The new wave of the natural hair movement is here.
4C. The natural hair pattern characterized by its soft, small, super tight, versatile, and naturally big and voluminous coils. But its perception and portrayal among many natural hair influencers of the past decade would lead you to believe this type 4 hair is the most undesirable texture, known only to be hella dry, tangly, undefined, breakage-prone, and plagued by shrinkage. Videos praising looser curl patterns and tutorials persuading viewers that if they only had the right products, they too, could flex a head full of long, springy curls cover the internet.
The conversation around wearing 4C coils in their legit natural state was most recently reignited by a popular TikToker known as @Lipglossssssssss*, a 21-year-old college student. In since deleted videos, as she fluffed and moisturized her 4C coils, she shared her frustrations with society’s insistence on natural hair having to be manipulated — stretched, flat ironed, braided, etc. — in order to be deemed beautiful, and she talked about her refusal to fight or despise her coils. “This is just how [my] hair looks. That’s what I don’t want to run from anymore. This is what the hair wanna do, so I have to let it do what it wanna do,” she said in one video. “How you gonna tell me the way I was born is ugly? Stop [expletive] playing with me.”
Her recorded thoughts blew all the way up on TikTok, quickly making their way off that platform and onto others like Twitter and Instagram. Black girls, all with different ways of caring for and styling their hair, understood @Lipglossssssssss’s frustrations and shared their own critiques of the natural hair movement.
Yar Sudani (@theesudani), a 20-year-old TikTok influencer whose pronouns are they/them, agrees the natural hair community as a whole stays giving texturism vibes. “Something I’ll always remember with the natural hair community is how they always made tight, coily hair the butt of every joke. The ‘I can’t 4C this’ type of joke, and the hatred of ‘shrinkage,’” Sudani says. “I think the misinformation and overcomplication of natural hair in [past years] is what made people tired and frustrated with their hair, [and] now, there’s many natural hair influencers and hairstylists who want to simplify haircare, and hopefully soon, I’ll be one of them.”
This welcome paradigm shift is what L.A.-based licensed tight curl stylist Anita Wilson calls moving away from the “presentable politics of needing to look ‘done’ and whatever that definition is, particularly within the European beauty standard.” It means R.I.P. to 4C descriptors like “unruly” and “unmanageable” and hello to embracing hair as it is — shrinkage and all. “Shrinkage is a word that we’re trying to get our clients to move away from,” says Wilson. “When we have our mindset still comparing straight hair as the standard … we didn’t move away from the European beauty standard mindset. We didn’t actually pivot as much as we thought we did into natural hair … Because we’re focused on getting length,” she continues. “If it’s not long, if it’s not touching ears, or neck, or shoulders, or bra strap, [we think] ‘I’m not beautiful, I’m not feminine,’ and we really need to fight these notions. We really have to fight them because they come from white supremacy, they come from [the] patriarchy, they come from Eurocentric beauty standards. They don’t come from us.”
Sudani, a native of the South Sudan, cosigns this and uses their account to bust myths and educate viewers on curl definition, detangling methods, styling options, and more. Their wash day videos and close-up texture shots of their TWA are a vibe. “I remember when I first posted my natural hair. I was so anxious, but then it got more likes and love than I expected. My surprised reaction made me question any internalized texturism because why wouldn’t I get a lot of likes and love? After that, I kept posting more and more, ” says Sudani. “My natural hair content has always been well-received, but I did notice people commenting, ‘I love this new movement’ and ‘This is what the natural hair movement needed’ around the time @Lipglossssssssss’s video went viral. She has motivated so many people into wearing their natural hair, and I love it!”
So, what will it take to make sure this new, more uplifting, more inclusive wave of the natural hair movement keeps doin’ it for all the culture? Straight up confronting where certain ideas about 4C hair come from and why some may be hesitant to love their tight coils out loud. It means admitting that while white supremacy created texturism, Black folks have long been guilty of keeping it going. Whether it’s an auntie talking about your “nappy” look or a grandma saying your hair “needs to be done before you walk out this house,” or even a friend at school trying to check you for your edges not being laid, all those negative and unnecessary opinions can impact how you view and choose to style your hair. Once you’re aware of the factors that have built your relationship with your hair, you’ll know how to rework your thinking to be more positive and accepting of yourself and others.
“Understanding the elements of what makes up [your] hair, outside of that stupid [hair type] chart, really helps [you] take ownership of [your] own hair [and] not feel afraid of it anymore. I think that in a big part helps to combat texturism,” says Wilson. “[There are] levels of acceptance when it comes to anything else on our body, hair is no different … I’ve accepted it the same way I accepted my skin is brown.”
Respecting and celebrating what makes our hair different strengthens the natural hair community and shows love to each and every curl type, color, and length. Visibility is key because the more people we see — IRL and in the media — wearing their 4C hair in its tightly coiled, natural state, the harder it becomes to deny or ignore its beauty.
Like come on, you see me, you see my hair, and I’m definitely giving.
This new wave of the natural hair movement isn’t a quest to conquer your curls. It’s an invitation for you to embrace your coils and kinks as they are. Your hair doesn’t need to be tamed, it isn’t a huge nuisance, and it doesn’t make you any less feminine. The enemy isn’t your 4C hair or your genetics. Texturism has had the natural hair community in a chokehold for far too long, but here we are, finally taking the necessary steps to be free.
*We reached out to @Lipglossssssssss for this article, but she declined to comment.
Main Photo: By Santi Nuñez/Stocksy