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Curly Nikki

Growing Stigma Toward Women with Relaxed Hair?

By January 27th, 202117 Comments

Growing Stigma Toward Women with Relaxed Hair?

HuffPo is revisiting the topic of natural hair–

It seems a line has been drawn in the sand on black hair’s kinks and curls (or lack thereof): on one side is “The Relaxers”; on the other, “The Naturals.” But can we find answers to the questions that arise once you determine what side of the “hair line” you fall — or if you find yourself somewhere in between?

Are you seen as being detached from or ashamed of your ethnicity if you relax your hair? If you have natural hair and use products with chemicals to maintain it, are you truly “natural?” If you have natural hair and straighten it when heat, are you really “natural?” And how do men respond when the women in their lives make the switch?

Click here to watch the roundtable discussion

CN Says;

*Insert image of me beating dead horse*

Y’all know how I feel…


  • Anonymous says:

    No line in the sand here. Relaxed or natural, do whatever u like as long as u do u.

  • Anonymous says:

    Also, to add to my comment above, I LOVE the comment:

    August 23, 2011 7:27 PM
    Anonymous said…

    Meanwhile, in Somalia…

  • Anonymous says:

    You know what? I feel really bad for the relaxed girl having to sit through this straight hair bashing session. Clearly she's comfortable enough with herself that it didn't really get to her (good for her).

    Maybe if some naturals didn't try to strong-arm people into being natural by trying to make them feel bad about themselves, then more people would feel comfortable going natural without feeling like they have to admit how "bad" and "wrong" they were to relax/straighten. I myself am natural, and would like to see more women put their health before their hair and their lives before their beauty regimens. But I really think that it's important for natural women to create an atmosphere where other people are comfortable being natural/chemical free WITHOUT bashing those who aren't or making them feel uncomfortable and unwelcome. Everything doesn't have to be about promoting yourself and being "proud" (if you wanna call it that). The most effective people live by example without being loud or abrasive. It's just not called for.

    I really think that some of this conversation was totally self-righteous which is supposed to be the opposite of what we want to happen here. It's like some naturals are even enjoying being self-righteous. The relaxed panel member made some valid points that were met with furrowed brows and shaking heads (ahem, panel member in the middle). Some of this was pseudo-intellectual crap. And the kicker was that the chick who was talking about self-acceptance and whatnot hasn't even been natural that long and even spoke about having some issues with her hair initially. How can you even sit there like you don't understand the conflict that people have about going natural?

    P.S. It was really annoying how everyone kept inflecting their tone to sound like everything was a question. Sorry, I think that just made me a little grouchy 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    True to each is her own. Although when someone ask is natural hair healthier than relaxed hair, what do you say? Chemically processed or oils, sulfate free etc. Damaged hair is just damaged hair. Natural or Chemically processed. It's better to fight with the action of your own doing rather than just trying to win over words. I've been both chemically processed and natural. And for me I can achieve more styles being natural and its easy. I'm just dedicated. Dont get me wrong I liked being relaxed only because I always took care of my hair. But being natural for me was a step up in taking care of my hair. It grows faster, its longer its just about everything better for me. That may not be everyone's story.

    As far as using products that have chemicals to maintain natural hair. I think the idea behind being natural is not using a chemical process to maintain or change the hairs natural way of being. Maintaining is just maintaining. Natural oils, vinegar things the good Lord made without adding our man made ways to it. Using oils doesn't change a naturals hair or a relaxed girls hair. But using relaxers changes our hair from its natural state of being. Which is what is so different about being natural. Whatever your decision is stick with it, and make sure you're good at it. Because it'll show.

  • Rebwar says:

    Anon 12:31pm
    Anon. 8:56pm
    Anon. 9:49pm

    Amen. You've summed it up concisely. 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    To each her own.

  • Anonymous says:

    Meanwhile, in Somalia…

  • dk says:

    I just had an experience this past weekend where a perfect stranger, a white middle-aged woman, complimented my afro and then angrily said she believed black women who relax their hair are denying their race and are trying to be white. I was the only person of color when confronted with this ignorance at a party. I wrote about it on my blog today at

  • Jeannette says:

    I love hearing about the growing number of natural Ladies but also feel there to be no stigma for relaxed Ladies. However, I'm natural so I'm not a part of the possible stigma that relaxed Ladies may or may not face. Basing this from the comments made and the hair styles choices, I feel that the natural Ladies on this forum weren't well enough informed about natural hair care.

