For The Uninformed, This Is What 'Natural' Hair Looked Like Before The 'Curly' Infiltration aka "New Black" Took Over

Before the latest anti-black dysfunction adopted by many black people who have not worked through their color racism and hair texture discrimination, was slapped on top of the current “natural hair” phenom encouraging black women to embrace the hair that grows out of their scalps and it became all about achieving loose waves and ringlets, there was this:

Vintage Afro Sheen ad

Look! Hair that looks shiny, moisturized with no dry ends or single strand snarls!


It’s an A-F-R-O.

Just a hairstyle…..

The ONLY act of militancy from wearing a legitimate afro TODAY is doing so in the midst of BLACK PEOPLE!

No texturizing, heat-training required. No Bantu-Knot, Marley Braid-Out, Two-Strand Twist, Roller Set, or a $200 product list and 50 minute DAILY morning regime in sight. The ORIGINAL WASH-N-GO!!!  And I believe the fro didn’t shrink in humidity. No number-type categorization, no mixed-gals or poly-racial ad campaigns (i.e. Carol’s Daughter, Shea Moisture) either….


THIS IS HOW B-L-A-C-K Women and Heritage GETS ERASED:


I thought I should mention that I stopped chemically processing my hair about four 1/2 years ago. It wasn’t a deliberate decision, I just got tired of not seeing certain results I wanted with my hair and shifted my budget elsewhere. I had no idea there were so many hair blogs and YouTube channels devoted to “natural hair”. I’ve skimmed through most of the sites and vlogs since and even shared a few here on the main site and on our social media channels.

I even posted some photos of my first blow-out after a long-needed haircut a few weeks ago. My hair felt like cotton candy and while I liked wearing it straight for a few hours, I’m used to my curls. While I don’t pay direct attention to most of black-related media, I can count on many part of those channels to exchange information which I’ll review. So, between a mother discussing her son’s PTSD from experiencing violence while living in Blackistan and the anger about a non-black woman claiming to share the same experiences as non-mixed black women on a hair site frequented by black women as well as the passing of an R&B legend, it’s been an emotional few days for some people.

Isn’t it ironic that Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o has a video on HAIR BRAIDING in Vogue (celebrating blackness as normal), while some African American women are stunned to discover they were inadvertently supporting blackface fronts for white interests?

It didn’t take me that long to figure out one major hair blog was in fact, white-owned. I googled her name, an early hair forum of the parent company  popped up in the results and it was rather plainly laid out. While I do have great research skills (lol), I actually thought this was common knowledge.

By the way, watching too many of the YT vlogs will drive you insane. Given most of these sites don’t have my hair texture and results vary, I’m glad I didn’t start viewing them until after I completed my own learning process. I have three different textures on one head. And even looking at videos of 4C vlogs my hair doesn’t quite look the same. I think there is an obsessive fascination with “curls” and hair length status updates, but realize if someone is trying to make money from their vlogs, they’re going to push more complicated hairstyles and tons of products. And at least one vlogger has publicly discussed the texture hypocrisy.

The problem of course is that many black women were already coming from a lesser-than point of view and you see how easy it is to gravitate towards women whose skin tone or hair texture are viewed as more desirable thanks to our anti-black woman devastation, that making stars out of them is very similar to how other women (often lighter toned, biracial, etc) are lifted up. You can’t just be relaxer-free, your hair must behave and look certain way!

*And by the way I figured out that most of the problems I’d attributed to relaxed hair (dryness, breakage, fragility) is MY HAIR and has nothing to do with a relaxer.


Go figure.




But I will pop back in to say thank goodness I skipped following all of the hair blogs and YouTube ‘Gurus’. I may have missed all of the back-stabbing drama from a few years ago but I’m finding the public dragging of the DIRT people do being exposed rather enlightening. In fact, some of it reads JUST like the stuff that some fake-BWE infiltrators tried to pull. So, the latest outrage over a white woman trying to dominate a conversation on what is in fact a white-owned hair blog that black women put on the map would not have been a surprise had people been paying attention to what was going on the entire time. Which includes who they flocked to for reasons other than haircare tips.


**P.S. I did catch a black woman blogger known for her weight loss, clean eating and fitness blog who rocks an old skool AFRO mention on her Twitter feed last week the number of dirty looks she gets from other ‘Naturals’ on the regular.


