About a month ago, 4b-c natural hair vlogger Jouelzy posted a highly controversial and unabashed video and article addressing texture discrimination in the natural hair community, mainly at the hands of companies marketing things to the natural haired consumer. She discusses the fact that though she puts out great content, has a large following, and consistently averages a large number of views on her videos, she can’t seem to garner the same opportunities that her curlier-haired counterparts do. This article and video has been the impetus for several responses, some agreeing with her position, and others offering a different perspective.
Here is my perspective.
I am SO HERE for this video.
YOU. BETTA. SAY DAT.
The creation of the twitter handle @kissmycurls and kissmycurls.com wasn’t a result of boredom. For my 4b sister and my 4c self, it was created out of necessity. We were newly natural, nervous after meeting our texture, and ignorant as to how to handle it. Sure, there were some blogs and vlogs that were out and yes, they helped some, but we couldn’t help but to feel frustrated after our twists weren’t big and fluffy in the morning, but shrunken and short; after our hair was dry even after using the exact same products our favorite vlogger had used in her video, after our edges wouldn’t lay with shea butter and a toothbrush even though we’d done it the very same way as we had watched it demonstrated. So. Damn. Vexing. On top of that, the natural hair movement was still fairly new as so we were also dealing the issues that OTHER people had with our hair. In a fit of frustration we started @kissmycurls, which was basically full of tweets that told off people who dared come at our texture. It turns out that a lot of you guys can relate.
When we first started, we chose to keep our faces out of the spotlight so that the focus would be on the content. We talked a lot then and still do now about texture pride, and we still make sure that any videos, tips, or hair treatments featured on our website work especially for girls with category 4 hair. Our curl scale page demonstrates just that; category 4 has not only descriptions of the different subtypes, but “hair twins” who discuss what works and doesn’t work for their hair type. Back then we were attempting to address the natural hair blogosphere’s failure to represent our texture in 2010. In 2014, we seem to face a tragically different problem; a lack of representation for blogs, vlogs, and instagrammers who DO represent category 4 textured hair.
For those of you ready to say that Jouelzy was simply campaigning for herself in this viral video, I’mma need for you to stop. I am extremely thankfully that she risked looking self-serving in order to make a very valid point; she has the numbers, the quality, and the consistency, and yet has fewer opportunities than vloggers with less than half her following but have looser curls. She happens to be a vlogger that I do regularly subscribe to and so I can attest to her quality and consistency. If SHE isn’t getting opportunities then there has GOT to be an issue.
In fact, it’s one that my sister and I have been dealing with for years, though we could not pinpoint the reason why we always seemed to be looked over. Over the years we have garnered a following of over 15,000 followers on our Twitter, a number that grows exponentially week by week. Our blog gets over 150,000 hits monthly and counting. We have personal relationships with some of the top natural hair product making companies today, as well as with public relations firms and magazines, yet we also find ourselves having to make our own way in order to get any recognition. In the last year alone I can recount two different occasions where I was in serious talks with a company to host an event or model for a campaign, only to be passed over without a word in lieu of a looser textured naturalista with less than half our numbers. Putting on our own shows and hosting our own events got extremely taxing and expensive, and nurturing relationships with these company heads began to feel futile, and so as of late we, just like Jouelzy, have began to pull back and just focus on the content. So I get her deciding to focus more on culture and lifestyle pieces. I totally, totally get it.
What could be the repercussions of this alleged discrimination? Let’s go down the list; division in the natural hair community as girls with kinkier hair start to desire and even become envious of the texture that is better represented (and we need division in the Black community like we need a hole in the head). Shame associated with having a kinkier texture. That shame being passed down to our little girls AND our little boys. Thousands of dollars being wasted on products that promise to “elongate curls” or “provide bounce and shine” when your hair ain’t NEVA done that before. Perpetuation of the belief that hair that doesn’t behave like this is unhealthy. Loss of good bloggers and vloggers with cat 4 hair due to lack of outward support. Women with cat 4 hair being unaware of bloggers and vloggers with their texture, possibly leading to unhealthy hair habits, frustration, and self-esteem issues. Use of harmful chemicals like those found in texturizers and temporary straightening kits in order to attain or approximate the better represented texture.
Didn’t the natural hair movement start in order to end all of this nonsense?
What is happening to our powerful, cohesive, grass roots movement that forced the black hair care industry to acknowledge us?
And can we do anything about it?
I’d like to end with two charges.
First, to my category 4 naturalistas, I charge you with what we have been charging you with since starting this blog, walk in pride. Your hair not receiving the attention that girls with looser textures do is the aftermath of a system still straightening itself out. Yes, we have challenged terms like “nappy” and “good hair” but there still broken thinking that has to expire. Be realistic with the expectations that you have for your hair and please DO NOT buy into products that promise to give you the characteristics of a texture that you don’t have. The only way they can do that is with powerful chemicals and hell no, that won’t go. Accept your hair totally; the sometimes fuzzy edges, the shrinkage, the lack of movement, the sheen, the volume, the versatility, the staying power, the fact that it tangles less…all of it. ALL OF IT. Then shop accordingly.
Secondly, to these companies endorsing looser textured naturalistas over kinkier haired ones.
Shame on you.
I get it. You make money from exclusivity. We as humans will pay through the nose for the unattainable, and exalting one type of hair texture creates a lucrative hierarchy. Ok. Ok.
Or maybe you aren’t even thinking about it that deeply. Maybe you are just endorsing women with hair that your product will work best with, even though you are marketing to a multi-textured demographic. Maybe you think curls and more glamorous than kinks and therefore will represent your event better. Maybe you are just doing what you see everyone else doing. Maybe you didn’t even realize what you were doing. Iono. I don’t know your mind.
What I do know is that there absolutely is a market for honest, good products for girls with category 4 hair (BTW, not just super long or super short cat 4 hair. All us in-betweens need products too). We want to see more products that don’t promise category 3 hair effects as if that is the standard. Our hair is puffy, healthy, and amazing, and we want honest marketing of products to maintain it. And please, please show us better representions of our texture; we love the curly haired vloggers and bloggers that you endorse now, they are trailblazers in their own right, but we also need kinky haired vloggers and bloggers. Cause, we exist. And women who have our hair type need hair role models too.
We started this thing out together; all of us naturalistas and many of the companies we buy from. Together we have successfully affected the American zeitgeist and have changed Black culture forever. Do you realize what an amazing feat this is? How powerful we can be? We have come great strides in just a few short years. It’s remarkable. So remarkable.
I trust that we can over this issue of texture discrimination.
For those who haven’t seen this video yet, you can watch it here.
Also, here is a link to our curl scale page, focusing on category 4 hair.
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This entry was posted on Monday, May 26th, 2014 at 3:45 am
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