Black Women and Hollywood: Afraid To Go Natural?

by Kirsten West Savali

Black Women in Hollywood

It’s award season – which means those of us into fashion and beauty get to see our favorite stars pull out all of the stops. The accessories, the dresses and last, but certainly not least, the hair, takes center stage. In the midst of always tackling race, culture and politics, this is my time to unwind and just enjoy Fashion Police.

But things like race and culture always find a way of coming out of nowhere and biting you in the ass, don’t they?

With the exception of Solange Knowles, Teyonah Parris and Viola Davis, I couldn’t help but notice that in the midst of the Natural Hair (R)evolution, Black women on the red carpet are still clinging to relaxers, wigs and weaves when it’s time to “dress-up.” Not that there is anything wrong with rocking the hair extension or chemicals of your choice, but it kind of becomes problematic when you choose to do so to conform to the beauty standards of an industry that has historically and consistently marginalized Black women and tramples over any semblance of our natural beauty.

It’s almost as if we put on our “good hair” for special company.

It’s long been the norm in many circles that straight hair is synonymous with better, and one of those circles just happens to be Hollywood, a space that more and more Black woman are inhabiting – as long as they play by Eurocentric beauty rules. Perhaps we only have to look at the 9-year-old star of Beasts Of The Southern Wild, Quvenzhane Wallis, to realize how deep the rabbit hole goes. For a film that takes place in an impoverished Bayou community, an Afro is enough, but under the big lights of fame, only a press-n-curl will do.

If natural ‘fros are taboo in Hollywood, then dreads must be considered the Kiss of Death.

When it comes to natural hair in the white dominated entertainment world, dreads are the undeniable manifestation of  “otherness,” manipulated to define blackness as a whole, instead of an organic extension of self that flows from patience, diligence and strength. Perhaps it is that they are too powerful. Could it be that a woman with dreads is a story in motion, unable to be constrained by a simple plot or fictional character? Or is it something as simple as dreadlocks are not derived from whiteness, so their beauty is not understood and therefore not valued? And does that lack of awareness lead to natural black actresses avoiding even the idea of rocking a natural look that can not be tamed with a hot comb?

This is not to cast judgment on any of these women for their hair choices or the choices they make for their daughters, but here’s the thing:  natural hair should be a choice. It shouldn’t cease to be an option in an industry that leads the trend on what’s considered beautiful in America. Straight hair should be a choice, not forced assimilation into a dominant culture that can’t effectively replicate our uniqueness, so, instead, they create an environment in which we feel vulnerable and awkward for embracing it.

In an interview with Afrobella, the always stunning Sanaa Lathan discusses the lack of hair diversity in Hollywood, saying that while she is natural (and by natural, she means chemical-free), she straightens her hair for roles. Even though Lathan applauds the natural movement and the beauty of the Afro, she, along with countless other Black actresses, wait and hope Hollywood catches up to the trend, thus making it acceptable. Now, I would never insist that any woman go natural to make a socio-political statement, that’s not my place or my business, but if she feels that way, then why let fear of not fitting in, or being “off-trend” stop her from expressing herself?

The words that I strive to live by come from Albert Camus: “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”

Maybe those are words that out natural-loving sisters should embrace in an industry that values conformity over authenticity.

Be free — and the rest will fall into place.

  • V.

    Idk. I don’t necessarily believe that they are doing this to conform to someone’s definition of beauty. I attend a predominantly white college (I did in undergrad, as well) and am not natural. I would hate for someone to say i do so for the sake of what they think is beautiful. I’m not natural because I don’t have the patience nor the funds as a graduate student to deal with being natural. How I wear my hair has NO correlation to my insecurities where Caucasian students in my class are concerned. I love natural hair, but I also love relaxed hair so long as the person sporting it is doing it because they love it and not because white people are more comfortable with your relaxer or blacks more comfortable with natural. I AM NOT MY HAIR. I wish this would stop being the topic of discussion. No disrespect to this article, I just think we need to let people be who they want to be. From fro to 20inches of weave. Live your life!

  • Yvette

    I would never have guessed that Sanaa was chemical-free. Interesting.

  • london via africa

    I agree with the I am not my hair statement. However we cannot ignore that the stereotypes of straight hair (presentable/classy) and of natural hair (wild/poor) do factor in subconsciously to how we choose to wear our hair.

    I choose to cut of my relax hair as it was damaged and i refused to enter into the whole natural “hair journey” and start wearing beads and singing jill scott (those were my ill preconceived notions of what type of people had natural hair).

    however going natural has changed something in me and made me now refuse to play into the hands of a society which tries it’s hardest to portray that people like myself are not beautiful.

    I believe these actresses are trying to tailor themselves to fit a mold so that Hollywood will accept them. and to that I say, Fuck em. excuse my french but its about time we stop altering ourselves for the benefit of fitting into a society that doesn’t feel we are good enough.

    instead of fitting in, why don’t we create and support our own television shows, films and businesses. Money talks over racism and the black pound is strong.

  • march pisces

    say this one more time and a little louder for the people in the cheap seats…..” I AM NOT MY HAIR. I wish this would stop being the topic of discussion. No disrespect to this article, I just think we need to let people be who they want to be. From fro to 20inches of weave. Live your life!”


    I look at Naomi Harris in ‘Skyfall’ and I have to realize that it takes a certain type of Black actress in Hollywood to be brave enough and confident enough to go natural(-ish) despite the obstacles.

    These women have to eat, even if that means putting the ‘natural’ on the back-burner.

  • Brittany

    THANK YOU 4 ur response! I really believe we have exhausted the topic of black women and hair…is that really the most important thing going on in our community that it deserves article after article? Loved your response. My hair does not define who I am. As long as I love it…and its on MY head…lets move on!

  • WhatIThink

    Only a clown would say that it takes more work to maintain your hair the way it grows out of your scalp. In other words, it doesn’t grow out of your head straight and flowing like white women, so it takes more work to make it look right. But of course that isn’t self hate though.

    I don’t care if you don’t like it but I like real black people not fake wanna be white people. If I want black women with straight hair I can go to India or other parts of Asia to find black women with natural straight hair.

    And before you get upset, you should also note that this fad is spreading throughout Africa and looks just as fake and phony as it does in the U.S.

    And the only reason black women “identify” with this is because they are raised this way. If their parents didn’t force the hot comb or straightening iron on them they wouldn’t feel that this is “part of them” because it isn’t.

  • Deb

    Well I think one difference between you and SOME of these actresses is that they are natural but almost never wear their own real hair out to events/photo-ops but will post pics on Instagram showing their natural hair before it goes right back under the weave.

    I think it’s a mix of being scared to go against the norm and a comfort in the way things are done when it comes to black hair in Hollywood and even then, every individual is different. At the end of the day, no matter if a woman is famous or not, it’s a personal decision and journey that should come without unecessary pressure just like many of us were afforded.

    I still beam with pride and joy every time I see a black actress sporting a natural hairdo though and will feel the same way if I were still relaxed. I’ve noticed that when black actresses do wear their natural hair either no one (outside the black comm.) really cares or she’s praised for it on some level. I hope black actresses that feel they HAVE to sport weaves all the time start to experiment more with different hairstyles. It would be awesome because they are all so beautiful!

  • J. Nicole

    I’m not one of those natural nazis who try to convince every woman of color to give up a perm, nor do I care how women wear their hair. But I do think its annoying how some of the celebrities in the pic will proclaim they are chemical free, get coverage for it in all the natural hair blogs, yet never show it in its natural state. I can only recall Queen Latifah (and this is only my recollection so if others did, I never saw it) being photo’d out with her natural texture. I sometimes straighten my hair when I want variety, but I’m not in the spot light. I think its time we be real with ourselves that no, its not always “just hair”. If any of these women “have” to straighten their hair to work that is a problem.

  • Quinn

    This is so annoying. We should be free to wear our hair anyway we like without waking up with a photo and article about our hair on a blog. I think the cool think about our hair is the versatility. Being Natural and/or gives you an increased versatility. So what if they want to wear their hear straight to an award show. I agree with everyone here I AM NOT MY HAIR. Furthermore bloggers do not have to tussle with my hair in the morning…I DO.


    I absolutely agree with WhatThink. That has got to he the lamest excuse.

    How do you KNOW how much time & resources it takes to be natural, if you’ve never been natural???

