you did in the past? Now, if that’s what YOU want to do then fine, have at it, but if you would rather not, then don’t. That may sound simple but for some women, it is a lot easier said than done.
A friend of mine told me that she felt like when she went natural she now needed to listen to more neo soul music and dress more bohemian. Really? Granted, it does seem like there are a lot of natural hair videos out there with neo soul and conscience rap playing in the background and that’s completely fine because that’s their personal preference. If you hear something you like and want to add that to your music collection, great you should do it! If rock is more your thing, that’s fine too. I mean honestly who are you trying to please? I personally love neo soul music, and I feel this way not because of my hair, but just because I really like it. I also like Foster The People (love their song, call it what you want!), which is like light alternative I guess. Would I hesitate to play them in the car with my natural haired friends? No. Why? I like it, it’s my car and if you don’t like what’s being played, you can get out. Just kidding. For real though, why is it that some of us feel like just because we have natural hair that we all must be the same?
Another area that sometimes breeds conformity is choice of hairstyle. Why do some of us feel like no one wants shrinkage? Is shrinkage really that bad? One woman I spoke with told me that she loves her wash and go styles because her hair shrinks up and it looks really cute. She went on to relate that her friends on the other hand, hate it. They are natural as well. She says that they keep trying to style her hair in different ways to elongate it but she says she never likes any of the styles as much as she likes her shrunken fro. This seems like an easy answer……just rock your shrunken fro, right? Wrong, these ladies are her best friends and she said they are obsessed with achieving bra strap length natural hair. As a result, they want her to jump on the bandwagon with them and stretch her hair out to maximum lengths. She could care less about length, she just wants a cute, simple style. What’s a girl to do right?
Just be yourself! Take inspiration from other women and make it your own. When we were sporting relaxers we all weren’t wearing the same hair and fashion styles, so why should we start now? We honestly have to do some soul searching and find out what we really like in terms of our hair, fashion, and overall style. We also need to determine what looks best on us. After all, what makes another woman’s style superior to yours? Nothing at all. It may also be helpful to remember that at the end of the day when we look in the mirror we need to be happy with the woman that is looking back at us. If we don’t love and appreciate her for who she really is, then how can we expect anyone else to? Just a thought.
Do you feel like there is peer pressure in the natural hair community and if so, what kinds?