Here’s the full history of the shenanigans at the Curly Nikki blog if you’d like to catch up (yes, I’m linking to LSA and yes, no stone has been left unturned):

and apparently there’s some current Plantation behavior over at BGLH, too:

158 comments to For The Uninformed, This Is What ‘Natural’ Hair Looked Like Before The ‘Curly’ Infiltration aka “New Black” Took Over

  • Felecia S

    I have at least 3 different textures/curl patterns on my head from coily curly to a wavier less tight pattern. I wore an afro in the late 70s and that was work and manipulation too. Twists and twist-outs are a manipulation, braids are a manipulation, locs are also a manipulation, as is pressing, relaxing, etc. A haircut is a manipulation. It's just hair. I choose to wear mine natural with an occasional no chemical manipulation because I was tired of apologizing to the world for how my grows and I want my children and grandchildren to be comfortable wearing theirs. I want the corporate professional to see that it's just hair. Wearing my my natural does have real economic implications, until the world catches up it will make some things harder, and some jobs unattainable. That sacrifice isn't for everyone.

  • Jessica B.

    I don't understand why people spend so much time worried about what other women are doing with their hair! If I want to rock a 70s fro, a twist out, or have it fried dyed and laid to the side, that is my business. Aren't there more important things for you to be writing about in the world instead of trying to internet shame women for their hair choices?

  • elizahmac

    This article and articles like it are the reason there is a divide. I can't help if my NATURAL, biracial hair falls into healthy ringlets down my back. Does that make me less of a natural than a black woman? No. Does it mean that I have to do a lot less to achieve my desired results? Probably. So yes, me as a biracial woman admire the BW struggle to maintain healthy hair and retain length and do not throw critisim at them for trying hairstyles like twist outs to add a different look to their hair. The point with the natural hair craze it to move away from chemicals and have healthy hair FULL STOP. If certain individuals want to share different ways that you can keep your hair or mold it into different hairstyles while it's in it's natural state, so be it. It's not the 70's & depending on your fasion preferences, not many women want to rock a full on Afro every day.

    Tired of women like yourself trying to make me feel less black because I am biracial and assuming that I havnt had the same life struggles, which is what it falls down to in the end & is what can be fully heard in your essays undertones. I even witness BW recieve the same kind of treatment just because they have "good" hair or are light skinned. These things do not make our struggles any less and people like you are the reason there is a devide between sisters of all shades.

    A full on combed out poof Afro is still manufactured and moved away from the natural curl pattern as it is COMBED OUT. Every hair style we do is manipulated so stop throwing critisim on women and their own desires for their hair & focus on yourself and why you can't accept other peoples journeys.

  • Sarah

    You’re a crappy writer who has a very narrow view of the subject matter at hand. While I do feel that all women should embrace their natural beauty, it’s not up to me or anyone else to criticize what type of hairstyle makes a woman feel comfortable. Whether she wants to rock an afro, dreads, braids, curls, or whatever that is her choice. I just read an article the other day saying that Asians have invented a way to make their hair kinky instead of straight. I’m of mixed race. My hair is curly, and I wear it curly 95% of the time. Sometimes I straighten it when I’m in the mood. If your point is to celebrate the natural beauty of women, you can do so without tearing others down. Your article just sounding ignorant, uninformed, racist, and cynical. You need to go back to school and take a writing class.

  • Michelle

    Why does it matter whether your fro is curly or "nappy". Some people with naturally good hair will always have fros that are curly. It was that way in the 70's too. This is another continuation of the good hair debate, straight vs nappy.


  • kamenzieful

    I feel that if so many people are missing the point maybe it is because it wasn’t communicated very well. When I read this, the first time, it felt very much like you were attacking a lot of things at once and your message got lost. It feels like you are making very broad assumptions about some very broad subjects and giving very little reason for your opinions. I will admit that I was personally offended by your comments about bi-racial women. As if we should be ostracized for who we are as if we had a choice in what body and cultural background we received through birth. Having said that, if your point isn’t to criticize women for their hairstyles, ethnic backgrounds or healthy lifestyle choices perhaps you should lead with that. This article comes off as immature, prejudice, ignorant, and limited rather than uplifting, investigative and honest like you claim to have wanted. If your intended goal is to uplift us and instill pride in us maybe you should start by being positive and not trying to make people feel small for who they are.

  • ph2072

    Well said. Thank goodness I never followed any of those websites or blogs or vlogs EXCEPT Nappturality.

    Sincerely, a proud dread-head of 9 years.

