Before I begin, I want to start by saying that I don’t have a problem with building supportive communities – I would not be on my journey with my locs for 20+ years if it wasn’t for the support and love from the natural hair community in the early 2000s… A HUGE part of this is because of the forums on Nappturality (I was alma2254 back then for anyone who was there!) – This online platform (before social media) really held space and grew seeds for many women and men to connect and to even start/build businesses – I can name a few off the top of my head that I love, like Anita Grant and Oyin Handmade. Community is a beautiful thing!
Yet, somewhere along the line, I found that the changes in the general online natural hair community started to take a different turn for me – On my own journey, I was a few years into growing my locs and I already had my routines and knowledge about caring for them. To be honest, I stopped thinking about my natural hair so much so I didn’t feel the urge to share, watch or read up on it. When I did occasionally tune in to different spaces (especially as social media started growing), I started to see that natural hair was now a big business. GREAT! I thought – Finally, we are out there, I thought. But I slowly started to see that the products were starting to look as though they were promoting something I did not like so much…
What I started to observe – Images only showing certain looser curly hair textures, the promotion of products that will define curls, the negativity about frizz (in both loose natural hair and locs), the lack of loc inspiration, the rise of faux locs, more toxic ingredients in natural hair products, natural hair/locs wigs… The community that loved and embraced ALL kinky natural afro hair started to look like it was going in one direction. In many ways, it felt like it was still engaging in the things that many of us tried to release when we stopped relaxing our hair. At least, this was my observation.
I missed the community that embraced 4c hair textures as well as looser curls, that embraced the fact that many of us do not have a defined curly texture, that explored the natural hair journey as being part of embracing our natural Self fully – A part of a holistic journey! Some people will say It’s just hair! – OK, I accept that this is a deeply personal choice. Not everyone will see the natural hair journey as I do (Maybe you’re reading this and thinking the same too? I respect that). But there did not seem to be a space anymore for those of us who saw it on a deep exploration of mind-body-soul. So, as with most things that don’t inspire me, I left to find something I could focus my energy on. This is when I put more effort into my holistic health work out there – Growing locs actually made me appreciate holistic health so much more. And my social media loc updates started to fade. Since sharing my loc journey online from 2001 onwards, I was starting to feel disconnected from the online natural hair community.
Fast-forward to NOW… The break has been good for me. Taking a step back always helps. Do I think the natural hair community is changing again? Possibly, in some spaces. I’m dipping my toes back in, feeling my way through it… I have to say that Instagram has some amazing spaces for seeing people with all kinds of locs… I’m sure it is the same for loose natural hair. Then there is another factor that I am realising also played a part in my disconnect…
Social media is changing all the time – Maybe this also had a part to play with why I stopped using it for the online natural hair platforms. Social media is a big part of daily life and business. But as it changes, there is a deeper motive being revealed… the privacy policies, algorithms, the lack of control of our personal data, tracking… I remember watching The Social Dilemma and feeling like it was confirming some things that I was starting to feel uncomfortable about. My general disconnect with social media (including the natural hair spaces) was a lot to do with this.
To be honest, I’m looking out for new spaces. This is for my natural hair and lifestyle journey, as well as for my therapy and holistic health business. For now, this is where I am.
Watch this space… I am hoping to also start and create a space (away from social media) where I can share and hold space for like-minded people.