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Curly Nikki

The Over-Justification of Natural vs. Not

By January 27th, 202164 Comments

The Over-Justification of Natural vs. Notvia Three Naturals

…by Bee of

I was out at an event a few days ago, when I ran into a friend of a friend. Though I know she had recently started wearing her hair naturally, here she was, rocking straight hair that looked great!

“Girl – your hair is getting long! You’re really taking care of it!” I said.

When I complimented her on her ‘do, she got really shy and sheepish. She kind of ducked her head down, pulled what I now know was a weave into a nervous ponytail, and started off on a long explanation that I didn’t really ask for.

“Oh, you know, I just needed a break – I do wash n’ gos all the time and it’s getting too cold! I’m still natural underneath though! I still count! I just needed to do something different for a while…and it’s like a, what do you call it…protective style – yeah, it’s a protective style so that I can just protect my curls, you know…”

Awwwwwwwkward. I didn’t ask for alladat. But it did make me take notice of something that happens when I’m around other Black women: the over-justification of one’s chosen hairstyle, especially if they feel “judged” for not wearing their hair naturally.

All too often, I find that when I’m out and about and the topic of hair comes up, a woman with a weave or a relaxer will come across almost apologetically when justifying her hair choice. It almost feels like they think l I’m ‘looking down on them’ for not embracing their natural hair like I have. After this happened multiple times in one week, I had to sit down and take some mental inventory. Was my facial expression set a certain way? Did I not sound sincere when I complimented her hair? Did I do anything to make her feel like she had to explain herself to me? I couldn’t come up with anything. When I realized that this happened with friends as well as strangers, I figured it likely wasn’t anything I had done directly, but was related to the relatively new perception of me being a natural-haired woman.

It’s similar to how men approach women. With my straight hair, it was “psssssst…”, and with my natural curls, I became a “Black queen” and an “empress”. I feel that women do the same thing, in a way. It’s all good for us to have relaxers and weaves, but once a woman switches it up to wear her hair naturally, there is a different perception. I’ve had women say they wish they could wear their hair naturally. That they would if their hair was “good enough”. That they don’t look good with short hair, so they could never do a big chop. All in all, the sentiment is that natural hair is something out of their reach. Perhaps that perceived unattainability leads some women to feel the need to justify their choices? I don’t know. Whatever it is, it seems to put me in the light of the dreaded “Natural Nazi”, an overzealous natural hair defender, who pities and attacks the ignorance of poor sistas who are slaves to the creamy crack. But I’m not!

I’ve been on the other side as well. Last year I went to the Toronto Natural Hair Show, and had my hair flat ironed at the time. I recall milling about the vendors booths with my homegirl Rowena (of the blog Nubiansoulslocks), who wears locs. More than once, I was assumed to have a relaxer or a weave, and noticed that the tone I was addressed with was different from the tone used to speak to Rowena. I remember almost wanting to preface any conversation with “So, I’m NATURAL, just have my hair flat ironed…” but I stopped myself. To me, it just wasn’t worth it, but as I reminisce now, I can understand where some of the need for explanation comes from. Whether the vendors knew it or not, the vibe they gave to Rowena was “yes, sista-girl!” and with me, it was more “poor thing…she’ll get enlightened soon.”

Sigh. Judgement, insecurity, and misconceptions – so unnecessary, yet so common to the human experience.Women, OWN YOU. All of it. Never apologize for who you are. We’re all learning, growing, and getting better, but always own where you are in this moment.

Do any of you out there know what I’m talking about? Have you ever been on either side of the matter? Why do you think we feel this need to justify ourselves to friends (who should know and love us anyways) and strangers (whose opinions shouldn’t matter)?


  • Kailyka says:

    This is my first time leaving a comment on *anything* because I could not agree more. I cut my relaxer off in 2010 and have been (oh so slowly) growing it out. It was a completely personal choice since my hair was not doing well with relaxers, and I didn't want to keep burning the crap out of my scalp or worrying about puffy roots, etc. I'm 26, and the last time I had no chemicals in my hair was over 10 years ago, so I have no idea idea what to do with it and have finally just gotten the hang of moisturizing my oh so thick and coarse hair. An accomplishment, sure, but I still swear by extensions. Braids, weaves, wigs, whatever. I happen to like my hair long, and it suits me better. I don't think I'm less natural just because I'm wearing extensions while it grows out and I learn what the heck to do with it in the mean time. I think it greats that so many women can wear their hair "out" and admire those who rock it and get so creative with their styling. But that's not me. And I shouldn't be side eyed for it. It's just like the "body acceptance" movement that still damns naturally skinny girls. Let them be skinny, and let us do what we want with our hair, without someone having something to say or a judging eye!

