The Type 4 Hair Dilemma

The struggle that people with type 4 hair endure needs to come to an end.


African culture is very confusing, but one thing about it that’s easy to follow is how we greet one another. It’s simple really; all you have to do is comment on or ask questions about something that no non-African in their right mind would ever deem appropriate. For example: “Hello Tethloach. You’ve gained/lost weight,” or “Tethloach, how are you? Have you ever considered using a bleaching cream?” or, the one I receive most often as a black girl with 4c hair, “Tethloach, how’s it going? When are you getting your hair done?”

As insane as it seems, for the past year and a half that I’ve been mostly wearing my hair in its natural state, that last question is the one I receive most often from nosy aunties and uncles at functions. And I wish I could say that my hair is criticized only by my South Sudanese elders, but the truth is, type 4 hair in its natural state is considered unprofessional by a lot more people than that.

Type 4 hair is typically referred to as afro-textured hair or kinky hair. It’s characterized by curls so tight that the hair tends to be “spongy.” Most people with curly hair fall under the type 4 category.

For decades now, black women, both in the United States and Africa, have taken extreme measures manipulating their hair just to make it look like something it’s not. Silk presses, relaxers, wigs, etc. All things used by people with curly hair because they’ve been taught to be ashamed of it. 

In the past few years, however, I’ve started to ask myself exactly why I do so much to make my hair seem longer than it is or to make it look more “kempt.” Ultimately, I’ve come to the conclusion that all the ridiculous measures I’ve taken, and the hours of sitting to have my hair done are absolutely useless. 

The way that your hair naturally grows out of your hair is such a silly thing to be ashamed of and I’m done doing it. 

So the next time somebody asks me when I’m getting my hair done I’ll just say “what do you mean? My hair is done.”