By: Kiara Morgan
I want to bring this out in the open because I’m tired of people making comments about my hair and black women’s hair in general. When I was younger, it used to be all about making your hair as silky as possible. Black boys in high school had no problem pointing out the buckshots and naps on the nape of a black girl’s neck.
They would rudely remind girls when it was time for a touch-up or when they needed a good swipe of a flat-iron. Ironically, as much as they hated seeing the unruly hair of our “kitchens,” they disliked weaves. As if by some stroke of magic, our fragile, dry and coiled hair could handle damaging flat-irons and perms and still maintain healthy hair without aid.
Now, that natural hair has become somewhat mainstream, the controversy has grown. We are not just cutting off our hair in hopes of getting healthier locks, we are in a competition to prove our pro-blackness by virtue of our hair. Black men sometimes argue that wearing a weave is not a protective style, but just an excuse to cover up the hair that we’re ashamed of. Well, here’s my 2 cents — it’s both.
Many women have no idea how to care for their natural hair. I still don’t, and I have only had a perm for two years and spent the next two years growing it out–with the help of braid extensions and weaves. My hair grew and by the time I was in college I started wearing wigs. Wigs allowed me to moisturize my hair with water and creams and still keep a hairstyle. I could never wear my hair out in the matted braids I made due to my inability to braid and my habit of keeping them in for 2 weeks at a time.
My hair gets very bushy in any braids I put them in within a week, even if I wear a scarf and prevent any water from touching my braids, my thin hair will slip out of the tightest braids. The longer your braids are left in, the longer your hair will grow, therefore, they’re still considered protective styles. I can’t say what the intentions are of some women who wear them or if they ever plan to wear their real hair, but it definitely prevents damage to the hair if it isn’t too tight or kept in too long.
The “Hotep” community has even created memes stereotyping women who wear weaves or straighten their hair. They are typecasted as being blind to racism, having a white spouse and believing in the “American Dream” which is utter foolishness. The straightening of our hair just makes it easier to comb. I get more single strand knots from wearing my hair in a puff than wearing it straight. I even lightly press it sometimes before braiding it.
I have even seen someone on social media saying that we should stop using gels and stretching our hair and that we should only wear our hair in it’s natural state — shrunken afros. This sounds silly. Stretching the hair is an African tradition. They utilized the threading method to elongate their strands and make them easier to manage.
Using gels and styling creams is a woman’s choice. If she wants to have defined coils, she can do it. If she wants to rock a fierce twist-out, she can do that too. Natural hair entails all types of hairstyles not just an afro. If we want to show off our length with heat, or with threading then so be it.
Hair can be a political statement but sometimes it’s just hair. A black woman with kinky 4b-4c hair isn’t ugly and a woman with straight hair isn’t a coon. Black women are constantly battling with these catch 22 hair politics. If it’s not white people telling us our hair isn’t presentable in school or work, it’s our own people making a big deal about the way we choose to wear it. Life is too short to be stuck in this box for black women. I’m tired of this. There are more serious things to worry about.
If we obsessed about safe sex as much as we do hair, we would positively affect the rate of HIV/AIDS, but instead of policing our sexual health we police the strands on our heads. Stop being natural hair nazis. We divide ourselves over the silliest things. We can all relate to being condemned for our hair either way. Let’s focus on the real issues in our community and leave the petty stuff in the past.