Andre Walker, Oprah’s longtime hair stylist has gone and done it now. In a recent interview with Elle magazine, Oprah’s affable stylist pissed off sisters with natural hair by saying kinky hair was the only kind he’d recommend altering because it has “limited styling options.”
When discussing the difficulty of keeping “kinky” and “curly” hair tamed in humid climates, Walker advises:
“I always recommend embracing your natural texture. Kinky hair can have limited styling options; that’s the only hair type that I suggest altering with professional relaxing.”
Oh word, Andre?
Almost immediately, many in the natural hair community took Walker to task for his insinuation that kinky hair should be relaxed. Walker, who’s motto is ironically “Make Peace With Your Hair,” took to his website to explain his comments.
Let me first say that there is no such thing as “bad” hair, and I have long ago freed myself from being afraid to use the word “kinky” and also from being accused of not liking natural hair. We have become a multi-cultural society that embraces many different looks and styles when it comes to hair. It is my Mission to help you grow strong, healthy hair, and wear it in the style or styles that best suit your likes and particular hair type.
When it comes to curly and kinky hair (there is a difference), I leave the political correctness of “going straight” or staying natural to a woman’s personal preference. Once again, my advice is based on how to best achieve strong, healthy hair. So for those who would like to engage me in a debate about who has more racial pride and self esteem, based on hairstyle preference and use or non-use of chemical relaxers, know that I believe in personal freedom, and in the use of advanced technology when it yields positive results, which many of today’s (versus yesterday’s) chemical relaxers do deliver.
It is a fact that kinky hair (my Type 4 definition) is extremely fragile and breaks easily. Even when you are very careful, something as simple as combing can break this texture. It is very difficult to achieve a longer length when the hair breaks, even with simple combing. That being said, there is the style option of wearing braids, dreads, or twists, which allows the hair to grow longer because it is combed less often. Another style choice is to simply wear a shorter cut, which is very attractive on some women but just not right for others.
So when I say to embrace your natural texture, but consider relaxing kinky hair, am I contradicting myself? I don’t think so! You see, even relaxed hair can still be worn naturally. If you want a natural look, but find that your kinky hair is difficult to manage, breaks too easily, lacks shine and luster, and limits your preferred styling options, I say feel free to consider a mild chemical relaxer, sometimes called a texturizer, that eases your hair to a more manageable texture and allows you to Make Peace With Your Hair.
While I agree that rocking natural hair is not for everyone (nor does it have to be), Walker’s assertion that kinky hair can’t easily be “strong and healthy” is just false. Maybe he needs to spend a little time perusing sites like Le Coil, Black Girl With Long Hair, Curly Nikki, or Naturally Obsessed to see the wonderful, long, healthy, styles of many natural hair divas.