This May Offend Some But I Can’t Hold My Tongue Any Longer…

Over the past few months as I’ve found myself immersed in my natural-hair care research I’ve come across ENDLESS videos, tutorials, tips and advice on new ways to manipulate natural hair to obtain a certain, defined look.  While at first I loved it, these days I don’t know how I feel about it anymore…well yes I do.  I don’t like it (I’m not taking a stance on whether it’s right or wrong).  I’ve talked with a few close friends about it, but haven’t spoken publicly on it because I didn’t want to hear the backlash.  Today however, after reviewing Curly Nikki someone did a post on this very topic which has now given me the courage to speak out on it.

I don’t like when natural-haired sisters consistently manipulate their hair to make it look like something that it’s not.

When I made the decision to stop wearing relaxers, I understood and accepted that the alternative would be to wear my hair in it’s natural state as it grows out of my head.  My rationale for this expectation was my group of friends that had already began the transition.  Those women never braided, twisted and rolled their hair in the hopes of acheiveing a different look the next day.  Nor did they spend hours at night carefully detangling, drying and trying various different styling options.  Their mentality was that they were accepting their hair for what it is and were going to fearlessly rock it.  I subscribed to that mentality.  Throughout my transition until now I’ve consistently rocked wash n go’s with the occassional roller set (once) or bantu knot out (once).

It wasn’t until last fall when people began asking me what I was using in my hair to get it to curl like that when the reality of the natural-hair community hit me.  Many naturals are obsessed with obtaining a look that is opposed to their truth.  I can’t tell you how many times I’d have to tell women that I did nothing to manipulate my hair texture and watch their eyes get disapointed.  “You mean that’s not a straw set?” or “You didn’t braid or twist your hair the night before?”

My mentality is why would I do that?  If my hair doesn’t already do that naturally, then what is the point?  For so many wanting these more defined looks and who are going through great lengths to get it, why not go down the street and put in a texturizer or something.  That texturizer would give you the look you spend hours attempting to manipulate anyways.  At this point, what makes many naturals any different than women with relaxed hair?  At least the relaxed chick had enough sense to make it easier on herself by cutting down on daily styling time.

I understand that people may say it’s so easy for me to talk because my hair has well-defined curls with zero manipulation from me.  Truth be told, I understood that about my hair which has helped push me to stay this way.  However, if curl definition is what I consistently wanted and my hair didn’t do that, I would be out here getting a texturizer or something.  Why fight my hair daily to acheive a look that it’s not trying to do?  Just like all those years I appreciated and wanted bone-straight hair.  Why on earth would I have been natural?  I eagerly applied my super-strength relaxers every two-months and watched my HEALTHY hair grow straight down my back.

People tought the unhealthiness of relaxers and how damaging they are but truth be told my hair was healthy with relaxers.  Many women I know with them take very good care of their hair and have healthier hair than many of these naturals do.  Healthy hair is healthy hair regardless of the presence of chemicals. 

At the end of the day, it’s JUST hair.  Lol yes, quote me on that.  So what if you’re not “natural?”  If you want big curly hair, go get the perming system.  If you want straight hair all the time, go cop that relaxer.  And if you just want your hair to do it’s own “thing,” release it and see what happens…

So overall, the point of this is to say that I’m not into all of the extensive styling techniques to force your hair to look a way that it naturally does not do.  If you want your hair to look a way it naturally does not, there is probably a chemical out there for that. 

No offense to anyone.  End rant.

P.S. I understand the idea of trying something new and rocking those twist outs/braid outs, etc on occassion.  My personal pet peeve is the woman who will never let her hair just be…she insists on rocking everything but her own.  And remember, I’m not saying if it’s right or wrong, I’m just saying I don’t like it.  I just enjoy seeing the different types of curls, textures and looks Black women acheive…when everywhere I turn the naturals have manipulated looks I get annoyed lol.

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13 thoughts on “This May Offend Some But I Can’t Hold My Tongue Any Longer…

  1. Oh Ashley… Let me first disclaim that I adore you. Well what I know of you, I know we haven’t met. But don’t take what I’m about to say personally.

    But this makes very little sense to me.

    So on one hand, If I’m natural I can’t style my hair? It’s fro or nothing? Just wet it and move on? Or in my case specifically when I wash & go my hair looks like 3 different textures sitting atop my head. LOL When I wash & go I pull it back a little into a puff because my head is too round.

    Orrrrr I can damage my hair with chemicals. Yes I know you say the relaxer didn’t damage your hair, but that may not be the case for others.

