Matter of Opinion... or Just Ig'nant?


by Noni of Three Naturals

My journey to natural has been an interesting one. I’m sure I’m not alone in that. I found that during this process, along with the kinks in my hair, I grew another layer of skin (a layer of the tougher variety).

Here are some excerpts from the screenplay of my natural hair journey to date:

“I liked your hair better when it was straight”

“This short afro is not my favourite on look on you”

“So when are you gonna get your hair back to normal?”

“The lady asked me if you model and I said no, how could she with her hair shaved off like that”

“Oh, is that how you’re going, with your hair like that?”

“I don’t usually like women with hair this short”

“I think men are just naturally attracted to straight long hair… even if a man grew up only seeing women natural, when he got older he’d want the one with the straight hair”

“here’s your ticket sir…” (ummm, yup, so not funny at the time)

Sound harsh? Sound familiar? Make you think, “dang people can be so ig’nant”?
As I dug up these stashed memories I realized that yes, we all have the capacity to be ignorant and hurtful sometimes. But, ignorance really is a matter of a lack of knowledge. It’s a matter of not seeing or understanding.

If you’ve heard one of the above comments recently or a long time ago and it cut you deep please don’t be like me and hold on to them. See them for what they are and let them roll off your back. It’s like me saying to an astrophysicist “you sure you want to submit that calculation with that poor penmanship?” WTH?!

As you write the screenplay of your natural hair life recognize the difference between informed and ignorant. Appropriately file the ig’nant in the trash and give the “sometimes I secretly watch your hair when you’re not looking and I drool… just a bit” a place on the highlight reel.

39 Weigh in!:
Anonymous said...

I have heard several of these comments and ONLY from black men. I really dont care beacuse I feel better and sexier than ever. I define my standard of beauty so F'kem! LOL

Anonymous said...

Wow! I've experienced many of the same comments! It really is shocking to hear, especially from an African American male. I've been told that I'd look better if my hair were straight. The gall on that guy! They buy into that "straight-hair" beauty without realizing that the hair that grows from their scalp is curly/kinky/ whatever and not luxiouriously straight. I've been natural a little over a year now, and I've since learned to let those comments slide off of my curly coils!

Anonymous said...

The only comment I heard "you look prettier with straight long hair" was from my cousin(girl). It didn't bother me because I LOVED my hair. And I also know she has issues with her hair and skin color, so I wasn't about to make her issues my issues.
Now she calls me all the time to ask me advice on how to care for her daughter's natural hair. Her daughters want their hair like my.

Anonymous said...

or.... perhaps your best look isn't your natural look. this happens every day, every where all over the world to people who are racially different from us. aside from the 2nd to last and the 3rd one, these comments are not inherently self- hating, caustic, ignorant statements. Some of us look better in spanx, some don't; some look better with honey blond highlights, and for others our best color is our natural one; people tan, highlight, cut, lengthen themselves and their hair every day-- doing so is not an indicator or self hate or reject-- it just is. i completely understand our emphasis on our acceptance of our unique, racial characteristics [as it should be] but doing so does not mean every other opinion or statement that is not about loving natural hair on someone is a declaration of hate. it's not.

Anonymous said...

"or.... perhaps your best look isn't your natural look"

I see what you are saying but I have issues with this. Yes, we all enhance our natural selves, makeup, working out, wearing heels, wearing bras but it isn't or shouldn't be because are natural self is less than or not good enough.

There is too much subtext re:afro textured hair for it to ever just be about the superficials.

Too often it is about our natural, ethnic selves not being "our best look" or good enough.

Natural hair is not spanx, a bra, or basic grooming. It is a part of who we are. Hopefully, in time it will become that but for someone to say "natural isn't your best look" is just, disturbing and little (self)hateful.

A natural STYLE may not be your best look but natural always is.

Jessica said...

