Think about it. We were created and born with curly, kinky hair. Yet somewhere along the way many of us either hid it in hair that’s not our own or putting chemicals onto it so harsh they can blind you. Literally. Why?
You all know I still wear hair extensions as part of my protective styling and I’ve only been natural a couple of years so I’m not bashing anyone who isn’t. I’m not bashing why people praise others for doing so. I just want to know, why? Why is it a statement to wear your hair as it naturally grows out of your scalp? People of all other races do it, and it’s no big deal. But why has it come to the point that when a black woman decides to, it’s a big deal? To her family, to society and to herself. Why is it that so many of us don’t know or are reluctant to learn how to care for our hair?
I watched a hilarious video the other day where NaturalMe4C was grilling her husband with questions regarding her natural hair journey and he said something so interesting.
“To truly appreciate beauty, you have to understand the design behind it… understanding what God considered beautiful”
Which brings me onto my next question; why do we hate our hair so much? I know about the historical implications and how the Eurocentric look is what dominates our media space. I’m not going to lie, before I went natural, I was convinced that the hair my weaves and relaxers were covering was ugly. I thought it was so wild and messy looking that I didn’t even want to attempt to see it grow. It would always be covered up by something. And I had the same mentality that many others still do; if you can afford a relaxer, why are you natural? Natural was an unknown and all unknowns are scary. A few days ago, my two year post relaxer mark passed and I only realised it did a day or two later (goes to show how much I’m used to being natural).
But it got me thinking and reflecting on my decision to stop relaxing my
hair. As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, not everyone was on board
with it, a couple of people didn’t think I’d ‘last’. Two years post
relaxer, here I am…challenging the very same mentality I had a few
years ago. My going natural didn’t happen overnight (okay, my decision to did) but I was on this path for awhile, I’m only realising it now. Point is, most of us have been there, including myself and it is possible to have a change of heart. I can say that for me, it was through educating myself that I began to know better about all things natural. I’m not an expert (yet!) but I definitely understand my hair better than I did three years ago.
And another thing I’ve noticed? Many Black women don’t believe in their hair. We don’t believe that our hair is beautiful or can look stylish & modern. Before we even go properly natural (having done research and taking others’ advice) we’re bashing our own hair and thinking the next girl who’s rocking gorgeous natural hair was just ‘blessed’ by God and we weren’t. Even now, I get met with comments like ‘Oh, but your hair is naturally soft’ Umm, no it’s not, have you seen me on wash day?! ‘But you’re from East Africa, East Africans have different hair from us‘ Have you ever been there? Do you know how many of us struggle with our hair too? ‘It’s different for me, your face suits natural hair and you’ll look pretty in whatever style you wear’ Please read my 3 Months Natural Review. Pretty is far from what I was feeling.
Stop with the bashing! Yes, our hair (particularly us thick and resistant haired girls) is different. Let’s not curse it. It is how we were made. Let’s rather deal with what we were created with. A certain holy book says it perfectly; God makes no mistakes. He knew exactly what he was doing when he put those 100, 000 unruly, springy, coily thick ass hairs on your scalp just as he did when creating your cute lil’ button nose, your purple birthmark and your powerful mind. Yes, I’m referring to myself, I don’t know how the rest of you look like :p
My end thoughts: Let’s stop thinking that our hair, our unique and defiant hair is ugly. It stands up for us – literally. Let’s stand up for it too. Work with what you have. Even if you see another girl rocking the hell out of her natural hair but she has wavier, slinkier hair than you, don’t hate. Let her style and confidence inspire you to go home and play around in your own hair until you’re rocking yours too.
Any thoughts? Comment as usual.
Please distinguish the difference between unkept and tacky natural, and managed natural. As a man of color I see a difference. Unkept hair worn by men and women is unattractive.
Hi J, how do you define unkempt? It’s not really up to me to distinguish the difference.
Nope.. I still hate my hair. Been natural for ages and it doesn't pass my shoulder. Very very thin and on top of that kinky hair with lots of nuts. Can't do twist out, too fragile, can't tie my hair down, too short… I really hate them and going back to the chemicals will be worse since my hair is so thin it will look like I'm bald
I understand how you feel. My hair is 4C I guess. Very short and hard to manage. I have spent more on my natural hair, buying products to make it grow, far more expensive than buying weave. It hurts when I see other women rocking beautiful fros but I cannot. What many sistas fail to realize is their harsh criticism hurts MORE THAN coming from anyone else. I know most black men hate our hair. I know most white people would rather die than live with my 4C hair. I know that if I wore my hair natural at work, I would probably get over looked and seen as ghetto. I hate feeling this way. What I need all of you to hear "Your criticism hurts, your bashing because I wear a weave hurts, excluding me too hurts, telling me I am not a real black woman if I do not wear a natural afro HURTS". If I cannot get the love from my sista, then who will love me?
Hi this article has hit my heart. Keep Writing!
