Every Black woman knows that along with the liberation of the natural hair movement came a different set of restrictions concerning our crowns. While, thankfully, we’ve mostly moved past concerns about coloring one’s hair and occasionally wearing straight styles and whether either process allows someone to still claim to be “natural.” But one aspect of wearing textured hair that hasn’t yet escaped us as a community or society as a whole is the expectation of natural hair being kempt.
Actress Zazie Beetz gets quite candid about that subject in a recent interview with Allure magazine. Known for her large, textured styles on the red carpet, it’s no surprise she told the mag, “My hair’s just out as it is, and it’s enough.” The 29-year-old, who is of German and African-American ancestry, said she is intentional about showing her texture, so much so that she doesn’t prefer to wear protective styles like braids because of the beauty standard she believes underlines them.
“Being in this industry and having my hair natural, I feel such a responsibility to make sure people feel confident in their own locks and textures and to continue to show that, because I see how much it affected me to see other people wearing their hair naturally.” She went on to say, “I think it can be tempting to do a bunch of braids because it’s easy to just whip it up and walk out the door. But even braids, while it’s also a very black hairstyle, I think it mimics some of those European standards of what is considered beautiful.”
Not only is Zazie’s decision not to shrink her hair a rejection of Eurocentric ideals, it’s also rebellion against the gender double standard that says only women’s hair must be neat and in order.
“I think that Black men who are wearing their hair longer and textured, sort of have more freedom to wear their hair in whatever shape they want, locking it in interesting ways and stuff like that, whereas women still feel like there has to be an element of it being structured and specific and just a way, I suppose, to not make it look undone,” she said. “That’s just not my vibe. I think my vibe is a little undone, to be honest. And so, that’s just what I’ve embraced, for me. It’s important to continue expanding what that expectation is and to not [shame] other people for choosing to wear their hair how they want.”
Zazie admits her decision does carry a unique weight, however, sharing that, like many women, how she sees her hair is a part of how she sees herself as a whole.
“I have the confidence in other places, but I do attach my sense of beauty partially to my hair, which is why when I don’t like [what] my hair [looks like] and I’m at an event, it’s really emotional. It’s emotional for a lot of people, but I think it would be a very different story if my texture [were] a softer, looser curl. I still get frustrated sometimes. I love my hair, I love the volume, I love how wild it is, but, certainly, I also think that it has taken up a lot of functional space in my life.”
It’s for that reason that Zazie backtracks a bit on her stance on braids, understanding everyone ultimately has to do what works best for them.
“I also think for many people, perming your hair or wearing weaves or using whatever they choose is also just a matter of ease. If I have my hair in braids, I can just walk out the door. There is that aspect, too. I don’t think it’s necessarily all wrapped up in beauty ideals and your basis of self-worth and stuff like that. I don’t want to paint that picture, either.”