Natural Hair Message

Natural hair doesn’t make you ‘Blacker’

via S2S Magazine

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I didn’t think a word could be more overused and annoying than “swagger,” until I heard “natural.”

In case you somehow don’t already know, going “natural” is the latest trend among African-American women who are saying goodbye to relaxers (also known as perms), which chemically straighten their naturally curly or kinky hair.

Going natural was on the rise many years ago, but it virtually exploded into a movement following the 2009 Chris Rock movie, Good Hair. In the movie, Rock highlights the extremes Black women take to achieve so-called “good hair” ““ be it in the form of weaves or relaxers, which he famously coined “creamy crack.”

For many African-American women, the film was an inspiration to overcome their addiction to relaxers, not just because of the sometimes damaging effects it has on their hair, but also for a sense of African-American pride.

To the latter, I say bullcrap. I never believed in the silly notion that Black women who straighten their hair are trying to resemble their White female counterparts with long, silky smooth tresses. My hair is super thick and gets extra frizzy in the rain. I don’t like that, so I have a perm. Period.

Yet, for some reason it seems there’s this new sense of shame or judgment against women who rock a relaxer or weave. Recently, an Atlanta club promoter even offered discounts to women with natural hair and who don’t wear weaves.

Enough already.

If a relaxer is making your hair fall out, then by all means, get rid of it! But please don’t think you’re making a statement in the process. I’ve been getting relaxers for over 20 years now, and my hair is still healthy and I am still very much Black (gasp!).

It’s called individuality. Do you! Going natural doesn’t make a woman any better or “Blacker” than one rocking a weave down to her behind. If that’s the case, how do you explain when White women wear “extensions” and straighten their naturally curly hair? Who are they trying to be like?

Besides, if we’re talking about going natural, I say go all the way! Get rid of your makeup, nail polish, deodorant… heck, even get rid of your Spanx! But please don’t try to pressure me to do the same.

I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drum, and that won’t change, no matter how many movies Chris Rock makes. If I’m a fiend to the creamy crack, then fine. Call me Pookie.

What do you think? Do you agree that women with straight hair are judged harshly? Do you assume women with natural hair have more Black pride? Leave your comments below.

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About Tamara Floyd

Tamara is the Founder and Editor of Natural Hair Rules!!! Natural Hair Rules (NHR) was originally created as a personal hair journal. Since its creation in 2008, it has grown to one of the top natural hair/beauty blogs online today.

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Comments

  1. I agree. My hair was long thick and healthy with perms for years. My hair is natural now but I just sort of happened to not perm it for pretty much my whole senior year of college because I was busy and didn’t think about it. But I wouldn’t try to convince people that it was any better.

  2. First I dont care if someone perms their hair or not. I have two daughters who do. Not to be white, but to manage their hair their way. I went natural for me, not because of some movie, that by the way I did not see. It’s a personal choice. I wear nails, no makeup, deodorant always, I am the same black I was before. Even when I perm I was still me. Who ever told chris or anyone esle that perming your hair meant trying to be white was a fool, nothing done to our hair will make us white. Personally I prefer my hair natural, braided, straighten, curly, in a ponytail, or just my Angela Davis fro benefits of my hair is I can change my look to fit my mood. Do you, its not a issue of natural vs perm, it seem more an issue of us learning to love ourselvesno matter the state of our hair . Stop making it seem white women is the goal look. Why? Are beauty is not the same. Beauty is not one set look or style. But, one think for sure to be hating, non supportive of each other’s choice of style is not beautiful in anyway. So perm on my black sister, there’s nothing unblack about it. A perm is a choice, we are free human now to make whatever choice we want.

  3. I agree with the author. I have been natural for 15 years and I am also a hairstylist. I get so sick of natural hair people and their take on ones self image and choice of hair texture. It is a hair style not a lifestyle!! The texture of my hair does not determine my self image or self worth. Some people relax for convenience, some because they are tender headed,some so they wont be judge in the work place, and some just because they simply like the look and feel. There are two ways to change the structure of ones hair chemical ie.relaxer,perm and color, the other is physical ie. direct heat or indirect heat. So that being said when you two strand twist, comb twist(and sit under dryer),flat iron,blow dry and press comb, you are breaking down the disulfide and cystine bond and altering the structure of your hair. Also when you use those so called natural products with all that silicone that makes your hair more manageable. Can you still call yourself natural? I say this because natural people need to take it down, hair texture is a personal choice.