    So, what… With relaxed hair, you don’t EVER go to the salon (time, $)? You don’t ever have to wash it (time, $)? Wigs, weaves, extensions… Those are all free, right? Last I checked, relaxers are not cheap.

    People will say & do anything to run away from their natural selves.

    If you are “NOT YOUR HAIR”, then I challenge anyone that says that to shave it all off.

    What? It’s just hair! It’ll grow back, right?

  • S.P.

    I think this piece is quite balanced compared so many others I’ve read that pit “natural” vs. “processed” hair.

    I’ve had my locks for over a decade now. For me it was an act of rebellion — rebellion against white beauty standards, rebellion against a culture of black self-hatred and brainwash, rebellion against my mother, grandmother and other female relatives who passed judgment on me for wanting to embrace my natural self, rebellion against the anxieties linked to the consequences of embracing what I was born with, etc.

    I AM my hair. I know that it plays a significant role in the way that people react to me. The types of questions they ask — “Is that your real hair?” “How do you get it that way?” “How do you wash it?” “Can I touch it?” “Your hair is so clean?” “They don’t look like dreads.” Etc. Etc. My hair is always a topic of conversation. It’s mysterious to others. Once I went “natural” it changed my entire sense of myself — the way I ate (your hair, like your skin and nails are a testimony of what you put into your body), the way I thought about myself and myself in relation to others.

    It’s true, as the writer says, that “dreads are the undeniable manifestation of “otherness,” manipulated to define blackness as a whole, instead of an organic extension of self that flows from patience, diligence and strength. Perhaps it is that they are too powerful.”

    I recognize their power, as do others whether they are fascinated by them or fear them. But alas, when it comes to hair, to each is own. I am happy to see that more and more black women are casting off the weaves and throwing out the poisonous chemicals. I think we are so, so, so very beautiful in our naturalness.

  • AJW

    This may sound mean but so what. I’m natural & to be honest, as long as I have a head full of hair, I could care less if the next woman decides to destroy her scalp or not. Let’s leave the folks and their hair choices alone.

  • AB

    Hey, maybe they just like to wear their hair straight.

    Can we please stop reducing black women’s aesthetic choices to being just a reaction to the white gaze? Freedom isn’t just about wearing your “natural” hair — it’s also about exercising agency and deciding to wear your hair however you want.

  • AJW

    I agree.

  • emjay

    when I was relaxed, I thought the same thing. I thought my hair needs to be relaxed because it’s easier to manage even though I had no idea what I was talking about. I think it was because I saw all these girls with curls and thought my hair could never look like that, she has good hair and I don’t. It sounds silly but it’s how we’re conditioned to think.

    At the same time, if you like your hair straight and relaxed, say you like it straight and relaxed. Don’t try to defend your decisions: it’s your hair, do what you want with it.

  • Anita Volpato

    I tried wearing my hair natural and it drove me nuts. I am extremely tender headed so combing/picking it was painful. My hair is also very thick so I felt like I was having a heat stroke. I think people read into things too much. Not everyone looks good with an afro. I have a big forehead so I just can’t, NO!

  • Ooh La La

    I’m not trying to discredit you, but personally speaking, I’ve been natural now for two years and I spend way more time and money on my hair now then I did when I was relaxed. My hair benefits from it, but still. Just pointing out that there are pros/cons on each side of fence.

  • Ms. Information

    One cannot argue that having a weave as an actress is probably easier. Taraji has full, long natural hair – flat ironing it daily would KILL it…and many hair dressers don’t know how to do natural hair properly….it is time for us to stop judging people for what is growing out of their heads and for what is IN it….there is NOTHING wrong with a black woman straightening her hair for a different look (and I am fully natural for YEARS)…black women deserve versatility too…

  • KissOfDanger

    She’s been natural forever now. That is why Pantene probably chose her for their Nature Fusion line.

  • Destiny

    Why is it we have to be afraid to go natural?! Could it be that being natural is not for every black woman?! I like wearing my hair straight, and when I was natural for 2 years I did a lot of damage to my hair trying to straighten it.

  • MM

    I like the part where you say “straighten their hair to work”. That’s an important point that I think many are missing. Black women are asked or indirectly persuaded even in the corporate world to straighten their hair in order to get ahead, keep a job or get a job. I know a friend that was told outright to get a Keratan treatment if she wanted to get ahead at work.Until this practice changes, its not “just hair”.

  • Congocapanilo

    A hairstylist once told me that heat is a chemical, and you can not consider yourself chemical free if you use heat to straighten your hair.

  • Luci

    Depending on your hair type, there is a WORLD of difference between being natural or relaxed/weaved. I’m a 4c, and it takes way longer to style a ‘fro than to curl or flat iron my remi. I can’t just toss (long) natural hair in a ponytail or a bun and go. Washing and detangling a ‘fro takes FOREVER; and natural stylists charge substantially higher prices than your regular relaxer and weave spots.

    When I’m in the mood for natural, I shave it down low. (The look doesn’t work on everyone.) But when I’m in the mood for long and straight, I’ll throw on some weave.

    Chick who shaved her head last summer and is about to re-shave one side, and add 20 inches of weave, CUZ IT’s JUST HAIR

  • Ms. Information

    Heat is energy, not a chemical…

  • KissOfDanger

    This is getting old. I got a relaxer much later in life than other women. I like my relaxer becuase if I went natural I know that I don’t have that “good”, “presentable”, “cute”, “curly”, “good hair”, that alot of natural hair bloggers are worshiped for. Well actually the main reason is becuase my hair is unmanageable. On top of that i have a tender scalp.

    The good hair culture thrives in the natural hair community, and we all know it. I have said this for years becuase I used to subscribe to natural hair bloggers that did an EXCELLENT job at caring for their hair, and finding great products, and solutions. The problem is that their hair was too nappy, and not “pretty”. According to the black women on the internet TWA’s aren’t cute. I remember a blogger who called out Carol’s Daughter years ago for doing the ole bait and switch. They were natural before it was popular but failed to get and retain subscribers becuase their hair didn’t grow fast enough. It didn’t get long enough, and their curls weren’t “defined” enough. That was about 5 to 8 years ago. I relax my hair becuase it’s easier to care for otherwise I would have a thick head of hair that i can’t even get a pick through. Shoot, I have one inch of new growth and I can’t even get a pick through that!

    What alot of people here are forgetting is that no two women are the same. I relax my hair becuase it’s practical, and easy. I can pull it back and go on about my day. It’s easier (not easy) to get moisturizer through my bushes. My hair is relaxed and I still have a hard time. I really hate spending an eternity on my hair. I don’t wear weave but I do like it becuase you can do things to a weave that you cant do with your hair. I do wear braids from time to time. Braids are my favorite. Isn’t that a “natural” hair style? My problem is TIME I hate the fact that my hair takes alot of time.

    What about the droves of women with relaxed hair on youtube who grew it down their backs like Shima. Those women also spend ALOT of time on their hair, but they also prove that long healthy relaxed hair isn’t a myth. When are we gonna commend those ladies for getting women on the right path?

  • Lataunya

    This article is totally biased! There are natural celebrities as well. Take Tracee Ellis Ross and even her mother Diana.

  • Katie

    Are you serious? I am not taking sides but that ONE person (see the picture above…they listed just about all of them that are relevant right now)

    It’s like a total of 30 Black actresses of in Hollywood and it’s about 6 naturals (please don’t list Kim Coles and the girl from off In Living Color)

    Plus….they are talking about ones that get MOVIE roles. And Tracee’s mixed, she would be dumb getting a relaxer.

  • T

    Near the end, the author states that one shouldn’t go natural just to make a socio-political statement. But think about this: if a Black woman in Hollywood with relaxed/weaved/wigged-up hair suddenly goes or reveals herself as natural for “mainstream Hollywood”, it BECOMES a socio-political statement. Remember Viola Davis and how THEEEE topic of conversation was her natural hair and WHY she went natural and how she felt about it and on and on…..

  • Anon

    Why is this a natural hair “revolution”? I don’t want to speak for anyone else, but I didn’t notice all of this anomosity until the Chris Rock movie and a black president. It was like all of a sudden a lot of black women wanted to be viewed as a certain type of black woman, and going natural looked the part. But since people weren’t doing it of entirely their own violition, every effin’ insecurity you could think of suddenly came into play and shaming other people’s hair choices to deflect from personal issues was the new norm.