  • Kel says:

    This article is totally on point. I am natural, but I wear my hair straight the majority of the time because its just easier for me. However, when I choose to wear my hair curly, I am often approached with "why don't you wear your hair curly all the time, its so pretty." I really appreciate the compliment but I don't wear my hair curly all the time because I don't want to. That is my choice. Its almost as if some people think that you can't stand out and be noticed if you are wearing your hair straight. To me, it sounds like you (here I am referring to random folks that approach me) don't think my hair is pretty when its straight. I am also asked often if my hair is fake, which is a whole other annoyance. We all just need to be and do us, whatever that may be. You don't have to justify wearing your hair curly or straight to anyone. Perms, braids, weaves, natural, relaxed, who cares!!

  • BrooklynMermaid says:

    I recently went back to relaxing my hair after 14 years being "natural." I think is a personal choice and no matter what choice you make, as long as you are taking care of your hair, it should not matter.

  • loving my natural says:

    I agree 1000% Very well written response ^.^

  • AGREED says:

    i agree,a mess and a half. how she didnt know that was a weave?! she should have got the name of the stylist who did the weave because if she could not tell it was tracks, then that was money well spent.

  • Latricia Watson says:

    Well, I have been natural for over 4 years and besides having my hair braided last summer, I have only worn my hair, until now. For the past 3 months I have been rocking sew-ins. The first style was nice, but the one I have now I absolutely love. It is low maintenance and gives me a chance to experiment with color without making a permanent change. I can honestly say that initially, I did feel the need to justify my choice. But then I realized I was justifying myself and stopped doing it. My hair is my hair. What I do to it is my choice. I don't knock anyone who chooses to relax their hair, I did it for years. It just didn't work for me. At the end of the day, I think it is great that we as black women can be so versatile with our style and I just feel we need to stop all this debate over natural vs. relaxed and just love each other. I know there are underlying issues to black women's love for relaxed hair, but there are underlying issues that fuel this debate we currently have regarding how we choose to wear our hair.

  • Tammie Thomas says:

    This was a very thought provoking article. Our hair has always been a big thing. Whether we wear the afro, braids, twistouts or locs these styles showcase our pride in our heritage. There does seem to be a new awakening of pride in ones naturalness vs chemically straightening. Sure we shouldn't care about what the next one does but truth be told we've been made to feel ashamed of our texture for far too long. I always compliment sisters sporting natural curls or twas or whatever. I think it should be about liberation and freedom to be proud of what God blessed us with and make it beautiful. Relaxed hair is so common but when you see those bushy, twisty, spirally majestic coifs you gotta give it up!

  • Iris says:

    Where did these percentages come from? How do you know that these women wear make-up, eyelashes, nail polish or shave? Why did you feel the need to post false info to support your view? Perhaps you should educate yourself on the proper way to support an argument.

  • Anonymous says:

    I love this article!! It seems like SUCH A BIG DEAL to people whether OTHER people have natural or relaxed hair or whatever. I've had both relaxed and natural hair and right now it's natural. I think people make it something it doesn't need to be. ALL People of ALL colors change their hair from it's natural state. Just because I happen to be a woman of color and change my hair doesn't mean that I hate my hair or my ethnicity or anything of that matter…

  • Anonymous says:

    I wear my hair in its natural state and have no desire at all to straighten, flat iron and so on as I look so much better with my own texture. Do you and be done with it.

