Hair Politics: Is my hair ‘good’ enough?

I love my hairdresser – like a cousin or a good friend.

We’ve been together for at least six years and she helped my hair stay relatively healthy and strong while it was relaxed. When I decided to go natural, she encouraged me and would enthusiastically talk about my hair whenever I was in the shop.

A vast difference from previous hairdressers – I’ll have to talk about that another time.

She’s young, creative and smart. So imagine my shock when she told my sister she didn’t have hair that could be worn naturally. (Granted, no part of my sister was interested in NOT relaxing her hair. If my sister ever decided that she didn’t want to relax her hair anymore, I would believe the end of the world was nigh and I would start praying with fierceness.)

That was all the confirmation my sister needed to call me and say, “My hair can’t go natural like yours. Our textures are different. My hair would be too difficult to deal with—”

That’s when I said: “That’s a lie from the pits of hell.”

Up to five years ago, I thought my hair was too unmanageable (read: hard) to ever be worn in its natural state. Only people who were biracial or had an Indian or Chinese grandparent could live without the relaxers. People like me, who are mixed with Black and Blacker, were out of luck. I would be beholden to perm forever.

Obviously, that isn’t true.

But I thought that way until I decided that I liked how my new growth felt and didn’t like how my ends were breaking off if I looked at them too hard. I thought that way until I found natural haired women online who had hair like mine that looked thick, healthy, manageable and awesome.

I know my hairdresser means no harm. She’s telling us what she’s always heard: kinky Black hair is difficult and you’ll have trouble with it if you don’t control it with some kind of relaxer.

I now know that isn’t true. I’ve gotten more compliment on my kinks and coils that I did with my ‘manageable’ hair that was breaking off in the sink and washing down the drain. My hair has never been as long (stretched, of course) as it is today (one year and six months after cutting off all my relaxed hair) or as healthy (I fret about fairy knots, but those are nothing compared to my hair woes before).

I guess I’m just tired of the excuses that people use to make us think that something is wrong with our hair as it grows out of our heads. If you want to relax your hair, go ahead, but don’t accept that you must put chemicals in your hair – especially those of you with real kinks.

There is an obsession – an unhealthy obsession for some – that natural good hair equals curly hair, not kinky hair. They are talking about hair that loops and curls gently, yet falls down on your shoulders and cascades down your back. The closer you get to that kind of hair, the better your hair is. If your hair is thick, coarse and kinky, don’t even consider natural hair. Your hair’s not good enough.

God made all the flowers different, but they are all beautiful – why can’t we think the same way about ourselves?

8 Comments Add yours

  1. myaliasfotography says:

    That’s so interesting that your hairdresser could see and encourage you, but was the total opposite with your sis. But those attitudes still prevail. Even my sisters/fam, thought that when I had first ‘went natural’. “Oh, you have ‘good’ hair”. I was like, “My hair is just regular old ‘black hair’ “. Lol.
    It’s definitely about NOT looking at someone else’s hair type/curl pattern – and learning what yours is like and what it likes to keep it healthy.

    I’m excited to be starting my natural hair journey [yet again]. Been reading up on your site, glamzini and kimmaytube. I see some product shopping in my future! And my sis is taking out her braids for the final time in a couple of months and will wearing her’s natural too [well, she might texturize it – although by then, I might convince her otherwise! :-]

    1. urbansista says:

      It’s so strange — that’s so unlike her… but my sister agreed wholeheartedly, so… Last summer, women would say to me: “I could never wear my hair like yours. My hair won’t do that!” Do what? A twist-out? My hair doesn’t look like this just by washing it and going. Sigh.

      Ooh! Product shopping! I’m so trying to behave myself, but it’s so hard. Enjoy playing around with your “new” kinks and curls. It’s so much fun!

  2. Sidjazz says:

    Great Post! Thanks for writing it. I hope we can help alleviate burdens such as these from the generations of black women we are now raising. Its funny how at one point or another we all think the same thing and always think the grass is greener on the other side. Its a good thing your goddaughter’s will have you as a role model just in case their mother decide to put some “creamy crack” up in her hair just to get the “Halle Berry” hairstyle now that her hair is short 🙂 As I told you on Sunday its something I have thought about since I did the BC six weeks ago. The good thing now though is that I’m no longer held bondage to long straight hair and now have no hung ups to cut and go natural whenever I please.

  3. ~Back to Curly~ says:

    Awesome, and thoughtful post! It’s unfortunate, but a lot of us have or will travel down this road. And ironically, to be faced by this kind of ignorance from Hairdressers, the ppl. we often trust most with our hair, is…it’s mind boggling. I faced the same issue years ago…and took it as a sign to move on to another stylist. There’s so much to learn about our hair during the natural journey, and sometimes even more to learn from those around us…their own reactions, perceptions on what natural hair is…how it is worn…etc.


  4. Kinky Rhonnie says:

    What’s up lady?

    Great article.

    I don’t call myself Kinky Rhonnie for fun. I cally myself Kinky Rhonnie because it’s true. It’s truly sad that this happened to your sister and sad that’s it’s mentally ingrained in woman’s heads everywhere, and being passed on to the female children. I was one of the girls in the family with the nappiest hair of the bunch and my nappy hair was a topic of many discussions throughout my lifetime growing up. COARSE, THICK, and KINKY. Little did we know is that all that was required to manage it was the right products, techniques, and care. Allowing kinky haired children’s hair to dry loose, to sleep with their hair unprotected on cotton sucking all the grease. And, there was no added moisture, only grease. Pure sadness! Conditioning, occassional Protein, Moisture, Braid/Twist sets, Sealing with and emollient oil, and Protecting the hair, can make a major difference in your end results.

  5. urbansista says:

    Thanks for commenting all! I only wish that when I was 13, 14, 15 years old, I knew what I knew now about my hair (how to love it and take care of it) and about feeling good in my own skin regardless of beauty myths that I encountered hourly. I just hope that all the little girls that I have relationships with — including my beautiful goddaughters — will have a better outlook on themselves and the hair that they are blessed with. I would hate for any of them to buy into the notion that their hair isn’t good enough because it’s kinky or it’s better because it’s curly.

  6. Christie says:

    I’m all kinds of late with this. But I just gotta say,”Preach!”

    1. urbansista says:

      Better late than never! Thanks for commenting!

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