Here's a thing. Popular natural hair blog Curly Nikki featured youtuber waterlily716 on her blog in an interview that talked about her "natural hair journey." Why the quotations? waterlily716 is a white girl with curly hair.
Today, on twitter, we've been talking about it. (By we, I mean all those toxic twitter black ladies you're always hearing about.) Naturally many were upset by the feature, since as most of us know the "natural" moniker very specifically connotes black women wearing their hair in the state that it grows out of their head, without using products that chemically alter it. It's entirely disingenuous to behave as though it doesn't have a very specific meaning in the context of hair.
The movement has grown in the last few years, but black hair continues to be a political issue, as women are denied jobs, fired from existing ones, and subtly (or not so subtly) told that they should straighten their hair because their natural kinks are unprofessional. Though it shouldn't have to be, wearing black hair naturally is a simple act of defiance against eurocentric beauty standards. There is a reason the afro became a political symbol.
Even today, women will tell stories of not being able to find products for their hair, or having to go searching for resources on how to manage their hair (part of the reason the natural hair community flourished online in the first place) while every magazine caters to white hair and hair textures. I still remember the day I got to the CVS next to my dorm to find the entire natural hair section removed. The products weren't selling, so they'd stopped stocking them. I had to go all the way across campus after that.
Now, all that should be fine. A misunderstanding maybe; a poor choice on Nikki's part. Who wouldn't want to be featured on a popular blog? But then waterlily716 doubled down when faced with criticsm. Because of COURSE she did.
Here's the thing. I wasn't even sure if I should talk about this here because I've experienced the "IT'S JUST LIKE HAVING RED HAIR" brigade come in and completely miss the point, too many times to count. It pisses me off, and it's a futile fight, but this shit... it's gotta stop!
waterlily716's twitter timeline right now is a how-to on how to derail and silence. Like... it's GREAT that you're finally figuring out your curly hair. It is. I'm happy for you. But do that in any of the HUNDREDS of spaces that cater to you. Don't try to insist that you should be given space in the areas that we've created for ourselves specifically because you refused to include us. When you start losing jobs, or getting snide remarks at work, or having your hairstyle banned, or being systemically considered less beautiful because of your hair, THEN and only then can you come cry on my shoulder. Until then? GO THE FUCK AWAY.
The entire beauty industry caters to white women of all textures. They do not do the same for black women. We are forced to conform to the standards that you set out, and are punished in the social sphere if we don't. We have to go hunting for a salon that won't fuck up our hair. We have to order products online because the stuff that works for us is only available in that one little store in the middle of nowheres-ville. We have to make sure that if we change our hair, it isn't going to make people think we're militant or afro-centric or a "troublemaker". We have to deal with being told that we're ugly because our hair is short and kinky. We have to deal with having almost no beauty role models who look like us.
IT IS NOT THE SAME THING and I'm very tempted to dropkick the next person who suggests it is.
You have curly/red hair? Gorgeous. Beautiful. You should love and embrace it. It's yours. But don't you fucking DARE suggest that a few mean comments comes anywhere near being institutionally oppressed for fucking EXISTING. The natural hair movement is about BLACK HAIR. It is not about curls. It is about being black, and having hair, and not being forced to beat it into submission.
Keep your fucking white girl curls far away. You already co-opted dreadlocks. Leave the rest of our movement alone.