  • Chytastic says:

    I completely relate to this experience. I once made the big cut more out of frustration than desire and did not feel the sense of freedom that others felt. After a while I went back to relaxers. I admit that I did feel insecure with short hair but that was more from being teased as a child for rocking a TWA. I made friends with some natural haired women and felt like I had to defend my choices. Don't you know that breaks your hair, Your trying to be white. At times I felt that they were trying to convience me to change my mind. And I did like your friend and gave excuses. Truthfully none are needed, I am a grown woman. I don't explaine my choices in underwear, men, or diet. We shouldn't have to justify anything, one of the things I like about being a black woman is the ability to change my hair. We have so many options I can be straight and long one day and short and curly the next. We should embrace the fact that we have that choice and can have a professional career with it. Like the argument with some feminists, women are glad to have choices and some still choose to stay at home and raise kids, that doesn't make you any better or any less just a personal preference. Relaxers didn't break my hair, and everyones experiences are different. I plan to go back natural and realize I have too much emotional issues for the TWA.

  • Habiba Kaba says:

    other posters were right i think, that it just comes from people seeing someone comfortable with something that they are insecure about. I'm Muslim and wear a hijab (that scarf), and SO many times, men and women alike feel the need to come up and explain all of their religious baggage to me. like, i didnt ask u any of this and none of it concerns me. idk wut i want me to say, but imma just look at u… blink blink. so i think thats just it. when people do that its just their insecurities or that they feel guilty for something and maybe think that confessing to u with some explanation will help resolve their internal issues or bring themselves comfort… idk.

  • Kacie says:

    Saw this under something else and I thought I'd cross post it here!

    Tricia said…

    I honestly think it's interesting that people "happen" to like their hair better when it's straight, and "happen" to put money and time weaving/wigging to make it look differently than it is, then get defensive when someone points out the LOOOOOOONG history of racial oppression and segregation and media imagery that might have something to do with that preference.

    I mean, no person is a vacuum, all of us are a product of our culture. To deny that the messages about black women's (and their hair's) inferiority could IN NO WAY have ANYTHING to do with the fact you "happen to prefer" straight hair is just inane and silly.

    Not to mention, it's not "hating" to point out that there might be a connection to that long history of racial oppression and the fact that so many women of color straighten their hair, lighten their skin, and other things.

    It's like when men of color just "happen" to prefer white women, and get pissed when you point out that the fact that white women are portrayed as more desirable (see that awful Superbowl commercial..was it pepsi?) while black women are often portrayed differently in popular culture. You just "happen" to have formed an opinion that has been widely pushed by tv shows, media, music, and know for sure that had NO subconscious impact?

    Even I can remember asking my mom for hair "like my barbie" because even the black ones had hair that was different than mine. Is it not possible those little moments can add up?"

    I really agree…

  • Anonymous says:

    I have been natural for almost 12 years and once in a purple moon I flat iron my hair so of course when this happens it is a big deal because most people have never seen me with anything but my curls. Last time I flat ironed my hair, I went to my old natural salon to pick up my mother after her loc maintanance and when I walked in the door everyone's jaw dropped. One stylist even asked me in a hushed tone if I had gotten a perm. I laughed and told her no but I always find the reactions I get from people when I am straight vs my twist out to be interesting. Glad to know it is not just me!

  • alyson says:

    sorry, i don't mean to go off topic, but is anyone here also from toronto that knows when the toronto natural hair show is happening this year?

  • Anonymous says:

    I love your article. Why can't we embrace and uplift our sisters no matter what hairstyle they rock? I wear my hair natural, weaves and wigs. I get bored and I love to experiment with how I look. Whether I wear my real hair out or extensions, at the end of the day I am a strong Black woman. There are those who, by their own ego and arrogance, take such an extremist view on the hair issue that in the long run it will end up doing more harm to their cause than good. I'll read rude, scathing comments from some who are pro-natural hair towards those that may have weaves or relaxed hair. Yet, how are you enlightened if you are insulting, downgrading others? I've known some friends that went back to other styles after being natural. Some of the things that were being said to them were insane as if they betrayed a race of people. It's sad considering it's not all, just only a select few who are taking it overboard. But after all is said and done, you can wear dreads, afro, weave, wigs, mohawk, etc. and bleed the same blood. We are Black women and we should love, respect each other. No one is above anyone. We're all human beings.

  • Anonymous says:

    Why would you compliment her hair and say it’s getting really long when it was an obvious weave? I’m sorry, but that just seems messy to me.

  • Anonymous says:

    To each, its own. I never understand why Black women allow one more thing to divide us, as if skin color isn't enough. We have went from complexion to hair texture.

