by Jor-El of Mane Man Blog
One of the reasons I started this blog was because of all of the support I had received from women in the natural hair community. Over the past few years I have gotten a lot of support from women in the movement and I’ll always be grateful for that. Although I have had a different experience than most of you, I hope that my support of the curly-haired community comes across loud and clear.
I realize that I did not have many of the experiences a lot of you had when it came to your hair. I did not get as much positive affirmation or nearly as much discouragement. I didn’t sit in between my mother’s legs and cry from all the pulling and tugging on my hair and scalp. I’ve never even gotten my hair braided or gotten headaches from having my hair pulled so taut. I’ve never had a comb break in my hair (wait…yeah that definitely happened once!). Images in the media absolutely hit me in a very different, and arguably in a less pointed, way. I never second guessed why I wore my hair the way I did. I just always assumed guys were supposed to wear short hair so that’s what I did.
I had a chemical process once, a few years ago, when I first came to NY. I texturized my hair to get a different look, but didn’t like it enough to stick with it. I also realized that keeping up something like that would be way too intensive for me. So I went back to my regular routine of getting hair cuts every few weeks. Fast forward to today and I have been wearing my fro for two years now. I like having a new style, a new edge, and I recognize that I have a new sense of confidence in myself. There’s a bit of freedom in wearing my hair whatever way I want, no matter what other people have to say about it.
I don’t see the natural hair movement as only a women’s issue. I see it as a self-esteem issue. If embracing your curls in their natural state gives you a sense of freedom and confidence then I fully support anyone who makes that decision. If you choose to relax or straighten your hair, then my hope is that you do it as safely as possible because I believe no one should be sacrificing their health for a good-looking head of hair. In the end, I believe we’re all entitled to express ourselves as we see fit. In the grand scheme of things, it is just hair but at the same time I know when I’m not feeling my hair it’s generally not the best of days.
All things considered, I have to say that seeing women wearing curly hair, locs and fros has inspired me to do whatever I want with my hair and judging from the (re)emergence of these styles among other men, I feel comfortable saying that the boys are following suit. As the years go by I hope that other men and boys will support the women in their lives and their decisions about their hair (and bodies). If this happens, then I think you will probably see more boys and men feeling comfortable enough to take their own risks with their image and hair. We’ve got a lot to learn and I want to keep learning and spreading the word!