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Curly Nikki

A Ponytail, By Any Means Necessary

By January 27th, 202141 Comments

A Ponytail, By Any Means Necessary
Via ACurlsBF

Just something to think about.

“I think that many men and women find mainstream eurocentric hairstyles more appealing in general as dictated by popular media. I believe many of the women themselves think they will be less attractive (after going natural) even though they desire a more holistic and natural life. I think this conflict requires them to continue to put a priority on being attractive to guys as a opposed to being attractive to themselves. Inevitably they notice the men who disapprove of the look far more times then the brothers who appreciate it. It’s a pity.

Women all over the world seem to benefit from a more carefree attitude about hair. When I was young I would always notice how a ponytail was simply the convenient way non-black women and girls arranged their hair when they were in a hurry or exercising, etc. But for the black girls, the ponytail was this long ridiculously dramatic extension that they paid lots of money for special occasions like the prom or weddings. The same with the little up-do joint with the hair clip in the back. We paid money to create a hairstyle that was the hairstyle that white women wore to the gym. That’s when I began loving natural hairstyles on women of color.”–

Something a good friend of mine said that was really dope and on point… and yes, he’s a he.

Had you ever thought about it this way?


  • Anonymous says:

    Mmm … Ponytails are not hair texture specific like others have said. If this dude meant the slick, long, straight-haired style then he should have made his point about this texture in particular because this is a look black women try in a variety of styles unspecific to the ponytail (like that messy out-of-bed straight haired look for example). But then, this would not be breaking news, everyone knows many black women strive for mainstream beauty. All feels quite redundant …

  • Anonymous says:

    What I got from the article is his pointing to the underlying pathos many of us black women–who didn't have long hair, or who have been affected by the projections of others onto us about our hair—have or had. Clearly there are some who didn't have this experience—but some have. I'm not the hair police, but there is something to be explored about the social construct of European-type hair–which has been used to convey many messages and spur all kinds of debates.

    There are some of us who have had to be brutually honest inside as to what this means in terms of self-esteem, desirability to self and others, acceptance. For some, weaves mean freedom of expression, freedom from maintenance, etc. To others—who knows?? Fill it in for yourself. If you have any negative emotions or beliefs connected to your natural hair—beyond practicality, ease of styling, — explore them. What is it really about? Just an observation here—but I've found it interesting (in a particular area I lived)-that while some parts of the natural movement focused on reconnecting to afrocentric or African roots (hair), ALOT of the African women who are immigrating to the US immediately adopt weaves or wigs. When I went to church—out of 100-150 women– I could count (3) who had natural hair or wore their own hair. Does anyone else notice this or find it curious??

  • Anonymous says:

    To those who think folks are in either denial or you experienced what he is saying: did you spend time and money at the salon to make your hair look like a White women's hair when they go to the gym or run errands? Because that is exactly what he is saying. It's easy to just think as a man he would not know ALL races of women go to salons for elaborate updos, etc. but I'm guessing right about now, many Black women are tired of being generalized as this or that. And his love of natural hair does not excuse his lack of knowledge about something he chose to write.

    He only saw Black women go to salons for elaborate ponytail styles, so he feels ok saying it's only Black women/girls who did it. Which is bullshit.

    Not all Black girls/women have short, broken off hair ("project nubs?" Jesus we are the most self hating people on Earth).

    All races of women wear casual ponytails WITH THEIR OWN HAIR.

    All races of women go to salons for fancy updos, chignons, and (gasp) other races of women sometimes even wear extensions, imagine that?

  • Kym from College Park says:

    I relate to what the author is describing. I did and felt exactly the same way when I was in high school. I thought I was all that with my prom ponytails and I thought it made my hair look similar to other races. . The only difference is that, now I am not ashamed of it. It's a part of my hair transformation story. Some of these comments are in denial or making it more than what it is. Maybe he is actually the one being villified for talking about a valid observation in his youth that gave him an appreciation for natural hair. There is something fishy going on in these comments. Anyway, much love to everyone.

