Unlike a lot of women, I don’t wear make-up and I don’t wear weave. I wake up every day and I brush my teeth and wash my face. I examine my skin and my hair, then I moisture both and go about my day. That’s it, done. For me, this isn’t some political statement, I don’t make it a big deal. I just choose not to wear makeup or weave. Sounds simple, right? Well, it’s not.
I am ignored by most people. What I mean by this, is that no one cares about me and the way I look.There’s the age-old argument about how women—scratch that, BLACK women—should stop wearing makeup and wearing weave. I am, technically, one of those black women who people refer to when they insist that being natural is the “right” way and honestly, it pisses me off. (Confession, I don’t wear makeup or weave simply because I can’t hack it. In the past, I’ve tried both.) I personally don’t like the feeling of my face being covered with makeup. Having to worry about messing it up stresses me out and the process to take it off is long. But that’s just me. The feeling of a sow in on my head is quite uncomfortable and I would get headaches, and long hair on my shoulders irritates my soul! Again, this is just my opinion on my experience. In truth, I rate my sister, my mum and all the other black women who wear it on a regular basis and sometimes I feel slightly jealous and like a freak, because I couldn’t hack it, even if I wanted to.
But despite me avoiding makeup and weave, my life isn’t carefree. Being natural isn’t easy. I have bad days, truthfully most days are bad days for me. My afro essentially needs to be left alone and for someone who is type 4C such as myself, it’s not every day I can bring out the fro, or even the perfect twist out. Most of the time, my hair is protected by twists, plaits and cornrows. And in these protective styles, my hair shrinks, which is a sign of healthy hair for someone like me, but to average joe, I have bad hair, because it’s short.
On top of all of this, my skin is always breaking out, some parts are flaky while other parts are oily. You can see it all, acne scars and ripe pimples screaming to be the star of the show, that is my face. Like any normal person, I don’t think I look gorgeous every day of the year, and when I have those bad days, being around a woman whose skin appears flawless and glows and hair looks like it actually has been laid by the Gods, I feel slightly worse. But what really doesn’t help is when people are ranting about the “natural black woman,” because quite often, I feel like they aren’t referring to the likes of me. Very often, when one thinks of “natural”, they visualise someone who looks like the recent natural-look advocate, Alicia Keys, or the girl in Kendrick Lamar’s Humble video (which was why it was ironically problematic). You don’t think of the dark-skinned girl with 4C hair in cornrows wearing glasses. You don’t think of me.
I can proudly admit that it’s because they don’t find me attractive, they don’t find me pretty. The Viola Davis’, Michaela Coel’s and Lupita Nyong’o’s of the world are not the face of the natural movement despite it being mainly for them. Even in this natural community, pretty privilege is alive and thriving. Makeup and weaves are ways in which beauty is enhanced, and for someone like me who doesn’t wear either, and socially deemed not stunning enough naturally, I don’t exercise the pretty privilege.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t want and don’t expect praise from anyone. But the people who claim to support the natural movement, don’t in reality. What they really mean is that they want black women to be natural, but to also meet whatever twisted and specific beauty standard of what a natural black woman looks like in their head.
I watch people on social media and my guy-friends complain about makeup and weaves and how much they’d prefer natural women. While simultaneously flirting only with girls who wear makeup and weaves. I stand amused when I’m with my girlfriends, and guys approach us and although one or two might appreciate my “political statement,” my choice of the natural look, they only see me as a friend. I would post pictures of my fro, my bare face for years and my social media are yet to be popping. I’m over the natural hair community, the “natural look” community (it’s not called that, but just go with it) and I’m also over the people who bash women who wear makeup and weaves.
It’s important that we don’t look to others for validation. The process of me learning to love myself went on slightly longer than it was supposed to for a variety of reasons, one being because I thrived off people, specifically men who praised natural black women. Just as some women feel unattractive with makeup, some feel unattractive without. But whether one person finds another attractive or not is irrelevant; beauty is subjective. What is important and yes, it is cheesy, is that you love yourself. Get lost in your sauce, my G, it’s the year of self-love!
Written by Jemmar Samuels