When I first got the idea of becoming natural I got excited watching all the natural hair videos on youtube that featured beautiful black women fluffing and primping their natural coils while talking about all their hair’s likes and dislikes. I would feel hope rising up in my chest, thinking about how my future self would be able to pinpoint my hair type, porosity level, texture and other unique attributes.
Before I big chopped (the 2nd time), I felt like learning my hair type was a dice throw. Up until this point I have never interacted with my hair type. My first big chop was forced. I was still very much ashamed and turned off by my natural hair and just left it up in braids until it was long enough to straighten.
So when my 2nd big chop came around I searched feverishly for my “hair twin” to help get a good guide on how to deal with my TWA without all the trial and error.
Boy, was I fool.
What is hair typing?
The most famous hair chart in the natural hair community would be the one created by Andre Walker, the famous hairstylist to Oprah Winfrey.
This chart was the holy grail of hair typing when the natural hair community was growing into a major industry. Thousands of black women were big chopping and then comparing their locks to the chart to see where they landed on the system.
It wasn’t until the various disagreements of the chart that people began to challenge his particular system and added the 4c slot.
Is the Hair Chart needed?
In the mist of exploitation allegations on youtube and other various platforms that feature product reviews, style tutorials and overall basic information about hair, some naturals felt like it would be best to do away with the chart altogether.
There have been reports of Youtubers claiming certain hair types to increase views, push products and become a hair icon. In doing so it spreads misinformation, gives unrealistic expectations of hair and ultimately erases various unrepresented members within the community.
Those in favor of dismantling the hair system also believes it creates division within our niche. Since naturals can have patches of various hair types on their scalp, whose to say they can’t claim all of them in the hopes of being seen more? So instead of trying to put themselves in one category they just chalk it up to curly, coils or kinky.
I personally have no issue with the updated hair chart. My hair is 4c and once I learned the look, behavior and feel of what healthy 4c hair is I walked away feeling educated and confident. Is the hair chart the end all, be all? Of course not, but it’s a great starting place for new naturals who want to start learning their hair. Sure there is hair porosity, thickness and all that other good stuff. But once you begin to experiment with regimes, styling methods and recognizing the feel of your hair, those things can be learned in time.
So if you’re a new to the natural hair world, start with the hair chart, you can move on from there to help you understand and embrace your hair more.
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