I'm 15 and have transitioning from relaxed to natural hair. It has been 6 mths of transtioning and I have acheived 2 1/2 – 3 inches of new growth! SO happy about this acheivement.
My biggest supporters have been my friends and my parents. My mom has helped me w/ keeping maintence. My friends who are mostly white have been very supportive and always wanting to know how I take care of my hair.
But I have had some negativity from my siblings saying I need a perm or that my hair is weird, especially from my little sister who has permed hair. My older brother has even told me how his friends pick on me about my hair.
But I soon started loving my hair, and it made my life easier.
I will continue to support my love for my hair and myself.
I went natural to tell myself that Im more than okay with the hair texture God chose to give me. Like the first comment when I relaxed my hair people thought I was coloured, to many in my circle this was a compliment, but it rubbed me the wrong way, as if they are saying there is something wrong with being fully afro. What is ironic is I still get mistaken for a coloured. I transitioned for seven months and been natural for four months. But I also went natural because I was tired of the flat, oily relaxed hair. I LOVE me, my hair aaaaaand my Creator makes no mistakes.
Hi Aisha. I've been stalking your blog for a while now and this topic has really hit home. There's a lady that said her mother was a hairstylist and still couldn't manage her hair, so when it was finally relaxed she was relieved…… I find that most hairstylists have no idea how to properly treat our hair.
In so called African salons is where our hair gets ill treated the most, otherwise we would be not seeing such bad hairlines or people walking with their heads pulled back after braiding/ plaiting.
My daughter whose three has the most coiliest, most fragile hair I've ever come across and she used to hate HATE the comb with a passion. After reading blogs and so on, I Stumbled upon the most moisturizing spray for her hair (glycerin, aloe vera juice, olive oil, water and lavender oil. It works wonders I tell you! Now her new pet hate? The SPRAY -_- she says it's cold. Kids don't like people touching their heads in general it's even worse when pain accompanies the touch.
All we have to do is learn how to keep our hair moisturised and healthy, our kids will thank us oneday for this knowledge.
Adore this topic, worship this blog. You are my hair hero lol!
I have always had what they call in Zimbabwe, hard maShona type hair, nothing long and flowing about my natural hair by any stretch of the imagination. I always had relaxed hair but my scalp is super sensitive so I would burn so badly come relaxer time. I would always have to brace myself for each relaxer session to either come away with hair that wasn’t "properly" relaxed or have wounds that would take weeks to heal.
After my last relaxer about 2 weeks ago I just couldn’t take it anymore and underwent the BC a few days ago. I have very little hair right now and what I find amazing is the difference in reaction based on race. The white people that I work with all think that my short hair is amazing and I must say I agree. I think it brings out my features and highlights my amazing eyes. Black people on the other hand have not been so supportive barring a few natural haired friends here and there (Thank God for them). I was even laughed at by my black colleagues and asked why I didn’t have the decency to rock a wig, especially since I have the money and have an extensive wig collection anyway.
Instead of bracing myself for relaxer burns I am now just bracing myself for my ego to get burned by some of the mean comments coming from people. What I have to constantly remind myself is that their comments have nothing to do with me or how I look, it has everything to do with their own warped perceptions and insecurities. When I look in the mirror at my natural self I am content with what stares back and me so instead of absorbing other people’s baggage about natural hair I choose to remember that God made me this way for a reason and keep it moving.
i sould have posted my comment on this topic yesterday but was caught up with uni work.. first things first, i LOVE & ADORE this topic, glad you put this up for all the beautiful naturale women to discuss and share views on. i went natural 5 moths ago on the 17th of october 2012 and all along this was my dream to do so.. i was once natural growing up, my dad hated my mum relaxing me and my sisters hair but as we grew up the choice was ours to do what we wanted to it.. Influeced by the media and tv i was convinced that relaxed hair was the best (i am not bashig) but honestly my hair is much better now that im a natural head..
i remember the day i was going to the barbers to BC, my mum said "my baby are sure you want to do this?" and i responded "growing up you had a good looking afro & nana (my granny) always said, i dont think relaxed hair makes anyone look ay special and a atural head can be as gorgeous even though other people felt the opposite. so i wet and chopped pff my hair proudly and wore it beautifully even though i got negative commetnts like "you look weird or it doesnt suit you" but deep dow i knew they were just tryig to bring me down. after i left malawi (where im from) back to ireland, every body here loved the new look as they called it, but my explanation had nothing to do with the 'new look' that they called it.. my explanatio of being a nat head is i feel beautiful inside out with my natural look.. i went back to my motherland roots, to being a proud african.. i feel being natural you dont have to compete with anyone on how long your relaxed hair is.. you are at peace with breakage from relaxers or chemicals you used.. Natural hair boosted my confidence too, even in my very early days of the BC i felt beautiful despite the negative remarks.. i think i should reserve some comments for the next topic.. Thank you aisha for being an insiration.. xx #TeamNaturale..