  • Anonymous says:

    While I like where this piece was attempting to go, based on my own experiences and observations, I am going to say it is not true that an up-do or ponytail are only what white women do when they are exercising. All races of women have the sloppy ponytail, black women included, that they throw on to run errands or get their hair out of their faces or cover up their bad hair days. All races of women also spend time and money on elaborate ponytails and up-dos for occasions.

    I wish people will stop trying to vilify black women at every opportunity and for everything. It is getting so disheartening. We are just human beings trying to navigate our place in this world. We really don't deserve this constant stream of criticism.

  • chocolate Desire says:

    The issue with this is that its overgeneralizing in that it doesn't make clear what it means by ponytail (does he mean the ridiculous STRAIGHT weave that looks like you've alleviated some poor horse of its tail or just sweeping your own hair back) and that it makes the mistake of seemingly talking about all black/white women instead of a few.

    Because he seems to think ponytails are a huge deal (they are not. not even a little. pull hair back, secure into ponytail–those are the only two steps), I will assume he means the obviously fake, straight textured ponytails that are merely a different texture than one's actual hair. I have to admit, I've had a couple. Not because they were longer than my hair (they weren't, my hair was longer than the pony) or more flowing, but because it was in style and I could make it look like I had many different hair textures. And I didn't even go to the salon to do THOSE ponytails either. I also think its worth pointing out that those ponys come in more than one texture, there are different degrees of curly you can ask for.

    Something I'm not liking in some of these comments is the notion that a black woman with hair long enough to go into a ponytail is extremely rare, like a real-life unicorn or something. Why are people still talking like most black women barely hair any hair or their heads or something? It doesn't take much hair to be able to make a ponytail in the first place, and since when did ponytails become a really hard European style? I achieve ponytails just as effortlessly as any non-black woman I've ever encountered (and I'm currently the only black woman where I am period because I'm in Asia, even if I weren't in Asia at home where I stay black people are kind of rare). My ponytails don't take hours of work, just a few seconds. My sister's hair is really short and can barely make a ponytail and even watching her make a ponytail of it was not an hour-long affair.

    Non-weave ponytails are not special or hard for black women. Natural hair does not automatically mean you can't make a ponytail. And people of all races get all dolled up for a big fancy party at salons and come out with ponytails too.

  • Niki says:

    I get the writer's point – what I gather is that the styles that white women achieve somewhat effortlessly take effort for black women.

    I don't think the guy was trying to create another talking point for black women and their hair, he was simply making an observation. And as anonymous nov 24 6:30 p.m. suggested, the comments to this post are quite revealing.

    If long hair and ponytails are normal for you, kudos. But I must say the vast majority of black women I've met and interacted with over the past 18 years would beg to differ. Essentially, the styles we try to achieve are not meant for our natural hair because those styles are usually not executed on hair like ours.

    God bless twists, twist outs, afros, et al – they are beautiful, were created for our texture and distinctly ours;)

  • Anonymous says:

    I've read and reread these two paragraphs and I must say that the comments are a lot more revealing of issues we have with our hair, the politics of it, and the reaction to criticism from men. I'm betting the responses would be different if a women said this. The comments read as if he actually accused someone of self hatred, which he didn't. He commented on his observations of what SEEMS to be popular and mainstream in one culture and overly popular and coveted in another.

    The comments seem to say "Long hair and ponytails ARE normal for me. " and "I love myself and I'm tired if men bashing us. "

    Like the previous comment, I'm also wondering what the context of the quote was?

  • Anonymous says:

    Wow! going back and forth on this one. I can see a glimmer of the the gentleman's point but I also think it is an over generalization. Yes, there are those who wear extension ponytails because they do not like or can not manage their own hair, be it natural or processed. And yes, many of those phony ponys are overblown and sometimes ridiculous looking. There are also those women, of all races, who wear extended styles as a matter of fashion. It can be a tastefully done and attractive alternative style. Ponytails are not just gym hair, but can be a beautiful and sexy style (can I say Sade back in the Smooth Operator days? Has a simple ponytail and hoop earrings ever been hotter?))

