Ella Eyre – the London starlet with a big voice and even bigger hair… or is it? Her hair is adored by millions, even provoking my friend with naturally straight hair to say she wanted to get a perm to ‘look like Ella Eyre’ just the other day.
On the other end of the spectrum, her beautiful loose bouncy curls have helped to encourage those with naturally curly hair to ditch the straighteners and/or the dreaded chemical relaxer (insert horror movie scream). However, would the world’s love of her hair be as strong if they saw it in it’s natural texture? And what are the implications of the world only being shown an altered version of her natural hair? Read on to find out why I am asking Miss Eyre to PLEASE show off her natural hair.
Before we get started, please do not assume that I dislike Ella Eyre, or the way she styles her hair. I genuinely feel she is hugely talented and love her overall image. Additionally, as I have recently added extensions to my own hair to create the illusion of locs, I know not to throw stones in glass houses by claiming that those with natural hair should never be allowed to use weave, wigs or extensions to enhance their overall look. This article aims to simply provoke you into thinking about what the world see’s as an appropriate representation of natural hair – and why it would help so many people to see Ella’s true texture, rather than the media modified version.
Again, I myself have dabbled with different ‘less natural’ hairstyles. Throughout my first year of university you would have struggled to see me without my weave (a weave being the process of sewing a track of hair onto cane-rows, often to create the illusion of longer hair – see below).
It was through my own experience with weave that I first noticed that Ella Eyre’s trademark curls were not actually hers (STOP THE PRESS!). As my hair is naturally very tightly curled, even when it was straightened within an inch of it’s life, a seasoned weave-spotter would be able to see the slight difference in texture between my real hair (normally I left some out around my face and parting) and my Indian or Brazilian weave. God forbid it would rain when my weave was in – within seconds my hairline would frizz leaving me with the ultra fashionable half Beyonce/ half Sideshow Bob look that you will most likely see on the catwalk this summer… or not.
Now as a worldwide sensation, I’m sure Ella has a hair and make-up crew that will never allow a raindrop to ever disturb her flawless hairdo. However once your eyes have been opened to the ancient technique of weave-spotting, you can never unsee it. Through my own experience with trying to blend my straightened hair in with my own weave, I began to notice Ella’s hair was two different textures at the front.
Incredibly subtle right? My friends thought I was crazy or being a ‘hater,’ but I think the photo below paints a clearer picture.
As you can see, two very different textures. It soon became my obsession to see Ella’s natural hair, and after weeks of searching (or rather 20 minutes of scrolling through google) I finally saw it. The golden treasure I had been looking for…
Finally I had found the beautifully wild and unruly curls I knew were hidden under those looser locks. Better yet, I found an image of Ella rocking the glorious frizz that comes with the territory of tightly curled hair.
I immediately posted a comparative picture of Ella’s natural hair next to her hair in weave on my Facebook to prove to my friends my theory was right. I don’t think anyone cared about this revelation as much as I did…
I then stopped myself. What point was I making exposing that Ella Eyre had been wearing weave? Why would I want to create an issue out of this having come under fire myself for wearing my hair in faux locs (aka fake locs – see below) just a few weeks ago.
You see, the natural hair world is pretty heated at the moment. What started as a supportive network has become somewhat disjointed in recent years. The reason? Instagram.
The creation of Instagram lead to natural hair appreciation or fan pages being born, created with the purpose of celebrating natural beauty and giving other people hair inspiration, or ‘#Hairspiration’. However, a lot of these profiles have been criticised for not representing all types of natural hair; by showcasing women with hair of a looser texture, rather than showing any love to the more kinky sisters out there. I was dragged into the middle of this when I decided to get faux locs – a look made more fashionable in recent months due to actresses such as Zendaya. Again, the question was raised as to why these pages only seemed to show women with shiny synthetic faux locs rather than women with real, organic dreads.
The argument as to what should and shouldn’t be celebrated in the natural community goes on and on and continues to go around in circles. Ultimately, It begs the question of what society sees as acceptable natural hair… what makes looser curls more beautiful? What makes so many young girls and women opt to like and comment on pictures of loosely ringleted hair rather than the rare image of a woman with a tighter, more kinky curl pattern?
My thoughts? Because the world is still adjusting to accepting that women want to wear their hair natural, and so it needs to have a more media-friendly image of what natural hair should look like to feel comfortable with it all. A universal image of what curly natural hair looks like has been created, highlighting how beautifully exotic curls are, without showing anything too alien or different from western society’s long held belief that straighter is better.
Images of women with naturally loose curly hair dominate my Instagram, due to being close friends with beauties such as @FroGirlGinny (below) but also because of the natural hair pages that often repost these pictures.
Ginny and others inspire thousands to embrace their natural hair. However, the effect of only showing girls with a looser hair texture is that people often get a warped view of what natural hair SHOULD look like. Often women dream of having looser curls, and are left disappointed by their natural texture – somehow feeling their hair is inadequate.
Now I am not trying to suggest Ella Eyre feels her natural hair is not up to standard. There are plenty of reasons why she might have chosen to have here hair in a protective style such as weave. It avoids damaging her own hair with bleach, giving it heat damage or just over manipulating it by having to constantly style it for different shows. In that case, wearing a weave or wig is actually pretty intelligent, and women in the public eye have been doing it for years, right Katy Perry?
However, it begs the question: if she was going to cover her natural hair, why is it that she – or whoever styled her – chose something so loose? What is so unattractive about tight natural hair that means that it needs to somehow be altered to appeal to the masses?
My answer? Nothing. And as a woman with naturally tightly curled hair, you would be right in saying I am very biased on this issue. But my argument is this… a positive body image is crucial to girls of all races with all different hairstyles and textures. That means alienating women with tighter hair will only lead to more young people feeling inadequate or feeling like they somehow need to alter themselves to feel or be seen as attractive.
I’ve experienced this feeling first hand. Growing up, I always felt different and outcasted because I didn’t see the media representing anyone that looked like me. For years I longed for long, straight hair like the women on TV, as my own curls seemed so undesirable. It was only when I first saw Mel B from the Spice Girls (below) rocking her tight curls that I actually thought curly hair could be beautiful. Now, my hair was even more tightly curled than Mel B’s, but simply seeing her wild curls made me feel more at ease about my hair not laying neatly in one place. Ultimately, it helped make me feel more confident about my own body image.
Of course, since then, Mel B has also conformed to straightening her hair, which is a shame as her natural curls were so inspiring. But her curls had a lasting effect on me growing up.
That’s why it is crucial we have more high profile examples of natural haired celebrities for young people to see. I am adamant that the natural hair movement is not a fad. Now that more people are choosing not to put a chemical on their scalp, it is important that we continue to reinforce that natural hair of all textures is beautiful.
Therefore, I would like to direct this to Ella, and all other natural haired beauties in the music industry.
Keep doing what you are doing as you look and sound great. But I challenge you to show off your glorious natural lion’s mane at least once. Think back to when you were young, and how powerful it would have been to see someone with hair just like yours on the TV. Be the change. Help show the world that all hair is beautiful, and that there is no reason to ever hide your naturally gorgeous hair.
With love from London,