Can We Call A Truce in the Permed Versus Natural Wars?

by Danielle C. Belton

Truce

Over the weekend Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones made a faux pas when criticizing a fan’s Halloween costume. Twitter user @TrackChick13_ posted a picture of herself dressed up like Jones, ready to run out of the blocks, but unlike Jones, the user had curly hair. Jones’ hair is straight.

The user wrote: “Lolo jones 4 Halloween. I just need a hurdle.” And Jones replied: “And a relaxer. I haven’t rocked curls since h.s :p.”

Jones’ response was “cheeky” in that she did sign off with an emoticon that symbolizes a mouth with a tongue sticking out, but people didn’t take it in any kind of cheeky way. After all, Jones has a history of putting her foot in her mouth on Twitter, potentially enraging people. This time was no exception.

There was this:

And this:

And even more of this:

As unfortunate as Jones’ tweet was, the costumed fan didn’t take it personal, and Jones tweeted that she felt there was a double “hair” standard in this commentary.

While Jones’ statement about the opposite having a different reaction may be true, she’s forgotten that all things aren’t considered equal when it comes to the unfortunate politics of black hair. A lot of black and biracial women straighten their hair as Jones does and for decades that has been considered the standard. Despite this pressure to straighten, multitudes of black and biracial women have embraced their curly hair, wear it as they see fit and some are outright hostile to the notion of a hair relaxer. Especially if anyone “insists” they need one to be “complete” … even if it’s a by proxy suggestion via Lolo Jones in regards to a Lolo Jones costume. The comment is insensitive and it stings.

But a lot of the responses Jones received seemed to be overkill as they often involved passing judgment on Jones, accusing her of hating herself for straightening her hair. There’s no evidence that Jones vehemently dislikes natural hair, only that she’s kind of rude about people who don’t copy her look exactly when portraying her. But as soon as the offensive tweet went out the usual battle stations were drawn, and the primary insult that is usually flung around in the curly versus straight wars is that black women who straighten their hair (or get long weaves) are full of self-loathing.

I, personally, have natural hair that I sometimes wear curly and other times wear straight. I don’t use a relaxer due to my own issues with the harsh chemicals in relaxers and how my hair responds to them, so I occasionally get my hair straightened with a blow dryer and a flat iron. But as someone who loves how their hair looks both when curly and when straight, I wonder if we’ll ever find a middle ground in this particular debate? Will women who primarily wear their hair straightened ever stop suggesting that I get a perm or gleefully wondering how long it looks if I did straighten it? Will I ever stop feeling like others at times pass judgment on me for wearing my hair straight because I like how it looks and enjoy changing my hair up? Can hair ever be just hair when every part of the black body is constantly politicized?

I know we’re not quite there yet (and definitely not there where statements like Jones can simply be ignored), but is there a way to have this discussion without it going to the old sore spots where curly hair “needs to be fixed” and straight is “self-hate.” Is there another way to have this conversation?

  • https://www.facebook.com/thornefielder Cherl Thorne-Fielder

    I am SO sick of it…

  • https://www.facebook.com/sekinslow Sabrina E. Kinslow

    Do what makes you happy! Shrug.

  • https://www.facebook.com/robin.taylor.1865 Robin Taylor

    I couldn’t even make sense if the exchange ppl should get lives not everything is a battle

  • https://www.facebook.com/nicole.joseph.5 Nicole Joseph

    I swear I thought I saw mars versus venus wars. I need my eyes checked :)

  • https://www.facebook.com/nicole.joseph.5 Nicole Joseph

    I swear I thought I saw mars versus venus wars. I need my eyes checked :)

  • https://www.facebook.com/nicole.joseph.5 Nicole Joseph

    I swear I thought I saw mars versus venus wars. I need my eyes checked :)

  • https://www.facebook.com/nicole.joseph.5 Nicole Joseph

    I swear I thought I saw mars versus venus wars. I need my eyes checked :)

  • https://www.facebook.com/nicole.joseph.5 Nicole Joseph

    I swear I thought I saw mars versus venus wars. I need my eyes checked :)

  • https://www.facebook.com/birgitta.johnson.54 Birgitta Johnson

    War?!?!? m-kay….

  • https://www.facebook.com/birgitta.johnson.54 Birgitta Johnson

    War?!?!? m-kay….

  • https://www.facebook.com/birgitta.johnson.54 Birgitta Johnson

    War?!?!? m-kay….

  • https://www.facebook.com/birgitta.johnson.54 Birgitta Johnson

    War?!?!? m-kay….