PS. i plan on keeping my natural till the day i close my eyes for good..
Hey Jessica, I was so glad to see your comment! Thank you for your 2 cents and your story. We've all gone through it, the cycle of believing that relaxed hair was the best and only way to look beautiful. It's only when you begin seeing other beautiful, sexy, intelligent women out there who have natural hair that you begin thinking, maybe it's not just about having straight hair. And I totally relate on your TWA confidence boost thing. What I really noticed now is that I'm experimenting with my clothes more, I'm wearing bolder make up and really not being afraid of walking out of the house whichever way – be it without make-up or very glammed up. The reason? Because I was able to cut off my long relaxed hair into an almost bald style and the world didn't collapse. I think to myself, if I was able to go out with 2cm of hair and still feel cute, then I can do and wear ANYTHING! Thanks again for your comment and for supporting my blog 🙂
Great topic, Aisha!
I decided to go natural because my hair was so damaged from relaxers and braids. I was one of those girls that never let her hair be seen, not even my relaxed hair. I thought it was ugly and did not suit me to be honest. I’d had enough and shaved it all off one day, literally forcing myself to deal with my insecurities. No more head scarves, headbands, or wigs or extensions. Another deeper reason I decided to go natural is because I did not want to be a hypocrite to my future children. How could I tell them to love themselves as they are if I clearly didn’t?
I agree with some of the ladies above me; the media certainly dictates what we should all look like. We are constantly bombarded with messages via the media that tell us we must do something TO our hair, not WITH it. Growing up, I never saw anyone that looked like me on television or in magazines.
I believe we’re going through a second wave of appreciation of African beauty, the first one being right after the Civil Rights movement in the United States. Afros gained popularity in the 70s, but that died out very quickly once people couldn’t get jobs with hairstyles that were deemed political statements, untamed, with no place in the corporate world let alone the workplace. With the rise of social networks in the 21st century, the power is now in peoples’ hands. We can spread the word on how to manage natural hair; information that was pretty much non-existent for me as a young girl. We are witnessing a radical change in attitudes towards natural hair, and I am happy my daughter will grow up in a world where she will see people with beautiful Kipilipili hair like hers and her mamas .
Hey Liz, thank you for commenting and sharing your story. I totally agree with you. With this new age of information, we have the power to shift what our future children will be influenced by. The media is a powerful tool and if used correctly, can yield amazing results. As I said in my blog post thanking everyone for making my blog get to over 100k hits, I'm beyond honoured to be a part of this shift in mentality when it comes to natural hair. I'm praying that our children and their children will be able to wear their hair however they feel like and feel beautiful regardless. I'm so excited for my nieces and younger cousins and friends' daughters to see my hair and believing that they too can be beautiful. Even with kipilipili hair like ours! AMEN to that!!
Hey y'all. I'm from UG (East Africa) and 11 months post-BC. When I made the decision to go natural it was mainly because I realized my scalp was too sensitive for any kind of relaxer. My scalp always reacted in less than 5 minutes of the relaxer being applied…which was never enough time for my hair to 'get ready'. My hair-relaxing sessions were always unsuccessful, at the end of which, I would have a scalp full of fresh wounds and hair not even halfway-processed. Hairdressers would always make me change/'up' the brand of relaxers that I used but there was none that was gentle on my scalp. I just made up my mind one day and decided never to add chemical to my head.
When I had the big chop done, most people around me thought I looked pretty 'fresh' and for some reason, they assumed I would be keeping it short. When I showed signs of growing it out, suddenly their opinions changed. As one guy said to me, "Listen Penny, I understand that the recession hit every one, but not doing anything to your hair and trying to make it fashionable, is a futile attempt to me.". This is just one of the eyebrow-raising comments I receive. I have people asking when I'll be going to the salon to get my hair done. Or making jokes by asking how many combs I may have broken (which is two, in fact..lol..but that was before I learnt how to care for my "unmanageable" hair).
Sometimes I feel like holding a conference and trying to educate people that this is not merely about a look, it's a health decision I made. I do not despise women that have their hair relaxed but sometimes I wonder if some of them try to brave the excruciating pain of having their scalps burned, like I used to, just to get that society-accepted straight look.