  • Anonymous says:

    @anonymous 8:08

    I can see no else addressing the history of black hair so I all I can to you is Ashe and you are a deep thinker . respect to all others who have posted on this complicated issue. from: anonymous 2:14

  • Anonymous says:

    AWESOME post! Me and a friend were having this conversation recently. Actually it comes up more often than not. It's sad, but there is a lot of judgement when it comes to what is "natural". I've been natural going on 7 years. At that time, when I decided to stop using relaxers…I'd never heard so much fuss about natural vs. relaxers or natural vs. weave. Who cares! Whatever makes you happy! I've seen on many occassions where women would basically say…"Stop being a victim" or "stop hiding behind weaves and love your hair". First off who said I didn't love my hair…or who is the victim? Just because you CHOOSE not to wear weave or a relaxer is your business, not mine. I will always do ME! I love the versatility of my hair period! If I want to rock a weave when I want to straighten my hair or wear a wig, it shouldn't matter to others what I do to my hair. I do not feel any less natural regardless of my choice of style or preference at the time. Thank you for sharing this!

  • Anonymous says:

    Omg, can we please Stop this natural hair vs relaxed thing. WHO CARES!!!!!! Hair is hair. I've never apologized for being relaxed!! I've always been relaxed and always will! My hair is probably healthier, longer, and thicker than 90% or women I come across natural or relaxed! Natural doesn't alway mean health and relaxed didn't always mean damaged. It is all about knowing how to properly take care of your own hair. Insecurities don't come from hair alone. That girl you met has insecurities that goes way deeper than her hair. She is most likely using her hair to cover up those insecurities she posess. I am bothered by both relaxed and natural women. I am bothered by relaxed women when I see overly processed hair, dead and stringy ends, thin and lifeless hair. This applies to about 80% of relaxed women and this is the reason we get such a bad reputation. Educate yourselves. Some natural women have this attitude, which you spoke about, which make them fill as if they have a right to look down on relaxed women. This I never understood. You hold no more power than me, you are not more entwined with your inner beauty or spirit than I am, and it doesn't mean you have more confidence than me. If some of them feel they can take it there at the end of the day, how natural are you really? Your hair is unprocessed but you wear make-up. You shave your arm pits. You shave your legs. You arch your eyes brows. You polish your finger nails and toes. You wear fake eye lashes. Some of you dye your hair. Why do we as black women have to always find something to separate is from other black women. First it was complexion, meaning the light skin women are prettier than dark skin women or that dark skin women have horrible attitudes. Why can't we just embrace ALL black women and be confident in ourselves and happy for other black women.

  • Anonymous says:

    I find women explaining themselves to me if they are not wearing their natural hair. I don't know why they feel the need to do this, but I could care less. I just can't stand looking at someone with a bad hair-do lol! I realize it is because of their own insecurities or maybe they see it as a way to connect as women and have a topic to talk about. I'm not sure, but to be honest I sometimes forget that I have all of these coils/curls sitting on top of my head until someone reminds me.
    I went natural with the intention of wearing my hair straight, but loved the look/texture/convenience of keeping it curly. Every once in a while when I want a change I wear it straight with no apologies or concerns about what other ppl may think.
    I do notice different reactions from ppl with the different styles. Some ppl like both on me. I haven't met a person who disliked my curls or disliked it straight, but I do run into ppl who always wonder what it looks like straight/how long it is. All in all I could care less. It's about what I want and how I feel. Versatility is beautiful!

  • Stephanie-In-Transition!! says:

    I know I struggle with this. I've been transitioning for about 5 months and I feel like I've gotten dirty looks from some of my already natural friends when I straighten my hair. It's hard being a college kid and taking time to "set" my hair (which takes about 10 hours)in zulu knots or braid outs, etc. without using heat and taking care of all of my school work, job responsibilities, etc.

    However, I don't make excuses for any of it. I wear my hair the way I want to because I'm the one who has to live with it. I consider other opinions but I don't consider them too long cause I've got a life to live.

  • Anonymous says:

    Psh! Apologetic, never. I transitioned from October until Jan then BC'd and in between that time I wore a sew in and a cap and I just did a new install this past Saturday. I am not apologetic AT ALL. I am doing this because I want to get my hair to a length where I am comfortable wearing it out daily. I love my sew ins! Your friend needs some confidence, as I've gotten older I've realized that I don't need to explain myself to anyone. She needs to learn that lesson too.

