From Curly Nikki – Sometimes Hair is Just Hair – A Follow-Up

“Relaxers reinforce the fact that black women are perceived as ‘ugly’ compared to other races.”

“Perming for “straight” hair is the number one self hatred action still going on by Black People today.”

Blanket statements. Generalizations. Shots fired.

I read these statements on Curly Nikki, and a strong fury pulsed in my chest. As I read the comments, this fury increased. The cosigning on his views was apparent. Now let me say, I understand what I THINK was the point of his views – that women should embrace their natural because it “exudes confidence.” To be frank, do I think natural hair = confidence? No. And furthermore, I am disgusted with the plethora of women and men who feel the need to place emphasis on the confidence shown by wearing one’s natural hair by expressing their thoughts on the lack of confidence they feel is displayed in straight hair.

It is true, many people DO look down on women who relax or straighten their hair. The high and mighty natural haired sista with a fro that can block out the sun, proudly toting her fisted afro pick (you know you have one) and afrocentric jewelry while she blasts Common and Bilal on her Evo (no, not iPhone, she isn’t a sheep). She smirks slyly at women with relaxers on the subway while in her head she says, “You wish you had the confidence to be me.” But is it confidence, or projection?

I truly do not understand why it needs to be so black and white, or cut and dry. If you have natural hair, you accept yourself, if you have straightened hair, you do not. I will admit, that there are SOME black women with straight hair that truly do hate their texture and will never be caught dead without a relaxer, which is sad, but often, you need to SPEAK with these women for them to reveal themselves. You cannot look at someone with a relaxer and call them a self hater.

In short, this type of mentality is just as damaging as people thinking natural hair is unacceptable for the workplace or in society. When someone says, “Some people have hair too nappy to be natural,” natural haired women riot. But when someone says, “Women who have relaxers don’t love themselves,” natural haired women…clap? Swoon? Hurrah? To love one, why do you have to hate the other? If the world ever shifted, and natural hair was the norm, and all the women with straight hair were looked down upon and ridiculed, where does that leave us? In the same place we were before.

The most ironic detail of this conundrum is that most women who are now wearing their natural hair previously had a relaxer, or frequently pressed their hair. So what does that make you? A hypocrite? Oh wait…no, it makes you enlightened. My apologies, my sista. Of course, oh Enlightened One, when you were a child getting your hair relaxed, you obviously knew about civil rights history and why relaxers were invented. You knew that black people started straightening their hair in order to attempt to fit in with white society. What a clever child you were. For the record, I found out about the history of relaxers well…after I decided to stop relaxing my hair. I never grew up thinking my hair was “less” than another races, I just knew it was work (which it is as a result of my incredibly thick hair, whether it is relaxed or natural).

So why all the talk of self hatred and conformity towards women with relaxers? Is it because you formerly hated your hair? Is it a bitterness due to the fact that natural hair isn’t the norm? Or are you just being a bitch? **I mean bitch as in a malicious, spiteful, or overbearing woman, or someone that is extremely difficult, objectionable, or unpleasant – DO NOT THINK I AM CALLING ALL OF YOU BITCHES.**

I have heard some people say that you cannot love yourself if you are using harmful chemicals on your hair and ultimately damaging it. Yet…you can dye your hair and still be considered natural, and most will not bat an eyelash. Even if they do not want to call you natural, most will not call you a self hater. But get this, believe it or not, lifting dye actually removes the eumelanin and the phaeomelanin from your hair and possibly ruptures the disulphide bonds that hold the fiber of your hair together (depending on whether you are bleaching or not). Although it does not alter the curl pattern of your hair, it does alter the structure (I read a comment on CN that said that permanent dye only “saturates” the hair strand…girl…please). Furthermore, since we are talking about hair damage, when was the last time you heard a group of natural haired women questioning a woman who used heat to blow out her hair and make it look kinkier (still altering the natural pattern), when we all know that blow dryers damage our hair by blowing open the cuticle and making it more susceptible to breaking and dryness? Good luck finding that one.

Now, let me clarify. I do not want my point lost in all my sarcasm (sorry, I feel a certain kind of way about the statements at the beginning of the post so my snarky went with it). I realize that as young girls we usually come up with the idea that “straight hair is pretty” through the media and our environment. I am not referring to little girls. Personally, I am not for relaxing someone’s hair until they are old enough to understand a) What chemicals are in a relaxer, b) the possible side effects (of relaxers or heat), c) the history of relaxers, and d) the proper way to care for their natural hair (because let us be honest, if you do not know how to care for your natural hair, relaxers seem to be a LOT easier). Also, I think that women who relax and chronically straighten their hair should take a moment to think about why they do it. Is it out of habit? Because it’s easy? Is it a preference? Or is it because they truly are ashamed of their natural texture?

To all ladies, natural or relaxed: No matter what people say, or imply about your decisions, the important thing is that you are at peace with your appearance. Do not stop getting relaxers because you think you have to or you look like a self hater. Do not struggle and secretly hate your natural hair because you need to be down for the cause. Do not get a relaxer because someone told you that your hair was too nappy, or you “need to do something with it.” Do not be upset because the woman next to you has a relaxer, wig, weave, natural hair, blue hair, pink hair, or no hair. The only person you need to be honest with is yourself (and you certainly do not need to listen to any man who feels the need to go on a tirade about hair…*eye roll*).

Weigh in Divas!

Then after this, we’re gonna agree to disagree 😉