As I mentioned in my reply to Eberiaxx's comment, it makes me so sad to read such ugly words that people have said to you. Many men don't understand the pains we women have to go through to get a look that's socially accepted and so feel they have a right to 'call out' any woman that chooses not to conform to those norms. I applaud you for putting your hair health first. We all go natural for different reasons. My hair was in shambles the last time I relaxed it and I had no idea it would lead me to this current state of mind. And those same people who are dissing you now will see your healthy hair and growth in a year's time and start praising you for it. I went from having 80% haters to 100% lovers of my hair and what I'm doing with it. You're a trailblazer, they just caught on yet 😉
I'm 6months post Bc.I cut my long relaxed hair for a different reason and growing a natural twa seemed like the next thing to do. But when my afro started to grow, abt 2-3month post bc, I was on skype with a close friend and he said the most shoking thing to me.. He was like 'babes, if you know what's good for you buy youself a wig and cover-up that hair so you can look good.' I paused for a while and thought "but I'm not bald, why should I depend on a wig to look nice" Now I understand where he is coming from. Its that subconscious acceptance of straight hair as good-looking. I wrote a whole article about it on my facebook and none of my friends have suggested a wig to me. My man is supportive (probably cos it we will save money as I dont buy extensions anymore.. Tho I buy so many products :p cos I'm still searching for 'the one'). Many people think of going natural as revolutionary but why should a black woman growing natural hair be revolutionary? Asian and Caucasian women do it all the time. I've realized that I'm this adult woman with very little knowledge on how to care for the hair I was born with. I follow your page and many others and I love what I'm seeing. Keep up the good work. Love ya.
My heart dropped when I read the comment from your friend. It's comments like those that are unwarranted and so painfully damaging. Many women wouldn't have handled it with your sense of maturity and confidence. It boggles me that people think they have a right to comment on our hair and suggest ways to 'fix' it…like something's wrong with it and we are walking around oblivious to 'the problem'. It's unfortunate that we, in 2013 still have such deep rooted issues with our hair. But the first way to rectify an issue is by addressing it head on and calling it what it is. Thanks so much for your input and thank you for supporting my blog.
Great post. I just located your blog and wished to let you know that I have certainly loved reading your blogs. At any rate I’m going to be subscribing to your feed and I really hope you are writing again soon.
Thank you for your comment and subscribing. I post on my blog several times a week with a variety of different topics 🙂
Have you ever watched a little girl screaming her lungs out in pain because you are trying to (as gently as you can)"comb"(and by that I mean fluff out a little) her natural hair? I have watched several little girls and I have been that little girl. My mother was a hair dresser so she knew hair. My brother had a huge bouncy afro till he was about 17-18. She had amazing hair in any style. She would relax it for 6 months and it would feel beautiful and silky then she'd cut it all off again and grow a natural afro (oh and would that afro grow) and it would be gorgeous!
I've been reading a couple of comments that dismiss the fact that natural hair comes in different textures. This is a fact and it cannot be dismissed some people have softer natural hair than others some have curlier natural hair than others. Our hair IS different. I have a friend who is South African and has the softest afro ever. Even after washing her hair and its shrunk down a little and her hair is dry she can run a comb through it without any pain.
I'm not saying there aren't any women who don't relax their kids hair due to the own insecurities or lack of knowledge, because there are. But there are also women who choose not to watch their child suffer incredible amounts of pain.
My mother (and I don't believe she is the only one)knew how to work with hair and knew the dangers of chemically treating hair. She tried for years to work with my natural hair and she had to listen to my screams everyday. Then I went to boarding school where no one understood my hair and as a result couldn't take care of it. My hair was ugly because it was uncombed and uncared for (relaxed or not your hair will look horrid if not looked after). Eventually she decided to relax my hair. Thank sweet Jesus for that day.
So its not out of pure laziness or desperation that all black mothers straighten their kids hair. Had my mother persisted in trying to keep my hair natural I would have grown to hate natural because I would associate it with pain. Instead now I just see it as one of many hairstyles that I can have. Like Uwase said its a choice. But its a choice I'm glad my mother made for me. Because when i came to a point in my life when I could decide what to do with my hair, I wasn't limited by a past pained experience. Celebrating natural hair does not mean making alternatives to natural a negative. Hair is hair and how one chooses to wear it is a choice and a preference
I've also been that girl. Screaming and crying when my mom sits me down to braid my hair for school the next week. My hair's broken many combs. I don't think that any of the comments here have dismissed the fact that natural hair comes in different textures. Instead, they've been more about appreciating and loving your natural hair no matte the texture. And that's one of the points of my post. Why do SOME women only love the natural hair that is silky and curly rather than kinky? It should be loved no matter what and understood that kinky hair has different needs so needs to be managed differently.
I get your point about how your mother persisted in trying to care for your natural hair and had she not relaxed it, you would've had a hate for you natural hair. And because your mom was a hair dresser, I'm sure she relaxed your hair and made sure to give it the proper after care that relaxed hair needs (regular treatments, steamimg etc.) However, unfortunately there are still lil' girls walking around with relaxed hair that isn't being taken care of. I'm talking about broken and receding hairlines, thinning hair and even little girls in weaves! While their mothers are looking quite nicely put together. Why? If you can't take care of your child's hair – relaxed or not – then find someone who can. A friend, a relative, a neighbour. If all else fails, perhaps keep it short. Better that than 'long' silky relaxed hair that's unhealthy.