    If I understand what you’re saying, I can’t style my hair. I must look the same way all the time or else I’m self-hating?

    I totally LOVE my hair and “accept it how it is”. But what if I just enjoy styling my hair? I recall when I had a perm I would pin curl it, straw set it, wear it in a wrap, wear it in big fluffy curls, wear weaves (which I still would even though I’m natural), wear it any sort of way because I like variability. I love styling my hair like I love trying different make-up styles or wearing different styles of clothing. Like you said, hair is just hair, and I view it as another accessory.

    Anytime I do my hair it’s never a “fight”. It doesn’t take me long, and I’m pretty known for having a different hairstyle everyday. I don’t do it because I so desperately want the curls you have, most of the times I style my hair brushing out my curls. I do it because playing in my hair is fun.

    I guess this is why I overall avoid online hair discussions because a lot of the time they reduce down to “my hair” vs “your hair” when in reality, I don’t care what you do with your hair and I don’t see why you would care about mine. If your hair is absolutely gorgeous I will high-five you and fawn over it. Loose curls, wavy, tight coils, whatever. If it’s cute I’ll give you props. I can’t imagine I’d ever look at someone’s pretty hair and say “Why did she TWIST her hair out knowing good and darn well that’s not what it actually looks like!” For you to have such strong opinions on that to the point that you couldn’t hold your tongue any longer, says more about your thoughts about your hair in relation to others than the women who like to style their hair various ways. I understand that you want proper credit for your style of hair, but I don’t see why you would practically condemn women for styling their hair. That’s essentially what it boils down to.

    Still love ya!
    JG*

    • Thanks for the disclaimer 🙂 No offense taken.

      I hear what you’re saying. And I am definitely a fan of your hair. I understand brushing the curls out, pinning it back, adding accessories, etc. Heck, watching how you were able to successfully lighten your hair helped inspire my own hair color change. You don’t strike me as the “type” that I’m referring to though.

      This comment here (taken from Curly Nikki) sums up the mentality that I speak of in my post… “I check out these blogs and see all these women going natural so that they can spend 12 hours on a Sunday trying to change their curl pattern. It does make me shake my head but frankly, I don’t really give a da*n.”-Chez Cerise (http://www.blogger.com/profile/12287245288308346275)

      There are a lot of women out there who will spend hours (I’ve watched their You Tube videos) fooling with their hair, many times (obviously) fighting with it, attempting a look that their hair doesn’t agree with. That’s disappointing to me. Especially when it was all done (supposedly) in an attempt to be healthier, quit being fake, [insert whatever other random reason here]. I can forward you some of the blogs/videos and see what I’m talkin about but I do understand how it could upset you…I know it’s began to upset me. Generally I’m like whatever but lately it’s started to annoy me. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong when it comes to this…just balance in it all.

      When I was first introduced to natural hair, the women I saw did rock big, chunky fros. A few had extremely tight, coiled curls. Others had incredibly loose, fine hair and still, there were one or two who had a mixture on their heads, so they’d pin back certain sections, etc. Some rocked wigs on occassion, etc. but overall, just a LOT of diversity in such a small pool. They weren’t spending hours daily fussing over it all the time. That was what the small, natural-haired community at Miami rocked. As a result that’s what I assumed it was all about. Just growing out what you had and letting it do what it does.

      That’s what I subscribed too and assumed others did as well. I was wrong.

      At this point, I probably need to go ahead and take a break from reading/watching all that stuff. It’s got me over here getting caught up in my (hair) feelings lol.

      xoxo

  2. I’m one of those women who fights my natural hair texture on a regular basis.

    My twitter followers are accustomed to my tweets on a Sunday where I talk about it’s time to go “tame the dougla beast” which is Max-speak for wash, blow-dry, and iron my hair. I do this once a week and then have to flat iron my hair daily to maintain it because my hair does not want to be straight. If I do wear my hair curly, I finger-twist every strand so I get perfect ringlets that look like straw sets.

    So I’m guessing I’m one of the women you’re talking about. But you know what? I really don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.

    I only went natural because my hair grows better and is healthier and stronger without it. It wasn’t out of some kind of Black consciousness or rejecting European standards of beauty or because I have some kind of beef with relaxers. My strategy for my hair is to make it look as good as possible and if that means I go natural and fight with it, so be it.

    Not to toot my own horn but I have gorgeous curls if I leave my hair alone. I’m blessed in that regard. But if my hair has to be curly I prefer it when I finger-coil it and what I really prefer the most is when I iron it so it’s pin straight and flat as f*ck against my head. So I do what I have to do to get the look I like and I really don’t see why anyone would dislike it. To me this is a total “what you eat don’t make me sh!t” type of situation.