  • ph2072

    Well said. Thank goodness I never followed any of those websites or blogs or vlogs EXCEPT Nappturality.

    Sincerely, a proud dread-head of 9 years.

  • jazzywilliams

    I don't really think this article is completely fair. It's pitting different types of curl patterns or whatever against each other. I don't really know what my curl pattern is. I've never really cared. But I do know when I wash my hair and add regular leave in conditioner, it looks like the first girl in the bottom picture, albeit with a bit more frizz. Now I know some people who people who wash their hair and add conditioner and it looks a lot different than mines. The problem is when people want to say either I have good hair or think that I'm using a lot to get there. I've tried multiple times to get an afro. It actually takes me more work to get an afro…braiding or knotting then waiting and waiting then rebraiding or knotting because my hair doesn't really hold them, then picking out. And I have the type of hair that knots extremely easy if I don't condition it. But the way for me to get an afro is to dry my hair out. I think being open minded and asking questions instead of making broad assumptions works best. I had a natural friend that only wore afros like the lady above (it fit her texture) but had a lot more maintenance issues than me. I am not mixed for the record.

  • Sisterlocgirl

    This is yet another facet of the overarching problem with the continued attempts at erasing darker skinned, kinky haired BW. I am very pleased to see more BW speaking up & calling BS on this mess, but what I find disturbing is the number of BW who STILL are FIGHTING for their own erasure. To some this seems like a minor issue, but it is part of a bigger overall contempt/disdain/disrespect of BW. I think the reason why these things are coming up so much more frequently is BECAUSE the BWE message has reached a number of BW who refuse to go along with the status quo. 6-7 years ago no one would have said a thing about this. Exclusivity and addressing our own SPECIFIC concerns is not a bad thing. Everyone else does it & it's high time we as BW started doing the same for ourselves.
    As far as the whole natural hair thing, I locked my hair 9 years ago, and with the exception of a few You Tube videos I basically have ignored the entire hair texture classification nonsense. Part of the reason I chose locks over other natural hairstyles is because I am lazy and have no desire to constantly comb, reset & fuss with my hair. My locks are permanent & the cost of maintenance is free ( I maintain my locks myself ). That and I had no desire to spend hours in a salon with loud folks braiding my hair complaining about it being too nappy or being dependent on a whack job Sisterlocks consultant trainee doing my hair only if the house of Venus was in the cusp of Saturn with a Harvest Moon on the correct Sunday ( long, weird story ). I finally realized yes this is my hair & it's easier to deal with than any other hair type on the planet. My hair is weatherproof, always looks good & a bad hair day for me is when my new growth needs to be incorporated into my locks. Shoot I'm so unconcerned about what anyone thinks now that I'll go out in public in my equivalent of rollers ( Bantu knots in my wet hair…takes 24 hours to dry).
    Oops…sorry for getting off track. Yes, we do need black spaces and this will occur when we establish & maintain BOUNDARIES. Every other ethnic group gets this….except us. I DARE anyone to go try to hijack a Jewish/Nigerian/Ethiopian/Jamaican/Polish etc blog/web space like others manage to successfully do with us. I guarantee you you will be handed you a$$ with a quickness. Spare me with the " perpetually surprised " knowledge that others establish & maintain boundaries when it comes to their issues/concerns. It's a bad look that no one respects.

  • Thank you! That’s all. Peace and blessings to you and yours!

  • Alisha

    This is dumb.

  • I'm going to pop in to comments section to reply to someone who shared the blog post on Reddit and the comments there:

    There is no mention of hair dye in this article because hair color is not part of the conversation. Nor does this article eschew relaxers. Or braids. Or weaves. Or any FLATTERING HAIRSTYLE.

    This is about addressing the underlying self-hatred and misogyny that continues to run rampant throughout the black diaspora and psyche.

    For those of you stuck at a hairdo even when I've specifically written IN THE ARTICLE this is NOT ABOUT A HAIRSTYLE, you need to continue on your personal journey to critical thinking and reading comprehension. Come back when the lightbulb clicks "on". I have NO DOUBT the same issue will still be here, sigh.

    ** To all the "biracials" upset they can't have their biracial cake when it suits them AND be called black — too bad. Because when I discussed "mixed gals/polyracial campaigns" I was specifically referencing when companies like Carol's Daughter intentionally DUMP the black woman consumer for the "other". Not to mention there's an entire HAIR LINE CALLED MIXED CHICKS!!! I have yet to see anyone complaining to them that they are excluding black women! This is NOT personal beef with any lighter/brighter/exotical woman. I am very pleased with my beauty personally. But let's NOT play dumb about the history of black color racism and who benefits!

