natural hair speaking out

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.

natural hair

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?

Elle

Elle is the editor and creative director of the YouTube channel and blog, Quest for the Perfect Curl at www.questfortheperfectcurl.com. Her channel focuses on natural hair, beauty, and fitness. She loves products that smell like dessert, yoga, and glitter. Follow her @qftpc.

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38 Comments on "Is the Natural Hair Community Too Sensitive?"

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[…] you really want to market properly to the black hair community, view their commentary on products across social media. You’d be amazed at just how much you’d […]

Londongirl09
did you live in the 60 ‘s?so now all the women in the 60s wore wigs? how did you come to that conclusion? My mother had a perfect fro as did Angela Davis, these women walked with a afro pick and were fly with it. and how do you not know that I’m not a natural too? who is this “we naturals” you speak of? as a natural myself, Yes Me, i have 4 c hair, and yes i comb that ish, sometimes with my fingers and sometimes with a jilbere shower comb or an adapted henman. stop trying to… Read more »
cheryl

You are probably one of the bitter 4c’s who is on the endless quest for “definition”….have a seat…please!!

Londongirl09

itchy cheryl why seats, with your lame retort i suggest you take a coliseum of seats but that would add nothing to the the discussion of bad hairstyles, obviously you know about bitterness and see it in anyone who happens to disagree with you. That coliseum awaits your growing bitter a$$$

Londongirl09

did you live in the 60 ‘s? and how do you not know that I’m not a
natural too? who is this “we naturals” you speak of? as a natural
myself, Yes Me, i have 4 c hair, and yes i comb that shit, sometimes
with my fingers and sometimes with a jilbere shower comb or an adapted
henman. stop trying to teach others how to suck eggs. her hair looked
like ******.

Londongirl09

did you live in the 60 ‘s? and how do you not know that I’m not a natural too? who is this “we naturals” you speak of? as a natural myself, Yes Me, i have 4 c hair, and yes i comb that shit, sometimes with my fingers and sometimes with a jilbere shower comb or an adapted henman. stop trying to teach others how to suck eggs. her hair looked like shit.

CitySTYLE412

Maybe it’s because I attend a lot of meetup’s and I know a lot of fabulous women with natural hair but I see waaaayyy more broke off damaged relaxed hair and crazy looking weaves – more than I see “unkept” natural hair. As far as Solange – her wedding hair was perfect! It looked very moisturized to me, and to me – dry hair is the only way ANY TYPE of hair can look bad. We have been soooo brainwashed to think only European hair/features are beautiful, we don’t even realize it!

Adeola @ The Mane Captain
Adeola @ *The Mane Captain*

The natural hair community is sensitive because Black people are sensitive. And there are a lot of ignorant people out there who needs to be shunned,. http://www.coilsandglory.com

BelleNaturelleParis
Hell yeah we’re sensitive! After 250 years of slavery and 150 years of Jim Crow what demographic wouldn’t be sensitive? The White is right or damn near close to White (light skin) ideology permeates through all aspects of our lives in U.S society, thus sistahs are at war with the MAN daily! As a result of this sistahs must big up one another and support one another on our journey’s toward embracing our natural beauty. Now ladies let’s not let each other walk around looking like scarecrows! It’s okay to pull your sistah to the side and ask “Did you… Read more »
Alicia
In certain situations I can say that we are sensitive sometimes, but usually when something comes up that’s bad mouthing natural hair you can’t just sit by and say or do nothing. Recently my boyfriend was annoyed with me because I tried to explain why our hair is different to his BLACK friends. One of the guys says “why do black girls always have to wear weaves, why can’t they wear their hair like white girls” I say we can’t because our texture is different. We have different styles from them and different regimens and that for a long time… Read more »
Alicia
In light of the whole situation he has one friend that wasn’t being ignorant about it. He actually likes natural hair, he even compliments my fro. He basically told me to ignore the three idiots that were making the remarks and that the way they act is the reason why they are single and alone. All three of them have some super ego for God knows what and neither of them have had a girlfriend. XD As for my boyfriend he apologized and said that I shouldn’t care about what he thinks because at the end of the day it’s… Read more »
cheryl

You should date the friend! your boyfriend doesn’t seem to respect you much….

Alicia
He does respect me honestly he does he’s just very open about how he feels and vice versa. That’s just how we are. we tell each other how we really feel about things. I’m not leaving him because of my hair we’ve been together for 3 years and we truly love each other. Just like in any relationship there is the good and the bad. And even though he still says all these things he still touches my hair and strokes it when we watch movies. I believe he might have said that in the heat of the moment. as… Read more »
roo08

I have a feeling these are young black men. The younger guys are so brainwashed and they know it and don’t care. It’s very scary and sad.

Philososista

Hi Alicia, when people bad mouth kinky/coarse hair I tend not to pay them any mind. At times it hard, but those same people are often self-centered closeminded dickheads with mainly booty and cheddar on their mind. It sounds like your boyfriend’s friends fall into this section of life as well. Love yourself and surround yourself with people who love you for who you are. And not for what you could have been. Life is too beautiful to entertain such ugliness.

Aisha

Wow. It’s obvious that your boyfriend’s friends have assigned a lesser status not only to natural hair, but to Black women in general. And unfortunately, it appears that he shares some of their views. Why does he care what they think so much anyway?