    Since the beginning of recorded history people of many ethnicities have worn augmented hairstyles not as an expression of self hatred or denial, but as an expression of style. Do an internet search for wigs,extensions. Fake hair is big business, and most of these sites cater to WHITE women.
    I have been natural for 20 years and plan to remain that way. I think the movement towards natural hair is great. However, I believe Black women should have the same hair care choices as White without it being a matter of self hatred. Look around you. There are millions of white women sporting overprocessed,colored and flat iron fried hair, yet no goes around saying they are damaging their hair due to self hatred. It was just a personal grooming choice, albeit poorly executed, that led to jacked up hair, just as when black women do the same.

  • Deborah says:

    I understand and agree with the comment but I'd like more info on the context. Is CN interviewing him? If do, then what was the question. I also don't get why the women who are commenting can't accept the comment for what it's worth (his own personal experience) without turning it into an attack. There are plenty of articles and opinions on here about what we might have done or thought before during and after our natural hair journey. And I for one agree with him 100%. While I personally think he is hitting a sore spot with many people, the real question for me is what is CN's opinion since she obtained the comment. Or at least, what was the point of including it ? We are accusing him of division and things but was he the one who posted? Besides all of that, we all know women who spent big bucks on jacked up ponytails in order to have the normal hairstyles of others. Why lie now, just because a man's opinion is on the screen.

  • Anonymous says:

    I read this post 4 times and I still don't get what this guy is trying to say. Is he trying to tell ME what I MUST be thinking when I wear a ponytail? No. Really?

    (Granted that this may have been a private/personal conversation with CurlyNikki, but)I think he should not hide behind these pseudo-sociological sentences and just come out and say:

    'Hey, I don't like ponytails on black women coz white women use it as a quick and cheap way to deal with their hair.'

    Then I know what this guy is using as a yardstick for his argument.

    For naturals, if you have the length, a ponytail is as carefree as you can get, with a busy, active lifestyle.

  • Annabel says:

    Re one of the comments, I guess most women didn't respond to the first paragraph bc it didn't correspond to their reason for wearing a ponytail–convenience and not to be considered "attractive" to men. It takes me five minutes to pull my hair back and 24 hours to sport a braid out…love me a braidout but wearing my hair out is time-consuming.

  • Dana says:

    I think the bottom line of the guy's comment is that nappy hair is not meant to be worn in a ponytail!!! Think of it: the effort, time and products required, not to mention damage through brushing that we inflict in trying to slick our hair back and up into a ponytail, when it's so easy for other women, not necessarily European, but just women with naturally, long, straight, blow-in-the-wind hair. When my hair was straight, fine, I wore ponytails because they were convenient, but in the last 10 years that I have been natural, it has NEVER occurred to me to put my hair in a ponytail, apart from if it is in twists and I ponytail those twists.
    It would take wayyyy too much coaxing.

  • Anonymous says:

    I don't think anyone sounds defensive here. The gentleman states that he is accepting of natural hair, but then goes on to generalize about black women and their " attachment" to the idea of a long flowing ponytail. He does not say SOME black women, he says "non-black women and girls " and then goes on to say "black girls". Yes, some black women do weave up to get a certain look, but many don't. Some non-black women do to. So what!

    I don't think it is defensive to take issue with his OPINION or his pointing out his view of how black women view ponytails.

  • Anonymous says:

    I don't think you are focusing on the right things. He's a natural hair advocate. I know TONS of women who have spend a lot of money on ponytail extensions and such… tons. The ponytail is supposed to be a convenient style but for a lot of women it not. He's not addressing women who are natural and through their hair in a ponytail. That is convenient. He's talking about women who spend hours in the shop getting it done thinking it's fresh. But that's not even the issue at hand. Stop being defensive and look at the bigger picture He's saying something really profound. But instead of hearing that most of us attach him… when he IS FOR US. It's really strange.