Honestly, being natural was the one thing I did in my life and do not give a hoot what people think. I have gotten both positive and negative comments. The negatives never get my full attention or get me thinking. I feel like what I am doing with myself is not really their concern anyways. If they are that invested then they must be bored. Power to all the naturals and how beautiful they look. There is no way to please everyone so just make sure you are pleasing yourself.

Prinie said...

It's both. People have opinions based on their ignorance. Just keep moving. We all have opinions of some sort.

Anonymous said...

I can definately agree with this post. Just recently I straightened my hair (the first time in months) in order to get a much needed trim. I had someone say
"Your hair looks nice. I like it better that way."
True everyone is entitled to their opinion, but yet I would have prefered she left it at
"Your hair looks nice."

SunnyGrl said...

I think it is ignorance. Of course, one can have a bad hair day, or not know how to style one's hair, but that is a whole different ball park.

I think that the more women rock their natural hair and look fabulous at it, the more people will get over the ignorant mindset that has been pumped into their heads since their mother sat them in between their knees and complained about what a "nappy mess" their hair is as they hurt them trying to "detangle" their hair.

I don't think its self hate, I think its mindwashed ignorance bred from ignorance bred from techniques adopted to survive in a society prejudiced against all things black.

I say, keep doing you and being beautiful. The more people see beautiful women with natural hair, the more minds will be reset.

Anonymous said...

The way I see it, black woman have been hated on since forever and we will continue to be hated on for no fault of our own.

We are finally coming to our senses and embracing who we naturally are. Haters be dam###!

Anonymous said...

ignorance... i have breakage in the front part of my head thanks to an uncle who thought it was "cute" to yank my hair and then go on a rant about how back in the day i would be getting my kinks pressed out....i had my hair was pinned and he yanked it so hard the pins snapped my hair. 3 months later and my hair is still recovering...

Anonymous said...

*i hair out in the back and pinned up in the front and he yanked it....

Anonymous said...

During the summer time I wear my hair curly and when it gets cold I straighten it. As soon as I start rocking the straight look I get those comments "I like the straight hair better." I sometimes tell them I like both and in order to preserve my hair I can't straighten my hair every day. It's not too much of an issue for me but people like to tell you what they think even though you didn't ask them and as if what you think doesn't matter.

Jas

Anonymous said...

"or.... perhaps your best look isn't your natural look"

That's kind of like saying your natural eye color or skin tone doesn't look good on you.

That's a moronic statement to me.

Anonymous said...

If I don't go around telling folks 'i like that dress on you Aunty, it holds your jelly belly in nicely' or 'I'm glad you shaved your head, dude-you were starting to look like Buckwheat/or that big ugly dude from The Roots'--then I won't accept anyone making ignant comments to me about my natural hair.

I understand some people regard it as just letting it slide cuz sticks and stones, etc-. But if you make a rude comment to me, I'm going to tell you about yourself. I just think it's another example of women (in general, not just Black) being expected to tolerate crap from everyone, including women who might be jealous.

And the young lady above whose uncle snatched her hair- she should have slapped the tar out of him, see how funny that would be.

Anonymous said...

I dont care what anybody thinks. Darn if I do, darn if I dont. If I wear my hair straight they complain, if I wear it natural they complain. So I do me.

And to the lady above who's uncle yanked her hair, He would have had to yank my foot from his behind (Said Nicely) after he yanked my hair. Homie dont play that.

Anonymous said...

You just have to get used to it because it will ahppen for the rest of our lives regarding something or another. It's how people are. They think without talking and I know make comments like that regarding something else to others and might not know it.

I used to get really, really stupid, ignorant, insulting comments when I lost weight and when I was unemployed for a period of time and it was just the same. It just solidified the fact that people can be inconsiderate idiots.

I know it will take time but I know I will get to the place where I love my hair and that's all that matters.

Anonymous said...

"And the young lady above whose uncle snatched her hair- she should have slapped the tar out of him, see how funny that would be."

oh yeah, telling someone to slap their own uncle is solid advice *sarcasm*

Anonymous said...

