Monday, 22 April 2013

Is It Okay to Hate Your Hair Texture?


The natural hair movement is well and alive. Though I'm not natural, I do fully support being natural and natural hair. After all, I myself was natural for years and I was even a bit of a so-called "natural-nazi" for a little while, staunchly against ever relaxing again. Nonetheless by the time my hair reached armpit length (APL), I gave in and relaxed out of convenience. I will explain that later.

Many naturals, in their attempt to give themselves the courage to remain a natural and not give up, cling to the virtues of embracing natural curls, coils and kinks. They say all hair is good hair and as long as hair is healthy that is the most important. Sometimes I wonder, however--is this true? Is it possible to just  not have good hair? When I say this I don't mean 3a vs 4z kind of the comparisons, or mixed-race hair versus continental African hair. Some people have strands that are hopelessly thin and a texture that is rough. Hair that is no matter how well you moisturise it, still dry and rough feeling.

When I think about my natural hair, I know I have some parts of my hair that are smoother and silkier feeling. Other parts are wiry and a nightmare to keep soft and will knot and dread easily. Some parts of my hair are prone to breakage. Some parts hold moisture and other parts are drier. Some parts of my hair are likely to break when I comb it, and other parts take some abuse. Some parts of my hair are porous and other parts are not. Some parts will curl easily and other parts are will not hold a curl as well. My hair is like this and no amount of product, nutrition, conditioning or heat/chemical altering will change this.

Photo credit: brookesb / / CC BY-NC-SA
I know I am not alone as many of us have a head of hair that is not consistent all over. Is it okay to say I love one part of my hair over the other? Is it okay to say I wish all of my hair is more like smooth part and less like the wiry part? Does this mean that I hate myself, or blackness? To expand this further--if my whole head was like the most difficult parts of my head and I said I hated my hair, that it wasn't "good" hair--does that make me ignorant, or unwilling to try?

I raise this thought because everyone's hair is different. Some people really do struggle with dealing with their hair. Oftentimes people (newly naturals included) who complain about this are told that they are not embracing their heritage among other things. Perhaps one problem is we place too much emphasis on judging others based on hair. Maybe we place too much emphasis on linking natural hair to our cultural pride or history of oppression. After all, I've heard white friends, and Asian friends complain about their hair. Hating the way it lays, the way it styles (or doesn't), the thickness, the oiliness, the length, the texture, etc. If they're entitled to accept that their can be difficult, then shouldn't black women? We all know kinky, curly hair isn't exclusive to black people either. The reality is it is a challenge to handle--because it requires unique care. There is nothing wrong with knowing or stating this. And occassionally resenting your hair doesn't have to mean resenting yourself.

Relaxer and Me

I think I should reiterate I don't hate my natural texture. My priority was growing my hair long, styling it quickly and wearing it out as needed. As a natural my hair tangled something terrible when loose (it still tangles--but it's more manageable). Also, I hated spending hours just detangling my hair. I didn't have the time for it and once your hair reaches APL as mine had it becomes extremely time consuming to maintain it as a natural. Didn't help that I had to use more product at a time just to maintain the moisture content and style.

So I will say overall I don't regret relaxing but I love my natural hair and will certainly return to that in the future. That being said, I think [black] women should be allowed to do what is best for their hair. No one's hair is perfect. Nobody loves everything about their hair or body all the time. We should be confident about ourselves and proud of our roots. But I'm not sure being proud of your roots has to mean always accepting your actual "roots".

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