Skip to main content
Curly Nikki

I’ve Never Seen That Before

By January 27th, 202133 Comments
I’ve Never Seen That Beforeby Noni of Three Naturals

It’s funny. Sometimes a natural girl just wants a little acknowledgement. Some positive reinforcement on the whole counter-culture natural hair thing. “Hey girl, that looks cute”, or “I’m gonna try that style when I get home”

Always when we’re riding high… one innocent comment comes along.

Was talking with a co-worker the other day and he says: “Hey that’s pretty cool, I’ve never seen anything like that . How’d you get your hair like that? It looks kinda like a toque.

Errrr….. *scrape needle offff the record*

A toque? A thick wool hat worn in winter on the bitterest coldest days? Whaaaat???

I promise you it took everything within me not to immediately pull out the hanging flat twist I’d styled at the front of my head. But as soon as he left the room I did. Found a bobby pin and worked some hair magic. Cause, somehow, my self-esteem just got shook. It was crazy, I found myself trying to explain to this clueless guy the history of black hair, shrinkage, blogging and protective styling in 30 seconds. I’m not mad at him. I was able to laugh. But, I realize that there are some things in life that you gotta make sure that you always have under guard… your heart, your beliefs, your self-esteem….

A toque?

Can you relate?

CN Says:

I would’ve been all, ‘shut your mouth when you’re talkin’ to me’!

But honestly–I still get off the wall comments like that and although they ‘shake’ me less, sometimes, they have the ability to stop me in my tracks. It’s easy to say that we should ‘take less stock in family/friend/stranger’s opinions’, but much more difficult to put into practice. I regularly work with clients on this very thing, but still struggle with it myself.

33 Comments

  • chellym says:

    my manager and coworkers always have something to say about my natural hair and honestly it really bothers me any advice on what i should say or do?

  • watkinsabob says:

    i don't think negative comments "offend or hurt me", but its definitely always mind-boggling that people feel their opinions matter to you or will somehow cause change. Because why else would they say it? (blank stare)

  • DecemberPumpkin says:

    that wasn't very nice that boy needs some education and fast

  • AlongCameStacey says:

    Actually, in this situation I would probably just come right out and tell this person "That's pretty offensive." Now he's back out in the world completely ignorant about natural hair and how to talk to women about their natural hair.

  • AlongCameStacey says:

    My two favorite replies to people talking about my hair.

    "At some point you convinced yourself that your opinion mattered to me"

    AND

    "Does my natural hair offend you?"

    Both are sure ways to get people to feel stupid or at the very least never mention your hair again.

  • Anonymous says:

    Yes, I can relate. I wear a big afro. I have a male Caucasian colleague who finds it necessary to comment on hair almost every day. "It is getting too big, why is it shorter today, why do you wear your hair that way, that big hair makes you too tall". Yep, all direct quotes. I sat him down one day and explained my Kinky curly hair, shrinkage factors, and protective styling. He was blushing red when I finished. Since that day, he now says stuff like "somebody cowashed last night". My hair fascinates him just because it is different from his. Any insults hurled by him were not intended. All very funny ignorance, essentially.

  • Anonymous says:

    Considering I had no idea the proper term for this hat was a "toque", I would have just done the *nods head, vacant smile* method and kept it moving lol.

  • Anonymous says:

    LOL..Some of these comments were good for my soul. Made me LMBO! I am 2 1/2 mo. into transition and plan to BC next month so I know the inconsiderate comments are coming my way. Now I know how to respond to them thanks to you ladies. 🙂

  • Sophie says:

    I think a lot of you are being too hard on people. Misguided is not necessarily malicious. I've accidentally said the wrong thing before when I mean well, and while I don't think I would compare a woman's hairdo to Albert Einstein (!) I am not so put together so as to never put my foot in my mouth. The solution to this problem is to be confident. I hear what you all are saying about going from "I look awesome!" to "Err… maybe I shouldn't do this style again. Ever. And today I should hide." but I realize when I have those feelings that I need to have my own confidence. If some person told me I was too tall, I wouldn't mind because I am sure it's not true (because I'm 5'3")! Similarly, if someone's opinion of my hair is not what I want it to be, I shouldn't mind because I know my hair is healthy and I like what it's doing!

  • Anonymous says:

    Unfortunately this is a very common event: folks think it's alright to make snide/ignorant arse comments about natural hair and believe that we won't say anything back to them. Even my family and close friends had something to say, but it wasn't that harsh and I just gave them the stank eye. Funny now cause some of them are now natural, too. Hmph…well, like others, I agree with CurlyintheA..lol at "nice/nasty". When someone asks what did I do to my hair or why would I come out the house like that, I turn it back to them: what did you do to your face? ooh, what's going on with your zit? or just stare at them and "ooh, you got something in your teeth".

