He natural hair movement embraces black hair that is free from extensions, wigs or straightening chemicals. But why is natural hair seen as political and what kind of support does the movement have in Britain? When Kadian Pow was visiting London from she was inspired to have her relaxed hair cut off and grow her natural curls after seeing a Matalan advert featuring a black model sporting an afro. She says: “I was jealous of a model on a billboard. But I quickly snapped out of it, realising my own hair could do that. “By the time I returned to the States, I had resolved to stop relaxing the roots of my sleek bob. Four months before moving permanently. I had my hairdresser cut off the relaxed hair. “I was left with a short crop of curls, what we in the natural hair community.
While she settled into her new life in Britain, where she was a PhD researcher and assistant lecturer in sociology at, she began looking online for how to take care of her “growing mane”. She says: “No-one ever taught me to properly nourish the kinky hair that naturally grows out of my scalp. “I was taught only to tame and manipulate it, as if it were some scary beast. And, to be honest, black women are often made to feel that way in professional and casual environments that subscribe to rigid European beauty ideals.” Her experience is echoed by other black women, who have reported being told to straighten their hair for work, and in the US where natural hair advocates took on the army. Presumably even someone as prominent as Michelle Obama felt the pressure to sculpt and straighten – last month a rare photograph emerged of her wearing her hair naturel, in sharp contrast to the years she spent in the White House.