  • Anonymous says:

    fact is you can have healthy hair no matter how you choose to wear, It just a certain way to take care of it. So judgement shouldnt be pass

  • Nichole says:

    Great post. I've never felt the need to justify hair choices or other choices in life because quite honestly if someone isn't financing their recommendations for me, there is no discussion. Let's celebrate and respect our individuality and how we choose to express ourselves. Mainstream white America does not on the whole allow us as black people the freedom to be individuals, and we unfortunately can fall into the trap and try to lump ourselves to think, act, look alike. I may believe that "natural" hair for black women is the better choice because of political, health or whatever reasons, but most of us were once "unenlightened" and were doing just fine. Life is a journey and we grow and make changes if and when we need to. I'm thankful we have choice. No need to explain your personal choices. Someone compliments you on your weave, simply thank them and keep it moving. It's yours afterall as you bought it!

  • Anonymous says:

    @ Anonymous 2:14 PM
    I totally agree with you. I went natural solely because I was tired of conforming to the idealized style of beauty. While I respect people's decisions to do whatever they want to their own hair, I will not sit here and act like "hair is just hair". The history and politics of black hair run deep. For hundreds of years blacks were made to feel that they were inferior due their skin and other physical features such as hair. Relaxers and hot combs were invented to help make black people feel more attractive, to give them a better chance of conforming which could lead to success in the white dominated society. Music videos and other media outlets tell black women that long, straight hair is attractive. Black men are fed the same message as well. It is self-hatred experienced by a lot of women. If you roll your eyes, make negative comments, or make excuses for yourself when in the presence of a natural, you are projecting your own insecurities. Just look how self-conscious some women may get if they are in "need" of a relaxer touch-up, or how some black women feel naked or less-than if they were to step outside without a long weave or wig. Yeah, so let's not sit here and act like hair is just hair to black women. I'll say it: I respect the woman more who is not afraid to embrace her roots by leaving the relaxer and weaves on the self. You are who you are. No matter how many times you get a touch up, your hair will continue to grow in kinky. No matter how many tracks your sew in, thread is the only thing maintaining the illusion.

  • Sophie says:

    I think she probably over-explained because she couldn't just say "thanks!" because it was a weave. It's an honest mistake though. It's true that if there wasn't any awkwardness about wearing protective styles she might have been able to thank you for confirming that her weave looked good! I know it's been an extra struggle to explain protective styles with extensions for me, because there are not many natural black people (or black people at all!) where I come from. But now I realize that when I just lump it in with all the other unique things my hair does, and honestly explain that I want to protect my hair because it's so easily broken, people don't give it two thoughts!

  • Amber says:

    When I first big chopped, I always felt the need to justify to friends and family why I did it. I admit at the beginning I was one of those self proclaimed "natural hair activists", holding up the natural hair banner , especially to all of my relaxed family members who kept trying to tear me down. I wanted people to accept my decision and I wanted others to compliment what I was doing. Within the past few year, I came to the much needed conclusion that first, it doesn't matter what others think about the hair that grows out of my head and how I choose to wear it and second, who in the heck am I to judge someone else based on how they choose to wear their hair. I was only doing it to block my own insecurities. Being natural can be something to be proud of but , it really isn't all that serious. Whether you wear a weave, straighten your own hair, relax it , who cares, just rock it ! Own it ! The only opinion, speculation, decision, feeling …that matters in regards to your hair is yours.

  • Anonymous says:

    You need to reread. She thought it was her hair at first. She later states,"what I now know was a weave".

  • Anonymous says:

    hey Bee, i understood that you thought at first that it was her hair, and i think the majority of people do too. ;-)

  • Bee says:

    For the folks who are misconstruing the "weave" comment – I thought she had flat ironed her own hair. I found out it was a weave after my compliment. No shade thrown.

  • Anonymous says:

    Why would you say her hair is getting long if you knew it was weave. You were throwing a little shade as someone already mentioned, and possibly added to her insecurities. We need to support and up lift one another. Being natural isn't always easy. It's just like starting a new relationship.

  • Spokenheart says:

    I have been on both sides. Especially the "i wish i could….." conversations. It is a very interesting way we choose to interact with each other because of these subtle differences.