  • https://www.facebook.com/purplemagicalunicornz Tee Lea

    Yes I get tired of how we as women go at each others throats because some are team natural and others like perms, weaves. etc. personally i hate the phrase “team anything” Do what makes you happy and forget the rest!

  • Anthony

    Lolo Jones should concentrate on eating her 9,000 calories a day, and leave Twitter alone!

  • http://gravatar.com/geenababe geenababe

    @lolojones you should be flattered anyone wants to be a loser for Halloween

    ————————————————————–
    That had to burn but this war is like the light skinned, dark skinned war it will not end.

  • karla

    I think that this is less about hair and more about Lolo and her own mean person issues. I don’t follow her but every time her name is in the news it’s for some bitchy, in appropriate comment. She has a self inflated notion of self which masks her own insecurities (maybe not living up to the expectations set during her collegiate career). Instead of being grateful and showing a little humility, basically her response to the young woman was ‘you can’t be me’.

  • lil ray

    Lolo much like Kanye is just another troll.

  • Afrostyling

    I will agree to a truce when Lolo starts being a winner.

  • Joan

    I think Lolo Jones comes off as very insensitive and uneducated. She hasn’t made the best impression on black women and the fact that she gets so much attention seemingly based on her looks does not help. She pointed out what she seemed to interpret as a mistake on the fan’s part and well, that seems more like lack of class. I really don’t think that she was trying to imply that the woman needed a perm to look better; she seemed to be saying that if the woman had straight hair, she’d look more like her. That is actually true, but her poor choice of words (using the word “relaxer”) and then defending the poor choice of words only cancels out the message that she was trying to convey. For instance, I know a woman who looks like Taraji Henson, but she wears her hair curly. If Taraji sees her and says, “Girl, if we had the same hair style, we’d be twins,” it wouldn’t be taken the same way. In order for her to get Taraji’s hair style, she’d have to have her hair straightened…but Taraji would know better than to say, “To look like me, you need a relaxer….I haven’t looked like that since high school.” I’ll bet money that Taraji would know better than to suggest that a fan should make any change to her look…Taraji is so cool, she’d probably say something like, “Hmm…you know, I ought to try curly hair for a while.” Lolo comes off as insulting; the word “relaxer” is just icing on the cake. Just from many of the things that Lolo says, I can tell that she was not exposed to the politics of black hair in the same ways that the average black girl (with two black parents) would be. So, the fact that she would be clueless about the negative response she received for suggesting a relaxer to a black woman is not at all surprising to me. Add to that the fact that she’s not very tactful and well, she’d a PR nightmare. LOL,

  • apple

    of course that girl costume wasn’t right.. she had on a medal..

  • KG

    Maybe if Lolo worried less about her hair she could win something, a la Gabby Douglas (whose hair looked fine by the way and I jumped in joy when she won)…oh wait, nvm, it would require actual talent.

    In other news, I think Lolo does have self hate issues, but not because of her hair (which is about as tired a discussion as light skin vs. dark skin), more so because her tweets are oddly suspect, questionable, and takes jabs at black culture.

    Also, slightly off topic, who is funding this chick to continually lose?

  • Jillybean

    Agreed! Between her “woe is me” act at the Summer Olympics, her Rachel Jeantel comments and this mess (she also insulted a kid dressed as her for Halloween), I am DONE with this woman.

  • Joan

    Damn. LOL!!!!!

  • mEE

    This is less about natural v. relaxed or the inevitable light skinned v. dark skinned and more about Lolo being a total bitch.
    seriously wtf is her problem?? I’ve never seen someone stick their foot in their mouth repeatedly like this girl. something has to be wrong with her. maybe she just needs to get off Twitter smh

  • Marisa

    My response to anything Low Low and yes spelled that way on purpose has to say is always BYE FELICIA, this perennial underachiever should be flattered anybody wanted to dress up as her for Halloween to begin with. Low Low has been able to financially profit ala Anna Kournikova The President of Perennial Underachievers Association, because of her supposed white mainstream view that she is some great beauty. If ask me the chick is an average looking chick all she has is the damn near white skin, which is good enough for them to prop her up.

    Meanwhile they justify that so they can ignore her more successful darker skinned teammates, again I’m real glad for Venus and Serena who are so great them suckas were forced to acknowledge them even while fighting it tooth and nail. Low Low runs slick out the mouth all the time and thinking just cuz that light skin, means she deserves a pass, cuz folks been telling her she’s cute her whole life. When others call her ass out though she wants cry that Tragic Mulatto Tears, which I’m glad people aren’t falling for.

  • http://gravatar.com/kirblime kirblime

    tragic mulatto tears. lol. say that sh*t, girl. for real.