    It didn’t used to be this bad.

  • Anon

    If it took you going natural to have all of these feelings, then it wasn’t about your hair. Not everyone was suppressing these things, some folks just wanted a haircut, the ability to dye their hair without having damage from two processes, traveling abroad w/out acess to perms… . Going natural wasn’t an awakening for everyone. Not all black women had perms in the first place!

  • Cia Bia

    I think people should wear their hair as they want to–relax it, shave it, or color it blue. Whatever but I have been natural for over 10years and I don’t straighten that often but I have never worn an afro. Natural is way way way more than just wearing an afro. Styling options are plentiful.

  • Anon

    Aren’t you a man? How do you know how much work goes into maintaining longer hair? Fades don’t count.

  • Apple

    Actually it does take some of tons of effort and pain (I’m tender headed, I thought with adulthood the pain would wear off but nope still cry like a 10 year old). And not everyone wants to spend the time,pain or money on that shit! So stop judging everyone just because their reality isn’t yours! Stop acting like you can go natural and suddenly everything will work out and make sense .

  • Guest1234

    Agreed. All this “relaxing is easier and cheaper” talk is total B.S. It’s just excuses, excuses and more excuses. Don’t get it twisted, people.

    Natural hair is not difficult to manage. Natural hair is difficult to STRAIGHTEN.

    Natural hair is not expensive to maintain. Natural hair is expensive to STRAIGHTEN.

    If you get your mind right, you’d realize that all your excuses are just covering up the fact that you’ve been conditioned to hate the way God made you. That hate has become so ingrained that you think it’s totally normal to bend over backwards to fight something so very natural and ordinary as the hair that organically grows out of your own head. You ladies need to just stop.

    Doesn’t it get exhausting to consistently find yourself disgusting and unacceptable to look at? Sheesh. I’m tired just reading ya’lls comments. You’re not ugly. You’re not unacceptable. Your hair is not disgusting. Get over it, already!!

  • Sheila

    To Each Its Own. I like all types of hair from natural, straight, weaves, etc. We are now able to do what we each individually like without being critcized by each other. If you like weaves, wear them. If you like natural, wear it. We all shouldn’t have to walk around with the same hair. I embrace everyone. Trust, God is not judging your hair, he’s judging your heart at the end of it all. Be free by doing you.

  • Apple

    I would probably go natural again if it wasnt so painful , time consuming and effect my daily life . I use to want long hair , now I just want mange able hair that I don’t have to pay some one to do (since I can’t learn it and only select few can handle 4b/c) and could just do a few things to it and it wouldnt bring me to tears just to comb it . I just want to be free . But the only way id ever be free is if I shaved my head and I don’t even want to go there .

    But I think why they don’t wear their hair out is for damage control, too much manipulation (or any at all seems like) on black hair can take it out, hence why Tyra had to go back to wigs and why every now and then Oprah goes back to a wig/weave to preserve her hair

  • Ravi

    Only wearing your hair straight doesn’t seem versatile to me. I don’t think the complaint is that these actresses are using their versatility to wear their hair in a variety of ways. It seems the complaint is the opposite. That there is a dearth of versatility and that a eurocentric standard of beauty is playing a roll in that. Taraji may wear her natural un-straightened hair from time to time, but the mode is certainly what the author describes above. It seems as though I’ve never seen most black actresses wear their hair as it grows out of their head.

    And why would she need to flat iron her hair every day anyway? Can’t she wear her natural long hair without flat ironing very often?

  • Marketing Gimmicks

    Erykah Badu said it the best: Just because you have a natural doesn’t mean you’re down with the cause and just because you have a relaxer doesn’t mean you’re down with the fall.

    I’ve worn my hair in locs (eight years), a curly afro (3 years) and now I’m wearing a relaxed “Halle” pixie and I love it. And I plan on growing it out trying weaves next. Quite honestly the Natural Nazis (the self designated purists) are the ones that really get on my nerves with their false sense of superiority.They’re the ones that power trip, wag fingers and make all kinds of gross accusations on how a woman feels about herself based on how she wears her hair.

    I danced African dance for years so I can tell you from experience that just because a woman wears her hair natural doesn’t mean she’s more confident, more Adeep or even has gravity. A chick can be an empty jar no matter how she rocks her hair.*Cough* Solange* Cough* Cough*

    And on a side bar…if I see Erykah Badu krill singing *ss get another Chaka Khan tribute I’m gonna slit my wrist. That chick gets away with a lot of bullspit simply because she rocks an afro…

  • Ms. Information

    Well as an actress, the roles that you are playing may require you to look a certain way…if the role requires a certain type of hairstyle, then they must comply. My thing is that I would rather have people yanking and pulling at a weave than at my real, delicate natural hair. I have natural hair and wear it like this most of the time BUT if I do decide to wear it straight, it is very short lived. I work out every day and my hair will not stay straight if I am wearing it this way. A weave would allow me to have a straight style without sacrificing the health of my hair. I know that there is a sentiment that hair matters, and ok I get it..but this generation is consumed with the hair debate and doing nothing….Coretta, Rosa Parks, my grandmother – all permed or straightened their hair and they marched and advanced black people….all we are doing is talking about hair………..every nigga with dreads is not for the cause…that is my point.


    Actually, my Queen and I are natural. The only difference is, I have dreads, and she has a ‘Fro.

    It’s a MYTH that being natural costs more, or takes more time to maintain. The reason I know, is because my Queen and I basically use the same hair products. And they cost no more than about 20 bucks a month.

    As far as time goes, my Queen washers her hair every other day, and I wash my dreads anywhere from every week to every 10 days. She does her own hair, and sometimes she does mine, when I don’t feel like doing it, LOL.

    It takes her about 30 minutes from wash to combing to do her hair; even less time when she just gets up and gets ready. It take me about 3 hours to do my hair, but when she does mine, it takes about an hour and a half, LOL.

    All these excuses people make about being natural, are just that: EXCUSES.

    The sooner you admit to yourselves that you are afraid to go natural, the better you’ll feel.

  • Ask_ME

    I’ve been rocking a full-blown afro since I was 18 years old (long before this natural trend picked up). It is far easier to manage my natural hair now than it was when my hair was relaxed. Though I have never worn a wig or a weave, I hated going to the beauty shop and waiting hours to get my hair done. I prefer my hair natural and I will never relax or straighten it again.

    As for black women in Hollywood, the natural look is not for everyone. People need to stop policing other women’s CHOICES, and simply respect their right to rock their hair any way they please.

  • Kam

    I’m sorry but if someone said “I like you but I hate your hair” they would not be my friend. “I am not my hair” sounds nice but in reality,if you got a problem with my hair, you’re probably gonna have a problem with me.


    If you train your hair, then you won’t be “tender headed”. Hair is just like any other part of the body: it can be trained to respond the way you want it to.


    @ Ravi:

    “Only wearing your hair straight doesn’t seem versatile to me.”

    This is yet another MYTH.

    Again, My Queen is natural, and I’ve seen her with at least a half dozen different hair styles.

  • Ravi

    It is interesting to see the degree to which cognitive dissonance causes people to create elaborate justifications that tend to not hold up to any test of internal consistency. Case in point — women that wear weaves out of a sense of ease. Upon initial inspection, the rationale seems sound, but what no one seems to take a look at is why the weave usually looks a certain way. Why are most of the weaves in the market completely straight? True enough, there are some that are rocking weaves that resemble hair that could conceivably grow out of their hair looking like that, but it isn’t the norm. Are non-straight weaves uniformly more difficult to deal with or manage? Is getting braid extensions or even an afro wig more difficult or expensive than managing an Indian woman’s hair sewn into your head? This is what Chris Rock was alluding to when he went around trying to sell African hair to weave merchants. There is a reason there is a much larger demand for straight hair and it isn’t the ease of use. If ease was the primary concern, then people would be cutting their hair off.

    It should go without saying that women should have the ability to style their hair any way they please without being judeged, but to deny that european standards of beauty play a large influence on our choices and preferences for hair, makeup, clothes, etc. is to be blind of the realities of white supremacy.

    and while I may be a man, I do have shoulder length hair. The reason I don’t experience the pain of trying to comb or pick my hair is because I don’t try to comb or pick my hair. I detangle with my hands when I am conditioning and it has never taken longer than an hour. Not saying everyone’s hair will take the same amount of time, but I reject the premise that their is an imperative to comb or pick your natural hair in the first place. I don’t know any woman with weave that spends less time and money on their hair than I do.