You shouldn’t have to defend who you are so vigorously in a relationship. There are guys out there who will actually prefer your hair and overall look, not just tolerate it. As they say, “Love me or leave me alone.”

collegechick
Thank God someone said it. I’ve been thinking this for some time now. I’ve been natural 4 years, and when I first went natural, it was definitely hard because I attend a college where no one at the time was really natural, and most people wore weaves, so the things people said and did could seem terrible at times. Fast forward to now, a large portion of the black community on my campus is natural, but I tell you I look at some of these girl’s hair and know that they’re doing little to nothing to take care of it.… Read more »
Anon46
I do think the the “natural hair community ” is too sensitive & places too much emphasis & impirtance on itself & hair. It’s only hair! And why are we so affected by other’s opinions of how we wear our hair? I could care less about what anyone thinks or says about my hair or some celebrity’s hair. And, I don’t know wherr some folks live or who they’re interacting with, but in over 4 yrs since returning to natural, I’ve not experienced any backlash against my hair. It’s 2015, too late in the day for adults to be angry… Read more »
roo08

Is your next article going to be “Is the Black Community too sensitive?”

HeavnsGirl

Actually, the Black Community IS very sensitive an paranoid. This has happened as a result of very real wrongs perpetrated against us, but we (as a community) have become very reactionary and over-sensitive to issues that don’t warrant it.

Which, I believe, is exactly the point of this much-needed article.

Londongirl09

hated solanges hair simply because that ish was not even .. nothingwas done to it. i mean really, on your wedding day, i can understand that look on your day to day vibe on your wedding day at least put a comb in it or something interesting, she just looks like she rolled out of bed did hair and make up and was like “lets get hitched”. yuck

cheryl

I couldn’t disagree with you more! Her hair was flawless and that fro was on fleek! She represented the community well. You probably aren’t even natural because I have not heard one natural woman criticize Solange’s wedding day hair! Free the kinks from your mind….

JenniD

I have Solange’s exact hair texture. Trust she did something to it. Slept on afros don’t look like that. And if you knew anything about afro textured hair you know that combs are optional and very overrated. Comments like this make us a sensitive bunch. Just say you don’t like her hair instead of making fun and saying get a comb or do something to it.

deprogrammed

I do know about afro textured hair and it can, and should, be combed. It does not have to look like the cat was sucking on it, or maybe sleeping in it. We wore afros back in the day and they did NOT look like this.

JenniD
Sorry no it does not need to be combed unless you enjoy your hair sounding like a bowl of Rice Krispies cereal ( snap crackle and pop). Many naturals today only finger comb their hair. Also Most naturals wear more free form afros that are different from back in the day. Telling another natural she needs to go comb her hair is insulting. This is not 1965 where women keep every hair in place. Most of the afros back in the day were round and perfect because THEY WERE WIGS! No real combing was happening any way lol. Real people… Read more »
HeavnsGirl

I believe she meant a DECORATIVE comb for added interest to her style.

Lola
I regret reading this article. I love the natural hair community and we are not too sensitive. I think the people who believe this have not reached a moment in their journey where they truly love the hair God gave them. It is easy to see the negative feelings people have towards curly hair by their comments. No matter the intent there is absolutely nothing you can do to change your hair. It is a part of you and your DNA, your God given hair, so if someone doesn’t like it in its natural state it is pure and simply… Read more »
nolly A Wood

I disagree with some of your statements. I LOVE my hair to death . everybody around me knows that,in fact that is the first thing some of my friends will tell u about me. At the same time I do agree that the natural hair community is too sensitive and alot of people overreact unnecessarily to little things .

Lola
Considering what we are up against we don’t overreact. You also did not mention anything of what you disagreed with. There are so many different kinds of relaxers that the hair industry pushes on natural hair women. Also, look at all the celebrities when they reach a certain age or status they are frying their hair so much so that their hair becomes destroyed and have to resort to wearing weave all the time Nicole Kidman comes to mind and even Taylor Swift. You have to confront your enemies tho’ we should try to do it with more love, however,… Read more »
HairAnomaly
Is the natural hair community too sensitive??? At times, yes. But it’s understandable, as the appearance of natural hair seems to elicit strange reactions from people ranging from subtle curiosity to blatant disgust. And if we’re really honest, we’ll admit that some women are still still very self conscious about wearing their hair in its natural state, and seek validation of their beauty from the stated opinions of others. A clear sign of this is the popularity of YouTube videos of men giving their opinions on natural hair. So yes, if there is still insecurity there, then naturally people will… Read more »
Chevanne

Most people don’t understand our hair, it’s characteristics or its capabilities. That’s what rubs my rhubarb. When people make offensive comments, it’s mostly out of ignorance (regardless of intention), so I prefer to explore the questionable appropriateness of those statements. I want people to understand my perspective and where I see the problem, but I reserve my judgment and try assuming the best. I think the community just needs to take a breath and step back sometimes, but I would in no way invalidate their feelings.

fancycoils
No, I don’t think the natural hair community is too defensive or sensitive. People say and believe some truly ignorant things. There are so many ways that people express their disdain for natural hair. Passive-aggressive comments like “I liked your hair better the other way.” Aggressive comments like, “Natural hair ain’t for everybody.” That’s why we have women and girls that would rather endure scalp burns than love the hair that God gave them. Women and girls that don’t feel pretty unless they’re wearing hair that someone else grew. Horses with cold butts. Natural hair vloggers that invent creative reasons… Read more »
Dee

I definitely agree.

Mary

Let not the outspoken voices speak for the population.

Rose

Natural hair is only as self-indulgent as articles like this that make a mountain out of amolehill, taking the comments of a small handfull out of 7 billion and using it to refer to a heterogeneous collective.

disqus_l5AKLiKBqN

“Natural hair is only as self-indulgent as articles like this”
BEAUTIFUL!

You know what I’m sensitive about? That it’s 2015, yet some still legitimize trolls and the usual snarly chaos addicts as representative of a whole, diverse, largely optimistic movement.

Stayc

“heterogeneous collective”
Yes. A lot of people don’t realise this.

Veronica

I’m so glad you said this.

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