Recently I stopped in an African braiding shop to make an appointment for my daughter. As I entered there were three beautiful African women sitting right behind the counter speaking in their native tongue; they stopped to acknowledge my being there and to see how they could assist me. After I told them I wanted to make an appointment, and got that taken care of, two of the women kept staring at me. I guess they saw the look on my face as I was trying to figure out why they were staring at me the way they were and finally one of them asked me if my hair was a weave or a wig. I had a confused look on my face because I just knew they weren’t talking to me. In my opinion I don’t have “a lot” of hair. It’s a decent length, I guess, and my hair was styled in a simple two-strand twist out, nothing extravagant in my eyes. So I answered them with a simple, “No, this is my hair”. They all looked amazed and I chuckled a little as the younger of the three ladies began to explain that she loved the way my hair looked and informed me that she wish her hair would look like mine after attempting a twist out. She told me that her hair was too “nappy” to look that good. After hearing her say that, I left there a little sad that she didn’t see the beauty in her hair no matter the texture.
I left the shop and made a quick 15 second video to post to my IG account reminding women of color that no matter our hairs’ texture that it is BEAUTIFUL just the way it is. I shared the video to my Facebook account and had the question asked “Why do black women always feel the need to profess to everyone that our hair is beautiful?” I explained my views on why I feel like we have to remind people that our hair is beautiful and he responded that black people have “bad” hair. I won’t lie, that comment had me fuming! That statement coming from a black man was a painful sting that black women constantly face when it comes to loving our hair. This is the very mindset that has many black women hating their hair and believing that there is something inherently wrong with what grows from their scalp.
The black woman’s hair is a phenomenon, a conundrum; it’s perplexing to those who don’t understand it. It’s the subject of ridicule and the object of envy at the same time. I remember when I decided to transition my hair back to its natural state while still being in the military. The comments and looks I received could have been supremely detrimental if I wasn’t secure with my decision and even more secure in knowing that my hair was beautiful. I had a male friend ask me what’s up with all these women going natural now. I tried to explain the benefits of it to him. He smiled and looked me in the eyes and told me my opinion wasn’t really valid since I don’t have “normal black hair”. I couldn’t do anything, but laugh and ask him what in the world is “normal black hair”? His response was, “you know nappy hair.” I was a little shocked by his statement, and again found myself having to explain that there is nothing wrong with our hair. I know a lot of black women with natural hair hear a majority of the discouraging comments from other blacks. We have skewed views pertaining to our own hair, so it’s no wonder some black women are uncomfortable talking about or even allowing others to see their real hair. Too many of our people have been conditioned to believe that our hair is “bad”. So when they see a black woman’s hair in its natural state it causes strife, confusion and further divides us. You’ve got the #TeamNatural squad against the #CreamyCrack squad and the #TeamNatural squad against the #TeamWeave/Wig squad. It sounds crazy that something as simple as “hair” could cause so much confusion among people. But sadly, it does.
If you’re on Facebook you can find at least ten different Natural Hair groups, you’ll see meme’s degrading black women’s natural hair, you’ll see comments from black men and women saying that women with natural hair are nappy headed and you’ll see comments from black men saying how they would never date a black woman with natural hair. It’s amazing to me that no other ethnicity has this much discussion or uncomfortable feelings about hair. What’s even more amazing to me, after reading the many discouraging comments about our hair, is the double standard when it comes to black men’s hair. The men and women who call black women nappy headed don’t share those same views when their male friends or favorite athlete/entertainer wears their hair the same way. You have to love the good old double standard, though right.
I’m happy to see more women embracing their hair and its uniqueness like they did in the 70’s. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I will tell you that when I pick my hair out and shape my Afro just right, I feel completely invincible! My walk changes, my confidence rises and my beauty radiates from the inside out. I always find myself “feeling myself” more when I rock my ‘Fro. I sincerely wish I knew sooner how beautiful my natural hair is, because I definitely would have transitioned a lot sooner and my ‘Fro would be even more fierce. That’s a hair goal of mine, to have the biggest most beautiful Afro possible. Give me some time and I know I will achieve this goal.
If you’re considering returning to natural or you’re already in the process and you find yourself getting those glaring stares and those hateful comments, just remember that no matter what anyone else thinks or says OUR HAIR IS BEAUTIFUL! Let it grow, let it flow and rock it like it’s nobody’s business!