  • Ask_ME

    “Just because you have a natural doesn’t mean you’re down with the cause and just because you have a relaxer doesn’t mean you’re down with the fall.”

    I agree. The way someone rocks their hair is NO indication of their dedication to the so-called cause.

    People need to stop associating natural black hair with activism, pro-blackness and other ideologies etc. I’m not just saying this because people seemingly assume if you have an Afro you must be “down with the cause.” I’m saying it as someone who rocks an Afro, gives back to my community yet I married a white man.

    I actually had a black man tell me I shouldn’t rock my afro with a white man on my arm. I was like, “WTF?” So I can’t rock my god given hair the way I want because I married a white man???


    Why do we always center these discussions based on people in Hollywood?

    Whether it’s hair, relationships, etc… It always boils down to celebrities. It’s high time that we stop looking to actors, rappers, athletes, and those that are pretending to be one of them, as the examples of what black people should do.

    These people are not direct representations of us. In fact, they get paid to MISrepresent us in the media.

    There’s not a single celebrity that I look to, as an influence for any of my life decisions. The sooner we stop worshipping these people, the better off we will be.

  • Kwazigirl

    many black actresses wear extension to protect their hair not necessarily to conform to the euro standard of beauty. When your hair is constantly being flat ironed, hair sprayed, curled, whipped this way and that daily for filming or photo shoots you’d want to protect your own hair as best your can. Many of the stylists in the industry are white and have no idea how to work with black hair therefore mess up the 20 inch remi but if you mess up my hair we have a problem.

    Lets stop passing judgement on each other over the state of our hair. A weave or a wig makes you no less black then a twist out or fro. Its clearly a choice.

  • Beauty Is Diverse

    “People need to stop policing other women’s CHOICES”

    I 100% agree with this quote tired of women always trying to create a policy on what choices women should make when it comes to beauty.

  • Ravi

    @Ms. Information, that’s precisely my point. Those hair choices have a lot more to do with hollywood standards than personal freedom and versatility. I agree that hair does not indicate whether or not someone is down for the struggle. What it does indicate is the extent to which our norms and standards are impacted by white norms and standards of beauty. You can be about ending the oppression of black people and still not be aware of the ways in which your preferences are constructed. Ideas of beauty are not innate, they are constructed by environment. In a society that heavily preferences whiteness, having your preferences and standards influenced to some degree by eurocentric standards is inescapable.

    @Sam, I’m pretty sure you didn’t understand what I wrote. you should ask for clarification if something seems ambiguous. That your mate wears her hair in many natural styles actually furthers my point. I said wearing it only STRAIGHT isn’t showing versatility. Natural hair is certainly versatile, but that has nothing to do with what I was saying above.

  • Tamika

    I agree with you 100% “I am NOTmy hair” I am a beautiful, intelligent, black woman. I like to wear my hair natural. That does not mean only big afros in my case. I think the discussion should be more about how or why can we as woman aspire to stop all of these negative stereotypes of black woman in the USA.

  • Kam

    You don’t have to spend a lot of money on your natural hair. I know product junkyism is rampant among some natural hair folks as they buy various concoctions and goops trying to make their nappy hair into something that it isn’t. And a lot of the dryness people experience comes from having hard water and they don’t know it, so they search for products thinking there’s something wrong with their hair. All I use is shampoo and conditioner, followed by something for moisturizing. The most expensive thing I’ve used is a bottle of pure vitamin e oil that I use for my face. The other thing I use is Alba UnPetroleum Jelly and some mousse, and I’ve had these products for months now.

    My hair is 4b/4c, c-nap whatever. The strands are fine and prone to tangling. The water in my state is very hard. I only detangle with either conditioner or water and some kind of moisturizer. I start from the ends and work my way up. After I wash it takes me 15-20 minutes to detangle and plait my hair and I go to sleep. When wake up I take out each section and pick it out with a long wire afro pick (the good kind, where the teeth don’t move). I put in into an afro-puff or ponytail and go. Takes me about 15 minutes. When I was relaxed it took me 30 minutes with the curling iron and everything trying to tease my hair into something that it wasn’t. At night it’s even easier to plait after it’s dry. I just sit there with a spray bottle of water and some moisturizer for the ends and plait it up again. Sometimes I’m lazy and don’t even do that and just put a scarf on the whole thing. Wake up and just spritz the ends in sections and pick it out.

    When I have more time I’ll put my hair in twists and leave it in for a week. If I put some mousse in it I can wear the resulting twist out for another week. Wash, rinse, repeat.

    I’ve been natural for 10 years now. I was a teacher with my natural hair, I worked in a startup with my natural hair and am now getting my doctorate with natural hair.

    It requires a totally different view towards hair and just an overall acceptance of the way your hair behaves. You have to find what works for your hair but in return you get the peace of mind knowing that your hair is looking exactly the way it’s supposed to look.

  • ruggie

    Agreed, there are black women wearing their hair natural in Hollywood, incl Viola Davis stepping out on the red carpet for her Oscar nomination and LA Magazine spread last year, Mad Men’s Teyonah Parris at the SAG Awards, Solange and Esperanza Spalding at the Grammys, Adepero Oduye in Vanity Fair, Raven Simone on the red carpet. It’s a bold move for them to do this in a town like Hollywood. Let’s recognize!

  • Kam

    The animosity came when naturals started becoming more present and straight haired people started to feel judged. There were communities like Nappturality waaaay before Good Hair and Tumblr. The problem is when natural styles started to get popular, people who were wearing it just for the style started encountering people who were there way before and who were wearing it because they were accepting their hair the way it was. That’s when naturals started being called mean and militant. We didn’t want to hear about things like pressing being more manageable, texturizers (“natural”ones or chemical), or shingling. If it’s nappy it’s just nappy. Now I see the new fad is growing natural hair long and getting curls and have to sigh again. So tired of hearing about a length challenge or “Tracee Ellis Ross”.

  • cassia

    maybe we should stop using the word natural and just say curly or kinky sounds more sexy, when you think of natural you think jill scott, beads, grass and castor oil. All with no makeup, maybe its cuz some men hate it, well thats the problem we have in london anyway. Men seem to find it unappealing well thats the streotype anyway even though I havent come across that myself


    Who says “natural” is a bad thing? What’s wrong with Jill Scott?

  • Sue

    Agree with everything you said. As Ravi another poster points out,most of the weaves and wigs look a certain way: They are STRAIGHT! So even though celebrities say they wear them to prevent damage, how many do you see wearing AFRO or very CURLY wigs/weaves? There IS a problem that no one wants to acknowledge. And FYI many female public figures in Africa are also into the same straight wigs and weaves look. And over there ,black people are the MAJORITY. So we cannot argue that these women might be marginalized and miss out on jobs because they are a minority. The euro-centric standard of beauty has played into people believing that in order to look and feel polished they have to wear straighter hair styles.

  • beauty85

    Try telling GOD that not everybody looks right with the hair he created for them

  • beauty85


  • beauty85


  • cassia

    @samurai36 nooooooooooooooooo samurai36 that’s not what I’m saying, my point is that a lot of women including myself and girlfriends even though we don’t want to admit it care what men think. If you look at the sex symbols i.e beyonce, women in the article picture. They typically like the author suggested don’t wear natural hair. I was just suggesting, suggesting as I don’t know, if men play a factor in this as when I announced to my man honey I’m going natural, he gave me a face that said are you not going to be sexy anymore,
    Not being rude to Ms Jill Scott. “He loves me “is my favourite track, but you tend not to associate women like Jill as, sexy symbols.
    I’m simply adding a variable to the convo
    p.s I like your comments

  • Ooh La La

    I’m gonna go ahead and put my neck on the line and say what’s not being said here.

