*Disclaimer: Before you even start this, know that it doesn’t apply to every person on God’s green earth who has ever gone natural. Pinky swear. It only applies to the ones it applies to. We clear? Good. Carry on.
We’ve all seen the photos displaying Afros in all their shining glory and the words hailing up the women owning them as strong, powerful, brave, stunning and more—these women are sometimes looked at almost as superheroes simply for their choice to discard what is seen as society’s standard of hair care.
And then there are the others.
The others are those who have endured hours in a hairstylist’s chair, every six to eight weeks, getting lathered and slathered with the chemicals that turn kinky curls bone straight. And yes, sometimes, cringing came while raw scalp healed from too much time with said chemicals.
And after choosing to endure the process that comes with wanting bone-straight hair, these…others…sometimes have to endure a society that seems to have done a 180. Gone are the days when natural-haired women were disparaged and laughed at, while their locks were referred to as “nappy” and looked upon with disgust. Now, it seems as though the more women make the decision to do the “big chop,” the more that women who choose the “creamy crack” route seem to be looked down upon and somehow considered not as “black.”
*And, no, I’m not exaggerating. I’ve actually had a girl question my blackness because I’ve chosen to keep my regular relaxer appointments rather that cut my hair off and start over with what God gave me. She literally sat me down and tried to school me on the history and struggles of African-American women and their hair. Meanwhile some of these same women darn near live in wigs and weaves while their natural hair is covered and hidden from the world. But I digress.
And then bring on the lectures about the damage being done to your hair through the relaxer process, and the personal testimonies as those who go natural tell you all about how liberated they felt learning their “curl pattern,” and how fun it is finding and using curly girl products. There are even schools that will discriminate against little girls who have chosen relaxers over natural hair and will not permit those little into their school until the relaxer is removed. This is real life. In 2015. And the disparaged become the disparagers. Oh, how the tables have turned.
But why? It’s inconceivable that folks who endured so much and so many unkind words would develop a sort of superiority complex and turn up their noses at those who have made a different superficial choice than them? Although some of them do get deep with it, claiming a connection to ancestors and a higher intellect than their straight-haired sisters. It’s almost sad to see and hear the sneers and pointed questions aimed at “others.” Okay, remove the almost. Because we’ve found yet another way to divide our community and that is sad.
So instead of getting into discussions and debates about choices in hairstyle, how about we embrace that we all have the right to do what the hell we want to with whatever grows out of our heads. Embrace, accept, celebrate—whatever. Because everyone’s reasons and opinions are not the same, but we’re all entitled to them. Those feelings of resentment come from a long history of negativity (see the movie “Good Hair” for reference), and it’s hard to break away from history, but we’ve got to try, because it is exhausting to sometimes try measuring up to the lofty standards being set by the current hair community on what is best for you and your hair. I’m tired of fighting off everyone who has something to say about my strands and what I do with them. And when I say everyone, I mean everyone from hairstylists and strangers on the street, to family members (my mother is natural and I get constant lectures on how pretty my natural hair would be…Lawd) and friends. Get yourself a jar of Miss Jessie’s Curly Pudding and leave us be! Please =)
Photo Credits: Getty Images