Friday, April 30, 2010

Beating A Dead Horse: It's Just Hair!

I honestly can't believe that it's 2010 and we are STILL on the topic of Black women's hair. Well, I'm lying actually I can. We talked about it ALL 2009, and the year before that AND the year before that. So no, I really didn't have the expectation that we'd be over it by now. I actually think it's worse now, when we begin to throw into the mix all the self conscious Black women out there. Don't get me wrong, I'm natural myself but I think there is such a thing as being TOO natural.

The "TOO" natural women are from the lineage of Sampson and believe their self worth is in the coil of their locks. They are the women who still believe that a perm is a kin to hatred of self. The TOO natural women have replaced the bullies of "Straightened Hairs' Past." They are fascinated with the thought of them being rebels, while those who perm their hair are conformist. Paradoxically, in my opinion, the journey to be natural has become consumed with the journey to be contrary. In the same way in which women who straightened their hair were seen to do so for approval, natural women are pushing so hard for their own approval.

Top: Me rocking my natural hair, blown out straight. Bottom: My curly weave that I used to transition to natural.

Nevertheless, in their search they begin to implement coping mechanisms that are intimidating and darn near oppressive to women who chose to straighten their hair. As a natural woman who wears my hair curly, in twist outs, blow-dried straight, or weave I like the variety that my natural hair affords me. In the same token, I think it's counterproductive to judge those who desire to have their hair permed. It is very simplistic to assume straightened hair is equivalent to selling out.

Natural haired women who use their hair as a statement, create a double standard that contributes to the difficulty Black women have dealing with their locks. Stop using your hair as a statement. Our hair should be a personal choice not a political proclamation. Stop focusing on how the next chick's hair looks and we'll be better off. What you eat don't make her hair shiny. At the end of the day why can't hair just be hair?


  1. I was thinking about this the other day. I was going to blog about the saturation of natural hair in the media now. Literally ever commercial I see with an ethnic woman shows them rocking their curls. Makes me wonder if this is just another phase... Nice post.

  2. I thought it was just me! I literally started taking count of how many commercials I see with Black women thar have them rocking the curly style. It's an appeasement of natural hair women. A desire to be politically correct and go with the trend. But soon it's gonna start being annoying and patronizing.

  3. Recently, I was wondering if I was the only one who went natural without making some sort of "statement". My last relaxer was Dec '06...I just wanted to see how long I could go without one. But then I saw how my hair was growing faster, and I was still able to maintain, I just kept going with it.

    I honestly don't care what folk do with their long as it looks presentable.

  4. ALL people have the right to express themselves through their hair, dress, speech, or any other means of expression. I don't think anyone has the right to tell someone to stop using their hair as a statement. The fact of the matter is, for some people it is, and for some people it isn't.

    I think the best we can hope for is that people stop trying to project their personal beliefs or means of expression on others.

    I think the dialogue regarding straight vs. natural hair is an important one in the Black community. Black hair is most definitely a part of our culture. Maybe in our own circles the discussion appears to be played out, but there are definitely folks that haven't delved into the history, politics and progression of Black hair in American history.

    I'm not saying that once folks get into all of that they're gonna start rockin' a 'fro. But it's good to know the background of the issue and make a conscious decision about how you want to express/present yourself to the world. It's also important, as I said before, not to force your beliefs/means of expression on others.

    I use my hair as a statement, but I am by no means expecting everyone else to do so.

    Thanks for the interesting post!

    Peace :)

  5. But most of those curls aren't natural either... I wonder who is really in charge of creating and casting these commercials... And I don't think showing natural hair is PC.

    A lot of women I know that have natural hair have done it more so for style reasons and even more women I know change their minds and start using perms again in 6 months to a year after going natural.

  6. You are different, because in using your hair as a statement, your statement is one of personal satisfaction, not a political pressure to straight haired women.

    There are many women who use their hair as a statement, who do not quite understand or implement that difference. That's a problem. There are natural women out there who have confronted me simply because I choose to blow dry my hair straight, as if to say straightening my hair defeats the purpose.

    That is too much.

    Furthermore, I think the discussion of hair outside the community is another debilitating factor, simply because that is where the conversation first had its origin. This conversation is in no way new and more importantly, the need to "understand" Black hair can tend to be counterproductive.

    There aren't sociological and psychological discussions into why white women choose to perm their hair to make it curly or why they cut their hair. Their hair isn't used as a political statement. When they choose to make a certain hairstyle it is seen as "They just felt like curly hair today" or "they just wanted to have a new look."

    Our decisions with our hair seem to always be inextricably tied to racism and yes, I think that is tiring.

  7. That's how my natural hair journey started out too. I had cut my hair in October of 2008, to where it was REALLY short. In trying to maintain it I was going to an Egyptian shop and it surprised me that at that length they didn't have to perm it in order to make it look nice. So I kept going back and noticed it getting longer and longer but still manageable without the perm. So I kept it up.

    We are >>>>>>>> here <<<<<<<<<

  8. I'm an accidental natural. I took out my braids one day in 2007 and realized there was no going back. I'm continue to be natural because I want to live a healthier lifestyle and don't see the need to put the chemicals on my hair. This view may change in the future because I'm constantly evolving.

    I ran into some militant naturals at a meetup last year. I said that using heat to straighten your hair is fine if you take precautions and don't over do it. I didn't realize that there was such a divide about heat use in the natural community, but their reaction let me know that I wasn't "their type" of natural. I'm cool with that!

  9. I agree with you, and I'm kind of in the middle of the spectrum. I don't see natural hair as simply a style, because I was tired of burning my scalp with relaxers and want my hair to be healthy, but I'm definitely not so far gone to call it a statement. However, if some women feel that way, I don't think you should tell them to "stop using their hair as a statement." The history of relaxers has a lot to do with slavery and Black women attempting to be accepted into society, so it's not an invalid point.

  10. Clarification: I believe there is a difference between having it be a personal statement and using ones hair as a POLITICAL statement. Once it crosses into that arena, then that is where the lines get blurred between having your own say in what you do with your hair and then expecting other women to fall in line.

    It's not that I believe it's an invalid point. However, I think it is dangerously simplistic to believe that every woman who wants to perm their hair does so because of the historical implications and ramifications of slavery. To do so we would also have to rely upon the historical context. Straightening hair was often used as a ritual to be seen as "passing." I don't think the same is true across the board for women today.

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  12. what kinda hair is that you used for your curly weave?

  13. I totally agree with Whitney W and her statement that people are always trying to project their personal beliefs on others but when confronted or asked they say things like "im just saying" etc.


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