Who is the Natural Hair Advocate?
My name is Ndija Anderson-Yantha, and I’m an advocate–by nature and by trade:
I’m a lifelong African-Canadian naturalista, hailing from Toronto, who has been championing the natural hair cause for over 15 years now. (A naturalista is a woman who wears her hair in the state that it grows out of her scalp.)
In 2006, as a Thomas J. Watson Fellow, I traveled the world solo for a year to learn about the practices of hair braiding and locking in seven countries–Australia, Japan, India, Egypt, Senegal, Brazil and Jamaica.
My research project was entitled “Braiding: Traditional Art, Esthetic Service or Cultural Expression”. I traveled from country to country interviewing women and girls about why and how they braided their hair; hair care professionals about the techniques they used; and people, in general, about how they felt about braided styles, while photographing various hair creations.
In 2011, I graduated from McGill University, Faculty of Law; and I am a licensed attorney in the province of Ontario, Canada. I’m also a proud alumna of Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia (shout out to the Class of ’06)!
Why do I advocate for natural hair?
Although my Watson research project was specifically about hair braiding and locking, by default, it turned into a broader study on hair itself. During my year abroad, I observed the close connection that hair and hairstyles have to notions of beauty, cultural identity and artistic expression in societies around the world. I learned that women, worldwide, have hang-ups about their hair—regardless of their ethnicity—and this often affects their self-esteem. Since hair is considered to be such an integral part of women’s beauty, if a woman doesn’t feel good about her hair, she probably doesn’t feel good about herself either.
This is why I want Black girls and women to love and appreciate the uniqueness and versatility of our hair: to start loving every aspect of our being. I would also like people from other backgrounds to learn more about natural hair; to understand that “Black hairstyles” are not “ghetto”, “urban”, or “inappropriate”; and to accept that natural hair is beautiful too.
What will you find here?
Through this blog, I will share educational resources, practical tools, articles, and opinion pieces to support the natural hair cause.
My desire is to make a case for the acceptability of natural hair, by showcasing the rich history, versatility and beauty of textured hairstyles, for:
- People who do not understand all the fuss about Black hair and the Natural Hair Movement;
- Black professionals who would like to embrace their natural textures, but are afraid that “ethnic” hairstyles will not be acceptable in the workplace; and
- Men who are reluctant to accept their significant others’ decision to “go natural”.
I will also vouch for the sustainability of natural hair, by providing advice, tips, and solutions for:
- Naturalistas who have become frustrated and are ready to give up on their natural hair;
- Parents who are thinking of relaxing their daughters’ natural hair; and
- Curly-haired sisters from all ethnic backgrounds.
Please note: My advocacy for natural hair is not a campaign to condemn my straight-haired or relaxed sisters- I am not in the business of “hair shaming” at all! My goal is to encourage all women, including myself, to love ourselves, just the way we are. It’s to encourage us to analyze why we do what we do when making hairstyle and hair maintenance choices. To encourage us to think critically about why we feel the way we do about our hair. And to encourage us to question why things are the way they are.