  • Ang28

    It was wrong of Lolo to critique the girl for any reason! This girl looks like she’s in high school and her twitter name is trackchick so she’s probably a fan of Lolo. What celebrity criticizes a fan period, let alone one who likes them enough to be them for Halloween? Lolo could have just said “I’m flattered” or “thanks for the support” and kept it moving, anything more is just classless and rude. Honey-booboo’s family dressed as the kardashians for Halloween. They definitely don’t look like exact replicas of the Kardashians but Kris Jenner still sent them a tweet saying they looked fabulous. Lolo needs to start using common sense or at least hire a publicist.

  • Marisa

    By the way Low Low its not the hair that should have thrown off the costume/look for you, the fact the young lady is wearing an actual MEDAL. We sure as hell know that’s something your not accustomed to I’m just saying.

  • KG

    …I just noticed this, but did anyone noticed the girl is wearing a medal…HAHAHAHA

  • Blue

    When will famous people learn that anything you say/tweet can & will be used against you.

  • Roses

    And there you have it!

  • Roses

    The young lady should have said, I’ll get a relaxer when you get a medal! LoLo call Iyanla to get you together because this ain’t it!

  • http://gravatar.com/beejcee beejcee

    @Joan
    “Just from many of the things that Lolo says, I can tell that she was not exposed to the politics of black hair in the same ways that the average black girl (with two black parents) would be. So, the fact that she would be clueless about the negative response she received for suggesting a relaxer to a black woman is not at all surprising to me.”

    Joan, I would agree with this statement if Lolo Jones wasn’t 31 years old. She has been away from Iowa since 2000 (I know several minorities raised in Iowa but give her a break). Lolo lives in Baton Rouge and attended LSU. Whether she says she knows better we know she does, look at her fifth tweet. She knows better she is mean spirited, mad because SHE can’t live up to others expectations of her. IMO

  • Deb

    Please no more Lolo articles, my soul is so weary. Even seeing her face annoys me at this point and I unfortunately could not scroll past her face quickly enough.

  • AJ

    HILARIOUS

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    I agree with those who said this is not about hair but people’s feelings toward Lolo Jones personally I side eye her because she always have something slick to say via Twitter. I did think she inserted her foot in her mouth because all she had to do was say “awww cute, thanks, etc.” and kept it moving.

  • Ang28

    I’m not buying the argument that a 31 year old woman who is half black and went to college in Louisiana is clueless about the negative reactions she would get from telling a black girl to get a relaxer. Lolo is just clueless, period! That is evident from the various offensive tweets she has sent out in the past. I’m not making excuses for a 31 year old woman who criticizes a teenagers appearance, period. Not only is it a bad move as a person it’s also a bad move as a celebrity. She just lost more of the few fans she had left.

  • nononsense57

    “of course that girl costume wasn’t right.. she had on a medal..”

    @Apple, that was the best.line.ever!

    On a serious note, I get that there may be a double standard when it comes to hair. But I am not convinced that part-Black Lolo Jones has no clue about the politics associated with Black women’s hair.

    Her twitter comment was insensitive, period, and Lolo is a mean girl. She should be happy that she has a fan and endorsement deals; Lolo Jones is to track what fellow non-title winner Anna Kournikova was to tennis: Cute face, but not a champion, wasting endorser money. Halloween costumes do not have to look exactly like the person they’re meant to portray. They can be inspired by a person or thing, but they don’t need to be identical (I’m talking to you, Julianne Hough!)

  • http://luckynabatanz7e.blogspot.co.uk anm

    My gosh she was simply referring to the girl’s not so accurate impersonation of her. Not everyone walks around thinking about being politically correct every minute of every hour of everyday. I’m sure if any of you were in the public eye you too would be getting accused of all sorts. Leave the girl alone and let her live, people need to look at the context of her comment and stop being so rude!!! Besides tearing her down isn’t going to make thing better.

  • GlowBelle

    This is deeper than hair…this is Lolo Jones’ proving once again for the umpteenth time how much of a self-absorbed jerk. My goodness, she couldn’t even take a compliment and be happy that a fan is emulating her and she had to go and degrade someone’s hair. Anybody else would have been thrilled and kept things moving, but no, not her. It’s obvious Lolo has some personal issues that she needs to sort out, and maybe if she got off Twitter and adjusted her attitude, she might win something…

    Still I laughed hard at that shade thrown in that first tweet…yeah, Lolo should be flattered, because she’s losing fans left and right with her mean girl comments. She might get a rude awakening when the winter Olympics rolls around and she finds out that because of her stinky attitude nobody is rooting for her.