    With the whole “natural hair movement” (I understand there are some of you who went natural before it was en vogue), let’s not deny that their is a heirarchy even among the naturals that’s influenced, if only slightly, by Eurocentric standards. It’s why even among the most popular natural hair bloggers and youtubers, they are mostly curly (3a/b/c, 4a) hair types vs. kinky (4b/c). And even of the kinky naturals, the ones I’m most familiar with (notice I didn’t say all) spend an awful lot of time manipulating their hair to a texture of their liking (braid-outs, twist-outs, Bantu knots, etc.) as opposed to wash-n-go. Or if they do wash-n-go, they’re piling on curl definer creams/gels. And those styles are fine; I love how they look and that you eliminate heat damage while managing to style your hair. But let’s all turn to the elephant in the corner of this room and address the fact that only the curly naturals are typically praised for their wash-n-go styles. This is why celebs like Tracee Ross have been wearing natural hair since before “the movement.” My point in all of this is to say until we internalize that a curl is no better than a kink, even us naturals have a long way to go.

  • Mama Mia

    “Hairstylers aren’t educated people (for the most part). Half of the times they don’t even know what they are talking about when it comes to the science of hair or even giving basic hair advice. They should stick to just styling hair.

  • beauty85

    SEE THAT’S black peoples problem, DON’T COMB YOUR HAIR AT ALL, BLACK PEOPLES HAIR DOES NOT NEED TO BE COMBED! It must be detangled while wet, with a detangling brush or a Denman brush

  • Apple

    People tell god everyday that the way they were made they don’t like it. If you shave your changing the way god made you, If you wear makeup, if you change your hair color or eye color , so sit down with all that just because its black hair

  • Nubian Princess

    Black women with Natural hair act like elitist. Not everyone wants their hair that way. this article is pointless and stupid. BlaCK hollywood does not have to do what you want them to do. They wear their hair how they see fit CONCERN YOURSELF WITH YOUR OWN HEAD …THE END

  • Nubian Princess


  • beauty85

    Well atleast the natural Nazis wear their hair, that GOD gave them Actually the I cant stand women who say straight hair is so versatile, really! Obviously your not natural anymore because just maybe your straight cut made you feel better than your beautiful natural hair, Just sad. The state of some black women’s mentality is appalling!

  • Apple

    Did she say that? Just stop it

  • The Moon in the Sky

    There is that imaginary friend again…

  • binks

    Co-sign this and the article!!! It would be one thing if these lovely black celebrity women honestly relaxed or wears weaves because it was their choice and their option to do so but it is another matter that these women FEEL like they have to wear their hair a certain way to be considered “mainstream” and to get roles. I’ am sorry but a lot of us are kidding ourselves with this and are starting to believe the lies. For example, “They wear weaves to protect their hair from styling everyday…” Um…Okay but WHY is the weave/wig nearly ALWAYS straight? Why not use weaves/wigs that MATCH your own hair texture an option? Furthermore, there are hairstyles you can wear with your natural hair to protect it every daily nor do having natural hair have to be expensive or time consuming. If they were so comfortable in their choice then why the 1001 instragram pics of them revealing their natural hair… or while was Viola Davis, Teyonah Parris and a few others heavily praised because they dared to be different with her natural hair on the red carpet if it was so acceptable. I’ am the last person to tell someone what they should do and all for black women wearing their hair the way they choose or see fit and to experiment with their hair but let’s not pretend there isn’t a heavy motivation in Hollywood and other places to be seen and viewed a certain way that keeps a lot of us from wearing our own hair in its natural state. Some people take this as a bash against them for wearing straight wigs/weaves or getting a relaxer when it is not but an honest observation and problem.

  • D.T.

    Do you realize how much extra work goes into doing a wash and go on kinky long hair? My hair texture is similar to nikkimae and kimmaytube and is bsl. There is no way I’m going to rock a wash and go and deal with the dreaded “next day hair” full of tangles. Maybe you do understand and have no problems dealing with it but I find twists, twist outs and up-dos the most manageable styles for my texture.

    I agree with the hierarchy present amongst naturals. It’s annoying how hard people fawn over mahoganycurls and taren916′s hair. No shade at all towards them because I like them a lot. Mahogany even spoke out against it.

  • Anon

    I was there before Nappturality spun off from Naturally Curly, and it really wasn’t this bad. Growing natural hair long though isn’t a new fad. Dee’s hair has been long for years. The “mean” naturals that I’ve encountered pretty much all transitioned post 2009. That’s when I (me personally) saw the internet wars break out. That and when people’s product lines went from kitchens to Target.

    And I still don’t see what’s wrong with defining curls. A lot of those products came about from people literally mixing things up in their home and selling what worked for them.

  • Anon

    Oh jeez. Not all of us hated our hair in the first place.

  • binks

    Bingo! I think people are missing the point of the article and taking it as a personal bash on those who wear weaves/wigs or get a relaxer when it is not. The point is when is a choice an ACTUAL personal choice and not a choice of necessity to get ahead? If a handful of these actresses honorably CHOOSE to wear their hair with a weave/wig or get a relaxer great but if the other half are only doing those things to their hair because they feel as if they can’t wear their own hair and be acceptable, can’t get certain jobs or get ahead in their job then that is a MAJOR problem.

  • K

    as far as actress i just see the hair option as complying with the industry they are in. different industry different requirements. you wouldnt show up to a corporate job in combat boots and jeans as you would a construction job but i am of the mindset that that hair is an accessory. i cant think of something else off the top of my head other than clothes re industries but fact of the matter is in entertainment, straight hair is what is the standard for that industry. perhaps it will change. also re: dreadlocks, i thought of those recently when i saw that miu miu commercial going around and noticed Goapele had straight hair now and no longer her locks and i wondered why she changed it up? does anyone know? was it just b/c she wanted a change or i wonder did “the industry” cause her to change. at any rate to each her own do whatever you want re hair thats my opinion :)

  • au napptural

    Natural and proud here, as my name suggests. Some quick points:

    1. Natural hair is not more work. I had a perm from ages 12-21. I’m now 23. I spent wayyyyy more money and time on my hair when I was permed. And I have mid-back length 4b hair, for all those liars who say 4b either never grows or is impossible to comb. I wash it and detangle it once a week (which take an hour and a half, tops), and wear it out or up the rest of the time. Now I will say this varies from person to person. My mom has a perm and I think she is one of the few who actually has one for time management. She perms it herself once a month and wraps it every night. That’s it. However, she’s a lawyer and has many responsibilities. I don’t think these divas out here sitting in the salon every Saturday are trying to save time or money. Let’s not lie.

    2. What about the danger? Let’s pretend for a hot min. perms were free and took no time. They are still dangerous, soda can-melting chemicals going onto your scalp. A few inches from your brain. All for straight hair. Don’t act like that has anything to do with time-saving. If you hate your hair, you hate your hair. Just own it, don’t try to make excuses.

    3. For the heat and weave crowd who say their choices are superior to the dangers of perms, damage is damage and concealment is concealment. If you are “natural” underneath, why? What’s the point of growing your hair out for no one to see, including you? And if you are straightening it, you are still damaging the hair, and possibly the follicle. And have you ever been burned by a hot comb? A flat iron? Not pleasant.

    4. Natural hair of all kkinds is perfect ly manageable- if you aren’t trying to turn it into straight or loosely-curled hair. These people talking about everybody wear wash-n-gos or shingle are ignorant. Every hair type isn’t made for everything. Embrace YOUR texture and go with it and it will be easy to manage. You will stay frustrated though if you treat your delicate 4b hair like it’s pin straight and try to yank a comb through it dry. Stop blaming your hair for your failings.

    5.Stop the madness. Let’s not act like most black women are wearing their hair straight b/c of pure choice. Choice means natural hair and straight hair had equal footing from day one. From day one most of us were taught straight hair was good hair. Special occasion hair, for Easter and Christmas. That straight hair was for grown-ups. Heck, until a few years ago natural hair hardly had mainstream products. There is no comparison. Our community has a long tradition of forcing our hair into straightness. And now people are mad b/c some people’s choices are being questioned. I personally don’t care, people can straighten their hair till the wheels fall off. But I think it’s irritating that people want to act like all this criticism is falling at the stright-haired people when it is really the other way around. I never have asked a soul why they permed. But people feel fine asking me every day why I don’t. “It would be so long if you perm it”, “It would be so pretty- if you perm it”, “I like it- when you gonna perm it or at least flat iron it for your b-day”? If people are experiencing a natural backlash now (which I don’t believe they are) they brought it on themselves. More people should question why it’s more acceptable to straighten the hair you were born with than to wear it natural.

