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Thursday

Do Relaxers Straighten More Than Your Hair?


Yesterday I was trolling the innerwebs & hung out for a bit over on CocoandCreme. I came across this article about the nature of sistas with natural hair being a little less than amicable. As a sista with natural hair I kinda didn't feel what was being said. Taking people's perceptions of me out of it, I want to look at it from a “cosmetic” standpoint first.

What I walked away with is that the perception is that women with natural hair have attitudes as tightly wound as their curls. To make a decision to accept our curls & coils means we've chosen to live outside the accepted norm. Curly hair looks wild & therefore any woman that chooses to look wild must do so because she IS wild. Wild women often have pissy attitudes. Women with straight hair, however, must be docile. A docile woman is a woman that is tame or is malleable and can be tamed. These are the ridiculous assumptions I was left with after reading & can only imagine what anyone else was left with.

I have a question, or 3, though? Do the same “rules” apply to women with lace-fronts, & other Why-hair? Does a woman who opts to wear a kinky/curly weave or wig get looked at as a Wild Woman? Does the woman who prefers her hair hat to be of the Barbie doll sort seem more laid back & approachable?

Now I'll make it personal. My hair has been natural almost my WHOLE LIFE with the exception of my freshmen year of college & the summer months that followed. I've worn everything from a Cesar cut to locs down my back, & all manner of braids, twists, & fros between. The other thing I've had almost my whole life is being responded to as though my hair is my life & my life is my hair. When I cut all my hair off, suddenly I was a lesbian. I'd missed the transition to being attracted to women & was more than a little confused by this new labeling & the new found attention from women. My male friends were heated, before seeing my new palmable head, & then got on board when they discovered how sexy they found a woman's my scalp. When I started growing my hair & wearing a lo'fro those same friends were mad that now they had to dig to get to my scalp, especially since my hair grows so fast. Locs followed & garnered anger yet again. By this time I'm paying them no attention because....well...why should I? My locs grew quickly & then I'd catch flack for having them up instead of letting them hang. By the time I got around to cutting them off, folks had gotten used to me not being a 1-style kinda gal & didn't bother to express any anger if they had any. & then the wild & woolly fro turned them on & out. The fellas seemed to lurrrrrve the wild fro. Women were supportive, mostly, saying things like “if I knew my head/hair would be like yours, I'd do that too.” Fear. Whether folks liked it or not, men & women alike assumed that I was some BoHo, Earth Mother, Mama Africa, oil wearing, vegan who cooks in a tofu-specific kitchen & is rushing toward raising some Natty Kids.

Uhmmmm....nah. I am NOT the living incarnation of E. Badu's album, Baduizm. I hate to disappoint.

My attitude stems less from the follicles attached to my scalp but from what lies beneath—the scalp that is--& the experiences I've had over the course of my life. I can be sharp & witty & intelligent because those are the people I come from, the example they set. I take no prisoners & try to leave no piles behind because the women I come from—including the press & curl & relaxed 1's—didn't or don't. My father has always encouragd having high standards & lowering them for no one. My kinks & curls have never once whispered that in my ear. When a man has said some dumb shit to me on the street after cat calling, getting no response & then walking up on me, it was NOT my natural hair that shut his ass down. When a man has offered to be someone to me that I have not asked him to be, it was NOT my hair that dismissed him. In meetings where I respond to something stupid said by someone else, again, it was not my natural hair that could no longer sit quietly back.

Natural has just always been a part of my life. Natural hair was a requirement in my house. Natural foods, meaning those not pre-packaged containing a bazillion ingredients for increased shelf-life, were all I was ever served. Natural fabrics, not blends, are what I grew up on. Natural's a natural part of my vocabulary. Perhaps it is my adult decision to remain this way, feeling completely unintimidated by the status quo, that makes me seem so brash & sassy. If bravery, commitment to maintaining who I am, is a negative trait, well....me & my freaky follicles give you the finger.

This is not a diss to those whose hair is not natural; just confusion on how natural came to be synonymous with mean, crazy, & wild. The last women I saw snappin off & giving Mad Black Woman were relaxed & weaved. If I made a gross generalization that those women are all hood I'd have to go under ground.


Done. Curious what your hair issues are? What assumptions do you make based on a woman's hair style choices? Share & share alike.

Watch me move.

4 comments:

  1. Aweez, I am not my hair is all I hear when I read this post. At the same time I do think a person's choice of hair says a lot about who she is. Just like someone's choice of clothing also speaks to who she is, to some degree. I read the Coco & Creme post and think it was a way crazy. I don't think that women with natural hair styles are rude or mean. I do think that women with natural hair tend to be more natural in general, hair, food, clothing and etc. Of course this is a generalization and can be proven wrong.

    Me personally, I wear my hair pressed because that's how I like it. Back in the day I used to get relaxers but I found that just pressing my hair worked out better and was just as manageable even in the summer. But hair is hair, wear what makes you happy and fits your personality.

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  2. The gross generalizations kill me. Jill Scott said it best on her live album when she told the audience don't think she's above whooping a chick's arse for messin' w/her man just 'cuz she had a fro. I don't care how folks choose to wear their hair as long as THEY KNOW why.

    I am sassy. But I've always been sassy, since I was a little girl & everybody had the same braids & beads. The assumption would be that the moment my friends got all relaxed & jheri curled that their sassy must've been straightened along w/their natural kink. No ma'am.

    However you choose to wear your hair, keep it fresh.

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  3. The woman in the second pic is revolting in a Kentucky Fried Chicken kind of way. UGH!

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  4. I find this hair issue so fascinating. I have had locs, relaxed, braids and fros. What I noticed is at amongst black women hair is political. Women with natural hair feel more enlightened and accepting of their heritage. Women with relaxed hair feel more groomed and successful; its easier for them to assimilate. I have been both and my core world view never changed. At the end of the day it's just hair. I know a woman who will not go natural as her husband has forbid her to do do! Really!? I love my husband I really do and I try to stay attractive for him but this is my body and at the end of the day my hair is my expression of what I like at that moment. It can change. It will change. Other women's hair is really none of my business. I have four friends who recently joined me in going natural. I don't view it as a moral issue or that they are finally African. I feel that with their hair breaking and their hairline fading this is the best choice, and frankly I find our curls, frizz and naps gorgeous. If you get the right products and take care of your natural hair it feels like a piece of heaven. Nuff' said.

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