Being in the 4C Community but not of the 4C Community

In light of the recent discussions on texture discrimination, there has been a recent surge of kinky haired love in the natural hair community. Whether it’s temporary or for the moment, it’s great to see support rather than shade thrown at women with kinkier textured hair, such as favorite lists that celebrate kinkier textured bloggers, which hopefully serve to inspire kinkier textured naturals. For example, one of my favorite natural hair bloggers on the African continent, Aisha of My Fro and I, very kindly recently included me in her list of 5 Fave 4C Vloggers, which was reposted by Hype Hair Magazine. Now it would be great if we could get to a point where we don’t need separate lists for “Top Natural Hair Bloggers” and “Top 4C Natural Hair Bloggers”, but until then, it’s a good thing that more intentional representation is currently on people’s radar.

fave-4c-hair-vloggers-hypehair-640x640

However, I’ve been struggling to balance my personal views on the futility of hair typing with my repeated categorization as a 4C hair blogger.

When I was featured as a BGLH hair icon last October, this was my response to the hair type/texture question:

How would you describe your texture?
I:
 After serious reflection, I don’t think hair typing is the most useful categorization, but most charts put my hair in the upper 4 range. I have coarse, densely packed strands that really like to shrink up like it’s their job, and medium porosity. I definitely have kinks and coils, not curls.

The post’s title ended up being “Ijeoma // 4C Natural Hair Icon,” even though I said that I don’t hair type. BGLH does not always use letter type in their titles, as there have been multi-textured icons, or just natural hair icons. I completely get it for blog categorization purposes, it’s useful to create a tag or category so readers can easily access posts about people whose hair they feel looks most like their own. And I’m not saying I have beef with BGLH, they’re my peoples – I’m just saying that they labeled me 4C when I didn’t ask to be labeled as such, similar to Aisha.

Now it’s one thing when other people apply labels to you, but what happens when you want to join a community of like people but you don’t like how the community is named? I recently joined two natural hair blog networks for marketing, networking, and support purposes – you may have seen them added my sidebar in the past few weeks – The Natural Hair Blog Directory and 4C Hair Chicks. Despite a few days of internal conflict, I joined the 4C Hair Chick Media network, which offers a great deal of advice for bloggers about promotion, audience growth, etc. It is obvious that this is the premier online community for kinky textured naturals – all the current kinky hair fanfare that may fade into oblivious shortly has been 4C Hair Chick’s mission for years now. This probably only further confuses the issue of me preferring not to label myself, or anyone else, with letters and numbers. On the other hand, the Natural Hair Blog Directory has four categories that bloggers can self-select into – Wavy, Curly, Coily, and Kinky Hair . While submitting myself to the directory, there was a question about hair type, but it was open ended, so I was able to bypass the hair type picking debacle and write just kinky.

NHB-directory-entry

Even though I don’t personally believe in hair typing, I realize that some (if not a majority of) naturals use it to categorize their own hair, and to find bloggers with hair similar to their own. The question is, do I write to people to ask them not to label me 4C because I don’t believe in it, at the expense of missing out on reaching potential new followers who are exclusively searching for 4C hair bloggers? Or do I participate in the 4C hair community knowing I can pull and contribute resources while overlooking the politics of hair typing?

What do you think? Is it possible for me to be in the 4C natural hair community without contradicting my views on hair typing?

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Comments

  1. For me it was much easier to find hair styles and different regiments used by other woman who have my 4b\c type hair .It provided a more realistic image of what my hair would look like when I started my journey.

  2. I’m fairly new to the natural hair community (6 months post relaxer/expecting to transition for 2 years). When I first started watching videos, I watched vloggers with looser curls than mine because they were easiest to find due to having so many followers. But after a week of culling what useful information I could from them (wash routine, products, etc), I quickly got bored, realizing that there is a limit to what I can learn from women who have hair that looks nothing like my own, and dug around until I found your channel (which is my favorite at the moment), nenonatural, jouelzy, and a host of others with my hair texture as well as blogs like 4chairchick. What really helped me figure out how to zero in on similar textures was learning about hair-typing and classifying myself as 4C. If I hadn’t, I think I would have just assumed that this whole natural hair movement thing wasn’t for people with my hair texture and just given up trying to find solidarity/hair twins/etc. I find the whole “4C hair community” thing incredibly exciting and empowering because, as you say yourself, we aren’t equally represented yet and it’s awesome to go to a site like 4Chairchick knowing that every image is going to be of someone who has hair like mine while also continuing to frequent the more “mainstream” sites and supporting and celebrating the community as a whole. Other than perhaps the problem of not having hair that always fits neatly into one “type”/multiple textures, I really don’t see what harm typing does- provided one has a healthy attitude toward one’s hair it’s effects would seem to range from harmless to extremely helpful.

    As for the “texture discrimination” and “divisiveness,” you touch on at the very beginning, so far I see less discrimination and more lack of self-acceptance on the part of many kinkier haired women which I think is slowly changing as vloggers/bloggers like you and others continue to grow your presence so that we have a greater pool of resources and positive imagery of the full potential and versatility of our texture.

  3. Hair typing is a good beginning, but it doesn’t take into account that we can have 2-3 different textures in one head. For me personally, as a haircare brand owner, I don’t see different hair ‘types’ because we all have the same issues with our natural hair: dryness, brittle and frizz. http://www.WonderCurl.com

  4. *I didn’t get to proofread previous statement. Please excuse spell checks grammatical and spelling errors. Replied from cell. -_-

  5. One of the reasons women who go natural revert back to relaxed hair is in part on unrealustic expectation. They think they will have loose curls or wavy curls or maybe even easily moistured kinks when it is simply not the case. After all, i’ve reverted back to natural 3 times. As mer-pal stated, it is so hard to find hair icons that have similar hair to get style ideas and realistic milestones from without getting severely disappointed. The same way there are millions of videos on manipulating straight hair, super curly hair and wavy hair is the same way we should be able to find videos and sites for kinky hair. “Hair typing/ categorizing” to me is just a huge asset in filtering out which styles I mostly can try to do our which products have a more likelihood of possibly working and which don’t. If 3- 4c icons say a specific denman brush sucks- guess what? Won’t think twice about buying it. Because you have a sisterhood/ community who has done that trial and error for you. This is why I ONLY search 4c and not just “kinky hair” because my 4c kinks are MUCH different than my brothers 4a kinks.

  6. I think it’s fine because it helps people to find you. Personally, I find it helpful so that I don’t go to a natural hair style tutorial and find out that it just won’t work for my hair.

    You personally may not find it useful, but many people do. There’s nothing wrong with trying to serve the target demographic.

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