I agree with you that celebrating natural hair doesn't mean making anything else a negative. Like I said in my post, I'm not bashing anyone who isn't natural. I wasn't natural two years ago. I'm definitely not in a place to look down on anyone who isn't and that's not what I'm doing. I'm just asking the question why we, as a community, seem to have such a mentality when it comes to hair.
I agree with Aisha in saying that there are a lot of black women out there who believe that their natural hair is ugly. I would say that there are fewer black women who feel comfortable rocking their natural hair than there are who don't.
I think that there is a stigma, especially here in S.A that rocking your natural hair is a poor person's hairstyle. There is a perception here that, if you can afford relaxer, a weave or braid extensions – why would you rock your natural hair? I have no problem with weaves or extensions but I feel that relaxer can be compared to that of skin lightening or skin bleaching creams.
For all you naysayers that are about to pound on your keyboards with an outburst of rage. Relax, pump your brakes. Let me explain…
There really is no need to reiterate the harsh chemicals found in both relaxer kits and skin bleaching creams. These are well-documented. The perception that existed here in S.A in the late 70s and 80s was that bleached (fairer skin as it was marketed) was more beautiful than that of darker skin.
Abraham and Solomon Krok, the skin-lightening twin brother tycoons, made their millions by selling these incredibly harmful skin products to black woman searching for fairer complexions. To my knowledge their products (or ingredients used in their products)
are now banned in South Africa.
My question is this. Why do skin bleaching creams get such a bad rep when relaxers don't? Both products permanently alter the appearance of black women, yet relaxer is widely accepted. Personally, I think that the only reason why relaxer doesn't have such a bad rep is because it is normalised in today's world just as skin bleaching was in the 70s and 80s. The fact is that relaxer should be banned or carry an age restriction of 18 years and up. Little girls, should not be chemically altering their hair texture because their mother's can't handle or manage it. Learn how to take care of your daughter's hair. By doing so, they can pass that knowledge down to their kids.
Kev are you saying that all black women relax their daughters hair because they dont want to take the time (or dont know how) to manage it?
Yes that is exactly what I am saying. Why would any sane mother that knows how to style, manage and take care of her daughter's natural hair permanently alter its texture with harsh chemicals?
It seems like an act of desperation to me.
I agree that you have to be very careful with what you do to your children's hair. More than it being convenient for the mother to relax her daughter's hair, you have to ask yourself what is the message that you're sending this child. There are obvious health implications from the begining, but later on in life after the mother stops styling the child's hair, there will be self esteem implications too. We need more confident, proud African young ladies in this world and less of the ones who feel that they need to over compensate for whatever reason. Please note that I'm in no way suggesting that women who relax their hair have low self esteem, I'm just saying that it's a personal choice that the woman should make for herself, not that a mother makes for her daughter. This is such an important conversation, thank you Aisha for initiating it.
@Kevin: Although blunt, you make some points that I have to agree with. In Tanzania, the mentality is the same; why 'struggle' with natural hair when you can afford to relax or weave it? And the dangerous chemicals in relaxers are things no one can deny. If that stuff can make you blind, burn your scalp etc. then there's no arguing that they are dangerous. Why would you subject your child to such harmful chemicals? If you don't know about it, that's one thing. But many educated mothers still do it…why?
@Uwase: Thanks for weighing in. And the point of the daughter making a decision for herself is key. I truly believe that too. I think she should make the decison at a time where she can herself take on the responsibilities of managing her relaxed hair too.
I personally think it has a lot to do with what the media dictates about beauty. If you Google the word beauty right now, mostly images of white women (with straight, long, wavy hair of course) will show up. These ideas of beauty have been implanted in our minds, directly or indirectly, for so long that it's hard to imagine any other kind of beauty – in this case natural beauty. As the world slowly loses its borders, especially on the information exchange front, ideas from societies/countries with the power, expertise and finances to do so, tend to dominate…everything. Think about the TV programs, magazines, music etc you consume on a regular basis. Count the number of Afros you've seen since Michael Jackson got a Jerry curl.
In short, there is little coming from people or societies who value things like natural beauty. We don't see enough people rocking natural hair – especially those with influence. We need this, if we want people to review/reconsider their ideas of beauty.
Yes it's all about choice, as Zuleika explained. As in we're no longer doing certain hairstyle to reflect our clan or our status in society – thank goodness. We're free to change our hair when we feel like it and however we want to. That's the beauty of 'African' hair – we can do so much with it and we should – if we want to. But our choices are often influenced by what we're exposed to everyday. You wouldn't know to wear a Jerry curl if you had never seen anyone with it. I believe that what you choose as a hair style is what you consider beautiful. So you have to ask yourself why you consider that particular style beautiful?
Unfortunately there is a lot of pressure on people not to be natural for various (mostly stupid) reasons depending on where you're from. We can't deny that it says a lot about how the world sees Africans/black people.