  • Bridget says:

    ITA with Annonymous @ 12:34: "Let's celebrate that we have options, that we can do our hair and express ourselves the way we wish." Embracing my African aesthic means being free to express all of my hair options and not limiting myself and refusing to be pressured by society or the natural nazi community. My hair is beautiful because of its versatility and I love it that I have the ability to wear my hair in a variety of ways. There are no limits to what my hair can do and that is just freaking awesome!

  • Anonymous says:

    I understand we all need to respecct one other that should go without saying. I ve been natural for almost ten years and my reason was not for healthy hair but to embrace my African aesthetic and for social/ political reasons as I see straight hair as a conforming , self hating view ,but that is because I am a lover of history and God's design.So is there anyone else not ashamed to say they believe natural hair (un straightend ) is best..keep it real

  • Anonymous says:

    This happens to me constantly esp. in central PA—I always get the sideways glance from all either it's perceived as too ethnic or I am trying too hard! My fave is oh what does it look like straight? Who cares!

  • Desiree says:

    Sometimes the very phrase "natural hair" gives a bad impression, because it implies that women who perm, or wear weave/wigs are "unnatural." I've done all the above and I defy anybody to tell me I wasn't cute in any or all of them. I've been "natural" for two years, and sometimes I press, sometimes I fro it up, and sometimes I rock the twists or braids. I do it because it's fun, not to make a statement. My mother is blind, and she keeps her hair permed because it's simple. I love her hair, and if we tell the truth, we've all missed the simplicity of the permed days sometimes. IT IS JUST HAIR. Stop explaining it or feeling like you have to. Change it like you would any other accessory, cuz that's all it is. An accessory. Natural hair nazis have a lot to answer for. Black women have enough problems in this world without how we choose tom wear our hair becoming one of them.

  • Bee says:

    @ Anon @ 1:14 – I live in Toronto, so us Jamaicans (and nuff other West Indians) are all over the place. LOL!

  • Anonymous says:

    by the "psst" and the empress i'd say you hang out in a very jamaican neighborhood.

  • Bee says:

    Thanks for the love y'all! I'm glad I'm not the only one who's experienced this or felt this way.

    Since I've been natural, I've gone through different paradigm shifts, and now I'm of the mindset that healthy hair is the goal. I never want anyone to feel slighted, whether natural/relaxed/bald/weaved/whatever. I hate feeling like I have to explain why I chose to flat iron or colour, so I don't feel like anyone needs to explain to me why they chose to do what they do with their hair.

    Personal preference and what I think is "right" is one thing, but respect is another. Thanks for reading :)


  • Anonymous says:

    If you new it was a weave why say "oh girl your hair has gotten long" ? That was nothing but SHADE.

  • Anonymous says:

    I think you're right. I also think it has to do with how we, WOC, have always been toward each other about our hair. I mean, I remember when I was younger just how awful I felt that my hair couldn't be as straight, shiny and healthy as my counterparts, and I had to justify the way my hair looked when it wasn't up to par.

    I just wish we could appreciate each other. Some women rock the straight hair wonderfully; some women have long beautiful locs; while some women rock the short fro. Let's celebrate that we have options, that we can do our hair and express ourselves the way we wish.

  • Abstract says:

    I agree with CurlyintheA…I've been natural for I guess about 7 years now and I've had someone with locs talk to me kinda crazy like I'm not natural enough because my hair wasn't loc'd…really? Come on. Some people, I tell ya…
    I think that as naturals, we all want acceptance in society. We don't want to be told our hair is less attractive and less professional. It's all about inclusion. That, to me, does not include putting down others for their own hair choices.

  • says:

    I wore a perm/relaxer for 23 years before going natural on July 1 of 2011 and my mom is a cosmetologist who has been natural all of her life except for having color in her hair. I love my natural hair but I also respect people if they want to wear a weave, wig or have a perm what difference does it make it is our choice and our hair. I believe that a person is not defined by their hair but their character!

  • curvyinthecity says:

    I have pondered this exact thing a few times before. It is so very true that people approach me differently when my hair is flat ironed than when its in its Afro state. And in college I got in to a screaming match with a girl who was trying to "school" me about why I wasn't natural, all the while screaming that I had a press and curl.