    I also don’t think it makes any sense at all to one the one hand say that people with natural hair should keep the texture that grows out of their head and then on the other hand be okay with changing the colour. What’s the difference?

    • Yeah I guess you would be one of the ones I was talking about regarding the “fighting” of your own hair lol. For me, on mine, it would just make more sense to get a relaxer….so our hair is different in that regard since you mentioned yours is healthier straightening without a relaxer.

      And it seems like you and I went natural for the same reasons…healthier hair (I will admit I also appreciated the idea of my hair acting as a fashion accessory). Similar to you, I’ve never been on the “you hate yourself if you subscribe to relaxers/European standards of beauty” bandwagon.

      Lastly, regarding the accepting “hair as it grows out of your head” comment, I was speaking more on the styling options one has for their said texture of hair. I wasn’t speaking in regard to color, although now that you mention it, you definitely raise a valid point. I used to be adamantly against blonde hair on Black women (because it’s rarely a natural hue that a woman of color would have) but look at me now. I’m not so opposed.

      I’m forever evolving, growing and changing. Maybe in another year or so I’ll see this all differently. As for today however, my opinion on not liking the excessive fighting and styling with strands hasn’t changed.

  3. Great post and discourse! I think the most important thing that any person can do when it comes to their hair is learn what works, plain and simple. Oh, and less is more! What do I mean? Well, in terms of the “learn what works” mindset, if you know what you are trying to achieve, and what will make you achieve it the quickest, then by all means, no need in being stressed, right? Which brings me to my next point, less is more. Regardless of the reason you went natural (or didn’t go natural), you should be more worried about products that are healthy holistically. Your hair is actually non-living. But your scalp, and what it’s protecting– the brain–is very much alive. So in that regard, relaxers are unhealthy, no matter how healthy your hair may be. It’s no wonder so many women (of all shades) are dying of cancer! All the chemicals we put onto our bodies end up into our bodies. So the less we put on our hair (and our bodies, ahem, anti-perspirant) the more healthy we will be. This can be applied to our hair regimen, or our daily hygiene in general. If you can find products with the least amount of ingredients (or at least, free of harsh chemicals), then go on ahead and spend the time you have to achieve your look. Me personally? I wouldn’t spend the time. I’m of the mentality that Ashley refers to: “accepting their hair for what it is and were going to fearlessly rock it”. I have other things that I’d rather spend my time on (like researching organic or natural products to ad to my daily hygienic routine, or making my own products lol), and I happen to like the big afro or tight cork screw curls (<—this is how my hair grows, naturally) and if I can achieve it in the shower or by the stroke of my hand, then that's it for me!

    I guess others would consider me a hippie, a free spirit, a mother of the earth, and all natural chica, but I do it because it provides stability and longevity for me. So do what you have to do to allow those things into your life:-)

    I guess now we just now that like any lifestyle, there are variations along the spectrum, and "natural" hair is no exception…

    • Thanks for the feedback thesummary! And yes, you are most definitely Mother Earth! I love you for that xoxo

      And you raise a very valid point as well regarding the chemicals (relaxers, hair dyes, etc)…that’s something else that I may change in the future. Our sickness and cancer rates are soaring for a reason… 😦

  4. Pingback: This may offend some but I can’t hold my tongue any longer… « thesummary

  5. First and Foremost, I admire your courage to blog about this topic and finally say what many other Black women have been thinking. You knew that you were going to get some backlash from this and I know you can handle this so let the backlashing begin!!! J/K! LOL!!

    Your bottom line seems to be that you dont like it when natural hair is manipulated into something its not. It seems like this opinion is just limited to natural sistas with thick course kinky hair who try to define/create curls. There are not many youtube videos on flatironing natural hair to make it straight. They are mostly about creating/defining curls. Its the 4a/b/c sistas who manipulate their hair to make it appear like its a 3 a/b/c. I think you made a bold statement, however, I can see where you are coming from to a certain extent. (I wonder if this is how white people have felt about Black people straightening their hair all this time lol.)
    For me, it depends on why its being done. If she is trying to create curls because she is having difficulty embracing her own natural hair texture and is ashamed of it and doesnt like it then that bothers me. I strongly feel that that can be a reflection of the persons self esteem. Its the same to me as a person not embracing the skin tone that God gave them and being uncomfortable in their own light/dark skin which still is a problem that is prevalent in our community.