  4. @Ashanti360Wisdom
    THANK YOU. very well written and to the point. Asinine indeed to compare removable & temporary accessories, such as contacts, spanx, nail polish and make-up, to corrosive chemicals which permanently alter your unique texture such as perm…..

  5. I got tired of my hair on sides of my hairline breaking off. I think you’re missing the fact that it takes “black pride” to go natural and to stick with it. If you’re worried about other black women making fun of you, get new friends. What’s funny is that I get more compliments from white people. When you get more compliments from other races besides your own, then that means black women still have alot of growing up to do when it comes to their hair.

  6. Katherine G says:

    I think that some women do take it to the extreme when they preach about natural hair care. When I talk about my decision to go natural I am only talking about what’s best for me. I’m not going to try to force someone else to do it. I don’t care if a person has a perm or not. Being natural doesn’t work for everyone.

  7. Cassandra Davidson says:

    First let me say, prior to Chris Rock’s film, I never liked weave, wigs, nor braids. I feel we should use what God gave us, whether it is short or long. I’ve seen some awesome short styles. I see too many women looking alike. My hair is not long so I’m not going to purchase hair to make it long, I just work with what I have. I tell my young ladies to work with what God gave you. As far as the different styles, I feel we are a diverse group of people with various forms of expression with our hair. You have so much to choose from. I must say I was influenced by Chris Rock’s film, the money we spend on hair, the abuse we go thru was too much. I just decided I want to go natural. As I looked back, when I had a perm it was too straight, it was limp with no life. My stylist couldn’t understand I didn’t want to “get real straight”. I am waiting with anticipation to experience my natural hair. Right now, I am in a transition phase. I guess we have to go back to history to find out why we wanted our hair straignten in the first place, then you will understand why we do it today.

  8. I understand your annoyance with this whole “natural” thing. I gave up chemically straightening my hair about 8 years ago but it definitely didn’t have anything to do with “Black Pride.” Relaxers made my hair thin and stringy; they burned my scalp, ears, and whatever else it touched. I realized that I could get my hair straight using heat. I wore my hair straight for years and then about 3 years ago I decided to start rocking my curls. It was hard. It still is sometimes. Not because I want my hair to be like white women/another race but because the straight silky standard of beauty is real. It is what has traditionally been seen as presentable, what you do on special occasions (Easter, X-mas, dances, etc.). I am not sure if it is increased pride in my heritage but more 100% more pride in myself, how my hair is naturally. There are those who wouldn’t dare go out with a kinky or curl showing because they think it is ugly, they think it is less refined to be out with kinks, or makes them look poor or “ghetto”. That is a problem and I won’t make the jump that it means that they are ashamed of their heritage but they are experiencing some form of shame. I had to really look at why I had a “preference” for straight hair. Some reasons are pretty pathetic. When my hair was long and silky straight I felt exotic, beautiful. Like a video model. I got so much attention. Writing this I realize how pitiful it was but again this was just me.

  9. I think that maybe this author has met too many judgemental naturals who may not know why they are going through this process. I personally feel that acceptance of self is my journey-but that has nothing to do with someone else’s journey. Therefore I can’t say those who process their hair aren’t accepting it. I dont think its a trend, its just being talked about. Having natural hair is not something that was favoured in the same light as perms & fake hair. So now that natural-ness is being talked about openly-dont assume its a trend-dont limit it as a “trend” just cuz its being openly discussed/favored/supported! Its not really fair to call out naturals who judge you but then judge someone who chooses this journey for “african-american pride”. To each their own right? I think there is some truth to the fact that we are conditioned to see standards of beauty that are not easily attributed to us or attainable by us. I also feel that having this impacted on us for a life time can skew our perspective on what we actually look like and our true beauty. You are not less black for permanently changing a trait that is unique to only YOU-but you are accepting a trait that is not attainable by just YOU. Blackness is a word-thats it. Either you accept your Black triats and keep them-or you do not accept them and permanently change them. For whatever reason you choose to change your black traits-just recognize that you didn’t make that choice alone-socialization may have something to do with it.