    I think there is this perception that woman who choose to don straight hair (pressed, weaved or permed–I have been all of the above) are not "keeping it real." Or that those of us that rock a natural can do so because we have the right sort of "face" or "look" or texture.

    Personally, I am natural because I prefer the versatility. With natural hair, all in the same week I could be silky pressed, have a dyed red afro and also a weave.

    It is a woman's prerogative to change her hair as often as possible, and I think it is the multitude of styles you can maintain while still doing the best by your hair and scalp and that you should be able to rock either without fear of ridicule.

  • Anonymous says:

    Beautifully stated!

  • The Healthy Hair Diva says:

    I'm so happy this article was posted! As a hairstylist who styles natural and relaxed hair, my clients and I feel pressure on both ends! First let me say that any hair you have growing healthy from your scalp (not the texture) is good hair! As long as your stylist or you are taking great care of your hair it will be healthy! Of course adding any chemical whether it's color or relaxer or straightner will change the integrity of your hair, natural or not! I have clients that have felt guilty when they tried to leave the relaxers alone, but their lifestyles (example: exercising, cost, time) made it difficult, and after a few months went back to relaxers. And others who had to go natural and felt guilty because it was the only way to save their hair! (due to diet and medications, etc…).

    I don't like what's happening in the African American hair world! It reminds me of the old "Light Skin vs. Dark Skin, Good Hair vs. Bad Hair", you know this 'ish needs to stop! Why not celebrate our heritage by remembering that we are blessed to have so many choices!

    I also feel that as hairstylist we should continue educating ourselves on a regular basis, to provide the best care for naturally or chemically styled hair (including products)! Then we can educate our clients on how to take care of their hair between salon visits!

    My final thought is: There are a lot of videos with unexperienced, untrained, and unlicensed people giving information on how to take care of hair! Some good and some awful! Remember not one routine or product will work for everyone! (different textures, densities, porosities, and curl patterns) And please leave chemical processes to the professionals. Look at other women and their hair! If it's healthy, no matter chemically treated or natural, get the name of their stylist and the salon!

    Peace and Blessings to all!

  • Anonymous says:

    You took the words right out of my mouth. I always get "that's a lot a work huh"……I say yes but its worth it. Not sure what they mean but I just keep it moving because I don't care how other people wear their hair.

  • T Monique says:

    Me too. I think because my hair is so massive people just assume im Mother Natural. Im also a vegan/vegetarian so I find that people try to justify their hair and food choices with me. Im not like that at all, what someone chooses to do with their hair and body is their choice. As for me and mine; we try to stay holistic and chemical free whenever possible.

  • Anonymous says:

    I've never cared one way or the other. I've been natural for 11 years and have worn my hair in braids, sew in weaves, quick weaves, etc. People are always surprised when I wear my hair out, but who cares its my hair! It doesn't take away the fact that I'm natural.

  • just trying to make it says:

    i've been there myself!! some of my friends seem to have the need to explain that to me even when I don't ask for it. I don't even mind how people wear their hair. to me, that's a matter of personal preference. in fact, i've always been natural but i used to relax my mom's hair all the time when she used to relax. but it's a projection because i think straight hair is pretty too. i just like a little texture to mine. my sister is natural but straightens as much as possible with blow dryers, rollersets, and sometimes a flat iron because she prefers the straight look. nothing's wrong with that to me, but some people act as if I have a problem with it or sometimes even try to put me down because of it, but i just ignore it and move on. thanks for this great post!!!

  • Anonymous says:

    Yes, me! I went from natural to relaxed to natural and back to relaxed. I find myself sometimes justifying my hair decision. Thanks for the article and bringing this to my conscious mind. He** this is my head and my hair! If I wanna change my hair I can change it! I can do what I want with it anytime I feel like it. Again thanks for the article, I will no longer offer an explanation even when asked. As I always say, "do you." So Im just "doing me".

  • Sonya says:

    Love this post! I blogged about something similar last month (

    I agree with Anonymous 10:39. The "hair wars" are really about insecurity and immaturity. Once a woman becomes secure in her own skin (and hair), then there's no need to think of her hair as some kind of cultural weapon against the so-called unenlightened black woman.

  • Anonymous says:

    @ABRUNNIN – Amen to that. More complicated then it needs to be. Your hair is your hair…do what you want. Period.