Hey doll, thanks for your two cents. I loved your response. Especially the point of how it says a lot about how the world sees us. As I replied to Zuleika, my issue isn't that there's still women relaxing their hair. It's the reasons why some do. And if they saw more women with hair similar to theirs, rocking it in ways other than relaxing, maybe they'll think theirs will be beautiful too. That's why I think it's important for little girls to be ale to see a variety of styles on the women she looks up to so that she knows when she grows up that there are many ways to wear her hair beautifully and natural is one of them.
Blown away by this – it’s heart felt and a stark realization. Why do we critique ourselves? Why do we define our natural hair as ugly?
I have been natural for 8+ years now ( lost count -old age catching up ) and dammit my hair is beautiful.
Put society and the media aside for a second – people are not comfortable with their natural look and there’s only so much blame we can place on “external pressure”. Being natural is more than just about the hair – I have found pride and comfort in my own skin, I adore my look and walk with sheer confidence . How many women can say this proudly?
My hair tells a story of it’s own and this is the one story I will proudly share with my kids…never conform to society norms, your beauty is not defined by the length of your hair or the straightness .
I was moved by this- “To truly appreciate beauty, you have to understand the design behind it…understanding what God considered beautiful.”
This made me laugh, I was in stitches – “you are from East Africa, you hair is different” fall back people and start looking after your own hair.
P.S I LOVE YOUR HAIR!!!!
Thanks Nthasi and I agree with you on the 'external pressure' point. It's the only reason why I felt so low 3 months post BC. I was happy and fine with my decision until everyone else had something to say about it. It's not easy and unfortunately we don't all live on islands so we do have to deal with other people's opinions and comments.
For some reason internet explorer wont let me open your site anymore so I have decided to comment here, cause I feel very passionate about this article. let me start with saying that the premise to the question is incorrect. i don't think that my natural hair is ugly and unkempt. is it course, hard and incredibly difficult when it feels like it? YES! But I don't hate it. My hair is like and accessory or make up or even clothing items. I wear it the way that it will look best for me at the time. I CHOOSE to wear blue eye liner because I like the way it makes my eyes pop, but that doesn't mean I hate my eyes without make up. There are certain items that would make my body look horrific in them because of my body type and shape. This is the same for hair. I have had my hair natural and at the time I liked it, when I felt it was time to change I took a tub of relaxer and straightened it because it worked for me at that time. When I felt like a change recently I went and got the cutest pixie cut, and this works for me now.
What I am saying is that just because I choose to have short straightened hair it doesn't mean that I think my own hair is ugly or that I think that straight silky hair is beautiful. My hair is an extension that I can play with and cloy to change my look as and when I feel. My hair is kinky and curly and hard naturally, but my eyebrows are also bushy and curly, my lips are not a shocking shade of red or a soft rosy pink naturally, my nails are clear and pretty brittle naturally and my lashes are not long and thick naturally. but when I wake up in the morning with none of these things, I don't think of myself as ugly. I see a canvas waiting to be played with, toyed with and explored. my hair forms a part of that canvas. In four months time I may not be feeling the pixie cut and I may get a weave. In two years time I may be over my hair being straight and leave it to grow naturally. I may let it grow like a crazy wild mane, or contort it in various incredible ways. (I apologise for the generalisation that is about to come, but) The next time you see a girl with straightened hair and she is raging on about how soft and beautiful it is, don't feel sorry for her for thinking that she thinks her natural hair is ugly, rather celebrate with her at the endless possibilities that await her hair. Long, natural, straightened, coloured, bleached crimped, permed, left to blow in the wind (or not as with my natural hair) or tied in a tight bun, she took God's perfect creation and had a little bit of fun with it. Why not?
Thank you for that input and you make very good and valid points. I like what you said about taking God's creation and having some fun with it. I agree, we do that every time we put on make up and experiment with our clothes. Perhaps my post wasn't clear enough to point out that I'm not bashing anyone who chooses to wear her hair relaxed or straight. And I definitely don't 'feel sorry' for her when I see her. That's her choice and right as a woman to wear it the way she feels most comfortable. I'm also not saying that EVERY woman who does so hates her natural hair. There are many reasons why women wear their hair a certain way but unfortunately there are women who aren't natural because they think it's ugly and there's many of them. That term (ugly) is not something I'm assuming. The title of the post is a summation of words I've heard others use to describe natural African hair. I've heard it, been in discussions about it and I was one of those women once upon a time. So I'm challenging that particular mentality. I know you're confident in yourself and how you choose to wear your hair is a reflection of that. But there are women out there who don't feel that way, and my post was an attempt at a starting point to uncover why that's so. The opinions I expressed in my post are based on my experiences and my curiosity as to how many (note: not all) Black women have a negative relationship with their hair. And if I, a woman who used to think that natural is unattractive and messy, could change my opinion and mentality completely, maybe those women who still think negatively can to and finally embrace their hair for what it is. So, I'm glad you weighed in on my post as I'd like to get as many opinions on this. It's a set of questions I'm putting out there and I know some people will agree or disagree, that's the beauty of a discussion 🙂
@Zuileka Hey chick.
