18 November 2010

The talk piece: Natural hair in UK black publications

yes! al b sure
Back in the day before the internet and blogging, before Google searching for the latest trends and style inspirations I was an avid reader of "black" magazines. Spending my pocket money in equal measures on Right On! and Hype Hair trying to identify with the images of girls like me on the pages.
Confronted by pages of weaves, relaxers, flowing locks and anything that T-Boz was rocking at the time (bleach blonde and multi-layered). As I got older I graduated to Black Beauty and Hair magazine, which suited me fine as I was rocking a relaxer at the time, it showed me how to maintain and style my processed hair.

Fast forward a few years, embracing what the good Lord gave me, my natural hair and nothing to read.

When I went natural, flipping through the pages of the magazines I used to read and love I don't see the diversity that I do on the streets. An average journey to work I'm greeted by locks, braids, fros, weaves, sleek bobs, basically it's all happening on the streets why isn't this reflected in the magazines?
There is a lack of diversity with the hairstyles, it doesn't reflect how creative the black hair can be. These magazines tend to highlight the same salons, at home relaxer kits, store bought hair brands and skin lightening creams. Where are we in the pages?
My style has changed from the days of pocket money bought Right On and so have many other black women, we embrace our versatility, we have the advantage of being able to switch it up depending on our mood, twists one day, curls the next, a lion's mane when we feel like it. This embracing of our uniqueness is happening on the streets and in the UK media with British celebs like Shingai Shoniwa, Tallulah Adeyemi, Corrine Bailey Rae, Alesha Dixon, Leona Lewis, Sophie Okonedo all at the forefront of the natural hair revolution.

  I don't want to feel like I'm being a negative nelly, over the years I still occasionally pick up these magazines and I've noticed a slight change in the tides.
my copies of black hair, and black hair and beauty

Black Hair magazine has a segment called Naturally Fabulous a natural hair feature which brings the hottest news and trends on natural hair products and styles, this feature is one page. Also Black Beauty and Hair's December/January issue has an article written by Kagem Tibaijuka about the natural hair blogging phenomenon, where she talks with American bloggers Nikki of CurlyNikki and Leila of BGLH, she also name checks the top 5 hair blogs including UK blogger Angel over at The Natural Lounge.
In the same issue Chris-tia Donaldson is interviewed about her book Thank God I'm Natural, a book I've read and reviewed. Though none of the information is new to me it's great to see it in a massed produced publication that will reach people that wouldn't usually access this information. I'm glad there's a generation of girls and women out there who know there are other options to the processed looks that are in the mainstream and encourage us to be creative with the versatility of our hair. The UK black hair industry is starting to embrace all kinds of black hair, however we choose to wear it. Some may feel like these magazines are jumping on the bandwagon as now it's "cool" to be natural, however there is obviously a demand for more natural resources, in time i hope these magazines will be able to teach me something i don't already know in the mean time at least we can look at some diverse style inspiration.

Being on the blogging scene I have personally witnessed the growth of natural hair blogging and the followers who want to know about it. As much as I love the net, I'm still a bit of a vintage chic I do still like to buy magazines and flick through the pages and I'm glad that the women in the magazines are starting to reflect our image and not just european ideals
Hopefully this is the sign of more to come.


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