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      Black women embrace their kinky, curly, hair in natural hair movement


      There is a movement sweeping the nation and no, this one is not on Wall Street. This movement consists of black women from around the world who have decided to stop chemically straightening their hair, and instead dawn their naturally curly and kinky hair. The movement picked up speed after the "Good Hair" movie featuring Chris Rock came out a few years ago; and in case you didn't notice, the movement is taking effect right here in the Heartland.


      In the past, most black women favored using relaxers to chemically straighten their kinky and curly hair. This was a sometimes painful procedure where the women would go to the hair salon and a stylist would put a harsh chemical with lye called a "relaxer" on their hair and scalp. This chemical would physically change their natural curl pattern and make the hair straight. Once the chemical reached a point where the client felt a burning sensation, that meant the curl pattern changed and the stylist would then wash it out of their hair. After that, the stylist would blow dry and flat iron the hair, and it would be straight. Most of the women would then wash and flat iron their hair once a week, and then head to the salon for a "touch-up" on the relaxer every six to eight weeks. Getting a relaxer in a hair salon usually costs around $65 to $80.


      Black women in the United States have traditionally put relaxers in their hair since the end of slavery. It was only in the seventies when afros became popular during the Black Power movement. But now, more than ever, black women are starting to second guess straightening their hair and instead, have decided to defy European standards of beauty. It's also They are deciding to flaunt more natural looks, whether it be curly afros, braids or dreadlocks. The movement has really taken off on YouTube, where black women share the homemade remedies that they use to wash and style their hair, along with intricate hairstyles that can be created with their afros, braids and dreadlocks.


      If you have not noticed, this time around advertisers are picking up on the trend. You see the natural hair styles in commercials, on TV shows, on billboards in the Kirksville Wall-Mart, and even on documents that accompany your Ameren electric bill.


      We asked a couple of black women in the Heartland why they chose to quit getting relaxers.


      "It's the salon hair appointments, it's the potential of breakage and with natural hair in general, black hair, it's already more fragile than most people think it is," said Lya Williams, a civil engineer for the USDA office in Ottumwa. "So, putting a chemical on it is not helping me out at all."


      "I think it's good that women with kinky hair are finding the confidence to go natural, to think that their natural hair is beautiful and to embrace it," said Symone Johnson, a student at Truman State University.


      Many said natural hairstyles are easier to deal with and they don't with and they don't have to spend as much time straightening their hair, a task that isn't easy since their hair was never meant to be straight.


      "Being a Truman student, it's just easy because I can wake up and go," said Tavonna Johnson, a student at Truman State University. "I can throw these in a ponytail, I can twist them, put them in a bun, just go so I don't have to like flat iron my hair. I don't have to braid my hair."


      One of the women we talked to says she has never tried to chemically straighten her hair and was teased about it seven years ago when she first arrived at Truman State University.


      "When I first got to college, I was made fun of about it," said Stephanie McGrew, a research assistant at A.T. Still University. "So, it's interesting to see people now all of a sudden interested. I know it's not all of a sudden but it is a movement. I know quite a few people who are starting to do it now."


      She said she did reach out to local hair salons to see if a stylist would flat iron her hair but she said many of them weren't up for the challenge.


      "I couldn't find a hair dresser in this area.They would look at my hair and they were like I can't do this, I don't know how to do your hair," said McGrew.


      Seven years later, she said she has now work modeling her curly hair and doesn't plan on ever chemically straightening it.


      There are lots of trends in the natural hair movement. Right now, dreadlock extensions and yarn braids are pretty popular styles. When it comes to yarn braids, it involves using yarn instead of fake hair to make braids. Tavonna Johnson said she learned about the yarn braids on YouTube and it took her two weeks to braid all of her hair with the yarn. This was because she did a section at a time. She said the process is simple; it involves taking yarn and knotting it in your head at the top of a strand. Then you braid the yarn and hair together. When you reach the end of the braid, she said it's easier to light the end of it with a lighter to seal it off.


      Johnson said the style is very versatile but there are some risks involved.


      " I heard that if you don't use acrylic yarn and you use regular yarn, there's a difference," said Tavonna Johnson. "Your hair will actually lock up in the yarn. So, I made sure I got the right type of yarn because if your hair locks up, you have to cut it out."


      Symone Johnson said she has found a way to get long dreadlocks without having to endure the slow process of waiting for her own hair to naturally turn into dreadlocks and then wait for them to grow.


      "I had always really admired locks but I wasn't up for the challenge of going through the full process and so I found the lock extensions on YouTube and I wanted to try them because it looked like an easier lifestyle change than dealing with my natural hair," said Symone Johnson.


      She tells us how she did the dreadlock extensions in her own head.


      "It was a braiding process, to extend my hair. Then it was a wrapping process to make the shape of the locks. Then I rolled down the length of the locks to make the shape I wanted," said Symone Johnson. "My hair has locked into the extensions as it's grown out. So my hair is locked with extensions."


      Symone Johnson said she uses kinky human hair to make the extensions.


      "It's pretty simple. It's a lot easier than having my hair out," said Symone Johnson. "You'd be surprised at how people respond to locked hair. As long as it's neat, people don't really have that much opposition to it."

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