  10. I’m afraid I’m going to have to agree with you. I’ve been natural my whole life, 41 years, but would never have dreamed of wearing my hair natural until a few years ago due to lack of know-how, information and ingredient/product availability. So, all those years, I pressed my hair. I don’t wear my hair natural to make a statement. Now, I wear it natural because it’s easier than pressing my hair. And, I don’t have to fiddle with my hair for a week at a time! Plus, who can resist the urge of DIY?!

  11. I agree, they are being judged harshly, but by other WOMEN. Don’t we always tear each other down instead of celebrating our own individuality? Most men could care less, though I believe most of them prefer women with permed hair.

  12. nappy and happy says:

    I went natural because I was tired of perming my hair!!! So I stopped! I flat iron my hair from time to time and rock weaves like nobody’s business! If your natural or not doesn’t matter to me do you boo boo!

  13. Ashanti360Wisdom says:

    Sister, if you think the concept of straightening one’s hair was born of anything other than the desire to emulate the European woman, you are sadly mistaken. What other reason did we have to seek out ridiculous straightening methods, applying caustic, poisonous materials such as lye directly onto our heads? Do you honestly think that our ancestors took time out between buliding pyramids to ponder a way to make combing our hair easier?
    Be serious, and be honest with yourself.
    While mimicking our White counterparts may not be the primary driving factor for you when making your monthly dash to the beauty supply store for your Dark n Lovely fix, you absolutely cannot negate the fact that it most certainly is the underlying cause for its inception . We (Black people) have inhabited this Earth for over 76 trillion years, yet it was not until the post-Slavery era that we began to chemically alter ourselves to achieve social assimilation with our slavemasters. To speak of makeup, deodorants, etc as it relates to this subject is almost assinine. Makeup and deodorant merely accentuate and enhance the features which are naturally present. You speak of White women wearing extensions, yet again, extensions do not chemically alter a person’s appearance. They are not an alteration, rather an enhancement. You’ve never seen a White women adding extensions in hopes of achieving a drastic change in the texture of their hair. A relaxer chemically and physically alters your hair’s composition, forever changing it, making it physiologically different from what it was before. Makeup, deodorant and extensions could never do that. I can understand why you may have felt insulted by the “natural” movement as well as the underlying message of Chris Rock’s movie…but I suggest you do more research and gain more understanding about the origins of what you are defending. Rather than lash out without a foundation.
    Of course you are within your rights to do whatever you wish with you hair, but you should at least know, recognize and acknowledge the ideas you are representing without feeling attacked and jumping on the defense. It is what it is, if you love your perm…love it! But dont get mad when someone calls you out!

    • Neesha Cherie says:

      Agreed!!

      The desire to chemically alter our hair DID in fact stem from a desire to be like our White counterparts. Of course every woman (or man) makes her (or his) decisions for different reasons, but many a woman has admitted to being enslaved to relaxers because of a Eurocentric ideal of beauty which led to a FEAR of going against the grain and wearing her own natural hair texture. Imagine that, fear of what grows out of your own head… This is based on living in a society where everything Black is seen as ugly or unnacceptable. Whether covertly, or openly. So yes, going natural may just be a hairstyle choice for some, but others, it is in fact a statement. And those who choose to make a statement with their hairstyle should not be judged, just as those who choose not too shouldd not to be judged either. To each her own.
      *Gets off of my soapbox*

    • L'Michelle says:

      Ashanti360Wisdom, I couldn’t have responded more eloquently. Good job! While it is the author’s choice to perm or not, I bet she’s never experienced her hair without straighteners (excluding adolescence). Furthermore, I’d be willing to bet the thought of being kinky or curly for her is terrifying or simply embarrassing. No doubt she’s angry at how she perceives she’s been treated with straight hair. However under all that anger is just fear – a fear to accept her hair as it grows out of her head. Using straighteners is her choice. However, I don’t think that the “relaxer bashing” she speaks of is as much looking down on the use of creamy crack as much as it is “giving a thumbs up” to going without it. I’m so loving the statement naturals are making. Whether I care about those still relaxing, not so much.

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