    Ive personally struggled in my natural hair journey years back. I had to be the sista who used a ton of gel and when I did my puff it had to have the waves and I had to slick down the edges because my hair had to be curly not nappy. <— (my interpretation of the word nappy meant kinky coily curls found around the edges of my head…I know some people hate this word). I didnt know many other natural women, I was the first in my family and friends who did it so I had no clue how to style my hair so I relied heavily on youtube and websites and was taught that curl definition was the thing to do. Youtube has a wealth of information for natural haired sistas and it is a great resource, however, it can be misleading.

    Then you have other natural women, like Max, who straighten their hair with a flat iron regularly. For me, I notice a HUGE difference in thickness and volume of my natural hair when it is straightened with a flat iron as opposed to when I had a relaxer. My hair was thin and flat with a relaxer. It was long but BORING!! I only wear my hair straight now about once/twice a year. Its a bunch of work and I sweat too much to keep it up.

    I think that for most going natural is a journey that is difficult. We have to deal with people who are negative about it and think that course, tightly coiled hair is bad. For many, these people are our own family members and friends. We have to deal with men who prefer straight hair because they have never touched natural hair before. We have to deal with corporate america who still may feel that natural hair is not professional etc etc. I read recently two surveys that I found interesting. One was a natural hair FB post asking how peoples mothers felt about their natural hair. One person said something like her mom wished her texture was less nappy and more curly.
    Another question I read a whole back was, Were you dissapointed when you finally discovered your hair texture. A lot of people were!! I saw where a person said that she loved her curls and if her hair were a 4 she doesnt think she would have been able to do it. Hmmmm…… I love honesty so I cant fault her for that but I still feel some sort of way about that comment and it makes me question her thoughts about people with type 4 hair and that whole good hair/ bad hair thing.

    One would think that within the natural hair community we would have the most support and as you see that is not always the case. We naturals have issues too with some people feeling their hair types are better or worse than others and its sad because I too, think all natural hair is BEAUTIFUL. Some feel that if you are natural and used products with non natural chemicals in them then you arent natural. Some feel if you dye your hair then you arent really natural….Geesh!! LOL

    Yancey, your curls are outrageous, consider it a compliment that other people ask what you put in it to achieve that (hell why wouldnt they think you did, all products marketed to naural Black women all say it will define curls… interpretation: this product will make my hair look like your hair) and I do think this is where a lot of newly natural people are at who are dying for curls.

    I know one of the single most important rules for going natural is: Do not compare your hair type to other naturals because you will get discouraged and all styles will not work with every hair type.

    Ive tried it all when it comes to styling my hair. I am proud to say that I dont spend a lot of time doing my hair anymore and my average style is 15 min or less. Today, all I did to my hair was wet it and threw some conditioner and pure coconut oil (my new staple) in it and slicked it back. Thats how I have been rolling the past few weeks. However, I am known to wear a two strand twist (only takes 15 min for me) and have been playing with wigs a little bit (not sure about the wig game in the summertime because them thangs is HOT!). I absolutely love my hair and what I love most about it is the VERSATILITY!!!
    I own almost every product out there that is made for natural haired sistas Im quite sure if I sold them all I could make a couple of car payments lol! The funny thing is, the products I use most now are water, conditioner/conditioning cream and oil. It did take me a long time to get here and I fully embrace the hair that God gave me since I have learned what works best for my hair and that took time. Going Natural is a journey and I am so happy and proud that we are on it!

    Im so proud of you girl! Keep writing and stay encouraged!!

    Love you!

    • Angie! I love the feedback! And your hair was definitely inspiration for me to cut my addiction to creamy crack…it’s incredibly thick, strong and big; you’re one of the types that I saw rocking it fearlessly.

      “I know one of the single most important rules for going natural is: Do not compare your hair type to other naturals because you will get discouraged and all styles will not work with every hair type. ” <— I love it!

      And I love you more xoxo

  6. Thanks Babes! Its makes me smile that I can inspire others with my hair! Especially the people I love!!
    xoxo

    p.s. See you Saturday right?

    • I will be in D.C. all weekend. Shelby’s husband is graduating from Howard’s business school. I’m sad I’ll be missing out on everything…but the blessing is that I didn’t wind up having to buy my ticket so at least I didn’t lose out on any money by changing plans at the last minute.

      Live it up for me! I’ll be there in spirit 🙂

  7. this seems to really be a sensitive subject. i just feel like it doesnt really matter what everyones reason for going natural is, it doesnt matter if you spend 12 hours “manipulating” your hair trying to get it to “look like something that its not,” doesnt matter if your texture is a 3a or 4a, etc…
    as long as what your are doing to your hair truly makes YOU happy, thats all that matters 🙂

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