  • Anonymous says:

    i guess he's talking about not just ponytails perse but having straight, flowing hair swept up in a ponytail like the woman in the picture. Obviously women with any kind of hair texture can wear a ponytail but I guess being able to wear your hair that is silky straight in a pony is something that is done by manipulation for black women.

    I get it but I agree it's kind of unnecessary to focus on. As long as there's conversation about women wanting an idealized hair texture that is not naturally there's, this sort of topic is pretty much under that umbrella.

  • Anonymous says:

    I've always worn ponytails, but then again, I always had long hair. I've done it when my hair was straight (pressed) and now completely natural/curly/kinky. I never though it was based on European standards any more than straightening our hair.

  • Annie L. says:

    @Anonymous 3:46
    It strikes me that there are generational differences in Black life that aren't addressed on these hair boards and then become a bone of contention. Some issues that come up again and again expose a wide chasm of difference in our experiences. Perhaps when the author was young, maybe in the late 90s (forgive the guess), was when the ponytail extension became very popular. Extensions were exotic when I was a child in the 80s and still rare when I was a teenager in the early 90s in a middle class area, full of Black people, outside of New York City but still very close to it.

    Black hair culture, attitude and practices were different in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and now. I think the debate is between characterizing all these evolving times as having the same attitudes and standards in one homogenous view of Black hair. For my mother’s 60s-70s generation, my sister’s 70s-80s and my 80s-90s generation long plaits and ponytail manes were the go-to and were actually a little embarrassing past the age of 13 because it meant you didn’t get your ‘beautiful’ press and curl, in other words it was a casual style for children or a weekend cleaning the house.

    I really love the theme of the article 'a more carefree attitude about hair', I think women are more beautiful nonchalant.

  • Anonymous says:

    Black women pay money for phony ponies and up doo's while white women pay money for beach waves, curls and volume. The grass will always be greener no matter what the hue of skin is…

  • Anonymous says:

    @ Jami-I already have a quick casual go to style called an afro puff. Or a messy bun. Or two cornrows like I wore as a child. And I don't give them a second thought, and I'm guessing the tons of other Black women I see with natural hair and casual styles think the same. Check out the site LeCoil, you can see quite a few there as well.

    I mean really, I ran an errand shortly after reading this article. Here in midtown NYC I saw BW with LONG relaxed ponytails (no apologies to anyone who thinks long or medium lenghth haired BW are unicorns), or pulled back locs, a few twas and err damn thing in between. And me with my corporate bun where even a few curly White women where I work have asked me how I style it. And growing up I did not covet "other" hair, if anything I craved superthick hair in exchange for my own fine, 3c/4a locks.

    I am really ready for folks to stop trying to make Black women feel like shit, and that includes any Black woman who does not understand we have different experiences.

  • Anonymous says:

    I feel like this is perpetrating this idea that we as black women just aren't happy with ourselves. I enjoy this space because its a conglomerate of all types of women who want to encourage one another. From time to time, of course users of this space will bring up negative situation and to me that's fine because we're dealing in reality. BUT THIS ARTICLE….in my opinion has taken it to far. The writer is making some serious claims that in my opinion are just his beliefs. If you believe so strongly in this idea, I'm going to need you get out there and conduct some research or a case study to back this claim up. And if you don't have the desire to do it, stop perpetuating these claims and creating tension.

  • Anonymous says:

    I think the original comment is on point. He's talking about a common and well known situation. Moreover, he's speaking on his personal observation. Anyone who grew up in the 90's has seen the variety of "ponytail" hair extensions that were very popular amongst women of color. Most of the opposing comments seem to be coming from women who feel the need to defend themselves by saying that they are sooo surprised to hear ponytails being referred to as European, or that their ponytail was as normal and "flowing" as their white counterparts. Why so defensive? It's ironic that the majority of these commenters seem to be making the point of assimilation even better than the original post. I'm also noticing that there are no comments on the first paragraph.

  • Anonymous says:

    Not my experience.

