I thought I was having a moment with another natural hair sista.
She had bleached her fro blonde and styled it into a faux hawk. Let’s call her Natural Sista #22. Well I told Natural Sista #22 that it was about time I finally wash my hair, though I wasn’t looking forward to it.
She giggled, knowing the time our hair consumes, but then looked down at me with an air of reproach and just a touch of pity (difficult for a nearly 5’1″ girl to do to someone almost five inches taller than herself) and said:
“Well, you mean condition. We do not wash our hair. We condition it.”
In these moments one has a choice.
The more eloquent one would call this “fight or flight” but I call it “treat or eat”.
I could’ve looked down on Natural Sista #22 with an equal air of condescension (which would be a breeze for a girl almost five inches taller) and say “Well, I meant wash as in ‘I finally need to wash my hair’ as in use shampoo because that’s what I have decided to use and it works for my hair on my head, but I’m happy to hear that cowashing with conditioner only works for your hair, but I’d be happier to hear you talk with your head up level with mine so that we can speak as grown women so you aren’t tempted to shake your head and correct me about my own personal choices for myself, especially since I don’t know you nearly enough to take such a patronizing tone from someone so ashamed to hear that I use shampoo despite the toxic chemicals she is putting on her scalp to bleach it blonde. Lol.”
But I just decided to eat it instead.
But later I was still fuming over her words. She don’t know me or my hair. How can she tell me what I can and cannot use?!
“Natural Hair Nazi!”
The words popped in my head before I could stop them. Damn that ridiculous term for black women who encourage other sistas to go natural. I’ve never been a fan of its use, and so I’ve refused to use the term, but it was the only suitable set of words for this moment.
Natural Hair Sista #22 wasn’t encouraging me to try a different hair method, she was condemning my methods by blanketing her terminology over mine. Condition not wash. We do not wash our hair.
And so I finally experienced what sistas sticking to their perms have been saying all along.
I didn’t wanna believe it at first, that the natural hair movement was somehow hurting or isolating black women who still choose to relax or otherwise hide their curls and coils. How can the ones going against the grain be the ones isolating those who are still going with the flow?
Maybe outside of the black community their is no pain to be seen, but within there are thick lines separating the Black Hair World: those with relaxers, those without, those with buzz cuts, those with locs, those with braids, those with fros, those with weave, those with twists – and the list could go on and on.
And with each nation in the Black Hair World, like any group of anything on this earth, there are stereotypes, and those within the Natural Hair Community have been labeled as pushy, conceited, uppity, and every other synonym relating to a pompous, better-and-more-in-tuned-with-myself-and-my-roots-than-you attitude.
I admit, as someone very proud of my roots and my decision to cut my *straight locks off, I push pamphlets to the movement whenever an opportunity presents itself.
*Let’s be real, if I got that sh*t wet it would frizz up and out in seconds.
I’ll be checking out at Target and the sista behind the counter will compliment my fro and mention something about growing our her roots and considering chopping her straight ends off.
I will ALWAYS respond with a solid “Do it.” and I’ll elaborate about the process if invited to do so. Why would I pass an opportunity to reach out to someone like that? Only other black women truly understand the pressures of hair (and all other European beauty standards).
I want every black woman I run into to know 1) they aren’t the only ones scared and 2) their natural is beautiful – period.
But this “natural hair or die” attitude is not the way to go.
But after reading I immediately picked up where *Tyece was coming from.
It made me think of my relaxed vs. natural post from a while back. Your hair is your hair, and what you decide to do with it should be for you. If you like your relaxed tresses – keep em! Do it because you love the way it looks. Do it because you love the way it feels.
Don’t do it because you feel that you must for your “friends”, “family”, “significant other”, racist-ass-fascist-capitalism-job. Do it for yourself.
And that goes for those that reside in the Natural Hair Community as well.
I still think it’s important for us to stay a community as we continue to get to know our roots and battle the outside and inside pressures about our gravity-defying locks, but we are not one undefined, homogeneous mass of natural hair. Each of us have a variety of curl patterns (or combinations), textures, color, length, and thickness. Our hair is beautifully diverse – and this means each head has different needs.
With any kind of unwarranted/uninvited advice, be easy with your delivery. Make sure your suggestions do not become corrections. I’m open to hear what kind of products you use or stay away from, and I still might leave deciding not to apply any of what you said to my routine. Because that’s my decision for me.
And please lawd! Do not ruin the beauty that is this Natural Hair Movement by attacking sistas who choose not to join or separating yourselves by those “more or less” natural. This movement and community is so important, and I would hate to see it spoiled by our own hands…or heads.
Don’t we have enough hate from outside our community as black women? Why cause more hate for ourselves.
Always do you, but remember to hold your sista up as well or you might fall too.