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Curly Nikki

Naturals in the City– Food For Thought

By January 27th, 202127 Comments

Shea M writes:

Naturals in the City-- Food For Thought
Hi CN Community,

When making the decision to transition from relaxed to natural hair, what role does the “neighborhood” you live in play in your decision and confidence? For example, easier to go natural in a predominantly White suburb or Black neighborhoods in the inner city?

Thanks :-)


  • Anonymous says:

    When I did my BC I lived in Norfolk, VA which is pretty racially divided but close to 50/50 black and white. Oddly, I noticed that White people were a LOT nicer to me with my natural hair texture. I received noticeably more "ma'am, miss, etc.," opened doors, and smiles from white people. Black people were split between either not acknowledging/passive response, to some compliments. I never had any direct negative responses, but definitely a couple "she must be going through something" looks from Black people. Either way, though I didn't do it for anyone other than myself!

  • Aly says:

    When I stopped using heat and just rocked wash 'n' gos, twists, braid outs, or coils, I got more compliments from strangers of other races than from folks that look like me * well at least in skin color.* My spirit has had an epiphany and I'm feeling real and authentic in physical and metaphysical ways that seemed to be dormant and restless when I had a "flat" head of hair. * Like whoa!* No one can take this feeling away because it's an inner and spiritual awakening like nothing else I've ever experienced. It's good! Sure, sometimes I've noticed stares, but I feel so good and powerful in my sense of self that I may smile and wave or put them on the spot with the question, "You love my hair, don't you," while nodding my head up and down in affirmation. *Ahh, the power of suggestion:)* There will always be those who are willing to buck the norm and follow their intuition; their reward will be great if they can stand in the face of adversity. If it just starts with her "own" hair and how she perceives it, then so be it. I believe it will be a beginning of a beautiful love affair that will carry on into every aspect of her life. What others perceive of her will be of no great influence because she influences them. Rock on!

  • TasiaJay says:

    At the present I am living in Palm Coast Florida with about 12% A.A in the population. I never have any issues with wearing my natural. All of my compliments but one have come from Europeans.

    I think this is partly because is made up of the tri state area (N.Y, N.J and Ct). The time a problem occurs is when I come in contact with other African Americans in the city or if I travel to other areas. I agree with another poster that Florida is the weave capitol. But I also noticed that individuality is non existent. Men accept the fake flowing hair to the waist and "convince" themselves that it is natural and love it to death. I actually never cared whether or not someone would like my style or me as a person.

    I live for me and no one else. However I know that if I were back home in New Jersey or another major city I would find a sub culture where I could really enjoy various view points, ideas, fashion, activities and individuality.
    Laughing…I am about leave and go to Walmarts in my Doc Martens, fishnets, funky skirt and top and my natural! I could care less what anyone thinks…hahahahaha….Have a Happy Nappy Day! TasiaJay

  • savybrown says:

    I live in a black neighborhood (BedStuy Brooklyn), but my folks live in the suburbs in south Jersey. I will say that my twistouts work everywhere, but just twists, cornrows, or even my wash'n go definitely get more stares in the white neighborhood.

  • Jheanelle Kale says:

    I think where I live has greatly influenced me to go natural. I live in DC by way of Delaware and there is a HUGE demographic difference. I was thinking about going natural when I was in DE but when I moved to DC in August and saw so many BEAUTIFUL NATURALS I couldn't wait to be natural!! I BC'd very soon after (first week of Oct.) DC has a great urban, afrocentric, natural, organic type of feel to it, which made me feel more comfortable rocking my natural. I'm sure I still would have went natural in DE, but it may have taken a lot more nerve and time. When I go back home to DE, I get more stares (which I love), but my hair is not out of the ordinary in DC.

  • Anonymous says:

    O and btw my mom likes to go natural sometimes now and ditch the hot comb!

