Erica Barton

Erica Barton is a 33-year-old mother of three, a freelance writer, and a natural hair enthusiast. As a young woman, Erica has had long, straight, pretty hair for as long as she can remember. This, she achieved through flat irons, pressing combs, and other methods that she later realized were only damaging her hair. She had to make a drastic decision – letting go of the heat. Erica did her BiG Chop in the year 2015 and has been enjoying her healthier, thicker, natural, and unadulterated hair for three years now. Erica enjoys the versatility of natural hair, and the fact that she can wear different looks on a daily basis makes her free to enjoy life and celebrate both her inner and outer beauty. She, however, warns that going natural is not a walk in the park. There are days you will feel frustrated and even wish to give up. That’s why she has taken it upon herself to help people who wish to go down this road by sharing her personal journey, challenges, and offering tips where necessary. According to Erica, every woman has a right to wear their hair on their own terms and not as dictated by society.

A Historical Perspective to Natural Hair Movement

Cultural appropriation has — sort of — become a household term in western societies in recent years. From festival fashion choices to burrito bars, critics are casting doubt on the legitimacy of everything on the grounds of ‘cultural appropriation’. The term was first coined by sociologists in the early 1990s and most people don’t understand the outrage especially when it comes to black hairstyle.

By definition, cultural appropriation refers to the inappropriate or unacknowledged adoption of the ideas, practices, customs, etc. of one group of people by individuals of another, typically more dominant group. The natural hair movement is an organization focused on encouraging women of African ancestry to keep their natural afro-textured hair and combat cultural appropriation.

Understanding the History of the Natural Hair Movement

When it comes to the cultural appropriation of black hairstyles, some have gone as far as saying ‘it’s just hair’ which shows ignorance on the history of black women and natural hair. Let’s take a trip down the memory lane and try to understand where the natural hair movement is coming from. See, in early African societies, hair had a heavy social significance. Hair was at the centre of the African culture until Europeans showed up and changed the perspective.

When Europeans came to Africa in the 15th century, they were impressed by how Africans used hair to indicate a combination of gender and social ranks. When the slave trade began, captured Africans had their heads shaved as a way of humiliating them and depriving them of their identity. Shaving slaves was the first step toward erasing the culture and identity of black people. Hundreds of years later, slavery was abolished and straighter hair was seen as a sign of beauty, freedom, and prosperity.

Recapturing Black Beauty

For years, black women have been inundated with tonics, creams, and gadgets to ‘cure’ the coils and kinks. In 2007, cultural anthropologists started to notice a natural hair movement transition in the black community. The black hair movement is about freedom and choice when it comes to black hairstyles and shunning Eurocentric beliefs and beauty standards in the black community. Like the black power movement before it, the natural hair movement is about recapturing the black beauty and ending discrimination against black women wearing natural hair in the workplace.

Author: Erica Barton



Comment on this articleChanging attitudes about natural hair” is what we do at Natural Haircare News. Through informative articles, podcasts and videos, we go beyond just sharing the latest advice and tips on kinky, curly, wavy haircare – We shake things up and focus on the realities of wearing our hair natural. 

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