"I think that the more women rock their natural hair and look fabulous at it, the more people will get over the ignorant mindset that has been pumped into their heads since their mother sat them in between their knees and complained about what a "nappy mess" their hair is as they hurt them trying to "detangle" their hair."

I 1,000% agree with this. Already see it happening...although there will still be people that never like it but oh well!

Hershe_82 said...

I have to honestly admit, (possibly because my circle is pretty small), I've yet to feel the negative treatment from me choosing to wear my hair natural. My husband had no qualms (he actually adores my afro). I often hear people say there is alot of negative backlash especially within certain jobs because they believe straight hair is the "appropriate" look for a professional black woman. I've never settled for exactly what society says is the norm. I love my hair; every kink, curl and coil, and nobody can take that from me.

Anonymous said...

I'm anon 5:31 pm responding to 6:02-- and don't care if it was her own father. If this man feels so strongly against natural hair it was necessary to grab his niece until the pins fell out of her hair and she still has breakage MONTHS later, that ish must have hurt. MY immediate reaction would have been to pop old uncle, just to make sure he understood his way of joking around is not funny. A tap or touch is one thing, forcefully putting hands on someone (even in jest) is another.

Anonymous said...

My best friend who is a black male says that "I look better with straight." Even though Im natural I used to think that too but then I started getting kinky weaves for a protective style and noticed that it wasnt the straight hair that looked better on me. I just look better with length. lol. But I pay my best friend no mind when it comes to hair because my parents, my boyfriend who is also a black male and every other black male friend I know likes my hair the way it is...natural. My best friend is the only odd one out.

Jeannette said...

There are more natural than relaxed Females in my family and my community (I live in the Tri-State area NYC, NJ, Conn) many Women are natural so there was never a problem with people accepting it. But when I first became natural and got this long, straight weave I experienced some ig'nant comments from colleagues. Apparently they liked the fake long hair opposed to my natural kinky/curly hair. Although I could care less what they liked on me, I still wore what I liked.

ShoeHOTLINE said...

Great article I think we all have encountered some negative reactions with regards to our natural journey. It's great to be reminded that we are not alone and ignorance is bliss.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that the only negative comments I've ever had about my natural hair is from my black family members, black friends and black acquaintances? I get compliments on my hair from people of other races all the time. Why is it that all the black men I dated in the past discouraged me from going natural, yet my non-black husband tells me everyday how beautiful my natural hair is? In my opinion, self hatred in the black community is alive and kicking.

Tab said...

I don't care if you're my uncle/mother/grandmother or the President of the United States. You yank my hair there will be retaliation.

Anonymous said...

Some ig'nant fool tried to ask me what I'm doing with my hair and what he thinks. I promptly told this troll "So what, I don't care what you think!" Put him right in his place.

Anonymous said...

I've never receive those comments from strangers or relatives about my natural hair. Mostly people stop and stare a little too much for my liking! It takes some getting used to. I cannot tell if they like what they see or if they are seriously hating on my curly-kinky afro! I really don't give a flying sh&$, either way!

Also, I believe many people look at my hair and think that I'm some sort of tree hugging hippie for some reason! In addition, Black folks, especially Black men think I may be some Black militant. In fact, a few weeks ago, some young Black guy saw me from across the street, while I was rocking a braid-out and shouted, "Fight the power!" Then, his sorry behind laughed, like it was the best joke he told in his whole life! He was trying his best to shame and embarrass me in front of his male friend and white girlfriend, which I think is so sad! :-| But, I ignored his ignorant @ss and kept it moving! I realize a long time ago that it is best not to engage in arguments and confrontations with fools! SMDH!

Anonymous said...

It's especially hard to hear comments like those mentioned in the article from someone close to you, for example I did my first twist out today and my mother said, "You look in the mirror you look like someone with a mental issue" XP

Laura Paola said...