    -George Washington U girl

  • Anonymous says:

    I live in a neighborhood that is mostly black with a growing number of white people. I went to college not too far away at George Washington U, mostly white students and faculty but pretty diverse as diverse goes. I was in my senior year of college when I started wrestling with the idea of going natural for a few months. While I was thinking, I continued to get relaxers. My mother doesn't have a relaxer but she presses her hair. A couple of my friends had already transitioned to BEAUTIFUL natural hair, but not many black girls at school were natural. I was nervous about going natural because I didn't wanna be one of like three black girls without straight hair, and I wasn't even sure what the natural hair was really gonna look like. I was worried about the "kinky" textured look on me though I like it on my friends. Wow. How many times has a black woman complimented you on your gorgeous natural hair and said "but I could never do that"? I wasn't sure it would be acceptable to anyone–black, white, male, female, young, old, at home, at school. I was embarassed. But when I finally started to transition (with flexi rod sets) I LOOOOVED IT!!! And so did almost everyone else. But regardless, I LOOOVED IT!!! lol And I grew to prefer it, as I looked forward to getting my hair flat ironed less and less often(though I still do that on occasion). I gradually cut off the relaxed ends with regular trims, and of course I got "comments" when I started wearing it natural without the flexi rods–Didn't I want to straighten my hair? Is it a curly weave? Apparently it looked "nicer" when I gelled it up so it looked silkier. When I told my hair stylist that I wanted to nix the relaxer and asked her what she thought, she said she didn't think I had "that type of hair". She's a sweet lady, but I knew I would stop going to her very soon after that. Some black men put in their two cents and criticized me, praising long, straight hair and telling me I didn't have "the type of hair" that could be worn natural. My family and friends were always supportive and thought I looked pretty. For me, it turned out that I had no problem being received by most people once I went natural, it's just that I was uneasy because it's not how I saw most black women wearing their hair. And with that kind of negative feedback, though those comments are few and far between, no wonder it's hard to get up the courage to be yourself.

  • LBell says:

    I went natural in Chicago in the mid 90s. I was living in Hyde Park at the time (fairly integrated college area surrounded by black neighborhoods of different economic classes). Aside from a few younger black men, and one older black woman on the bus :), black men ignored me and black women looked at me like I was crazy. However, white folks at work LOVED-DED my hair. That was a real shock because aren't we all subconsciously taught that white folks hate our hair? Most of them have NO CLUE.

    I now live in a small college town in Iowa that's about 92% white. (That 8% includes ALL POC, not just blacks.) Most people here don't seem to care, though I still get evil looks from black folks from time to time. I'm almost at the point where my BAA will stop traffic. :) I go back to Chicago from time to time and I see that there are a lot more naturals walking around. How-EVER…on one visit I went to the south suburbs and I thought I was in Atlanta with all the weave I was seeing. If looks could kill, I wouldn't be writing this right now! My hair and I are thankful that we left!

  • Maria says:

    I live in the Boston area and I see many natural women, especially the younger crowd, wearing their hair natural. You see everything from curls, twa's and everything in between. Being in a relationship with a man who understood what I was trying to accomplish helped me transition to natural. I never really gave it much thought as to whether people (coworkers, family, etc) liked my hair or not. It wasn't about them, it was between me and God.

    I never really leave the Northeast so I can't say whether people would like my hair outside this area. I've had nothing but compliments from AA's, other Latinos, whites, Asians, etc..

  • Anonymous says:

    I find that I can transition anywhere. My state of mind allows this. I don't care what other people think of my hair. I will say, that being in a college environment with other girls of different races and ethnicity has allowed me thoroughly love my hair( you would think it was the other way around). For example, I have a white and an Indian school friend and we all went out to grab lunch. I felt soooo comfortable in my natural hair because unlike feeling accepted for having straight hair, I felt confident and myself because we were wearing OUR hair, just the way it grew out of our scalps.LOL LOVED IT!!!

  • Notthecoolmom says:

    I never thought about my neighborhood. I was more concerned about work and family. At work there were other women who were natural already and those who did the transition while I've been there. I haven't had too many negative comments. More questions about why I did it, now that I'm past my BC stage most people just say something if I wear it "big" or if they can't tell if I have it twisted or not. Family, well it all depends on what day it is for my mom and dad. Hubby is always supportive.