    ** And as I've already replied to someone here, since when does regular hair care (moisturizing, shampooing and COMBING and drying your hair) become something to avoid or automatically lump into the extreme efforts women with one main type of hair texture go through to get it to look like someone else's?

    When Asians put coarse detergent in their hair to DAMAGE it so it more closely resembles your average NEGROID hair that is an act of extremism.

    The same can be said for black women who try to get their hair to look like Yaki or some form of waves and ringlets that would require chemical alteration or extensions to achieve. Sure, you can do it but don't try to pretend it's an empowering choice or a change of pace IF it isn't. If you're emotionally charged about it and your entire self-esteem is tied to it, that's a problem and it's not about that hairstyle!







    And it will happen AGAIN!

  • nikki

    This is so sad. All of it.
    I went natural for my health and the environment. Period.
    Since black people take the brunt of the effects from a dirty planet, (and our health is the worst in america) I personally think that should be the priority.
    This other shit? Just a distracting mess of arguments over who should occupy different spaces.
    Yes, its frustrating to have spaces made for black woman highjacked for other races. But I also have realized that YES, other races have struggles accepting themselves sometimes too, even though their curls seem perfectly fine to us.
    Where do we draw the line then?

  • Sadly, I think that this article serves to further divide and makes quite a few assumptions. If I wanted to wear an afro (prior to my locs), I’d have to wash it, braid it, then pick it out, because of my texture. It took two years for my hair to lock because of its texture. Sistas have a variety of textures and curl patterns. If someone chooses to style theirs in such a way that lengthens their curl, I.e. twists or battu knots, who cares? The bigger focus should be on minimizing our exposure to toxic chemicals in our hygiene and grooming products.

  • akosua

    this isn't really a wash and go though…it's stretched out hair that's been stretched, brushed, picked out, and patted down to perfection. it still had to be twisted down at night and brushed out in the morning. this type of afro had to be manipulated, too.

  • akosua

    this isn't really a wash and go though…it's stretched out hair that's been stretched, brushed, picked out, and patted down to perfection. it still had to be twisted down at night and brushed out in the morning. this type of afro had to be manipulated, too.

  • nekita

    I love my natural and most of the time it’s blown out but my texture when left to air dry automatically curls I always say I want a “black power” Afro and yes sometimes I do get it twisted but I’m still as natural as it gets and no some people don’t like it but I never want to fit in I love MY natural everybody’s is different although I understand some of us still have yet to embrace our whole selves and understand we are the most beautiful people ever created by Yah!

  • cheryl

    Oh please!! Its just hair! it grows, it falls out, it grows again! the African American community has so much other stuff to be worried about. I have a perm and I'll probably die with a perm…Does this make me less black? gimme a break

  • Dabney

    I am so glad this was written! I too agree we are favoring the curly dream rather than the wooly reality! I like that my hair does not conform to the "new natural" ! I find it so funny how black women are in such a hurry to grow out their natural hair that they are getting" natural" weaves and pretending that it's not fake. Get real! I am beginning to dispise this "new natural" movement. Half of the women that are bandwagoning the natural trend would have tease me furiously in the 1990's when I decided to chop off my hair! But it has a lot to do with marketing and who is buying what! We black women are constantly trying to find ways to reach that cream texture when white people don't care! They still see us a black people! I am hoping the brain washing will stop! Now I don't see anything wrong with two strand twist. But I am not trying to convince people my hair grew out my scalp like that.

  • Umm lol I got a quick question, does Afro Sheen company still exist? Lol because my Natural chemical free AFRO can use a little help to get thee above look lol

  • Daphne

    I have relaxed hair, and I remember researching natural hair care blogs and forums around 2007-2008. I was quickly turned off because most of the criticisms of relaxed hair that I read were very similar in tone to criticisms of natural hair. I've never had a problem with anyone choosing to go natural, and relating their experiences and challenges with it. But if you have to tear down anyone else to proclaim what's beautiful, if you're carrying the same damaged mindset into a different forum, then you're already coming from a place of inferiority and have already lost.