  • Anonymous says:

    I dont really think there could or would ever be a stigma toward women who relax. Not in a culture which consistently serves the standard of beauty to be straight, long hair.
    Perhaps there will be a quieting down of the noise surrounding the choice many of us are choosing to exercise (to be natural). Some may feel that this is a direct threat to the status quo and will start to act a fool. We live in a capitalist country, though. Many people will continue to financially benefit from our obsession with hair-relaxed or not.

  • Sugabelly says:

    Actually this is a very good thing. Social stigma against relaxed heads will force them to think more deeply about their hair choices just as social stigma against smokers has made more people quit.

    Stigma and shame are very strong social forces and I am glad they are finally being put to good use.

  • Anonymous says:

    I think it's more of a concern and hope for these ladies to 'see the light' or see what we see, lol. To see the beauty and the blessing of having such full, luscious and unique crowns of glory…. I don't harass my relaxed friends to go to the other side, but I do mention it when they compliment my hair, and offer my help if they need support. I was someone who hated my natural hair, although I had never seen it in it's true natural state. I refused to give in to my hair's deafening cries for me to stop killing it for 2 decades! Then I woke up – and it was not by choice. I had to big chop after a my beautitician literally fried my hair with color and overprocessing. But I thank God that B*$%# fried my hair 🙂

    I just wish every woman with kinky-curly hair would try the natural route at least once in their lives. How can you dislike what you don't know?? That's like my neice saying she hates broccoli and has never tasted it lol. The coils that began to spring out of my head after my big chop literally amazed me!! And now that I'm shoulder length my coils amaze me even more. I'm sure all you ladies can relate. I was dumbfounded. I was like, WTF was up with the advent of the Jherri curl when we already HAVE CURLS?? We just had no idea how to maximize, moisturize, protect or style them… Now if after women are armed with knowledge, try natural and still hate their hair, or prefer chemically altered straight locks (which I can sympathize with, straight styles are pretty as well!) well, hey, at least they tried and it's their choice to fo whatever they feel comfortable with.

  • Lillian Mae says:

    I agree with the beating a dead horse point.

    Natural vs Relaxed is simply a choice. A lot of us who are natural or transitioning have previously been relaxed and have found freedom with natural hair, which is great. We are excited and want to share our excitement and love we've found for our natural hair. I think our excitement sometimes can be misconstrued, making us look like 'Natural Nazis'. On the other side of the coin, I've seen relaxed women turn their nose up to naturals and assume we believe we better for some reason…it's strange really LOL.

    This conversation will go the way of the light vs dark skin conversation… >_<

    Can't we all just get along?

  • Anonymous says:

    Where the hell have these people been?! This 'issue' has been talked, teased and reasoned out ad nauseum! And it was old and dead a long time ago! Really HuffPost, nothing new?! This stuff is so old it's ARCHIVED on many sites!

    I'm beginning to get paranoid that Black women are deliberately diverted from connecting and personal self-awareness by out of touch media outlets amongst others :/

  • Anonymous says:

    I agree, it is a choice and for someone to look down on others because they are relaxed and say their hair is unhealthy because they have relaxed hair it makes me discouraged and want to seperate myself from the natural nazis whose intent is to make yet another division between AA women. I embrace all hair and do not feel one is above the other; it's just a matter of doing what makes YOU happy, and no one else.

  • Anonymous says:


    There's room for everyone's style. Bottomline: it a choice. I am natural but I have plenty of friends/family who are not and still relax. I don't judge their decision and respect that they appreciate mine.

  • Yirssi says:

    I posted this in my blog earlier as well. I feel like this was completely pointless. Especially since the women all worked at HuffPo. But I like that the more it's talked about, the more our image will be in the forefront. In my opinion, with good exposure comes acceptance. Hopefully all of this good exposure will take us to the point that these questions (like, "is it professional") will no longer be asked or worried about.

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