Your Hair and Him...

Renata writes:


I haven't permed since July because I know this natural journey is definitely one in which I am ready to embark.
Unlike your hair story, however, I do not have a supportive partner...well, he is generally supportive of me, but in the hair department he's really not.
About 6-7 months ago I chopped off 8 inches of relatively healthy relaxed hair into an angled bob because I had a 5 month old daughter at the time and was getting trapped in ponytail land.
I wanted to look like a hip, fashionable mom, not a carpool mom, so I chopped it and 2 months later chopped off another 3-ish inches and got highlights.
Loved the look...until it came time for me to wash it myself and to style, which always included the blowdryer and my trusty CHI.
Anyway, I'm a graduate of a prestigious historically black college and somehow managed to miss the hair epiphany in college...well, now it has hit me hard and my husband has no earthly idea why I'd want to walk around with my hair "undone". He thinks I'm going through some kind of phase or post-partum psychosis (my daughter just turned 1 last month).
Do you have any advice on what I should do (or not do) to help him see the light and the beauty of natural hair?
I really want to feel confident that he's going to find be beautiful going through the rest of the transition and the ultimate BC...
Thanks!

Renata,

Husbands and SO's can definitely be a tough issue to contend with, especially if they're not on board. The mental and physical changes you go through during a transition is hard for you, but sometimes the change is even more difficult for your partner. Some people just resist change (no matter what it is), while others may actually be contending with their thoughts on what beauty is, and what it isn't ('white girl flow' versus 'short and nappy'). We've all fallen victim to it... we're products of our society. But you have to remember that he hasn't been on the net, researching, meeting and viewing pics of gorgeous naturals, and consuming tons of information about the dangers of relaxers and freedoms of natural hair. When he sees how confident you are in it (easier said that done in the beginning--trust me), and just how chic and beautiful natural hair can be (instead of that homely or dashiki wearing stereotype he's harboring) he'll come around. Educating him on the 'movement' itself will help too. We're not losing our minds, going through a phase, dealing with post-partum depression, or even making a political statement. This is a reclaiming of our beauty...and reclaiming of our health. We are simply learning to care for and maintain our hair in it's natural state--styling and enhancing it without excessive manipulation.
With all that said, give him some time (he needs time to mentally transition too), and educate him if he's willing to listen. In the meantime, work on developing inherent self-esteem (by dispelling negative thoughts...if you want more info on that email me!), and your beauty will shine through.

I'm going to turn this over to the readers. Some of them may actually have experience in dealing with a resistant mate, and advice on how to get them to come around! Help her out ladies!

21 Weigh in!:
Anonymous said...

I met my SO after I BC'd and over these past months I've had to educate him on my decision. I think it's our responsibility to inform but at the same time don't feel like it's your responsibility to change a person's cognitive framework completely. I think my SO just loves long hair so he's waiting for my hair to grow out (as am I) meanwhile I'm loving having short hair since I've always had long hair. Your husband may need time to adjust to seeing you with short hair but give him time he'll come around and if not make sure you still rock your hair with confidence because that is a trait that everyone finds irresistible! Also, perhaps to soften the impact you may want to tell him when you're going to BC and try to incorporate him in the experience (maybe helping you out with the edges, etc.). In the end, remember that you're doing this for you so embrace your decision and love yourself for choosing this wonderful option.

Anonymous said...

I was talking about the movie "Good Hair" with my SO yesterday and we discussed the option of relaxing for our daughter in the future. He mentioned that she should have the option to relax once she turns 16 years old as a rite of passage so to speak. I on the other hand, who BC'd in May thought that she may thank me for not letting her relax her hair but using other methods of straightening if desired until she left my house. He thought that was too harsh of a stance "especially since she's going to relax anyway." We have a long way to go ladies with our SO's and husbands because for some relaxed hair is all they know or care to know and they believe wearing your hair in its natural state is an alternative option when it should be the other way around. Education and change starts with us embracing our own perceptions of beauty and manageability and learning how to love and care for our own hair, all textures.

MsTriniRi said...

I would not let your SO's current opinion dictate whether or not you continue with your journey. Remember that almost all of us women had to go through a mental transition before we did the physical one. I remember going to a student group discussion when I was a sophomore in college 7 years ago discussing natural vs. relaxed hair, and my (uneducated) stance was 180 degrees opposite to what it is now. Your mate will need to make the mental transition as well. Whether he does or not is really up to him and how willing he is to try to see your perspective. I would actually take him to see "Good Hair". I saw it at a screening in DC a couple weeks ago attended by Chris Rock and Nia Long, and I can tell you that it was educational in showing just how dangerous sodium hydroxide is. I have my own issues with the movie as I'm sure many naturalistas will attest to once they see it, but that was one good part of it. Don't let his current opinion deter you from your journey!

MissCurly said...