I don't think you understand what Aisha is saying. You making it sound as though she is "HATING" on girls with straight hair. No, she is merely asking why is it that black women do not like their natural hair and consider it as ugly? And I agree with her.
Yes you are right have fun with your hair, chop it, bleach it, burn it whatever – but the idea is to appreciate your natural hair first.
So are you plannig on staying natural forever? I'm thinking of chopping my hair again and starting over, my friends at work think I should – but I'm just so attached to my locks #sigh!
I don't know whether I'm gonna stay natural forever or not. I just plan on taking it as it comes. When I cut my hair three months ago, I told myself that I'd stick it out for a year and see how it goes. Like I said before in my previous comment, I had negative feelings towards my short natural hair in the beginning, but I really am growing to like it. I think I definitely want to stick it out for more than a year, the My Fro & I blog has inspired me a lot. It has taught me to love my hair.
With regards to cutting your lock off and starting over, I think you should follow your heart. It shouldn't be about what your friends think, it should be about how you feel. In the end it's your hair on YOUR head. Cut your locks off if you want to, not because others feel that you should.
I think the point that I am trying to make is that this cannot be a one sided discussion to such a big and complex issue.
Firstly: The point that Aisha raises in her original article is that there are some women who think natural hair is ugly. I do not dispute this point, but I also dont think the original post highlights the fact that its not all women who have relaxed hair that think this way.
Secondly: I have encountered many natural haired women who feel that if you're not natural then you have some deep seeded self hatred. I think its equally important to question why those women have a need to "convert" everyone else.
Thirdly: Yes some women say they have "ugly" natural hair but if you listen carefully to what they say after, what they(some not all) really mean is that they have difficult natural hair.
@Nthasi: What would you define as appreciating my natural hair?
Lastly, I have noticed that some natural haired girls identify with their hair as more of a show of identity rather than "just hair" or simply what looks good on that particular person. There is nothing wrong with identifying with your hair as part of what and who you are, BUT that value system shouldnt be blanketed on everyone
Hi again, as mentioned in my previous response, I did say that it was some women (including my former self) who hate natural hair. And by saying so, it implies that it's not all relaxed women who think this way. I asked the question "Why is it that so many of us don't know or are reluctant to learn how to care for our hair?" That question doesn't at all talk about ALL women. Additionally, as valid as some of your points are, I feel like you're moving away from the topic of discussion. I feel that the issues you bring up are not completely related to the question I asked and is pushing for the topic to be moved elsewhere before getting to the bottom of this initial question. The fact that some natural haired women 'look down' on relaxed women is something that bothers me too. But in no way was this post instigating that. That is another topic and can always be discussed some more in the future.
Granted the points I make move from this discussion to another. But I also think it's irresponsible not to look at the other side of the coin. To question only why women relax their hair and only focus on the negative side can start the bashing of choice. To ask the question of why some women hate their natural hair and not allow the question of why some natural haired women feel a need to impose natural hair on others also leads to bashing. I think these are all areas of debate that stem from the questions you asked and they should be raised from the source. If we discuss they misinformed perceptions on natural hair then should we not discuss the mis informed perceptions on straight hair? This is one of many discussions that come from the questions you asked and I think that this is the perfect place to raise them. Because yes the questions you ask may not yet be answered but maybe in looking at the whole in parts we'll get to the answers for the questions you pose. I just think it's a dangerous line to take to only consider one side of the debate without even mentioning the other
Zuleika,let's put it like this: there are women that hate their natural afro -textured hair, and there are women that don't, BUT there are MORE women who do than there are who don't. Case in point, look around you. More women wear perm or weaves than they do their natural hair. That's why the discussion needs to tend more towards the 'haters'.
That said, hi Aisha! 🙂 I'm Lyn, Kenyan born & bred, & been natural for 1.5 months. How has it been? AWESOME! I love my hair! Then again, I always have.Before, I had long, gorgeous, stress-free perm hair that everyone loved, and I chose to chop it all off, for spiritual reasons. To my surprise, everyone loves it! So the concept of people hating their natural hair is a little foreign to me, & I only noticed it as I've been reading up on natural afro-hair. This conversation is necessary, & my two-cents is this; the biggest issue for many afro girls is the manageability of their hair. The lady who chopped my hair told me I would 've back soon to relax the hair coz I wouldn't be able to manage it. This perception, in my opinion, is the reason many ppl take the relaxer route. An attitude change towards managing our natural hair needs to happen if our afro sisters are to stop 'hating' their hair. In my opinion.
