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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.

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  • student

    I have always had tenacious corkscrews in the center of my head, and I’d been trying to get them to spread to the rest of my hair. I cheated and put a keratin treatment on my head, I also started sleeping with coconut milk in my hair too.

  • Galan

    Maybe we have to accept that our hair is really problematic. I think we are avoiding an obvious, black hair is a problem. Sorry but non black people just wash and go. We have to spend hours to deal with our hair. We are a beautiful people but we lost out in the hair department. I am just being brutally honest. The hours I spend on my hair is ridiculous and it is natural! I am tired frankly of braiding, oiling, conditioning, doing all kind of things to my hair.

    • Speak for yourself Galan. I won in the hair department, and wouldn’t trade my kinks and coils for the “wash and go” hair that you speak of. If you have to spend hours on your hair, you’re probably doing too much to chase the curls and coils theses natural hair brands are selling!

    • Mz. Manning

      I think if you look at your hair as problematic than that is what it will be. Whether it is straight, kinky, coily, or curly hair comes with it’s own set of rules.(Black people have all types of textures and types of hair. My niece had that wavy curly 3 type hair, the one that I wanted and my sister(her mom) and dad are black.) You just have to find out and do what it best for your hair. I haven’t had a relaxer in 2 years and I transitioned and cut off relaxed hair for about a year. My hair is longer than a twa, but it is not that long yet and I pretty much do wash and goes. I wash, condition, and add some leave in conditioner or curl enhancing smoothie and comb it out and go. When I first went natural the first natural hair I saw was in the front and it was wavy. I started getting excited because that is the hair I always felt I had and wanted. But as my hair is growing and I have cut off all of the relaxed ends I have a variety of textures on my head. When my hair is wet and has shampoo and conditioner on it, it is wavy and curly like type 3 hair. I love it. but when it dries naturally or with product on it it does not dry that way. I want to say I have mostly type 4 something hair, but I want someone else who knows to confirm this then I will be able to find out what products others with the same hair use. Even though it’s not the curls that I wanted it to be I still love my hair because all I have to do is wash and condition a my hair and it is so soft afterwards. About 7 months ago I started experimenting with natural hair products all I am trying to do is find something that moisturizers, conditions, adds sheen and enhances my curls in one product. I haven’t had no such luck yet. I am still in the first stages of learning what works best for my hair, but I don’t have any plans to go back to a relaxer anytime soon. What I am trying to say is love your natural hair even though it , or may not be what you expected it to be, but if you can there are many other options out there for you may that be a relaxer, going bald, or anything else that might suit you.

    • Mz. Manning

      I meant can’t

  • ruggie

    Black people often feel, deep down, that we lost out in some department or other. That feeling is something that needs to heal.

    • ruggie

      @Galan ^^

  • Nana

    That is so true. I don’t know that anyone could be happy with any part of themselves if they feel they lost out in that department. I don’t feel like I lost out in the hair department because my hair is full of kinks and coils because it’s really a perspective issue and not reality.

  • “Do Natural Hair Brands Profit Off of the Obsession with Looser Curl Patterns?” Yes, they do.
    This is why I haven’t read natural hair blogs(curly nikki, black girl long hair) in ages. I have learnt what I need (co wash, natural hair recipes ) & moved on.
    The truth is, natural hair world cant cure self hate. Self hate can resurface as curl obsession. Natural hair brands are not creating self hate, Merely benefiting from it.

    The individual ultimately is in charge of both their well being & of their identity.
    Brands want people to be consumed by their desires. Consumed to the point of throwing their money in the river.
    I consume have hair products- not the other way around.