I know exactly what your going through cause I'm in a similar situation. My SO only likes my hair straight. Whenever I wear it curly he says I look like a little girl. It can be frustrating getting negative feedback while your trying to embrace your natural hair. Currently I put myself on a bun challenge until December and he was definately not happy about that becuz he loves touching my hair. Finaly I explained to him the damage that blow dryers and heat does to my hair. I had to put it plain to him like... it's either wear my hair curly and healthy or blow dry my hair to death and end up bald lol. It sounds funny but he is finally starting to get the point and come around.

I think we have to make up our minds to wear our natural hair and be proud eventually people will have no choice but to come around. If the people in your life love and care about you then they will support your choice on how you want your hair.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you believe in God or not but I know that The Holy Spirit will change a heart of stone. If you believe in God, take advantage of that and cry out to him and trust be He'll make the change. Don't over push him because that will freak him out. Good luck and I'll def be praying. Have a great day.

Anonymous said...

i could have written this post! i have a 2 yr old & a 5 mth old. i started transitioning 6 mths ago & my SO at first thought i was being hormonal. i have very long, thick healthy hair. i have always gotten compliments on how gorgeous it is, but i've always wondered "what does my REAL hair look like?" so i decided to transition. he thinks natural hair is "homely". it's very hard some days because you do want your SO to think you're beautiful. also, my 2 babies are both girls & i have no intention of relaxing their hair.

Miss Tasha said...

Not with an SO but with my mother. She called my hair "ghetto" and "nappy" and she'd force her hands through it (knowing they weren't gonna run smoothly through there lol), would grab it, pull it and tug on it to reinforce to me without saying "I don't like your hair." Now, whenever I blow my hair out and she sees my hair sans shrinkage, she grows a big smile on her face because she sees how long it's gotten in such a short period of time. My mother relaxes and her hair grows extremely slow, I've never seen her hair past her shoulders ever. Me and my sister (although we have different fathers) have both experience hair past our shoulders. While my sister still relaxes, she frequently cuts her hair and keeps it short, she no longer likes to wear her hair long. I've been trying to talk her into going natural (I believe without a perm she'd be a wavy 3b) but she's not sure. However, that talk didn't come cross too well with my mom. I try not to be disrespectful to my mother but I politely tell her that it is MY HAIR. At the end of the day, I care for it and maintain it and I LOVE IT.

Moni said...

Like Miss Tasha, I haven't had any issues with my SO (he's loved my hair from the day that started transitioning), but with my mother. She hated my hair when I first BCed. Told me it look dry, that my wash and go's looked messy, etc. Therefore, I was shocked when she came to visit me this summer and told me my puff looked nice. Not a T&C, not an elaborate set, but a simple puff. The difference is that my hair is now a lot longer and also that I've learned how best to take care of my hair, so that it looks strong and healthy.

I know it seems impossible now, but one day your hubby may surprise you by saying he likes your hair. In the meantime, try and reach a compromise about your hair that isn't damaging (ie straightening all the time). If it's length that he's worried about maybe you could wear extensions for part of the time. Maybe he's worried that you're only going to be able to wear a fro. Show him all the beautiful options for natural hair. Remember that natural is a texture, not a style, and that there are tons of styles that you can do with natural hair. Let him feel your soft new growth. Let him know about the potential "personal" benefits (ie he can touch your hair when you get it on and you'll be more relaxed about showering together). Show him pictures from this blog and other sites of women rocking their natural hair proudly and confidently. Le coil is another great site for natural hair pictures. Let him know of the potential health benefits and benefits for both your and your daughter's self esteem. Ask him if he'd like your baby to grow up thinking she's inferior because her hair isn't straight or that she has to change herself permanently to be acceptable. Finally, remind him of the old saying: If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all. Don't let him tear you down for wanting to wear your hair the way it grows out of your head. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I am grateful that my husband excepts my natural. He saids it shows my inner and outer beauty. Some of family still has a hard time excepting it. I love it and makes me feel so free!

Anonymous said...

Preach Nikki!

Anonymous said...

My husband is very supportive of my natural hair. He was the one that encouraged me to go ahead and do the BC when I was tired of the two textures while I was transitioning. We have even talked about if we have a daughter, we will not relax her hair and teach her to love her natural self and embrace her natural hair.

Anonymous said...

I completely understand what your going through. I have been transitioning since April 09'. My husband told me flat out he was not going to be seen with me or take me out in public if I cut all my hair off and he told me more than one occasion to "just perm it already" I have held steadfast, shown him pictures of natural women everywhere (on the internet, magazines, T.V) ect... and re-enforce to him the beauty of being natural. I have consistently told him how much it means to me, my experiences with relaxers and my love and desire to be natural. He is one who hates change but believe it or not he has come around. I made a deal with him that once my natural roots grows another 1 1/2 - 2 inches, which will be approx. by the end of the year, I will do the BC. On top of that, he's is really enjoying my transition styles, which has really warmed him up. So my advice is hang in there continue to stay firm, ignore the negative comments, continue to educate, stay excited about your decision and any nah-sayers will come around. Now both my mother and my aunt are inspired to go natural...