In other news, I love your 30-Days-of-Updos 🙂
Hey Sheri Lyn! Thanks for weighing in on my post. I totally agree with you that we need to change our perceptions of our hair from being 'unmanageable' to being totally manageable…if you put the time and effort to learn to do so. For me, it's as simple as that. Just like anything else that's new, having natural hair after years of relaxing is a huge learning curve. I think that as adults, we should try and realise that it's only 'unmanageable' because we're unfamiliar with it. Once we take the time and put in the energy to learn how to care for our hair, 'unmanageable' is a word we'll slowly stop using. Thanks again for your comment 🙂
its amongst the BLACK PEOPLE. we torture ourselves so much, we look at someone with a bit of curls or waves or soft hair and think "they got it easier than the 4c hair"! its so draining .when i first BC, one of my brother in law (black guy) says to me "who died? are a widow?" i said NO! he said "why did you cut all that hair to keep such CROOSE hair?" and all i did was smile and walked away. (sigh)
the week before that, we had dinner at my other brother inlaw(caucasian) he looked at me coming towards him and he said "wooohoo, love the hair cut, you stunning with SHORT hair" (im guessing he didnt notice the CROOS'NESS??) dont get me wrong, i understand that there so many black men out there that love us more natural and modest than the contrary…but it pisses me off that our black brothers and sisters are so focused on textures more than how well the person takes care of their hair!
even talking to my husband about natural hair, i feel like he appreciates it more than i do(frizzy,shrinkage, takes forever to detangle etc…) yet he is Caucasian too. other race dont even notice our hair as much as we do!they dont even differentiate our coarse textures as much we do to each other…. with some of my cousins they would say stupid things like "well your hair is not like ours so you can go natural"… seriously? my colleagues of other race dont see my hair as natural/coarse/soft/curly/kinky hair, they just see "a new hair cut and well maintained" but my black colleagues……? smh…black people in general need to stop this!!
Thanks for commenting Fantagiaah! And it's sad but true that the hatred is usually from our on people, that's where we learn it from. I've head people blame whites and say our hair hatred it started in slavery and continued into colonisation etc. but it's 2013. We are free and we have the power to change how we see and speak to each other. Why do some people feel they have the right to say something ugly about you and your appearance? Especially when it comes to hair? The natural hair love, that has to start with us.
So true Aisha. I used to think I look ugly in short natural hair. I've totally grown to love my natural look. It wasn't easy chopping all my hair off, but I did it and I'm happy. Three months down the line and I'm noticing a significant growth and change. My hair is stronger and richer without all the relaxing. So proud of myself and thank you so much for all the suport! African women should love their hair the way it is. There is absolutely nothing wrong with our natural hair. I'm trying to enstill the same mentality to my 18 year old sister.
Hey Solo. You have no idea how glad I am to hear you're getting more comfortable with your short hair and see beauty in it. It's a learning curve and it's more difficult for others to go through it. but once you see that life goes on whether you have a relaxer or not, it really helps to get you out of that mentality.
I big chopped over 32months ago but ima keep it real me and my hair fought and fought and fought for 2,5 years BUT I didnt give up on her and she didnt give up on me because she kept growing outta my scalp no matter how many times I misunderstood her. 3months ago after using gel for the first time i realised I had little curls and waves, what a surprise! Point is, breaking the psychological barrier is harder than most presume but I know how steep the learning curve was for me so I'm a little patient with our black sisters.
It's true, some women take longer to break out of that barrier than others. And not to say that every woman who isn't natural is under any barrier. Just speaking about the ones who hate natural hair and think it's ugly. Lol, I also (still) have fights with my hair but I don't take it as seriously as I used to. Sometimes she does her own thing and it actually looks nicer than what I had originally planned!
Wowwwww, simply true and forthcoming! You manage to put so many of my feelings and people insecurities about my own hair into the perfect paragraphs. I am month 2 post my BC,And I would say am finally getting used to my hair for what it is. My mom, co-workers for the most part hates it. Telling me why u cut all that hair only to grow a nappy afro? I am loving the freedom of not having these chemicals on my hair and I look forward to my new journey of being comfortable in the skin that God gave me. I thank u for your kind words
Hi Sherley, thanks for your comment. Good for you for sticking it out despite the negative reactions you're getting. I also got that when I was 3 months post BC and felt quite crappy about myself. But the same people who didn't react well to it are now praising me and my hair, lol. And you said it perfectly: it's about the freedom. I feel so free it's unbelievable.
Wow! Thank you Aisha…. Im newly natural (2 months/6 months post relaxer) and you could not have put it in any better way than you did. I had gotten so used to relaxing my hair that the moment i had new growth i had to "fix" it! How crazy is that… I would get compliments on how "coloured" my hair looked and how people would "wish to have your hair". I felt like i had a reputation to uphold…. Like people would not like me if.my hair wasn't shiny or flat ironed. So I just want to say THANK YOU TO WOMEN LIKE YOU Aisha!!!!
Thanks for weighing in Zingisa. It's really sad how skewed our thinking is. I think it's one of those things that you have to just do you and eventually others will catch on to that.