Being natural in a relaxer dominated society is challenging at best, but facing scrutiny within the natural hair community is another issue. It’s like being a minority within the minority.
A few weeks ago I chose to straighten my hair. Yeah yeah, I know heat is the devil, yada yada yada. We all know the threat of heat damage that comes with the use of the flat iron (dryness, loss of curl pattern, etc.), but before you revoke my naturalista card, let me explain. About twice a year, curiosity starts to show its nagging head and I begin to wonder how my hair will look straight after wearing it in its curly state for so long. Mostly it is the desire for a different look that takes over and it usually occurs after watching a fly a$ Beyonce video where she is flinging her weave all over the place.
After the battle with my 400 degree ceramic weapon, just hot enough to flatten out my curls one by one, I looked in the mirror expecting to see Beyonce stare back at me. It was almost as if I had a wig on and I took on a whole new persona. My hair was pretty, don’t get me wrong. Tons of movement, lots of shine but I’m no Beyonce, no matter what dance moves I break out into. *cue the “Party” music*. But my straight strands just laid there all sad and pitiful like. As the day went on and I caught a few glimpses of myself, it began to grow on me a little. I figured I might as well make the best out it and rock it for a few days.
When I was in the company of other fellow naturals, there was a change in dynamic. I got the side eye on more than one occasion and quickly began to feel as if I was being judged because my hair was straight. Comments such as:
“Why would you put all that heat on your hair?!”
“Now you look like everybody else”
“If you manipulate your curl pattern, you are not natural”
“I thought you were natural?”
I started to feel as if I didn’t belong or I was being kicked off the Natural Island like on Survivor. I even found myself justifying my decision and explaining myself. I know “it’s only hair” but it appeared that the camaraderie was missing and I was not allowed to participate in round table discussions about natural hair. I was made to feel as if my experiences didn’t count because I was wearing my hair straight. I am wondering if this happens to other naturals when they wear their hair straight.