Anonymous said...

My SO is white. We have been together for almost 2 years and the whole time I have been natural. It has not been an easy journey with him when it comes to my hair...he's never dated a black girl before and is used to that "white girl flow" and prefers long hair. My hair is past my shoulders but of course he does see this because of my fierce shrinkage. In the beginning he asked me a lot about wearing a wig or weaves, or straightening my hair like "other black girls". Sometimes it would really hurt my feelings and make me feel unattractive. He doesn't make those kind of comments anymore, but he rarely gives me compliments on my hair.

I try not to let this bother me, and I have attempted to educate him more about my natural hair and the pitfalls of relaxers. It is hard sometimes though because, I want my SO to be attracted to all of me and hair is such a big part of a woman's identity. Especially for black women. But no matter what, I am going to keep rockin my hair natural in my twists (which he really doesn't like!) or whatever style and just do me.

Anonymous said...

some black men but not all are just so used to the relaxed hair ,its all they know (just like we were until we found out the truth) give him some time to get used to you with your natural as time goes on and you learn how to do your hair i think he will come around. Its hard especially in the beginning but it will get better.you can always count on us to encourage you.Dont give in you deserve to wear yor hair natural if you want to.I am not saying dont think about his feelings because thats important .Tell him to give you some time to get it together .Once you get the hang of it you will look fabulous and he will love the new you! DONT GIVE UP !IT TAKES TIME,BUT ITS SOOOO WORTH IT!

Anonymous said...

Thank you everyone for your comments and for sharing your experiences with me. I think I will sit down with him sometime this weekend and go through some of the blogs I frequent (especially this one). Hopefully he will start to think positively about this adventure in our lives! Has anyone seen "Good Hair" yet? If so, do you think seeing that together will spark a useful, positive conversation between me and my DH?
Renata

Anonymous said...

I would definitely ditto other poster's comments about explaining why going natural is so important to you and showing him pictures of other natural beauties. Also, maybe you should consider transitioning for a longer period of time. I know that it can be tedious to continue waiting for the BC but it is an option. I have been transitioning for 7 months. In the beginning, I thought that I would transition for one year and then do my BC but I have changed my mind. I am going to transition for a longer period of time while doing mini BCs. There was a spotlight on this website not too long ago about a girl that transitioned for about 2 years. I am anxious to be totally natural but I am not comfortable with the length of my new growth, especially in its shrunken state and I am enjoying my transition styles. Good luck. I hope that you stick with it.

Anonymous said...

At first my husband was strictly against me getting the BC. It helped to show him pictures of women who have done it...styles you can do with natural hair, etc. I even let him do my trims while I was transitioning. We then started to do research together...he'd point out people with natural hair and then he started to fall in love with it.

Well, yesterday he told me that I could get it cut. Today, I'm rocking a TWA!

Anonymous said...

My SO is white and he and I have been together for 5 years and where friends for 2 additional years. Until I made the decision to transition to natural in July '09, all he has seen is my relaxed hair(I felt too self conscious to wear my hair natural). In all the time that he has known me, he always suggested to me that I wear my hair in its natural state. He says that he always thought that women should work with what they were born with and that he thought black women with big, natural hair are really sexy.
I was always the one who resisted because I was afraid of anyone seeing how my natural hair looked. Throughout this transition, he has always shown his support. I allow him to touch the natural hair that is growing out of my scalp since he had never touched natural hair before. I even let him make suggestions about how I should style my hair. There are a few moments in the last few weeks where I was ready to reach for the relaxer, but he has taken on the responsiblilty of keeping me on the path that I chose.
I know that for most people, myself included, there is a great deal of fear of the unknown. For me, my greatest fear is what my natural hair will look like after I BC. I think for most men, the reason why they resist it when their SO decides to go natural, is because they just don't know what to expect. By making them part of the process that you are going through, maybe they will come around and realize that natural hair really isn't bad at all.

dajewel1982 said...

ummm, Moni, i am sorry, but why should you "compromise" the integrity/health of your God-given hair to appease a man???? I am sorry, but I am going to call a duck when is a duck...and that is some bull...

Bianca said...

I'm married to a Black Man. He doesn't like my hair either. But hey, one day he'll get over it!

Samantha said...

This is a response to Renata's comment made on Oct 10:

Yes. I think you should watch Good Hair with him. If anything it will express the detriment of relaxing hair. That it is not only a process that damages hair, but skin, scalp, and respiration. The choice to quit relaxing is the choice to reclaim your health through your hair.
Watching that Documentary could very well be a step on the journey to understanding better.

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