The Return: Understanding why Black Women Choose to "Go Natural"

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Virginia Tech


The purpose of this study is to analyze and understand why some Black women in Greensboro, North Carolina have made the decision to wear their hair naturally, in its original kinky, curly, non-straightened form. I’ve chosen this topic because “in our society, long straight hair has generally been considered the gold standard for attractiveness” (Rosette & Dumas, 2007, p. 410) and by deviating from that gold standard, Black women are affected, personally and politically. In my perspective, it is important to understand why a woman would opt to make this choice, knowing the potential backlash she faces (i.e. losing her job, rejection in a romantic relationship, or school suspension). To facilitate this purpose, the guiding research inquiries included 10 questions about the woman’s hair journey, at different stages of her life: before perming, while perming, and going natural. In speaking with 10 women from three different generations, I found that the process of going natural is at once complex and simple, is simultaneously gradual and instant, both terrifying and liberating. Ultimately, I learned that even though various factors play a part in this process, “going natural” is a decision mostly directed and determined by the woman standing in the mirror.



Black girl magic, Africana Diaspora, Natural Hair, Natural Beauty, Black Hair, Going Natural, Black women, Greensboro, North Carolina, Perms, Relaxers