Using chemicals to straighten or curl their hair into hairstyles which are considered more beautiful in society's eyes have pressured many women to conform to these unspoken rules that society dictates for them, however, there is more to it than just hair, says Darrius Peace.
Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, in the US, Peace is a licensed natural hairstylist. He has been doing natural hair for the past 13 years and has helped hundreds of clients make a seamless transition to wearing their naturally coiled tresses with confidence. He admits that in the past, he did relaxers for clients, however, because of the numerous benefits with wearing one's hair naturally—as a hairstylist, he feels obligated to also make this an option for clients.
During a recent interview at the Express House in Port of Spain, Peace said, "Some people use the words 'nappy', 'unruly' and 'difficult' to describe Afro hair; why is that?"
"Why can't people use the word 'beautiful' to describe Afro hair?" he added.
Peace noted that these negative connotations used to describe one's hair from an early age can hurt a person's self-esteem and overall image of how they see themselves, leaving persons, including the individual, with the impression that anyone with Afro hair had bad hair and those that didn't, had good hair, Peace said.
"People need to understand that their hair is beautiful, and any time one speaks ill of my hair or curl pattern, then they are implying that God made a mistake with my hair when he made me—and that is not the case," he said.
"There are so many benefits to wearing your hair naturally. A lot of women who do relaxers complain about scalp irritation because of the chemical. When your hair is natural, there is less scalp irritation, breakage and excessive shedding is less likely and there is a better chance of more hair growth and a better preservation of that hair growth," he said.
"I encourage women to wear their hair naturally because, truthfully, the benefits outweigh the fears," Peace added.
He noted that the transition from chemically treated hair to natural hair is not just a physical transformation but, also, a mental one that can be difficult for most women to accept.
He said, "Never really being introduced to one's natural hair can be quite shocking. For black women, it is a big movement, a big change, however, I see it as getting oneself back. Many people say because we were brought across as slaves, we lost a lot of our culture and heritage, but one of the things that separates us from other races, we feel the need to change. A lot of women think if they go natural, their styles would be limited— that's not true. For a lot of my clients who decided to go natural, their main concern was if they could get the same styles with their natural hair that they got with their relaxed hair. My answer was 'yes', and even more."
With passion to educate other hairstylists and people generally on Afro hair, Peace has released a book called My Hair Ain't Nappy: A Black Man's Introspection on Natural Hair. Designed to engage and educate readers on Afro hair, the book offers humorous and thought-provoking reading that also gives professional expertise on how to mentally and physically transition to wearing your natural, Afro-textured tresses.
Peace said, "I am not saying to let the relaxer go, but I want women to really look at themselves and embrace who they are. Some of them have been relaxing their hair since they were little girls and have never really got to see the naturally beauty of their hair unleashed."
He noted that even though some women are starting to embrace their natural hair texture, he believes more has to be done not just by society but also by black people wholeheartedly to redefine our beauty standards as