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 teach oth­ers… 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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