Tracee Ellis Ross recently made a plea for natural women to love their hair, no matter the texture. Though her loose curl pattern has been idealized by many in the natural community, she asks for women to embrace their coils and kinks and not try to emulate a different texture.
However noble, her call to action is antithetical to the message many natural hair brands put out there. Most companies sell their curl defining creme, pomade, leave-in conditioner and gel with the promise of transforming tight coils to loose, long curls.
Miss Jessie’s actually promoted the slogan “turning kinks into curls,” and still markets one of their best-selling products as a miracle worker that “transforms shrunken kinks to super shiny stretched out curls.”
Some of these same companies regularly cast natural hair models with afros that resemble Tracee Ellis Ross’ hair: loose, defined and curly, as opposed to kinky. After her role as spokesperson for Carol’s Daughter came to an end, Solange Knowles gave this weighted statement: “I was constantly fighting for the right message to be heard. The message that the way we wear our hair is a personal choice, there’s no right or wrong way.”
Companies greatly benefit from pushing a “right way” to look, whether the idealized beauty standard is thinness, pale skin, blonde hair, straight hair or loose curls. If they promote the message that one look is favorable, women will spend billions trying to transform their appearance to fit that standard.
It’s a strategy that has pushed the beauty industry forward for years, and some natural hair brands are cashing in on it by promoting curlism. Tracee Ellis Ross’ wish has a much better chance of coming to fruition if various leaders in the natural hair community — from product companies to celebrities like herself — embrace various textures rather than putting one on a pedestal and telling women to shop to attain it.