  • Joan

    anm, do you think it was wise for her to criticize a fan’s attempt to be her for Halloween? If someone who obviously idolized you posted a photo of themselves dressed like what they thought was you, do you think that pointing out what you interpret as a flaw would be a class act on your part? Even if she had only been talking about the girl’s outfit being wrong, do you think her pointing it out and possibly embarrassing a fan on Twitter was good form? To me, it seems that people are pissed because Lolo (who gets so much attention for her looks) seemed critical of another woman’s looks, when she should have been humble and thoughtful when addressing the fan. When Lolo saw that things were getting out of hand, instead of addressing the matter in a thoughtful way and showing love for the fan, she got defensive and it only showed that she was thinking about herself. It kind of reminds me of the whole Kenya Moore/cuchie-crack debacle. Maybe Lolo meant no harm and thought she was helping by saying what she said, but should you really be critical of a fan who idolizes you?

  • SE

    I think it was rude of Lola to say that to the lady. She should’ve just taken the photo as a compliment. I mean, the girl can’t look just like her.

  • Joan

    Has she said anything to piss off white people yet? Because if she hasn’t it won’t matter. As long as the white people (and black men) love her, she’ll have fans. For black women, this is just another day…another indignity at our expense. I mean, really…she can say all she wants about a black girl and there will be those who will publicly defend her. But let her say something about Miley Cyrus or sh@t… even Honey Boo Boo…and THEN she will be the next Omarosa.

  • http://www.lillian-mae.com Lillian Mae

    Rude like LoLo was to the young woman?

  • Ads

    @joan im white and lolo is a meangirl- jackass in each and every shade.

  • Nic

    Since Lolo only pops off on Twitter about other black women she is okay, b/c it is white folks who sign her checks. They love her unquestionably.

    But wow, she continues to put her foot in her mouth instead of over those hurdles.
    And I’d say the cumulative affect of her other statements (calling Trayvon Martin’s friend Rachel Jenteal Precious) are probably why people went in hard on her.

    Look, if you are going to make habit of being an insensitive a$$, then each time you slip up I think people are going to go in harder. This wasn’t her first case of foot in mouth, and it won’t be her last, so even if I was a fan, i wouldn’t claim Lolo was treated unfairly by the people who responded to her.

  • Nic

    Yeah, I don’t think the most salient point of this story is even about hair. Lolo Jones has shown herself to be kind of an asshole on many occasions.

  • Mmmgood

    Everyone has basically said what I would’ve said, but I will say that I do NOT like this woman, and I don’t even know her, but the way she has shown herself to be is so ugly.

  • CK

    Love this: But wow, she continues to put her foot in her mouth instead of over those hurdles.

  • Mari

    This is a non issue, people stay looking for something to be enraged about. Seriously, a tongue-in-cheek hair tweet??? Lol.

  • Pseudonym

    Note: though Lolo’s comment was annoying, it actually has nothing to do with “permed versus natural wars.”

  • Sean

    I’ll be honest, this article bases its argument on a comment that was a misunderstanding. It’s a bit of a stretch to connect the two. It was a costume. Not to strawman her argument but if you’re being Ronald McDonald for halloween you’re most likely going to have a curly red bush versus say a black bush or even straight hair. It adds to the overall costume. If she did have her hair identical to Ms. Jones, it would “complete” her costume. The costume, not her life. I think we should separate the two.

    Let’s take a step back and stop being so sensitive (despite her “history” of putting her foot in her mouth. I mean don’t we all at some point). Cut her some slack.

    Side note: I do not have a perm and will not get one lol just so that’s one less point to counter in your rebuttal.

  • LN

    “I know we’re not quite there yet (and definitely not there where statements like Jones can simply be ignored), but is there a way to have this discussion without it going to the old sore spots where curly hair “needs to be fixed” and straight is “self-hate.” Is there another way to have this conversation?”

    Answer: When black women stop writing articles, like this one, on the “permed vs natural debate” without providing sufficient or compelling cultural evidence.

    I’ve been natural for 7 years and have yet to witness this permed vs natural “war”.

Latest Stories

Watch: ‘Black People Mate’ a Parody About the Ridiculous Stats on Black Women & Dating

by

University President Under Fire for Wanting to Make School Less White In the Future

by

Taraji P. Henson Says European Men Are Less ‘Bitter’ and ‘Jaded’ Than American Men

by

Style Inspiration: Casual Work Outfits

by
More in hair, lolo jones, natural, opinion
1702hu.St.81
From Keisha To Kylie: Biracial Teen Changes Her Name Because Of Racism

The Real Problem with SNL and Diversity
Close