  • Anonymous says:

    I did my first bc in the mid 90's. I'd burned my neck with the curling iron and got so angry that I said it's coming off today. My choice to bc was more reactionary and in the heat of the moment, so I really never thought about what other people's reactions would be. I went from having hair down my back to having a ceasar cut within hours. I lived in south central LA at the time and people took it very hard and they reacted very negatively. Men in the shop were begging me not to cut it. My mother cried, my grandmother started quoting the bible, my brother's said I'd never get a man, I got called sir, peanut head, grace jones, and someone from church asked if it was hard for me to find a job with my short afro and kindly suggested that I put in some type of texturizer. The most memorable was when a man I had never met cornered me at a treadmill in the gym and told me "you aint got no business cuttin' off all that pretty hair!". So needless to say my confidence was shattered but I had already cut it off so I had to deal with it. Over time the reactions got better. I live in Brooklyn NY now and because it's so diverse here my curly locks just blend into the crowd. The workplace (corporate finance industry) can still be a challenge at times though. As for my confidence level now I am great and I think it came from surrounding myself with other people who went natural and just learning that my hair doesn't define me and when I learned that other people's reactions became much more positive.

  • Anonymous says:

    I live in a big city that is also predominantly white (San Francisco), but is also filled with perhaps the most self-expressed population in the country. Everyone in this city rocks a "do what makes you feel AWESOME" vibe and that includes having whatever color hair in whatever style you want. I think going natural here was very easy to do here despite there not being a large natural black community.

  • Anonymous says:

    When I decided to go natural my family was very supportive, well everyone except my husband. I wasn't working so I didn't concider my co-workers although I hoped I would be able to make the switch at the job in whatever environment I was in. I didn't have to worry about that because I didn't get a job until after the BC. I never noticed natural hair until I decide to transition. I can't say that I had any big revelation when I decided to make the change. I don't really get any reaction to my hair. Just people that look at my hair while taking to me but they never mention my hair.

  • Skeeta says:

    oops- forgot the "i" in haitian.

  • Skeeta says:

    Great question!

    I love in the city, but its Miami. Its easy here. There are SO many cultures, hatian, jamaican, dominican, cuban, puerto rican, etc, etc. That is ALOT of curly hair textures in there! There is so much variety here that I just fit in. ;o)

  • lexibugg004 says:

    well first of all, there are predominantly black suburbs, and predominantly white metropolitan areas, but anyway. i think more than just the predominant ethnicity in your community, determines your experience while in transition as well as fully natural. your socio-economic class, the region of the country, the average education level in said region. working class, low income, whites may have more to say, or feel more negatively toward your natural hair, while upwardly mobile, highly educated, professional blacks may celebrate the change.
    begin to rearrange the various factors you will get different mindsets and opinions. place the same affluent blacks in the south, the decision may not be so celebrated, the pacific northwest, the whole family is already natural, has always been natural and are wondering what took you so long!!!
    place those whites in a different social class and in a different region, say the far northeast, where people of Jewish, Italian, Greek and any other ancestry that produces a variety of textures seem to fear anything other than bone straight hair and everyone has a blow out or a chemical straightening, you may get some look and even a bold few may have something snide and covertly not so nice to say.

  • Anonymous says:

    I'm a newbie to the world of natural and I live in Southern California (Laguna Niguel). I am originally from Detroit, MI and lived in Chicago, IL prior to moving to Cali. I can honestly say that I NEVER in a million years fathomed going natural when I lived in Detroit or Chicago. That was primarily because I lacked the confidence to do so and I wasn't at a point where I could handle the ridicule I thought I'd get from my friends, family and people in general. Now, because I didn't actually go natural there, I can't affirmatively say how the black community would have reacted to me decision but I can say that I "thought" I would get tons of negativity and that was a deterrent. When I moved to California there was far less pressure put on what my hair looks like. I find that that living in a predominately white suburb people are a little less critical of me, or at least that's how I perceive things. I'm more confident here because there's not many people here that look like me so I'm "unique". As such, I basically could wear a bag on my head and a pillow case as a skirt and I'd be super cool here! It's because of this confidence boost that I finally went ahead and took the challenge to become natural and so far, I've gotten NOTHING BUT POSITIVE FEED BACK AND SUPPORT from the people here. I haven't been back home to Detroit or Chicago since I went natural a few months ago but i am scheduled to go back to the Chi in April and quite honestly, for the first time in almost 5 months, I'm nervous and concerned about what people are going to think/say….Call it my own insecurities but I think that after years of being brainwashed as to whats professional, what's pretty, what's good hair and what's bad hair, its hard to shake those misconceptions when going back to the source of them. — signed Mojo