  • Anonymous says:

    Just had this conversation and yes I've been there and I am still there lol. I found myself explaining to my family my transitioning phase and then I'm like why am I explaining, it's my hair. Just like you said, OWN IT!

  • ABRUNNIN says:

    We make it more complicated than it really is

  • The Matriarch says:

    Such a great post! This was something i was struggling with myself months ago when trying to make the decision of going natural. I got relaxers but seldom wore it straight, and when i got asked if my hair was natural i gave a "complicated" answer. "Well no, i get relaxers but i just wear it in natural styles and uh…." After We left, i started to ask myself the same questions, why did i feel the need to give an explanation, If i truly was secure in myself, why did i feel shame and guilt when answering the question?
    It took a while of self talk, before i realized i didn't accept myself nor have i been listening to my heart in regards to my hair. After much needed spiritual soul searching, I have decided to say good bye to the relaxer. It had become a security blanket for my insecurities and i wanted to make this change for my spirit and the woman i wanted to become. Not because it's the "thing" to do, a fad, or pressure from others..but for me and i rejoice in the decision. It's going to be a long road ahead but at least when people ask now i can confidently answer " No i'm not natural, but i'm a woman in progress!"

  • pinkgirlfluff says:

    I have experienced total strangers explain to me why they don't wear their hair natural and blah blah blah. I never ask and honestly I don't care why other people do what they do or don't do to their hair.

    It makes me so uncomfortable when people do that. It always happens in a public setting. People tend to always emphasize the so called horrors of their natural texture to me. If you don't like your hair isn't that a personal issue? Why broadcast it to a stranger in a store?

    If I decide to straighten my hair one day I don't feel the need to explain it to anyone. I just don't care enough.

  • Anonymous says:

    A lot of the disconnect comes from a persons own insecurities. Sometimes words don't even need to be said and a person still feels some kind of way and project their insecurities on others and truly believe that other person is judging them. I just want everyone to feel comfortable with themselves. Natural, straight, weaved up, relaxed, whatever just be comfortable with it. When you hold on to any of it as a security thing and become dependent, its not healthy. I say live and let live and be confident in yourself.

  • CurlyInTheA says:

    Hair is hair. So tired of the put downs on relaxers or straight hair. For years I was a flat ironed girl. How you wear your hair is a choice.

    And let's keep it real: Probably 90% of us have had perms at some point or another in our lifetime.

    So I don't know why folks act brand new when it comes to this, as if they didn't wear perms/flat ironed hair just a few short years ago. You'd think that after their transition/big chop, they now have hair amnesia.

    Had a discussion with a woman wearing locs and another woman wearing a weave and she half jokingly said,"I'm a weave girl and I'm not welcome over here." I told her, we are not like that.

    Don't make any apologies for relaxed, straight hair or natural hair. Do you — and don't listen to the natural police who are ready to arrest you about whether heat trained or colored hair is "natural." Healthy natural hair is pretty. And so is healthy relaxed hair.

    Put downs — whether relaxed or natural — ain't cute. I'm an absolute SUCKA for a fly, short relaxed cut! It always looks so stylish to me.

  • Carr says:

    I LOVE when these type of blogs are posted! I'm SO tired of reading the "back and forths" of who's really natural and who's not! I had a friend of mine say that because I do flat-iron my hair sometimes….I'm NOT natural because my hair is not in it's "NATURAL" state. Now, does this hold true for those who do TnC's, bantu knots, or braid-outs? Cuz TECHNICALLY, hair is not in it's natural state then either….

  • Anonymous says:

    Sure do! Every time I'm out with one of my gf's, she has a really cute sleek cut that looks great on her, someone will compliment her on her hair and she'll look at me (almost w/a scared/sheepish look) and say in a sad voice yeah, but I really wish I could go natural like (my name). It makes me really uncomfortable because I think she looks great.

  • Q says:

    I've been there too. I've been natural for years but always wore press and curls until recently.

    I think people need to take a BIG chill pill and worry about themselves instead of judging others for whats on their heads. Who cares if you rock a weave, color, WnG, Press and curl, or a relaxer? Its YOUR hair so you CAN and WILL do whatever you want with it, no explaination neccesary.

    For those who judge, stop and think. Are you any better than people that judge others by the color of their skin or their sexual preference? All this hatin just needs to come to an end!

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