  • Treece

    This conversation is sooooo devisive. Why can’t we just let each other (Black women) be without judging each other’s motives for not going natural?? If the stars (and any other Black woman for that matter) choose not to rock thier natural do, that does not automatically make her hateful of her race, ashamed, or anything that the author is trying to insinuate. I love my race. I love being a Black American and my pride shows in a lot of what I do (volunteerism, activities, and clubs I am a part of, activism).

    Black women are beautiful and I feel beautiful as a Black woman no matter how I wear my hair. And yes, i wear a weave. I do not relax any more because it isn’t healthy for MY hair and the chemicals are too harsh. I don’t wear a weave all the time, it’s a protective style while my hair is still growing out. But just the sheer fact that I feel like I had to explain why I wear a weave irritates the hell out of me! I may choose to wear weaves even after my hair has grown, that doesn’t mean that I hate myself or think that “a White standard of beauty” is more attractive. Some people just like what they like, and sometimes its just that simple. White women and women of other races change thier hair ALL THE TIME. Yet the minute we Black women dye our hair, cut our hair, drop the chemicals, pick up the chemicals, add extensions, loc it up we are judged and persecuted not matter what. Everybody has an opinion on something that is frankly none of thier business and our hair becomes a politcal issue. Stop the bull-ish and get down to the problems with our race that REALLY matter…..

  • Deb

    Kwazigirl, I know that and I get that. I’m not talking about them wearing their hair out to every photo shoot or movie op or awards show. But you don’t even see them ONCE IN AWHILE like Viola or Solange. Both these women sport weaves and their ntural hair. It’s not THAT restrictive.

    But like I said, at the end of the day, it’s a PERSONAL decision and whether an actress wants to rock their natural, it’s up to them. I personally don’t look to Hollywood for anything. I think everyday black women sporting their natural hair with pride and without pressure is changing perceptions greatly.

  • march pisces

    kam, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. if a person chose not to get to know me b/c of some hair their loss not mine. i’ve gotten older, but my essence remains the same. through the perms, briads and now loc’s i’m still me. so no i’m not my hair i’m so much more….

  • KissOfDanger

    Not everyone believes in God.

  • http://clutchmagazine blcknnblvuu

    I have a love affair with my nappy hair. it wasn’t always easy but once i have mastered my three strand-braid technique that have helped me achieve my easy low-maintenance, long-lasting hair style with less hair products as possible,I have never felt so happy .I feel so authentically beautiful.I will never go back to process hair.

  • The Moon in the Sky

    I have the tightly coiled hair (kinky) and there is no way I could do a wash-n-go or not comb my hair as someone suggested.

    I wear braids, but I have found that people will even have a problem with that. People will question the length of your hair and tell you how they want you to wear your own hair.

  • Sylvie

    I second every single thing you wrote. Even when I was relaxed, I never encountered a “Natural Nazi” (which, by the way, can we stop using this term? Women with natural hair are not PERSECUTING women with relaxers. We aren’t rounding them up and putting them in concentration camps and making them wear little badges with afropicks on them before we murder them in ovens. You know, stuff that NAZIS do. )

    What I did encounter while relaxed was women with natural hair who loved THEIR hair. They loved the styling, they loved the versatility, they shared tips. It was like a club I wasn’t in and even if at times I felt annoyed by it and possibly excluded from it, I was never persecuted by it.

    All that said, *I* went natural because I wanted long hair, not to join a movement, and I fully intended to straighten it all the time and wear it straight. And as someone said in an earlier comment, straightening natural hair is hard work and it takes effort/energy/time. I could straighten it in the morning and have a fro in the evening. If the only natural style I was ever going to consider trying was straight hair, I would have gone back to a relaxer because it was work!

    Once I discovered the world of twists, twistouts, braids, rollersets, flat twists, my natural styling world opened up and my time commitment diminished. I started working with what my hair could do, discovered my strands were too fine to ever successfully rock a relaxer and that it looked better in natural styles. That I looked better working with my hair the way it grew out of my head. And I started to get why women with natural hair liked talking about it and sharing tips because it’s awesome and new and a great bonding experience.

    Relaxed heads outnumber natural heads by probably 3 – 1. So why is the majority so threatened by the choices of the minority?

    All that said, how a celebrity (or anyone I don’t know ((or heck, I do know)) wears their hair is none of my business. I don’t care. I side-eye, the “it’s easier” and “it’s more versatile” arguments and I side-eye even harder the “natural under weave” pics on instagram but none of that has anything to do with me.

  • The Moon in the Sky

    When someone says they are ‘tender-headed’, they are talking about their scalp. You can’t ‘train’ your scalp to not hurt.

  • Mama Mia

    @Guest 1234

    Actually, natural hair isn’t difficult to straighten. Simply blow dry it with the comb attachment first. When blow-dried (or stretched) before using a flat iron, it always comes out right. I have EXTREMELY, kinky natural hair, and have always used this technique. Whenever I straighten my hair, women always assume I am wearing a weave or that I got a relaxer. Not to mention your hair looks more fuller and healthier than someone who straightens their hair with a relaxer. Just blow dry your hair first (which takes me 20 minutes) to stretch it out, then use the flat iron. The whole process take me 2 hours, and I have very long type 4c hair. If my hair can do it, anyone’s can. I have been doing this ever since I went natural back in 2007, and the technique has never failed me.


    Bless you sis!! We need more in the world like you.


    Substitute “God” for the “universe” or “nature”, and the result is the same.

  • Sasha

    Wow so many perspectives. Just goes to show that our opinions about our hair are as diverse as our hair itself. Do you ladies!


    @ Sylvie:

    “Relaxed heads outnumber natural heads by probably 3 – 1. So why is the majority so threatened by the choices of the minority?”

    This is so eloquently stated. Thank you for saying this.


    @ Cassia:

    You’re right, but as I mentioned before, we as a people need to stop basing our life decisions upon what celebrities do.

    If you continue to follow down behind Beyonce and the rest of those women, who are plastic surgery’d up and everything else, then you will never find self satisfation.

  • Casey13

    Nobody said that God gave them the wrong hair. Liking straight hair doesn’t mean that you have anything against curly or natural hair. It’s just a preference. Why are you so angry?

  • Kat

    getting a “natural” is more work than getting a straight one a lot of the time

  • Apple

    That’s right let me not comb it so it can matt together so I have to cut it out. Go play in traffic

  • isola

    Hollywood may be afraid but Madison Avenue isn’t. I see actresses and models with natural hair on many many commercials.

  • missdovewrites

    Why must we attach so much meaning to hair? I just do not understand. People act like having natural hair is a revolutionary discovery and it must be discussed, analysed and scrutinised at every given opportunity. There are far more pressing issues in our community people.

  • Ms. Vee

    Here’s my perspective:

    1) Black women (especially in hollywood) should be able to wear our hair anyway we like……however,

    If we collectively choose not to embrace/love the number one distinguishing characteristic about ourselves then we cant get upset that others don’t. In other words if you are going to conform to white beauty standards then don’t complain about them remaining the standards. What I’ve observed is that,black men (celebrities and non celebrities) have maintained their desirability status all while being natural. I think its time we take notes.

    “BUT WHITE WOMEN WEAR WEAVES TOO!” If this the argument you have to justify the weave phenomenon among black women then stop right now. Please direct me to a large group of white women that wear afro-textured weaves. Until other races start wearing our hair types then their use of fake hair is not comparable.

    2) The weave in itself is not the problem…its the type of weave being used and the dependency.

    If you don’t feel desirable when natural, then you’re probably dealing with self hate. There’s a difference between wearing a weave once in a while vs 90% of the time. Furthermore if the weave always mimics that of another race, then you’re probably self hating.

    This type of weave, imo, is unflattering and pointless on black women

    This is a more flattering choice

    3) Lets pay attention to the money. Black women spends millions of dollars every year on weave. We’ve done a wonderful job with giving the Koreans good housing and putting them through school….while the majority of black communities remain destitute.

    Now i restate, this is my perspective and I’m entitled to it. Im not too fond of advocating hyroxide laced chemicals. So no I’m not pro-perm. I would prefer to press/hot comb if straightening my hair was my choice. Nonetheless natural hair is best. I have yet to see a permed/ weave wearing black woman with real hair better than this:

    Lastly remember: ALOPECIA is not your friend!! Do what you want to do be be aware of the potential consequences.

  • Madam Sapphire

    I’m 45 years young, a kid at heart, and living the natural and herbal life. Yippee!

