con­tes­tants in the 2007 Nigeria’s Next Top Mod­el com­pe­ti­tion

Ok, I’ll admit it.
I stereo­typed Africa. I did.
I thought that on a major­i­ty and indige­nous­ly black con­ti­nent, nat­ur­al hair would be cel­e­brat­ed and com­mon­place.
For a whole week on this blog, we dis­played and dis­cussed styles from “the moth­er­land”, which I guess I kin­da put forth as the cra­dle of nat­ur­al hair inge­nu­ity.
Which is why I came to a screech­ing halt when I read this in my inter­view with Miss Fizz (a native Niger­ian now liv­ing in Ire­land.)

“When I think about it, I real­ize how sad it is that the Unit­ed States has a larg­er nat­ur­al hair cul­ture than Nige­ria.”

Niger­ian ladies, if you’re out there, break this down for me. PLEASE break this down…

***update @ 12:01 p.m. Mon­day… I am amazed at the dis­cus­sion this post has sparked. I won’t be updat­ing today, so that the post can get its due atten­tion.***

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila Noel­liste, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop cul­ture and black beau­ty enthu­si­ast. bell hooks’ hair twin…

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136 Comments on "Natural Hair Not Hot in Nigeria?"

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South Africans have a dif­fer­ent recent his­to­ry, and my guess is thats influ­enced the nat­ur­al hair scene. There are tonnes of locs among SAs I’ve met.

I don’t know that get­ting a job is dif­fi­cult with afro hair in Nige­ria. I have a lot of aunts and dis­tant rel­a­tives who wear their hair nat­ur­al, and as long as its ‘styled’ there isn’t a prob­lem. I think wear­ing a bit ‘fro might make you stand out (and stand­ing out is the prob­lem), though iron­i­cal­ly, I’m sure a big afro wig would be fine. I know that when I was last there, peo­ple thought I was from a deeply reli­gious fam­i­ly, and respect­ed as such! The bot­tom line is that ‘fash­ion’ is fol­lowed to fatal fault. I could go… Read more »

Half African-Amer­i­can half Niger­ian here. Yes we Nige­ri­ans don’t seem to be that hot on nat­ur­al hair but that is slow­ly chang­ing. There is one pop­u­lar Niger­ian actrss whose name escape me now but she has locks.
There is the belief that those with nat­ur­al hair don’t care for their hair,are crazy etc..

i’m Niger­ian and i also have nat­ur­al hair. to be hon­est when i decid­ed to go nat­ur­al i could only meet like-mind­ed peo­ple online.  my fam­i­ly react­ed hor­ri­bly to it telling me that Africans don’t ‘car­ry their hair like that’ and my reply was always ‘so what were our ances­tors doing to their hair before relax­ers were invent­ed?’ i’m now in my sec­ond year of being nat­ur­al and what i hear from oth­er Nige­ri­ans is that i don’t look Niger­ian any longer…apparently i now look Batswana or South African because of my hair.  i’ve not seen many niger­ian women with nat­ur­al… Read more »
So this is a big sigh for me. And I see my friend Mel­lowYel has already com­ment­ed on this but let me just add my own two cents. To have nat­ur­al hair in Nige­ria is to burn and die. I kid you not. Walk­ing around in Nige­ria with nat­ur­al hair, you won’t get more than twen­ty feet before some ran­dom per­son that you don’t know from Adam tells you to go do some­thing with your hair “so you can look like a human being” Also if you’re aspir­ing to work in a bank, you WILL NEVER get work if your hair is nat­ur­al… Read more »

Not Niger­ian, just shocked. Also I wish some­one would put that ver­sion of the show up on YouTube. I would love to see the expe­ri­ence there.


Anoth­er inter­est­ing thing: this isn’t the case every­where — I saw this video over on the blog Jezebel, and it made me SO hap­py: an embrac­ing of African beau­ty, even in the midst of war.

And I agree with what Jc says: if you hap­pen to have loos­er curls and/or real­ly long hair, peo­ple usu­al­ly assume you have non-black ances­tors.

*Sigh — the mil­lion dol­lar ques­tion. So this is the way I think about it — oth­ers can cor­rect me if I’m wrong. Colo­nial­ism meant for Africans a force­ful push in the direc­tion of West­ern stan­dards of beau­ty: light skin and straight hair. Lit­tle black girls in Nige­ria, like lit­tle black girls in the US, also played with Bar­bi­es with long blond flow­ing hair, and want­ed long hair like the peo­ple on TV. And like oth­er peo­ple have said, when peo­ple in the US and oth­er coun­tries cre­at­ed the hot comb, relax­er and bleach­ing cream, we embraced them, not specif­i­cal­ly… Read more »

‘when i think about it, i real­ize how sad it is that the US has a larg­er nat­ur­al hair cul­ture than nigeria’.…i could not dis­agree with you more. there is so much ‘weave’ oooops i am sor­ry you like to call it pro­tec­tive styling nat­ur­al hair…i say to each its own

Black girl with long hair
Black girl with long hair

@ Jc… so then amer­i­ca is the #1 world pow­er — even when it comes to nat­ur­al hair?! seri­ous­ly, this is real­ly chang­ing my view of things!


Unfor­tu­nate­ly this is true. Both my par­ents were born and raised in Nige­ria and when I decid­ed to go nat­ur­al nei­ther of them liked it. My mom always says that a woman’s beau­ty starts with her hair and she didn’t think my afro was beau­ti­ful (I say “was” because it’s in braids now). And a lot of Niger­ian women that I know (whether here in Amer­i­ca or over in Nige­ria) wear wigs. So from my expe­ri­ence nat­ur­al hair isn’t accept­ed, at least not in the main­stream.

I went to a British school in Kenya and I think two girls(sisters) had nat­ur­al hair (yep age 3–19 and two girls in a school body of about 250 girls). Both girls had waistlength hair. We always attrib­uted it to past Indi­an rel­a­tives (of which they had none lol).  I agree, nat­ur­al hair is not pop­u­lar among urban women. In rur­al areas, nat­ur­al hair is the norm and it is usu­al­ly cut into a short style. A huge afro or ban­tu knots/knot out would stand out.  Inter­est­ing­ly, I think the rea­son for this is actu­al­ly black peo­ple in USA (and I mean… Read more »