As many times that I’ve said I’m going to break away from the natural hair community, I still love you all. I swear, I do. When I first decided to grow my hair out natural, I received so much support from women with curly hair. I was annoying. I asked endless questions. I wanted everyone to analyze my curl pattern because I thought that was the end-all be-all of hair care (I was wrong).
But something that was always clear as day to me was that no one could ever say anything negative about natural hair. It doesn’t matter how the hair looked, if it looked liked it needed all the moisture in the world or the fro looked like it was rolling around a cotton pillowcase like there was no tomorrow. Natural hair is and would always be natural hair, and all of it was beautiful, especially when it came to those outside of the “community.”
There was a recent controversy about Solange Knowles’ hair being compared to a dog, and several people commented that it was racist because it would never happen to a white person. I considered this, but I remember seeing the same kind of comparison before. For some (dumb) reason, comparing curly and straight hair to dogs is some kind of trendy thing – no, it’s not racist. Although, I do think it is tasteless and given society’s perception of black women, one (media outlet or otherwise) should know better. Someone challenged me to find the same comparison with a white person, and in less than three minutes I saw Harry Styles being compared to a poodle. I personally would never want to be compared to a dog, but it’s a cute thing, I guess.
This was not the first time that the natural hair community potentially overreacted, and it certainly won’t be the last. But at the same time, who can blame us? The historical implications of natural hair kind of give us a pass to always be on guard with society, and yes, even those who love us. “When are you going to straighten those naps?” “You looked so pretty with straight hair.” To us, these declarations are not simple suggestions, but attacks to how we choose to wear our born hair. And that sucks. A few years ago, one of my coworkers saw me for the first time in about sixth months and had that eyes wide “wow” reaction. At the time, I felt that it was because I didn’t have relaxed hair anymore, and I was offended.
But…it could have easily been that I had bright red hair (thanks henna) or that my hair was super short. I’m not saying this to defend people or discount the courage that it still takes to wear your natural hair, but sometimes our natural hair is not that big of a deal to others. However it often is a big deal to us. I’m asking a lot of questions here because at the end of the day, natural hair (even if you aren’t political about it), is important. I don’t consider myself political about my hair at all (I went natural due to the weather and hey, I liked my hair), but it’s plain as day that some of us can’t even wear our natural hair to work. It’s been so beaten, bruised, and downright insulted that we feel as if it’s something that we hold sacred and will protect. I don’t even think that’s militant. It’s just true.
All I’m asking is that the next time you think someone is attacking natural hair, consider their intentions and try to assess the reality of the situation rather than instantly accuse them of hating black women and our hair. Everyone may not be out to get us all the time. And if they are, well…as a community, we have a voice. And we shouldn’t take that kind of blatant disrespect.
Do you think that the natural hair community is too sensitive or defensive? Do you think it’s warranted?
**This post also appears on Black Girl with Long Hair**