  • Raya

    I’m with you Madam Sapphire. I’m 51, natural and have never felt, and looked, so fabulous in my whole life!

  • Guest1234

    @mama mia

    I get what you’re saying, and you’re right that everyone’s hair is different. I’ve been natural for 13 years, and straightening has always been a pain in the butt for me. I have crazy thick, long 4b hair, and it takes at least an hour to blow dry all of it, and another hour to flat iron. And let me not even get into how quick it starts to puff up and revert back once it’s done. If I even LOOK at a bottle of water, my hair starts retreating back up to the top of my head with a quickness.

    My experience is that natural hair is a pain in the butt to get and keep straight. So I guess what I was saying was from my point of view, trying to wear a straight style all the time is impracticable for me, and I presumed that was the case for other naturals, but you’re right. Everybody’s different.

  • http://Clutch SL

    This article makes me cry. I wear my hair natural because it is so easy for me to do that cause it’s curly and wavy and I could wash it everyday if I wanted. My daughter’s hair is not so easy. It’s really long and really thick. She is tender- headed on top of it and I really don’t want to put any chemicals in it – so we do wash, box braid to let it dry naturally and flat iron the net day or so – it is a weekend process. By the end of it all, we both are in tears and exhausted. I’ve suggested that we cut it all off and just settle for a bald head – it would be so much easier! But for all the agony, she has beautiful hair.

  • WhatIThink

    You know what, black folks have got to be some of the most retarded people on the planet. And I mean that seriously. After hundreds of years of being told (and still being told) that their hair is naturally ugly and nappy, they do anything to try and pretend that straightening their hair is somehow “normal” or just being “flexible”. Of course they aren’t trying to look like all those white women on TV. Sure they aren’t. They aren’t trying to imitate those white hair models and other folks and the black actresses and entertainers who are paid to look like fake white folks. Lets keep it totally real. 60 years ago black males and females straightened their hair and everyone knew it was because they wanted to look white. LIte, brite and damn their white was the ideal. By the 50s and 60s most black female entertainers were running around with those ugly behind looking wigs that were made explicitly for white folks. there was no such thing as a “black wig” in those days (other than a black version of a white wig). And most black women imitated that style as well. Look at the ronettes and these other groups and you will see it. Not to mention that people like my own mom wore that crap as well and looked just as ugly.

    But anyway, here is a story from NPR today that says point blank that “it isn’t the industry’s job to fight racism” yet you got all these bonehead black folks talking about how they just wanna be flexible….

  • E.M.S.

    This is one debate I wish would JUST STOP. Why can’t we wear our hair how we want without someone making assumptions about why we wear it that way and making it something negative?

    What I immediately took offense to here was that you accused every single one of these ladies of “conforming to the beauty standards.” Not every hair-based decision is about going with or against a standard. It’s about how an individual woman likes to wear her hair.

    I am sick of these attacks on non-natural hair on this website. Natural hair is praised here now, but anything else is heavily criticized and assumed to be about shame or fear associated with a natural look. GIVE IT A REST.

  • Lataunya

    I said I was damaging my hair trying to straighten it with heat! MY hair is beautiful natural or not! I no longer wanted to damage my curl pattern so I decided to texlax! I effin love my hair with all my heart! U need to read before u write! BTW never once did I mention God! I was saying I’m a black woman and I DON’T think I have the wrong type of hair because MY preference is to wear it straight!

  • Lataunya

    Sorry Katie didn’t know I needed to list every celebrity who wore natural hair! I still think the article is biased!

  • JustLocked

    I agree here! I went natural to save time and money (and my scalp from the harshness). When I was relaxed I had to spend tragic amounts of time and product to maintain my “straight.” When I wanted a break I had to spend money on weaves and braids. All of this takes time and A LOT of funds. I spent at least $65 a month trying to keep my hair together. I’ve always been able to do my own hair so the time it took for weaves and braids was always time I really didn’t have to give. The alternative was spending $250+ for styles that only last a month or so. Both ways are dreadful!

    I’ve been natural for the past 7 years and I save more money and time then I ever did before. I think it’s absurd to assume everyone has the same hair regimen and every natural spends a lot of time and/or money to maintain their hair. Once I found the right products, I noticed I only spent money every couple of months. I also saved a butt-load of time because I didn’t have to straighten my hair in the morning. I just loc’ed my 9-inches of natural hair 8 months ago and I re-tighten about every 6 to 8 weeks (I don’t mind the new growth) using NO PRODUCT! In the last 8 months I’ve only had to purchase oils twice to keep it moisturized. I use water the rest of the time. When I wake in the morning I’m good to go! I find this to be the best hair for me as a student.

    I just wish people wouldn’t put a time table on how long and how much money naturals spend on their hair (especially if they’ve never been natural). It may take some a lot of time and others no time at all. Some of us have more patience than others. We are all different, with different grades of hair. Some of us are D.I.Y stylist and never get bored coming up with styles while others are really just learning what to do for themselves. Some may need to go to the salon to have their curls or locs maintained. Each effort will come with its own time table and price-tag.

  • MimiLuvs

    Mmm… the comment section has gone nuts again. I wonder why?

    (reads the name of the article’s writer)

    Oh, never mind.

  • QueenJames

    Its just hair.

  • EntertainMeh

    You are judgmental and an ass. I was natural for a year and couldn’t do it anymore. I am very low maintenance and my hair was NOT. I didn’t have hours to spend on my hair to twist it or whatever and I damn sure didn’t have the money to spend trying to figure out what was the best product for me to use. And I will do it forever if I can. So I’m fake because I don’t like to fuss with my hair? I’m a clown? And a lame?

    I look good natural or relaxed. I get men of any race, natural or relaxed. I know my ass is black, natural or relaxed. So with all do respect your majesty, but phuck you.

  • susan

    Agree! Besides everyone has different hair textures. If you can go natural all the power to you but some of us dont want to deal with the hassle. I like how I can just swoop my hair in a ponytail. Its about managebility not conforming to society.

  • MimiLuvs

    I had read this article earlier today.
    The article didn’t annoy me. But the comments did. It has to do with the fact that I know two people who does not have hair at all and they would love to have a head full of hair right now rather than a wig or a scarf on their heads. One person lost her hair due to alopecia totalis and the other person lost her hair as a side effect of chemotherapy.
    In my opinion, whether you wear your hair “natural” (I just hate the usage of the term) or otherwise, love yourself and ignore the naysayers.


    What a strange & twisted world we live in, where the word “natural” is now hated.

    Nobody ever wants to be held accountable for their actions.

    People come on this site & get “judged” like there’s an abundance of natural people judging them everywhere they go.

    Like none of these people have EVER judged a natural person, on some “gurrrlll, you need to do something with that head…” I’m willing to bet that they have said something like that at least once in their lives.

    Or, how many times have they heard someone else criticize a natural person, & these people stood up for a natural person?

    Everyone wants to do the judging, but nobody ever wants to get judged themselves.

  • chinaza

    This writer is spot-on in her comments. It’s not simply about choice when your only choice happens to be what is conventional and Eurocentric. No-one can deny that we have been socially conditioned to embrace a particular look as desirable in terms of skin color, body size and hair. We see it all the time and the self-hatred and self-denial that result. And that is being as honest as this article.
    Yes they are afraid to go natural, age or look too black because that does not sell in the entertainment industry unless you have exceptional talent. That’s why Viola Davis can be straight, natural or bald because she has that.

  • Crystal Afro (@CrystalAfro)

    I think you highlight an important point in this article. I agree with much of what you’ve said especially the part about “good hair” for special company.
    Crystal Afro x

  • Miss_September

    Ok, so I don’t typically comment but I have to say something about this.
    Could it be that some of these women actually like to straighten their hair. Does it always have to be that are brainwashed and trying to live up to the European standard. I mean what is wrong with
    Celebrating diversity. That’s the beauty of black women or hair can be styled a million ways
    That doesn’t make you any less black if you have straight/weaved hair or more black if you are natural. This article sounds so judgmental and this is coming from someone who is natural. I don’t go around policing what other women do with their hair. If they want to wear natural or permed/ weave more power to them. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are ashamed of their heritage or want to be white.

