What People Actually Think About Natural Hair
Have you heard about H&M and the backlash over how one of the model’s hair was portrayed? What about Chris Brown’s statement a few months ago about what counts as “good hair”?
It seems like every few weeks, there’s a news story about how people view natural hair, and whether or not it’s good enough to be deemed as beautiful. It can be depressing to hear what people have to say sometimes, especially when you look like the person they’re talking about or if you’re just starting out.
It made me wonder what people truly think of natural hair. I know that there’s a lot of videos and articles about it, but they usually say the same thing. In order to get the truest opinion possible, you have to go to the comments section.
I looked at the comments section for multiple videos and read a lot of tweets. I saw that people have a lot of mixed feelings about what is and isn’t appropriate when it comes to the appearance of kinky/coily natural hair in particular.
Here are three main topics that I noticed:
Natural Hair And Presentable Hair Are Mutually Exclusive
A lot of people are embracing the concept of natural hair, and support the idea of being comfortable with yourself to the point where you don’t feel the need to have a different texture. Even with all this support, there are people who still say that it needs to look like you put in a certain amount of effort in order for it to be presentable.
The question we have to ask is what counts as presentable? The answers are all over the place, but I saw that they were in two major categories: texture discrimination, and definition.
Those who practice texture discrimination believe that curly hair is the only type of presentable natural hair. They like any pattern that’s loose and flowy, and can easily have hang time. These curl patterns tend to be seen as “more tame and controlled” compared to tighter patterns, and sometimes are associated with certain races or skin tones.
This is an obvious problem because it follows the same logic as racism and sexism. It assumes that a characteristic that you didn’t choose and can’t control makes you unfit or not good enough. It assumes that kinky hair physically can’t be beautiful no matter what, and that your only option is to take the kinks out.
Now, to be honest, most people aren’t that strict and obvious. A lot of people who practice texture discrimination do so in more subtle ways, similar to racists. Instead of just coming right out and saying that they don’t think kinky hair is beautiful, they’ll try to be “nice” about it or beat around the bush.
Sometimes people won’t say anything at all. They’ll just give all of their support and praise to people with looser textures without saying anything to people with kinky hair. Texture discrimination supported by silence is the worst because the only thing that’s worse than people criticizing you is when nobody comes to your defense.
So now the only question left is how to deal with texture discrimination. From what I found, the only way to handle it is by not handling it at all. What I mean is that people are going to talk until they see results, and even then, somebody will still have something to say.
If you keep prospering and taking care of your hair the way you’re supposed to, people will have less to talk about, and those that are still yapping won’t have anything important to say. As long as you have a working healthy hair regimen, you can remain unbothered.
There are times when people talk about definition in terms of texture discrimination by stating how hard it is to define kinky textures. However, that’s not always the case. There are people who say that any hair type can be presentable, it just depends on how well you defined the pattern or style.
These people aren’t against kinky natural hair, they’re against hair that either doesn’t look like any effort went into it and/has too much frizz. They want hair to look like you spent time on it.
Most times, people who put a lot of energy towards harping on definition don’t pose shouldn’t pose any real threat to your self-esteem. They’re the type of people who make comments about your edges not being laid, or that one piece of hair that decided to go astray. They can be nitpicky, and it’s hard to please them anyway.
How do deal with these types of people? Once again you don’t do anything. Why should you spend time on people who complain about everything anyway? Nothing is ever good enough for them and they just like to complain.
They analyze every detail and pick out the most minute details. You probably know somebody like this in your personal life, and what do you do? You ignore them as much as you can.
Most People See Length Above Everything
Long hair is a symbol of beauty for most cultures, so that’s what most people prefer. We all have some characteristics that we gravitate to, so there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. The issue comes when you see two people ( or sometimes even the same person) with the exact same style or texture, but you criticize the shorter hair.
I heard lots of stories about people who big chopped and got all types of discouraging remarks. Friends and family members would not let them hear the end of it until their hair reached a certain length.
After they reached that length, all of a sudden their hair was beautiful and they made the “right choice”. Everything they did look nice and the same people who were criticizing them want to know what they can do to get their hair to look the same way. Leave a comment below if this is similar to your story.
This length over everything mentality is toxic, but I can’t get mad that most people think like this. We have been told by everyone in our community that we can’t grow long hair and that our hair is unmanageable unless it’s straightened or relaxed.
The natural hair movement was started in order for us to get comfortable with ourselves, and to show that we can achieve long hair as long as we take care of it. So it seems like we still have something to prove not only to mainstream society but to ourselves as well.
All Skinfolk Ain’t Kinfolk
Going back to what I said about the natural hair movement proving to ourselves that we can have long healthy hair, sometimes it’s the people of your own community who are your biggest haters. It’s easy to talk about the injustices that White people brought upon us during slavery or colonialism, but what about the ones that we willingly continue?
Change has to start and end with us if it’s going to last. We shouldn’t give someone a pass for participating in texture discrimination just because we have the same amount of melanin. Melanin is a wonderful thing, but it doesn’t decrease the amount of B.S that comes out of someone’s mouth. We need to hold the same standards to ourselves as we do to other people.
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