I'm Pro Choice... My Stance on Natural Hair
In my recent post about my nappy hair journey, I mention how political a black woman’s hair can be in different settings. I didn’t get much into it then, but I’ll take some time to explain myself.
Recently I met with the executive director of my old high school. The main topic of discussion was about the race issues within that racist ass school, but that’s another story for another blog post. During the conversation I mentioned black hair. I pointed to my hair and told her how my sister wouldn’t be able to wear her hair in the same style—my hair was in Marley twists. She interrupted and went on to say something about the dress code allowing “cornrows” and how cool she thought my hair was in that style.
I laughed and I asked her, “When you got ready for work this morning, did you think about what your hair would be telling me in that style?”
“Huh, what are you asking me?”
“When you woke up and realized that you would be meeting with a black woman today, did you think about what your straight hair would be signaling to me?”
“Well, no… I guess. I’m not sure where you’re going with this…”
“I just want to point out that you don’t have to think about what your hair is telling me when you wear it in its natural state. However, as a Black student at this school, my sister has to constantly think about what her appearance is signaling to other students and even the faculty. So, the dress code has nothing to do with social standards and norms.”
She got extremely quiet. I knew that was the first time that she had ever thought about the topic of black women’s hair and how political it can be at times. I think it’s safe to assume that we all have heard the saying, “If your hair is relaxed, white people are relaxed. If it’s nappy, they’re not happy.” I think we all understand the social standard for Black hair in White America. If not, it’s pretty simple—keep your naps to yourself.
However, during my natural hair journey, I found myself also feeling a little pressure to go one way or another depending on the crowd within our beloved Black community. As you all know, I can go from rocking a gang of naps to having Brazilian tresses within a matter of days. I did this for a few years while I transitioned. In doing this, I noticed the different responses that I would receive from different crowds in the Black community.
In some settings with my natural hair, I could tell that people thought that I was “woke” as hell. On the other hand, I could take the same hairdo and sit around another crowd and folks would think that I was too lazy to do my hair and not presentable. Same goes for my weaves. Sitting around a bunch of natural women, I would often get looks of disapproval. I could almost feel them thinking that I was stuck in the White man’s world and a firm believer in American beauty standards. In fact, often times I would wait for the perfect time to mention, “Well, I’m natural…” just to ease the stares.
I would think that within my own community people would understand that we as Blacks have options. We’re only a pressing comb away from silky straight hair and a drop of water away from an Angela Davis fro. In fact, a guy at my job told me, “When I describe what you look like to others I’m sure not to mention your hair because I know it might be totally different in two days… you change your hair A LOT!” So, while I am indeed natural I might feel the urge to rock a smooth 22 inches and flex a lil bit. I think there are plenty of think pieces about natural hair being accepting in the black community and the importance of the natural hair movement for the Black community. I think that is a discussion that needs to continue to be had amongst our community to educate and inform.
On the other hand, I haven’t seen so much about how the natural community can be very cold towards those who aren’t natural. I’m not saying that all naturals are this way, but there are a few out of the bunch that are extremely vocal about their feelings. That leads me to the topic of this blog—natural hair is a choice, your choice. There are people out there that understand how much work, time, and money goes into natural hair and they’re just not here for it. They don’t think they’re less attractive without relaxed hair. They just don’t want natural hair! There are some people out here that read one Malcolm X quote on Facebook and think they have the right to pass judgement on any person they feel is falling into the American standard of beauty.
Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of women out there who have been tricked to believe that natural hair isn’t appropriate. Some even believe they aren’t attractive without their inches. I’m not talking about those girls. Instead, I’m referring to the well-read woman with an abundance of knowledge of the Black movements. It is possible for a person to be “woke” and still have a relaxer or prefer weaves and wigs. There are several reasons for this. It could be that they have a medical condition and can’t wear their natural hair due to hair loss. Or it can be as simple as them not wanting to spend hours washing, finger detangling, moisturizing, and twisting their hair. Let’s be real. Being natural is timely and costly. Hell, there are days that I wish that I could allow my hair to air dry simply because I’m too lazy to go through the task of separating and twisting my hair or piling 2 pounds of product on it to wear a wash and go. Besides, not everyone wants to deal with the woes of wash day.
I am a true believer in the idea that everyone can sport their natural hair. There is no type of hair that is better suited for natural hair. However, if a person decides that natural hair isn’t the route that is most suitable for their lifestyle or preference, that’s cool with me—I don’t care that much. Again, I’m not talking about the people that feel that natural hair is damn near repulsive, sinful, and disgusting. Those people need a book and a wide tooth comb to help them embrace their bee-dee-beads.
I guess what I’m trying to say is everyone has the right to choose. We have beautiful hair that makes us unique. Rather the hair is coiled up and thick as wool or on the other hand, it’s been chemically treated to be straight, the hair is beautiful because it is attached to a beautiful chocolate queen. The state of a person’s hair doesn’t represent how “deep” they are nor does it represent their love for the black movement. Let’s try not to focus so much on the shit on top of a person’s head. Instead, let’s focus on what’s inside the head. Let’s not make another aesthetic hierarchy within the Black community. We ain’t got the time for that— there are other battles to fight.
As a nappy headed lil girl, I try to stay humble and know that I’m just a black girl who happens to have natural hair. As you see, I try not to make myself or the natural hair experience seem like something that’s unattainable. I joke and refer to my hair as naps and bee-dee-beads often because… I can. Entering into the natural hair community can be intimidating. With all of the terms and lingo—texture shot, TWA, curl pattern, 4B, BC, etc. – it’s easy to get lost in the sauce. I try to keep it plain and simple in an effort not to frighten or overwhelm someone that may be interested in being natural. This ain’t a cult or exclusive members only club. No need to act like gold grows out of your scalp—it’s just hair.
I don’t want to have to think about what the naturals will think of me as I get ready for an Erykah Badu concert with twenty inches of Brazilian hanging down my back. In the same way, I don’t want to feel like I need to hide my natural hair because I don’t feel like my ignorant ass family asking “when are you getting a perm?” I deal with wondering what my hair is telling the White people at my job five days a week. I don’t want to think about it when I’m getting ready for my family and friend’s get together.
Afros and Ovaries
Sealing my wefts while my mama oils my scalp