This year we doc­u­ment­ed quite a few nat­u­ral hair inci­dents that went on to make nation­al head­li­nes. They high­light the ups and downs of “the strug­gle” as we seek to estab­lish that our tex­tured hair is nor­mal, accept­able and beau­ti­ful. The­se sto­ries (in order from most pop­u­lar), were our most viral and shared cul­ture pieces this year.


1. Ohio School Bans Afro Puffs and Braids
This sto­ry gained nation­al news cov­er­age, but we actu­al­ly broke it here first on BGLH after spot­ting it in a Face­book dis­cus­sion thread. The Lorain Hori­zon char­ter school was unable to explain or sup­port its ban, and after pres­sure from par­ents and nat­u­ral hair groups backpedaled and changed its pol­i­cy. You can read the orig­i­nal arti­cle here.


2. True Life: My Boss Crit­i­cized my Nat­u­ral Hair in Pub­lic
This sto­ry had us all shak­ing our heads in dis­be­lief. Vlog­ger Dominique (aka Long­Hair­Dont­Care2011) shared the sto­ry of a boss com­ing at her hair — in pub­lic! Read the full sto­ry here.

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3. Black Wom­en Stand on NY Street and Allow Strangers to Touch Their Hair as Part of Social Exper­i­ment
Whether you approved of this social exper­i­ment or not, it achieved its goal of spark­ing a dis­cus­sion on eti­quet­te and bound­aries when it comes to black wom­en and their hair. Click here for more pho­tos and details on the event.

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4. Beyonce’s Hair Styl­ist Con­firms Her Big Chop, Says Her Weave Set Unre­al­is­tic Expec­ta­tions
This is the year Bey­on­ce cut off all her hair — and for a while we thought she was ready to dis­tance her­self from her trade­mark look (long, blonde weave) that even her styl­ist said set unre­al­is­tic expec­ta­tions. But any hope or joy was short lived. With­in days Bey­on­ce was back to the weave. Click here for more pho­tos of the big chop.


5. What if White Wom­en Got the “Can I Touch Your Hair?” Ques­tion All the Time
In a mul­ti-pan­el comic strip car­toon­ist Tall and Curly re-imag­ined a world where tex­tured hair is the stan­dard and straight hair is seen as dif­fer­ent, exotic and/or unac­cept­able. The comic was deeply affect­ing for many nat­u­rals, and apt­ly summed up the “oth­er­ness” we often feel for look­ing the way we do. Click here for the full strip.

6. Video Vix­en Blac Chy­na is a Nat­u­ral
Pre­vi­ous­ly known for appear­ing in the music video for Rack City, and being rap­per Tyga’s baby’s moth­er, video vix­en Blac Chy­na caught the atten­tion of the nat­u­ral world when she revealed her beau­ti­ful tex­tured hair. The rev­e­la­tion sparked a dis­cus­sion on com­mon notions of what a nat­u­ral wom­an should look and be like. Click here to read more.


7. Sheryl Under­wood Slams Nat­u­ral Hair on Nation­al Tele­vi­sion
Many of us watched in shock as come­di­en­ne Sheryl Under­wood mocked nat­u­ral hair on nation­al tele­vi­sion, while her non-black Talk co-hosts cack­led in agree­ment. The black com­mu­ni­ty came for Sheryl’s behind, but the inci­dent became more com­plex when the fun­ny wom­an revealed her own inse­cu­ri­ties about her appear­ance. It seems that, as a com­mu­ni­ty, we are still pars­ing through issues of self-hate. Click here for more on this inci­dent.

8. Relax­er Lines are Going Nat­u­ral
BGLH Writer Christi­na Patrice researched 6 relax­er lines that are branch­ing into nat­u­ral hair prod­ucts. It was a mixed bag — from com­pa­nies that slapped togeth­er a line to keep up with the trend (and keep their hands in black women’s pock­ets), to those that cre­at­ed thought­ful prod­ucts in an effort to reform their image. Click here for the full report.


9. New York’s First Fam­i­ly is All Nat­u­ral
New York’s new first lady, Chirlane De Bla­sio, is a black wom­an with locs. The city’s First Son and Daugh­ter, Dan­te and Chiara, rock a fro and free-form locs respec­tive­ly, mak­ing them one of the high­est pro­file polit­i­cal fam­i­lies to unapolo­get­i­cal­ly wear nat­u­ral hair. Click here for more pho­tos of the De Blasio’s.