  • Carmel Stacks says:

    Huh? I don't know any black women who lust after ponytails. Maybe it's a demographic/regional thing.

  • Bridget says:

    I am quite confused by this article and I simply want to respond with "Huh"? But nonetheless I will attempt to respond as follows: Growing up my sisters and I always wore our hair in ponytails. In fact, it was more common for black girls to wear their hair in ponytails than white girls. We didn't start wearing our hair "out" until we were teenagers. Moreover, when I was relaxed, the ponytail was my default hairstyle and no I didn't have a little ghetto nub, but a long flowing ponytail at that. Additionally, I find that women of all colors and ethnicities tend to rock ponytails whether it be at the gym or at a formal event. Finally thanks to Anon @1:19pm and Anon @1:42 pm for your comments. ITA!

  • MsCocoaBrown01 says:

    I was so glad when my hair grew back after big chopping, why you ask, lol because I could wear my ponytail again! I was so happy and didn't realize how much I missed my ponytail which I consider a staple. Now that I'm natural I can do a regular or puff ponytail, that is when I don't feel like having my hair out or wearing it all over my head or don't want to be bothered with my hair!

  • Bennii Blast says:

    Whaaat? I have never until this moment heard of a ponytail being referred to as a European thing. Really?

    The idea that ponytails are just go-to's for gym sessions etc is the point I find most questionable. Just like a commenter said up top – women white or black & asian for that matter, wear their hair in a ponytail when they dress up, on the catwalk, award shows etc. I mix with people from all over Europe everyday,and have lived in the UK all my life. Almost every white girl at my prom had their hair in a nice ponytail. And guess what? They paid a professional to do it to!

    Its disappointing that even the smallest things always have to come down to 'them & us'…

  • Jami says:

    Styling our hair has always been a "big affair" or "to-do". If this current natural hair "trend" lasts. Like reaaalllly lasts and doesn't end up like it did when the 1970s ended and the 1980s began, then years from now (and I do mean **years**, like our great-great-grandchildren), we will be able to do quick casual styles with our natural hair for simple moments in our lives (yes, even when we are going out in public he gym or on errands) and not give it a second thought. Peace.

  • Anonymous says:

    Thank you anon 1:19 pm. And then the attempt tp wrap a bow around it with "he's a guy who loves natural hair" like this should make us all happy. And from some of the posts who claim to "get" it, I guess all Black girls have super short hair and live in the projects. And all White girls are rapunzel with shiny gleaming ponytails while they're on the red carpet AND at the gym. Glamorize white women much?

    Between this and the post yesterday about the woman marrying for good hair-some of us still have MAD hair issues.

  • Anonymous says:

    Is this an attempt at bringing up a new issue??Many eomen, black/white/and everyone else, use ponytails in multiple ways.
    I am so tired of people making it seem like black women are somehow plagued with hair issues and white women are carefree and absolutely not focused on hair, at all.Stop dumping on black women! Doing so does not elevate your status.

  • Anonymous says:

    I totally get what the writer is saying. A long straight ponytail is elegant (brushed and smoothed) and a short, kinky one (growing up they called them "project nubs") is not even close to being elegant or nice. Yes, growing up the white girls i went to school with overall had longer hair than the black girls and they would wear their ponytails and it was acceptable seen as pretty. Black girls who has short ones were often teased. Even now you see these looks on the runway, red carpet, and other fancy places and they are not as easily accomplished with shorter/curly/kinky/coily hair.

  • Afroisland says:

    I never though of the ponytail as a non-black hairstyle or that black women see it as a fancy hairstyle lol. I wore a ponytail most of the time because my hair was longish and I could have it look nice without having to actually do my hair. The more I think about it, the more I feel that that post is reaching. Non-black women DO wear ponytails as a dressy hairstyle (watch any red carpet event and see how many white celebrities are wearing a ponytail). The ponytail is the go to hairstyle for any with longish hair. Contrary to his observations, there are black women (natural and relaxed) who do a ponytail with no problem.