  • Anonymous says:

    It's been easier to be natural here in St. Paul, MN than in Detroit (where I'm from). I feel I get away with so much here, because unfortunately most of the AA community don't take very good care of their hair and it's like they're not expected to. It's either bad wigs, bad weaves, braids or somebody looking like a chickenhead. So when people see someone wearing their natural curls, they're intrigued and ask all kinds of questions! Now when I go back home to Detroit to visit, I'm somewhat apprehensive, because I know someone is going to ask me (in a negative way) about my hair or give me odd looks. Even my mother asks did you make a hair appt?

  • Anonymous says:

    I felt more comfortable with it living in NYC than i do now that i live in Philly. in my northeast neighborhood everyone has a weave and spends their paycheck at the bss

  • Chaka_Millz says:

    My transition started summer 08 while I was still in Mobile,Al and continued until I came to Auburn (Warrrr Eagle!!). I havent felt any pressure from people besides the intial big chop reactions. Ya know the "It looks good on you" or "So you're gonna dred it right", those types of comments. I think being in a college town has a lot to do with it, everyone's from different places so you pretty much just do what you do. I have noticed that when I go home my mom's coworkers are really shocked with how much my hair has grown :)

  • Ishea says:

    I transitioned while living in Chicago which was nice because the city was full of other natural to offer advice and support… but I decided to BC while on vacation with my husband…. and living in Arizona. I didn't have a hard time transitioning while living in Chicago, but I did feel better once I got to Arizona. There are so few naturals out here, actually few black people at all… that I love feeling different.

  • Anonymous says:

    Great question! I am working in a very white collar job. I went natural in New York city and have remained so while living in Connecticut and then LA. Will stay natural for life! Nevee had negativity except from a very small number of black men. EVERYONE else loved my hair -even got stopped by random white women for compliments.

  • Freda says:

    I BC'ed while living in Raleigh (NC) and then moved a couple of months afterward to a small town in TN. I gave no thought to how I would be perceived based on my location. I was curious about my coworkers reactions only because they have always been interested in being your authentic self. They all loved my TWA. I did notice however, while working on a research study in a hospital that the black women who knew me in passing were devastated by my choice. They seemed to need grief counseling in getting over the loss of "all that hair" as they mentioned repeatedly. I think for myself, the confidence came from within in terms of feeling good about my decision.

  • Jessica says:

    This is a great question! When I went natural, I felt I had to consider my Work, School and Social spheres.
    I never got any negativity in the workplace, but it can be challenging being the only Black woman wearing natural hair at the office. School was a much more open and welcoming to natural hair. In my social life, I got nothing but support and acceptance from friends, but my family is slowly coming around.

  • modest-goddess says:

    I'm currently living/working in a small town that is less than 5% black. I think it made the decision to big chop easier. There is not much social life here for young professionals so it was easier to get throw the awkward stage of growing my hair out.

  • Janique says:

    I used to live in the Bronx but I currently live in Florida which seems to be one of the weave capitals! When I visited last summer, I noticed a lot more people who were natural or just never relaxed then there are in the South. I'm currently transitioning, but I think now it would be more accepted in the city then down here where you are constantly reminded…"it's about that time" (to get a relaxer that it). Where I live now it's predominantly Spanish, and they look down on black people anyway, but if you go to the mostly Black neighborhoods around the area, all you will see is perms, damaged hair, and weaves.

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