10. Is Amer­i­ca Bent on Con­vinc­ing Black Wom­en that their Beau­ty is “Unac­cept­able”?
An Ohio school banned afro puffs, a 7-year-old loc’ed hon­or stu­dent was so har­rassed by black staff that her father pulled her out of school, a 12-year-old girl who com­plained to school admin­is­tra­tors that she was being teased for her hair was told to cut it or face expul­sion. All the­se inci­dents had us ask­ing — does Amer­i­can cul­ture pres­sure black wom­en to believe that the way they look is unac­cept­able and unde­sir­able? Click here for the full arti­cle and dis­cus­sion.

So ladies, what do you think? What was the most impact­ful nat­u­ral hair-relat­ed event for you this year?

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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16 Comments on "The Top 10 Stories and Controversies Involving Natural Hair in 2013"

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I per­son­al­ly think that a wom­an wear­ing her hair how she likes it best should nev­er face any kind of social back­lash. A polite com­ment about someone’s hair block­ing the screen is one thing but this is appalling. I think that all of the pic­tures are beau­ti­ful espe­cial­ly the lit­tle girl at the end. I have thick, dark blonde knee length vir­gin hair (that I vol­un­tar­i­ly grew out sim­ply because I liked Rapun­zel as a child) so I sup­pose I’m not very rep­re­sen­ta­tive of my race but I think that healthy hair is always beau­ti­ful. Keep fight­ing the good fight… Read more »
Cheryl Under­wood is still “pars­ing thru issues of self hate” I should not have been watch­ing the show in the first place, but I was tak­ing my lunch break while work­ing at home on a snow day and sho nuf, I heard Cheryl Under­wood say in respon­se to the issue of “girl crush­es” that she had a crush on the young cau­casian wom­an on the show (sor­ry I do not know her name, but she has the dark hair with the shag­gy cut hair style) Cheryl Under­wood actu­al­ly said that she was mim­ic­ing her hair after the young cau­ca­sion wom­an.… Read more »

Im sur­prised that this Blac Chy­na per­son is list­ed here, seems so out of place. I have no idea why she is famous or who she is.…looks like she is adver­tis­ing some hair prod­ucts.


I also have nev­er heard of this per­son until I read this arti­cle.


Not sur­prised at no.7 I didn’t even know who Sheryl Under­wood was before that arti­cle (not from the US)


There were so many great sto­ries in 2013 that I learned about from BGLH. This is a great web­site. The bul­ly­ing sto­ries and the hair “exhibit” in NYC were the most strik­ing to me.

youngin girl

I think degrad­ing wom­en or any vul­ner­a­ble per­son when it comes to mak­ing them feel ashamed of who they are is sad. I think when kids get mixed up in this sit­u­a­tion at school with their hair being the prob­lem, It is sen­si­tive to me.

Elle Transitionne

I have to say I liked how nat­u­ral hair girls sticked for oth­ers (espe­cial­ly when it came to kids being bul­lied). We may not know each oth­er but we have each other’s back. To me that was the most strik­ing thing this year…
Hap­py new year guys !

ps: the way some celebri­ties were claim­ing their nat­u­ral hair all over social net­work was sur­pris­ing to me …


[…] already recapped the top style icons of 2013, and the top sto­ries and con­tro­ver­sies involv­ing nat­u­ral hair in 2013. Check it […]


You have to LOL at the whole bey­on­ce thing. The styl­ist made such a state­ment with that.….er, state­ment (lol). Lit­er­al­ly a day lat­er, bey was back in her favourite yakki weave and has been ever since. May­be she’s pro­tec­tive styling? 

I think the Black Chy­na nat­u­ral hair sto­ry should have been a gen­er­al “celebri­ty nat­u­ral hair” sto­ry. 2013 was the year of celebs show­ing of their “nat­u­ral” hair: Nicki, Brandy, Tara­ji, Toya, Keke, Lil mama, Angel Sim­moms etc. Sur­prised you didn’t include that. Was one of the biggest sto­ries on here, no?


The Blac Chy­na thing was pop­u­lar more so do to “how” she became famous (strip­per and video model/ho) not that she was famous.

The most hor­rif­ing sto­ry I heard this year was of a young girl (I think she 8) get­ting her hair cut by her teacher in class. I guess her mom had just done a full box braid set with beads on the end, the teacher told the girl to stop play­ing with her hair (which was total­ly inval­un­tary as far as I could tell) when she con­tin­ued to play with her hair the teacher called her to the front of the class and told her if she didn’t stop mess­ing with it he would cut it off, he then took… Read more »

The 12 yr old in the pic­ture is so beau­ti­ful and her hair is just gor­geous, this world or shall I say the peo­ple in it are so nar­row mind­ed and non-spir­i­tu­al as the Cre­ator gave her this love­ly hair. I hope that she nev­er choos­es to alter it.