More Black Women Embracing Beauty of Natural Hair

Read this article on USA Today and I thought to share it:

Ten years ago, Officer, now 33, decided to stop using relaxers on her hair and go natural.

After trying transitional styles for 10 months, she went for the Big Chop, often known as the B.C., and started sporting a T.W.A. -- a teeny weeny afro. She so adopted the natural hair movement that when her stylist moved, Officer bought the salon. The business eventually closed, but she remains a staunch advocate of natural hair for black women and wears hers in locs -- a style where the hair "locks" together as it grows.

"I consider hair to be not only personal grooming and maintenance, but personal self," she said. "It's also a statement of your identity."

More black women are opting to go natural, with styles ranging from afros of varying lengths to braids to locs to hair straightened with heat rather than sodium hydroxide and other chemicals.

For the previous generation of black professional women, relaxed hair was a version of the white soccer mom's blunt cut.

Braids, afros and other natural hair styles struck many as "too ethnic," a sense confirmed in 1981 when a federal district court upheld American Airlines' decision to fire Renee Rodgers because she wore her hair in braids. Women devoted hours and hundreds of dollars to relaxing their hair.

Slowly, attitudes shifted. Stars such as Erykah Badu modeled natural hairstyles. In 2009, Chris Rock released his docu-comedy "Good Hair," sparked by his young daughter's lament about her own head of hair. Two national hair shows focus on natural styles and products. Women began to realize the toll that years of chemicals on hair takes.

Relaxers, bleaches and dyes weaken hair, leaving it prone to breakage, says Vivian Randolph, president of Madame C.J. Walker Enterprises in Indianapolis. Even weaves can cause problems if they cover the scalp, making it impossible to keep the skin well-oiled and stimulated. By the time many black women are in their 50s, they start losing their hair.

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