I have natural 3b curls and over the past years I have been too lazy to spend an hour and 1/2 straightening it [I end up not liking it straight and wetting it]. Last month I flat-ironed it, took a picture and posted it online. Everyone jumped on it to comment "I love your hair when it's straight," or "OMG you have gorgeous hair." so after 15 comments in half an hour I'm thinking, "were my natural curls not good enough? was my hair not 'gorgeous' before?!" I responded to each comment "thanks girl, I like it better NATURAL" and ended up changing the photo... I wasn't completely offended, but I just constantly feel like people don't accept me as I am naturally. It's like telling me "you look so much prettier with makeup" or "you'd look better if you wore a wig..." that's how it makes me feel. My mother is the only one that tells me I look better with my natural curls.

Anonymous said...

thanks to all to those who sympathized with me and the pulling of my hair via my uncle...i'm blessed to say that he is the only person who has shown such strong resistance to may. Everyone else in my family is very supportive.

Now....does anyone have any tips on dealing with breakage? :)

Anonymous said...

I have another one, "why aren't you wearing your hair in that curly i don't care style". WHAT? What about me wearing my hair natural and curly means I don't care about my appearance, really?

Anonymous said...

Here's what I think about black people and hair (especially black men). In general black men say they don't really like natural hair. NOT TRUE!
They love natural hair, it's just certain "types" of natural hair that they don't like. The shorter, kinkier, coiler 4 type hair is what they don't like. They don't like women to have hair that looks like theirs. They are not too fond of the "big chop". I mean the real big chop, when you cut your hair down to an inch or two of hair.
Corinne Bailey Rae has natural hair. Do you think a black man wouldn't like her?

Even if you do have type 4 hair, if it is long, then they usually like it. Men (especially black men) have been brainwashed just as much if not more than we have when it comes to beauty and hair. I just wish they would stop saying they don't like natural hair, because it's not true.

Again, I am speaking in general.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad I no longer care what black men like and don't like about natural hair. Their insecurities, hang-ups, likes and dislikes are exhausting. Let's face it, most of them want Beyonce, not Solange. I discovered there's a whole world of non-black men out there who appreciate my short, natural hair which looks nothing like Corrine Bailey Rae's. And I married one of them.

Anonymous said...

Ita with anon 1:08 pm. I can't imagine deciding on the health of my hair based on the bizarre ideals of many insecure Black males, and I HATE any convo centered around persuading them to like it. And I also notice how often Corinne Rae's (or Tracee Ross) names come up in hair crush convos. These ladies have GORGEOUS hair, and with my fine, 3C/4a coils I covet superthick hair of any curly/kinky texture. I saw a sista with a dense 12" Angela Davis afro this morning (no curl definition at all) that looked like a supersoft pillow and I could not stop staring. Some teenage girls near me made negative comments and yep, they all had broken off, dry hair.

Anonymous said...

@anon 2:01- I'm with you! And isn't it funny how so many of the women throwing shade on natural hair are often rocking dry, over-processed, brittle hair, or they look like they have a dead animal sewn on their head?

Anonymous said...

It has been years since I last straightened my natural hair. The "I like your hair so much better this way" comments really pissed me off. Why can't they just say "I like your hair" and leave it at that?

I have that big dense Afro pillow Anon 2:01 mentions and I think it's all kinds of awesome. I'm lucky in that most of the people I'm around, regardless of race, agree.

But that said, when it comes to dating: I do not waste time on men, regardless of race, who don't find me attractive. I too hate when conversations revolve around "How do I get him to like my hair?" Unless you're married, the answer is: YOU DON'T. Keep on doing you, and if he still doesn't like it, dump his azz and find somebody who does.

Anonymous said...

I SAY IT PURE IGNORANCE TO ALL OF THOSE COMMENTS. HAIR IS HAIR. SOME PEOPLE LOOK GOOD WITH CERTAIN TYPES AND SOME DONT. THINKING THAT EVERYONE LOOKS GOOD WITH STRAIGHT HAIR IS IGNORANT

shesweet said...

It'ts just ignorance. People don't. really know how to react. To many they haven't been exposed to beauty outside of straight hair.

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