  • Anonymous says:

    CurlyInTheA,

    You and I are on the same page. I'm from MI also and I laughed out loud when you said skullie because that is exactly what we call those up here.

  • Anonymous says:

    In total agreement with CurlyInTheA.
    All too often people do too much feeling(and expressing), instead of thinking(and being silent).

  • b. says:

    Okay, I don't feel so bad for not knowing what a toque was.

    Down in NC we called them "toe-boggans" (phonetic spelling).

    Now I know! 🙂

    Most of my reactions are like Michelle's above. But sometimes, I feel like CurlyintheA does. Girl I really feel you…

  • LM says:

    When I receive ignorant comments, I shrug my shoulders and say a drawn out "okkkkk?" to let them know that their opinion is very insignificant to me. Or I will just give them the raised eyebrow and frown and then turn my head and proceed to ignore them. These tend to do the trick most of the time, and they seem to be discouraged to say anything else to me about the matter.

  • Anonymous says:

    i literally laughed out loud at CN's comment lmao

  • Anonymous says:

    1st thought: wth is a toque?
    2nd thought: hmmm, pretty sure he thought he was clever making that ignorant arse comment
    1st action: taebo his arse
    2nd action: release the twist and flo on

    sorry, not feeling very cordial today.

  • Anonymous says:

    I wore my hair bigger than I normally wear it and one my coworkers told me I looked like Albert Einstein. It took everything in me not to shut her down.

  • IAMSONOTMYHAIR says:

    BWAAAHAAHAA! Nikki, you too silly!

  • Anonymous says:

    i came into work with a twist out. one of my co-workers (a black managerial lady) asked me if i twisted my hair up or something then proceeded to tell me she didn't like it. i just said okay cuz when she said it i immediately looked at her receding edges. but it's funny my boss is this white guy who is completely in love with my hair whenever i twist or braid it he thinks its nice then immediately asks when the fro will be back lol

  • Candice says:

    Yesterday I came to work in two-strand twists and my white coworker said it looked like a quilt. Huh? lol

  • Anonymous says:

    I feel blessed that as a new natural (10 month transition) and now 7 months natural, I have never had any negative comments about my natural hair, at least not to my face. lol! When I did the big chop, I did have a few people say they were mad that I cut all my hair off. Oh well!

    Most days I absolutely LOVE my hair and I can't even count how many compliments I receive about it at work, church, at the mall, gym–everywhere! However, I do have those insecure moments where I look in the mirror and process that I don't have long, straight hair anymore, but then I get over it. 😉

    I work in a large healthcare facility, and there are quite a few naturals rocking afro's and all types of styles.

    The main style I wear is a twist out or twists, and I have no plans to straighten my hair as of yet. I absolutely do not want to risk getting heat damage.

    I say shake off any negative comments, and keep it moving.

  • M says:

    LOL@C Smith. I didn't know what a toque was either. At least I'm not alone! I can totally relate to this article. I be getting the side eye all the time but don't get too much flak anymore. I remember a few years ago though, no one said anything about my natural hair ( at work) but as SOON as I straightened it people were all over me. Like almost every time. Shame.

  • Anonymous says:

    My white neighbors say, Oh you look so pretty when your hair is strait! When I fro it out they jump back and say….Oh! Like it scares them! LMBO

  • Annie L. says:

    I didn't share the OP's reaction but do understand the let-down. When you're going for princess and someone interprets truck-driver, insecurities about feminized beauty and how natural hair is perceived can surface!

    Thankfully my only negative responses were when my hair actually DID look like hell back-in-the-day during my first attempts at twist-outs and fros – *cringe, blush, shame*. They were always a hit when a stylist did it. I have gotten the cautiously polite, 'that's so…..exotic!' reaction from a couple of co-workers years ago, the memories make me laugh!

  • Anonymous says:

    I honestly only get those comments from either "relaxed" family or black people. Most of my white coworkers just keep it to themselves. Usually…

    I've been natural for about four years and I've still yet to get a routine so my fro makes a comeback quite often. I let them roll off and keep it moving. I didn't do this for them.

  • CURLYNIKKI says:

    I had to google 'toque' too!

  • Anonymous says:

    reminds me of the time one of my white male friends asked if he could touch my hair. He concluded while laughing that "it looks and feels just like pubic hair". my jaw just dropped to the floor, i couldn't believe what i was hearing.