  • Anonymous says:

    eh! this is just to much. I grew up in Kenya and my hair was always braided in a pony tail style or 2 pony tails one on each side. Now that am grown with natural hair I 2 strand twist my hair and gather it in a pony tail. these styles to me have never been European. So I guess a puff is Afrocentric and a ponytail is European? give me a break. It only seems natural for a woman with hair that can fit into a pony tail to gather it up on her head. Please stop limiting and labeling everything black women do as being European.

  • Nettie says:

    Well, right now I have my hair in two, very neat, french braids. They are the end product of my first flat ironing session that left me with only slightly less big hair. I have been debating for the last two days whether or not to keep it like that to go to my gma's for thanksgiving dinner. It's ludicrous to have to put so much thought into it because the braid look is all the rage on the red carpet and in magazines right now. And besides that, I think it looks nice. I haven't seem myself with a flat-ish hairstyle since I big chopped. It makes my face look totally different. But I can't shake the feeling that someone will be giving me the side eye tomorrow.

  • Anonymous says:

    Stop the madness. Black women who pay for elaborate hairdos as described are not going to salons to get the same messy ponytail look White women wear to the mall or the gym. That's like saying White women who perm are trying to get the afro puf look I wear when I walk my dogs. And guess what else-for elaborate updos, chignons, etc other races of women go to salons as well.

  • Blessed says:

    This highlights the difference in cultures,difference is what makes the world diverse and interesting.No one method, supersedes another.

    I love my ponytail my way and don't compare myself to what i ain't got but focus in what i do and it's beautiful! :)

  • Anonymous says:

    Yes!! His words really are dope and on point, espcially the part about the ponytail.

    I notice it all the time where I'm from, (St. Thomas, Virgin Islands) Here, it also manifests itself in the bun, or donut as we call it. A bun in white suburban America is what you put in little girls' hair when they dance ballet so it stays out of their faces and still looks elegant. Here, a bun is a big to-do. It's a go-to style for any special occasion, and the bigger the bun the better, perpetrating the illusion of longer, fuller hair. No, the good old sock bun is not enough, you gotta buy at least one pack of braiding hair, and one pack of <$25 human hair and sit at the hair dresser and wait for her to create the perfect bun. And this was all before the bun became the stuff of music videos and high fashion. I guess you can say we were ahead of the fashion curve, but it all seems like much ado about nothing to me.

    -Neesha Cherie

  • Anonymous says:

    Wearing ponytails have always been a staple hairstyle for all women including blacks. This is nothing new. White girls and women pay money to for the fancy upsweeps and ponytails too. I don't know where this article is going.

  • ambyrbrittany says:

    I've never thought about it like that. Maybe that is because growing up ponytails were not an acceptable style in my house. That was not a hairdo, like how you described white women wear them. My dad would ask when am I gettign my hair done if I wore a ponytail more than 3 days (max). Funny thing is, when I went natural, I thought he would think twist outs and afros were undone hairdo but he loves them!

  • Anonymous says:

    Yes, I have thought about this, but this isnt just for those that are natural but relax as well.

    White women wear up do's, pony tail & buns with no effort or a lot of thought. Most black women dont have the hair length to achieve these styles without some assistance via, relaxer, extensions or pieces. I work with a White lady with extremly thick wavy hair and she pins her hair up all the time with a pencil and no mirror.

  • Annabel says:

    When I was young, I had waist length hair and my mom often put my hair into a poofy ponytail or bun, to keep it out of my face. I am transitioning now and often pull my hair back in a bun or ponytail, when I don't have time for a rollerset or braid out. Not once in my life have I considered a ponytail an elegant style or formal style nor did I wear one to my wedding or prom. I don't know about most women, but a ponytail for me, is just a convenient and quick style whether worn on natural or straight hair. I don't feel (even after playing devil's advocate with myself) that it's me wearing my hair in an "eurocentric style". Yes- I'm nervous about my transition chop and seeing myself with shorter hair, however this is bc I'm not used to wearing my hair short. Sometimes a choice of style is just what it is…a choice of style.

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