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The Curl Complex

Posted on January 21 2015

 

The curl complex is colorism for #naturalhair. It causes us to measure our value based on the kinkiness of our curls. It's the belief that some hair textures are more desirable than others and obsession with perfectly spiraled ringlets. The curl complex uses words like bad, nappy, unruly, untamed to degrade thick kinky hair and pretty, curly, manageable to uplift fine curly hair. The curl complex is the struggle of black women and their identity and how that identity is related to their natural hair.

The curl complex is directly connected to race and is perpetuated by the desire to emulate or get as close to a European standard of beauty. It causes black women to find fault in their natural hair and dislike the person in the mirror. It makes us look at our hair as the enemy that must be attacked with chemicals to loosen or eliminate the curl pattern.  

The curl complex tricks us into believing the hair typing system is what separates us. When the seperation was there before the hair typing system existed. The separation comes from the belief that a looser curl pattern is prettier than kinky hair. We see this when women decide to go natural and have an idea of what texture their hair is, only to be disappointed when they discover their hair isn't as they envisioned. The curl complex is a collection of beliefs that spans generations and results in women preferring the hair of others instead of their own

The curl complex is to blame for our misconceptions about ourselves and others.  It's the reason why people assume that women with light skin have "good" manageable hair and women with dark skin have "bad" kinky hair.  It's the reason that people are shocked to discover that women with fair skin can have coarse hair and women with dark skin can have fine curly hair. The curl complex doesn't acknowledge the full diversity of black women and their natural hair.

 The color complex causes people to dismiss the natural hair journey and struggle of women whose hair does not look like theirs. It's the reason why women with kinky hair are underrepresented in the natural hair community. It the reason some women with curly hair don't acknowledge the challenges of women with kinky hair and vice versa. It's the reason why texture discrimination exists. It's the reason why something as simple as hair has become such a political issue. 

All of these contribute to the emotional and psychological manipulation that has been spewed to black girls from birth through their adult life. As more women are embracing their natural hair and learning to love themselves an opportunity exists to break the psychological chains about race, hair and identity. This is an opportunity to remove the stigmas and stereotypes that are associated with black hair.  

To battle the curl complex we must first recognize it. As black women it's time we recognize the curl complex in ourselves and others.  Acknowledging that it exists and discussing it's misconceptions and impact on black girls is a way of sharing knowledge and educating. Simply put, each one teach one. As women are learning about their natural hair it's the perfect time to address the stereotypes associated with it and replace them with facts. Many women don't have a clue about natural hair so this the time to start from scratch and plant seeds of truth and positivity in the hearts and minds of women and young black girls. This is done when teaching others how to maintain their hair and through the use use of words like vibrant, unique, versatile, strong, beautiful, and healthy. Teach young girls that their hair is beautiful as is and make them love it more than the hair of others. We need to stop the spread of the curl complex by acknowledging the beauty in ourselves and our hair. Black girls we must create our own beauty standards and cast away the European standards of beauty. It's also important to stop comparing our hair struggles and recognize that all black women have struggled with her hair at some point regardless to hair texture. Most importantly know that there is beauty is every texture. 

 

 

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