Today I am 5 years natural. Thus, I thought it apropos to raise the question: what it means to be natural? The word natural has too many definitions, as I have recently learned from Merriam-Webster, but today we will start with the term natural as it pertains to hair.
Generally, when someone dubs ones self “natural” it normally means that they do not use chemicals to permanently alter the texture of their hair. This is frequently used among women with naturally highly textured hair. In other words, they do not have a relaxer/perm. However, the term natural is used differently for different people, but I never cared to clarify the term natural until recently.
A couple months ago I went out with some friends. We were admiring a woman with a large curly afro, which evidently was a wig. After it was clarified that the women was indeed wearing a wig (which by the way was fabulous) this dude, who we will name Kevin, took it upon himself to say he loves women who are natural. The comment was made almost as if to discount Curly Afro wig lady. What he didn’t know was that under the wig she was natural, natural that is according to our previous definition. So I took it upon myself to give this woman a fair chance. I told Kevin she was natural, and that was when all hell broke loose.
For what seemed like the next hour Kevin and I launched into a debate on whether one can wear a wig/weave and still be considered natural. I only indulged him in this conversation because I was bored; and because at present I also had weave in my hair. But mostly because I was bored… My stance was just because you wear a wig or a weave doesn’t mean you’re not natural. Though Kevin seemed to disagree he was very passionate about his point, and during the course of our little debate he said, “I take the word natural very seriously.”
Though our conversation came to no resolve, I left thinking... At what point do you not call yourself natural? My mind spiraled down so many scenarios, not all pertaining to hair.
If I wear simple makeup and shear lip gloss, am I natural?
If I wear lotion or perfume, am I natural?
If I don’t have implants but wear a wonder bra or any bra really, am I natural?
If I wear contacts vs. glasses, am I natural?
If I had braces, am I natural?
If I wear nail polish, am I natural?
If I shave my legs are remove any excess hair from my body, am I natural?
If I wear a spanx under my freakem dress, am I natural?
If I color my hair or chemically alter my hair, am I natural?
And of course… If I wear weaves or wigs, am I natural?
Where do you draw the line? If I allow myself to be completely objective, anything that is not strictly hygienic that enhances or alters your appearance can easily put you in the category of un-natural. So, I hear you Kevin, you take the word natural very seriously. But, exactly how is one to define natural?