Natural vs. permed – a war of wills

OK, it’s not that serious. Well, it’s not that serious for me. When I started researching natural hair and what I could do with what was on my hair (I was lost and confused), I came across some very strong opinions about being natural vs. being permed.

When I say strong opinions, I mean women calling other women all types of derogatory names. People using all types of stereotypes to defend their side. People just going insane about hair.

Dead protein, folks.

laurynNow, don’t get me wrong. I know that hair is a super big thing in the Black community at large. I can talk about hair until I’m blue in the face: the dynamics of hair, the care of hair, the politics of hair… but above all, what you do to your hair is a personal decision. I can’t – I won’t – judge a woman because she has chosen to perm her hair. Now, I will try to encourage her to consider the options of being natural because I know as someone who has recently gone natural that it’s not as hard, time-consuming or stressful as some of us may think.

But that’s me. I’m a more open-minded kinda chick when it comes to certain things. So, when I hear naturals declaring that if you have a perm you MUST hate yourself and your God-given kinks, I have to give them the same side-eye that I give the permed women who say, with their noses in the air, natural hair is just unprofessional and dirty.

Both sides are oversimplifying a very complex issue. I know many women who rock permed hair or weaves, not because they hate themselves, but because they are comfortable with that look. They know how to take care of their hair permed and they like it that way. They aren’t trying to be white or anything else. That being said, I do know some women who rock weaves because they don’t like the hair God gave ‘em. They would prefer being anything else but Black – they would never say that outright, but they would prefer to have children with straight hair, talk about men in terms of race, colour and hair texture and are all-around self-haters. Sad but true.

ciaraOn the other hand, I rock natural hair because it’s part of my acceptance of myself. My hair will probably never sway in the wind like Ciara’s or Beyoncé’s lacefront, and I love that. I love standing out on the train platform or in the mall. I love when Black women tell me they love my hair and want to know how I do it. I wear different styles to work, but I always make sure it’s neat, not too over-the-top (no ‘frohawks here, ladies) or unkempt. But, lawd, lemme tell you about this woman on the GO Train. Each morning, my friend and I wait to see how her hair’s going to look. The hair is dry, begging for moisture, rough looking, rumpled and just a mess. I wish I could just hand her a jar of my super moisturizer and say, “Here go, sweetie. Moisturize your situation.”

 Alas, I don’t want a beat down on the train.

I’ve seen enough dry up looking perms, wigs, braids and weaves to know that just because you’re not rocking your natural hair doesn’t mean that you’re looking professional and well put together.

So, long story short: hair, to me, is an accessory – it’s not who you are. Yeah, definitely, there are some Black women who need to find out what their hair looks like without chemicals or some long-ass Yaki 1B/33 weave dashed in it because they’ve been brainwashed into thinking they aren’t beautiful just as God made them. Every woman should know how to care for her own hair: know which products work and which don’t and be proud of their kinks – even if they choose to change it up. I would prefer if they wore their hair natural (chemicals are the devil, for real), but it’s all about choice.

And choose to love yourself.


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