Is There a Gender Divide in the Natural Hair Community?
Quick. Name 3 popular female natural hair YouTubers/vloggers.
Now, name 3 male natural vloggers.
Struggling to come up with 3? Or anyone, for that matter? Don’t fret, you’re probably not alone.
Like it or not, the natural hair community is mostly made up of women.
Why is this the case? The answer is easy. There are more women with natural hair than men, And by that, I mean there aren’t as many men with long natural hair in locs, braids, or a loose style. There are also more female bloggers than male. Not to mention, the majority of companies that sell natural hair products target women, not men. You can tell that women are their target consumer by looking at most advertisements, commercials, featured customer reviews, website images, etc. There are women everywhere! Matter of fact, I can’t remember ever visiting the social media pages or websites of any company and seeing a man! Can you?
Men may feel alienated by the community.
For many women, our hair is tied to our identity. It draws attention, criticism, positivity, etc. from strangers, family members, friends, and co-workers. Women bond through hair – whether permed or natural. When we gather online for fellowship, advice, and support, many of the questions we have are tied to this relationship. “Should I press my hair for this wedding?” “How can I accessorize my TWA?” “How should I style my hair for this job interview?” “My boyfriend doesn’t like natural hair, but I want to go natural. What should I do?”
A lot of the bonding that women do around their natural hair is probably, by its very nature, foreign to men. Generally speaking, men don’t have (or aren’t forced to have) the same relationships with their hair that we do. So, how can they really connect with us around these issues?
Many women want “long hair, don’t care”. We join hair growth challenges, we buy products to encourage growth, and we make t-shirts, take photos, and make videos to track our progress. Are men doing the same thing? Not really.
I ain’t one to gossip, so you ain’t heard that from me *in my Benita Butrell voice*…but men aren’t supposed to have long hair. I don’t know where this comes from, but there are negative stereotypes associated with men who have long hair.
Most men are not trying to enhance their curl pattern!
What? Don’t look at me like that, it’s true. A lot of the marketing for natural hair products includes phrases for “your curly hair”, “your curls”, “your coils”, “your kinks”. Enhancing your curls is a primary concern among many naturals with loose natural hair. Companies understand this, and create (and market) products for curl definition to women, not to men. How many men have said, “What products can I use to define my curls?” There may be a few, but there aren’t many.
But I want to know what you think.