  • Sequitta J. says:

    Were you wearing a puff? Maybe he likened it to a toque as in a chef hat (those are called toques also).

    I have gotten the "how did you get your hair to look like that?" question a lot. I'm a smart a** though! My response is "Well I was born Black." LMBO!!!

  • CurlyInTheA says:

    Sorry, ya'll, I'm not there yet. Now, I will admit that in almost 40 years — and most of them spent living in Michigan — I've never heard of a "toque."

    Around my old parts, that's a skullie, skull cap or a hat. Calll me sensitive, but calling hair a "hat" isn't a compliment in my book. Who wants "hat" hair (how your hair looks after you take off your hat)?

    Anywho, I take hair comments seriously. I know, I know. Sometimes it takes too much energy to respond to negativity, but bump that.

    Your hair is not an inanimate object. Talking about my hair is talking about me … no different than if you ragged on my clothes or bodyparts.

    Folks think they can make all kind of snide remarks about hair. Come at me snide and I promise you, you will get it doubled back and then some.

    I prefer to be direct and nice/nasty when it comes to co-worker situations. But trust me, after I'm done, they will know not to cross that line ever again.

    Plus, I love a good comeback. For those, "you did something with your hair or it looks better straightened" commenters, you can always say, I prefer to wear my natural hair. You have a problem with it? That puts the question back on them — and forces them to squirm for a bit.

    Unless you are a good friend, folks should really keep their mouths closed if they don't have anything good to say. My hair may be look a mess (we all have our good/bad hair days) but keep your comments to yourself.

    http://www.HairNista.blogspot.com

  • Anonymous says:

    Never heard of a toque until just now.

  • LBell says:

    I guess the "toque" comparison doesn't offend me. Afro-textured hair is unique among all textures in that it can be sculpted and molded into shapes without a lot of extra product or effort. Of course there are good and bad sides to everything ("You need to pick your afro daddy/Because it's flat on one side…") but IMO "toque" isn't the worst thing your hair could be called…

    This is kinda-sorta related: Literally the last time I straightened my hair — over 8 years ago — my co-worker (white man) with whom I'd worked closely for 2 years and bonded with during two difficult projects said, "You finally did something to your hair." O_O The only reason I'd straightened it was because I knew I was going to start locs but that comment combined with a couple of others convinced me even further that locking was right for me. I only wore locs for a short period of time but I still have yet to straighten my hair. The best response I've heard to the question "Why don't you straighten your hair?" is "Why don't you buy a million tiny rollers and use them to roll your hair up?"

  • Muse says:

    I can relate! My co-workers who are all mostly white males are used to seeing my variety of hairstyles over the years. There are always comments about how often my 'do changes. But my natural hair is now beyond a TWA and not quite long enough to pull back into a full bun. I have to wear my hair somewhat contained at work as I'm a police officer so it is especially challenging at times. So yesterday after wearing it out for a few days thanks to curlformers, it was starting to shrink up so I clipped the front back on both sides and pulled the back into the the teeniest of pigtails. It was poofy and shrinking as the day wore on. One of my especially obnoxious co-workers said what are you doing with that mop? Ughghgh. This guy who barely has a thread of hair on his head. Now the old me would have been quick with a retort, but lately after all these years I've finally figured out that it's just NOT worth it. I've been explaining my hair for years. To those that are genuinely curious I don't mind, but for the more rude I just ignore. This is me take it or leave it!

  • Elle @ (Eat.Style.Play) says:

    Yes I can relate! I think no matter what type of hair a woman has whether natural/permed whatever if someone makes a comment about it when you know/think you are fly as heck with the style it's like a baby ego killer! I remember wearing my twist outs to work and i fell asleep without twisting, i ended up having to wear two french braids. My co-worker complimented my hair by saying "thank goodness you figured your hair out" Now where I was thinking my twist out was everything, which I still believe it is, and he comes along making that comment. Some people can't accept that this is how I'll be wearing my hair. My grandfather bless his soul saw me come in his house, he stared at my fro for about 10 mins…but he was careful about what he said to me because he realized that i was wearing my hair like this and that i'm figuring it out.

    But i've been there where I've wanted to defend my hair, but then I said…well bump that. Defending it, and making it seem like it's a hassle to have this hair was starting to give off a negative auro around my hair, and since i've grown to love my hair no matter what i stopped, and if someone makes a comment which is pretty rare i just nod and keep going. If they make a nice compliment i keep it simple with a thank you, but when they say things like my old co-worker did i vent about it on youtube :).

Leave a Reply