Pregnancy motivated Gwen Jimmere to stop using chemicals to straighten her thick, curly hair.
"I was pregnant, and I knew anything I put on my body goes to the baby," says Jimmere, 29, of Canton, Mich.
She had tried wearing her hair without a chemical straightener a decade earlier. But the fervor for the Afros of the '60s and '70s was long over, and there was little information or encouragement on how to pull off a natural style.
Most black women, like Jimmere, were perming, hot-pressing or flat-ironing their kinky, curly hair. Straight hair -- better still, long straight hair -- was the way to fit in, the way to be pretty and conform to the standard of American beauty.
Fast-forward to 2011 when Jimmere chose to set her own standard by rocking her hair in all its natural glory. This go-round, she found an abundance of support -- meet-ups of women wearing natural hair styles, books on natural hair care, celebrities talking about their stylish, natural 'dos.
Perhaps the biggest signifier of the current natural hair movement is found online. A community of women created a virtual pulpit for natural hair that includes social forums, video instructions, tutorials, product websites and personal testimonies.Read more: No more chemicals: More black women choose to go natural