  • Echi

    See, this is why it would be nice if more Hollywood trendsetters wore natural hair. If we put half of much effort in figuring out creative styles for straight haired weaves as we did with our own natural hair, we wouldn’t have this misconception that natural black hair is only about the afro or celie (from the color purple) braids.

  • Echi

    The same argument could have been made for makeup. “Oh, there’s not enough shades out there for women of color – we need to bleach our skin in order to make the Hollywood makeup artist happy.” Sounds ridiculous, right? If more black women insisted on wearing out they’re natural hair on the red carpet (instead of saving it for hazy instagram bathroom photoshoots), Hollywood hairdressers would conform too.

  • Echi

    Then perhaps, and here’s a brilliant thought, you shouldn’t have been straightening it…. There’s a reason why people use the equivalent of toilet drainer fluid to relax their hair. Because our hair literally needs to be broken in order to straighten it. Whether you’re natural and straightening your hair daily or perming it – you will be doing damage to your hair regardless. So blaming your hair damage on “going natural for two years” doesn’t make too much sense.

  • Echi

    As you admit, this started long before the black president or Good Hair. If anything, I think that’s when the mainstream media and men became aware of what black women were doing to their hair. Black women have been debating natural hair versus chemically altered hair for decades now.

  • Echi

    You could go for dreadlocks if the comb bothers you that much.

  • Echi

    Hmpf, I always saw braid outs and twist outs as an alternative to using rollers. When I did have loose natural hair (I have dreadlocks now), I would have my hair braided up or twisted up for a week or two and then let it loose and curly on the weekend, knowing that I would have time to detangle it on Sunday. I sometimes do this with locs as well – braid it up and then end up with a thicker curled look after some days.
    Wash-n-go’s were only an option when I had really short hair.

    I also find the hair type distinctions useful because their are certain things that a 3 curl pattern can or cannot do but a 4 curl type pattern can or cannot. It was better than the awful delineation of good hair and nappy-a*s hair.

  • Echi

    Urgggh, I hate that elitist label. It’s like whenever black people do something against the grain (like go to college, use proper diction, hell, even eat their chicken with forks), it’s elitist or even worse, “uppity”

  • Echi

    @MimiLuvs – I feel for you and your friends – but I hope you know they are clearly in the minority. I’m personally around people with feeding tubes and on ventilators all day – and honestly I feel for them. But that won’t stop me from making arguing on food blogs or petitioning the government to work on air quality.
    I’m also getting tired of the comments like, “oh, there are more serious issues to worry about, like world peace or starving children.” yeah, we all know that. And if such a commenter was invested in such issues – why are you reading this article?

  • Echi

    And yet, you bothered to read the article (and I am sure some of the responses) and took time out of your blessed day to comment.
    It it was an article on the various species of grass, I’m certain you would take out time to let the other commenters know that hey, “it’s just grass.”
    It’s just hair…..surrrrrrre.

  • http://Clutch SL

    I just don’t get why we got to always be critiquing and judging each others look! Wtf we wear, how we choose to wear our hair, what kind of house we live in, what kind of car we drive – all the superficial sh!t that doesn’t mean a GD thing!!!!!

    This sh!t is fuckin petty!

    To each their own! It is no more representative of the collective as choosing what color “draws” you decide to put on your ass. Should we all get together and decide what kind of “draws” to put on too?

    For the love of God, if there was ever an appropriate time to say “be you do you boo” this sure as hell would be it.

  • QueenJames

    Yes, I read many things throughout my day and this just happened to be one of them. I’m always interested in other points of view to prevent becoming a close-minded individual that can only reference my own thoughts, opinions and beliefs. I was hoping this article would add a different dimension to this debate, but no. And factually speaking, it really is just hair. I love mine, I hope you love yours! That’s all that really matters, right?

  • Sandy

    I don’t get why people are so bothered with what other women do to their hair. It’s quite hilarious really. No, the actresses don’t wear weaves & relax their hair because they’re afraid to go ‘natural’. They do it because that is what THEY want. Why can’t people get that? So now every black woman who’s had relaxed hair wants to be white? maya angelou, oprah, jill scott, goapele & michelle Obama all want to be white? Since most dark-skinned women (like me) have dark lips, are we also trying to be white when we wear red lipsticks? & do the people with natural hair who dye it brown, blond or wine also want to be white? I’ve had natural hair on & off & love it’s texture. I’m now relaxed & love it’s texture as well. When I was natural, I used to wear straight weaves from time to time to switch it up. Now that I’m relaxed, I wear afro weaves from time to time & I do other ‘naturalish’ styles like puffy twists (with extensions) & crochet braids to get 4a/4b hair. I love the versatility of black hair. We should all celebrate that.

  • Fancypants

    Exactly Sandy!

    I’m relaxed but I do braid outs, wear braids, kinky textured wigs, straight styles, straight wigs, etc. As long as your hair is healthy you can do whatever you like. Black hair is versatile. We should love that fact! My white collegues are actually jealous of my hair because I can switch it up and they can’t. The only ones who judge our hair is US, whether it’s natural or straight.

    Also, all black natural hair isn’t kinky textured. My mom’s hair is actually on the straight/wavy side and my husband’s hair is straight as a pin.

    And PLEASE can we stop saying black women relax their hair to look like white hair. Black relaxed hair is NOTHING like white hair. Even when straight it still has some texture.

  • KnowYourHistory


    I think that the majority of black women that have long-rocked perms and weaves have internalized that outlook for themselves for SO long that THEY DON’T EVEN REALIZE that they are wearing their hair in that fashion BECAUSE they feel that their own hair is unacceptable. That’s how INGRAINED is the notion of “natural is ugly, and unacceptable”.

    Most Black women have so readily and subconsciously accepted this idea, that they practically wouldn’t DARE to consider wearing hair that’s NOT processed or “weaved”. Folk get angry if you pull back the curtain on long hidden and buried shame. They’ll dissemble, or lash out; so, tread lightly.

    To continue the mantra that “it’s only hair” is akin to saying that Jackie Robinson’s entry into the Major Leagues was “only” about baseball.


    “It’s just hair…”

    I’ll take “things black people say when they’ve lost touch with their African roots” for $1000…

  • KnowYourHistory

    That the majority of black women have SO internalized the notion that their own, natural hair is somehow unacceptable to the world, to me, SPEAKS VOLUMES to the subconscious psyche of TOO MANY Black women, and goes a ways in unmasking their true feelings about the place that they feel Blacks truly occupy in this world.

    That mindset, I believe, shows a willingness to alter oneself in an unfortunate bid for “acceptance”, and only helps to impede our progress. Yup.

    Maintaining the mantra that “it’s just hair” is akin to saying that Jackie Robinson’s entry into the Major Leagues was “just” about baseball.


    See, this is why I question some of the choices that women in general, but especially Black women, make.

    “Relaxed hair is healthy…”


    Didn’t you see GOOD HAIR??

    The part where Chris Rock was talking to the scientist, & he showed how the chemicals in relaxers will eat thru a tin can?


    The reality is, most of the cosmetic things women do to themselves, age health-threatening.

    •Colored contacts = the dye therein can cause serious eye problems.

    •High Heel shoes = cause problems with your feet, legs, & back.

    •Fake nails = the acrylic is one of the most destructive chemicals on the entire planet.

    •Make up = eats away at the skin on your face, making you look old before your time. Alot of it is made from the secretions of insects. So you’re rubbing bug shot on your face, & you think you’re cute. Nice….

    When I see a woman all done up, with all the makeup, nails, fake/relaxed hair, crazy high heels, fancy expensive clothes, etc etc, I usually walk in the opposite direction, because all I see is a walking Neurosis, who has no sense of Self, outside of what the White man has created for her.

  • Pseudonym

    I don’t know why you had to make this an “especially black women” issue. Women of all racial backgrounds do all of the above- including straightening their hair (they just use the formaldehyde-containing Brazilian blow-out instead of the sodium hydroxide-containing relaxer).

    Give the anti-black woman sentiments a rest already.

  • Pseudonym

    Also, ancient Egyptians did all of the above (including straightening their hair), so drastic measures to alter a woman’s appearance is not some new, European thing. From the way we developed as people/human society, men have always been valued for their ability to provide and women have been valued for their physical appearance.

    Also, if you make that rash of a snap judgement based on a woman wearing makeup and high heels, then it’s best you walk in the opposite direction b/c your character (which is a lot more important than physical appearance) does not sound like a good one.

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