    And that's not counting the most popular Youtube bloggers who are commonly not the typical black American woman. All of this recent controversy is interesting to see play out, because other black or "passing as black" women have been explicitly and implicitly feeding into and propagating the inferiority for years. There were/are some who have rejected the madness, but it's only now that a white face is exposed that most see the bigotry for what it is.

    In any case, I continue to relax my hair, and decided that if/when I go natural, it will be on my terms. I have a suspicion that the rhetoric around relaxers will shift in the coming 10-15 years, because I noticed a lot of the backlash against relaxers coincides with the GMO/chemical-free/healthy vs unhealthy/junk science frenzy that's permeated our popular culture. Not saying that anyone should use relaxers, but I believe a good benefit of the natural hair movement is that it's forced women to pay attention to THEIR hair. I still go to the salon for touch-ups every 10 weeks or so, but I've always done my own hair in between. So many relaxed women that I've known rely solely on the salon for hair care instead of figuring it out for themselves. That's why I suspect there is a (possibly growing) minority of women going back to relaxers (quiet as it's kept) after being natural for X amount of time. But you don't really hear about those stories because the automatic assumption is chemical straightening = not embracing black beauty. Even though all of that natural hair manipulation as mentioned in your post is really the opposite side of the same coin.

    Anyway, long comment, but ultimately, with all of the beautiful and natural features that are beneficial to black women (skin, curves, bone structure), can I say: I think it's okay for us to struggle with our hair. Every racial and ethnic group of women exposed to or living in the Western world, I guarantee, has some general vice about their physical features. White women with their skin and weight issues, east Asian women and their eye issues and infantilization of women, southeast Asian and Polynesian women and their skin tone issues, same with south and central American women in addition to obsession with perfect posteriors and breasts. It's impossible to fit the ideal, because it's ever changing and shifting. And that's not to negate the Eurocentric image of beauty that's prevailed and deemed non-mixed black women unworthy. Just that I don't believe hair has ever been the sole indicator of standing proud against the image.

  • Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU.

    I've been annoyed with the Natural Hair Jihadis for quite some time (due to their hypocrisy); but until the Curly Nikki debacle I bit my tongue and refrained from saying much about them. From the beginning, I felt "some kind of way" because these women use a hair typing system that puts straight WW’s and Asian women type of hair at #1. While the more typical hair textures and curl patterns found among BW are at #4. What’s up with that? Who came up with that mess? A friend said a gay BM hair stylist came up with that; but I haven't taken the time find out if that's accurate or not. Anyway, yet again, masses of AA women are buying into something that positions somebody else as first and #1.

    And for the record: I wore my hair in a natural and braids during the height of the 1980s Jheri curl era. I wore my hair in these natural styles without using any so-called curl activator-type products. My natural naps were on display in all their unaltered glory. These modern day Natural Hair Jihadis aren’t doing anything new. I'm just pleased that all this mess has bubbled up to the surface to be exposed. The unmasking of the hypocrisy involved in all of this is an opportunity for more AA women to honestly and sincerely get their minds right. For real, this time. Instead of pretending and play-acting.

  • Black women don't want THIS look. They don't want on large mass of undifferentiated hair, that doesn't shine, isn't 'bouncy', doesn't have 'hang time', can be length checked', and doesn't imitate the natural hair aesthetics of other races of women. This modern natural hair movement has nothing to do with black women wanting to reclaim the beauty and cultivation and appreciation for their own hair. Its all about length retention, and MANIPULATING natural hair so that it emulates hair with curl, texture and shine. Its not enough for it to have a healthy sheen. Its not enough for it to be thick and healthy. Its only viable, when its being 'managed' into a style that pretty much HIDES its natural traits, with lots of products, regimens, styling techniques, and moisture, Moisture, MOISTURE!! (said Jan Brady style).

    Black women are lying to themselves and the proof is coming out in the wash. Now that the TRUE object of our obsession -- the WHITE WOMAN and her shiny, bouncy, curls has shown up on the scene, we are offended…when truth is, SHE is who the whole natural hair movement seeks to emulate, in the first place!

    Thank you for writing this piece and calling black women to task on their role in the erasure of the image of Authentic Black Womanhood. Its about time that we begin put our own feet, to the fire. MOST of what happens to black women, negatively, could NOT happen if we didn't let it, and in some cases, create it.

    Being empowered means owning our own dysfunction and healing it. We can't keep playing the victim, like we dont play a part in this stuff. We are at the scene of the crime, every time.

    -- Breukelen Bleu