We have to stop using words like natural hair and 4c hair; it’s my hair, period.
I get that Black women are learning to love our hair in a world that tried to make us hate it, but it’s literally a natural phenomenon for humans to wear their hair. We are literally the only people that distinguish our hair as natural, I hate that it’s seen as revolutionary to simply be yourself, hair and all; self love and all. The most dangerous thing I’ve heard people say is “oh yea she’s into the whole black thing” when describing someone’s love for their hair. or their love for Black people. So to be into yourself, the way you were created, and your community is a “thing”?
We’ve internalized our self hate so much that, the very interest in us, even from us, is seen as “that thing over there”, or strange, or revolutionary. When we make it the norm, we are seen as ingenuine. I remember having to explain to a lady with my same texture hair, tightly coiled, that I love my hair texture. She fond it hard to believe because she didn’t like her hair texture. How does that translate to me? Even with me trying to explain to her that her hair is good, she rejected it.
Who taught you to hate yourself? You didn’t come out of the womb thinking, “my hair is not good”, it had to be taught. If nobody ever taught you how to say natural hair, you’d just be saying “it’s my hair”. I literally think it’s disrespectful to God to say you believe and have faith, but doubt your very value as a human being for something as simple as hair. I remember last year when my white coworker said to me that “all Black women have bad hair”, then she went on to list the Black women in media who she felt had bad hair, such as Viola Davis and Joy Ann-Reid, I ripped into her, and made an example out of her to corporate – but before that, I reminded her that she’s not the norm. I said to her “you don’t get to tell me about my hair because you are not the norm, your hair comes out of your head straight, and mine comes out tightly curled, you are not my standard, I am my standard, and I define my beauty, I do not look to you as the standard”. She seemed baffled that I responded that way, then I proceeded to work my way up until I got an acceptable response from corporate that she was reprimanded on all levels. You see, I told that story because, only outside forces have told you that you weren’t good, melanated gem, but those outside sources are confused. They are insecure, and only insecure people can have the nerve to point out what they don’t like about someone else. Don’t get it confused, I hate white supremacy, and I immediately address any form of discrimination, but I have enough confidence in myself to argue with facts, and not tear down someone’s looks in return. I could care less what your hair looks like, what is your character? If you are an agent of white supremacy, I will bulldoze it out of my path.
Us typecasting our hair and further dividing ourselves shows that we have a long way to go. Some people still prefer looser curls over tight curls, and it’s sick. The NAACP used to be like this, preferring their leadership to be light skinned while fighting for the advancement of Black people. I just don’t understand why in a world where people consider us “other” we have to further “other” ourselves. What foolishness for another Black woman to be patronizing a fellow Black woman, saying “wow, you’re wearing your natural hair, good for you, I can’t wear it like you but go head girl! Just remember to straighten it if you want to work in the corporate world” I hate it, and in so many versions, I’ve heard that several times. That’s why you’ll never hear me mention my “natural hair” again, you’ll see my hair, and it is what it is, I will not respond to any comment about my hair unless it’s “girl, how’d you perfect that twist out?!”
This 4c/3a thing that people do is another paper bag test, to determine what is good hair and bad hair. I’m so over all this crap, and I have other things to revolutionize about, as long as I take care of my hair, that’s all I care about. Take a look at my hair when I had locs, this was at 7 months and I loved the look and texture of it while some people said it was messy, I said, “good!” the point of locs is to let your hair do what it wants.
Of course, we all know that the excellence of African royal systems used hairstyles as a way to identify tribes and class, so our hair is inherently important to us as Black people, but, it was not a matter of texture, and quality of foreign hair weave, it was a matter of braid styles, styles that meant something to their respective AFRICAN culture. Nowadays, people are fighting over quality of Brazilian weave and how far removed your fake hair is from your natural texture – big difference. I have talked a lot about my experience living in Namibia with the only tribe in Africa to practice life before colonialism, the Himbas, and I talked about how their hairstyles determined whether they were married, teenager, elder, etc. However, society’s evolve, and we don’t have the time to do such intricate styles all the time. The point is, however I style my hair is my right, I don’t owe it to anybody to prove who I am by styling my hair “appropriately”. I think in this day and age, healthy hair is much more important than any hairstyle. Even without an intricate style, in this society of many races, my hair identifies me as Black. This is random but, what is a French braid? last time I checked, the French didn’t invent braids, but I digress.
So, my point is, it’s my hair, not natural hair, not 4c hair, not categorized, just hair. Of course, I can describe my hair, but what’s the point? Everyone has eyes to see. My hair is definitely not, “other”. I am my norm, I have no other norm outside of myself.
Let’s talk about the gorilla glue situation. I usually don’t like to talk about individuals on my blog, but I hear a lot of people saying that the situation speaks to the need for Black women to love their hair. Here’s the thing, I believe that we should love ourselves the way we are, but, wearing hairstyles is not an indicator of not loving your hair. For Black women, we love to do our hair, that’s why we spend more money on hair than any other race of women. I think the need to have straight hair at any means necessary is definitely a problem. The need for perfection and willingness to damage our hair far before we get to any type of glue is a problem, and it’s definitely a problem when you don’t feel you hair is good without any attachment. Some women like long hair, like me, and I’ll buy a long, kinky style to mimic my texture because I personally don’t like straight hair for myself. The reason I break this down is because we can’t just make blanket statements without understanding the issue. Hairstyling is not the issue, adding hair is not the issue, it’s the idea that we are not valuable without these things. I don’t know the lady who added gorilla glue, but there are many other ways Black women damage their hair everyday just to be sleek. We need to help Black people understand why that’s not necessary, first, and how to style our hair while protecting it and not damaging our hair texture.
How do we even begin to unapologetically love ourselves? I’m glad you asked, I actually talk about that in today’s Dear Black People™ session called, “Tearing Down Colonial Idols”, register here! Black people, it takes conscious, active, effort to be free, and I am here to help you do that, realizing what’s revolutionary, and what’s needed to really make a change for our generations. Hair is the least of our problems now.