Black women and their relaxed (or tacky) hair

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  • #10491

    Why is it that so many of my black sisters would rather walk around with damaged relaxed hair than simply wearing their hair natural? Most relaxed heads of hair look terrible, and the weaves and ponytails look downright tacky. Why are some of us still so ashamed of what is ours – and beautiful?

    User Detail :  

    Name : RhondaOutlaw, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : Black/African American, Religion : Lutheran, Age : 41, City : New York, State : NY Country : United States, Occupation : Account Representative, Education level : 2 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #19964

    Denisia25841
    Participant

    You don’t understand how hard it is to get a comb through extremely coiled hair. Our hair gets even harder to comb when wet. A relaxer helps smooth out the curl and helps us comb it out without pulling it out. Black people have very dry and brittle hair to begin with. That is why it stays short. When wearing a weave, we are protecting the hair and allowing it to grow underneath.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Denisia25841, Gender : F, Race : Black/African American, City : Fairfax, State : VA Country : United States, 
    #22528

    VirginQueen24853
    Participant

    For me, it’s about manageability. Naturally, I have coarse, kinky hair. There is no way I could tolerate trying to wear it any other way than relaxed. I don’t have time to mechanically straighten it. I would like to wear it natural, but not everyone has the texture to go natural in this fast-paced world. It hurts like hell if I try to comb it without it being relaxed. If I had a looser curl pattern, I would love to wear my hair natural. For me, it’s not about trying to look like anybody, it’s about manageability.

    User Detail :  

    Name : VirginQueen24853, Gender : F, Race : Black/African American, Age : 24, City : Ft. Payne, State : AL Country : United States, Social class : Lower class, 
    #33401

    Wendy
    Member

    American society tends to look down on more ‘eccentric’ hairstyles. If I were to walk into a job interview with my hair in its natural state (which would be an afro), and then a black woman with the same credentials walked in with a more tamed ‘perm,’ the company would most likely go for the professional look, seeing the former as ‘unruly.’ It’s all a matter of what our black girls and women are socialized to believe is beautiful. How many Barbies have you seen with afros or cornrows? Our little black girls see all the little cartoon girls on TV with straight hair that moves when they walk (I know I did). It’s not a matter of being ashamed, it’s a matter of the want and need of being accepted as beautiful.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Wendy, Gender : F, Race : Black/African American, Age : 18, City : Lansing, State : MI Country : United States, Occupation : Student, Education level : 2 Years of College, Social class : Upper middle class, 
    #38393

    Trina-K
    Participant

    I’m not ashamed of my hair. My hair is naturally wavy, so I relax it so I won’t cry every time I comb through it. Not all of us would rather walk around with damaged hair. I really think it depends on the person’s beautician. I will admit that some are out for the money and couldn’t care less about over-processing their client’s hair. For example, I used to go to one who would recommend that I get a relaxer every three weeks, which is ridiculous. Of course, she told me this because relaxers usually cost more than a shampoo. I think this is what happens with most women, and that’s why their relaxers look so bad. Then, they are not taught how to care for their hair after they leave the shop. The person I go to now is wonderful, and my hair is at its healthiest – even with the relaxer. As far as the weaves and ponytails, I agree with you – especially if the colors and grade of hair doesn’t match. You can’t wear a silky-straight ponytail if your own hair looks like taco meat.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Trina-K, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : Black/African American, Age : 23, City : Chicago, State : IL Country : United States, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #40381

    Stephanie
    Member

    Sista I can see your question. However I believe that how a woman wears her hair is about choice. Isn’t that a wonderful thing, to have the chance to wear your hair 15 different ways if you like? I don’t feel there is anything wrong with a black woman wearing a perm, weave, pony tails, texturizers, locs or twists. Isn’t that one of the things that is special about black women. It all comes down to choice. I know sistas who have been sporting perms for years, and they are the most conscious women around. I know sistas who wear natural styles and they are no credit to the race. And just in case you’re wondering, I’m a sista who has been ‘natural’ 10 years and counting. Before we judge by hair, let us actually test and see what’s on the brain.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Stephanie, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : Black/African American, Age : 29, City : Chicago, State : IL Country : United States, Occupation : Technical Support Engineer, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Upper middle class, 
    #17148

    …or continue to be a slave to what White America (and yes, some African Americans) consider ‘acceptable’. For YEARS I wanted to get rid of my perm but was worried about what ‘society’ would think. Well, on my 38th birthday, I decided that I would no longer bend over backwards to be acceptable. I had my perm cut off to the new growth. Of course people, especially Black people, were shocked. The few who had the nerve to step to me and comment about my hair were quickly put in their place. I waited for one person in my workplace to try to start with me about my hair. Can you say ‘file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’? No one did…or dared to. Three years later and my hair is twice as long as it was when it was permed; it’s beautiful, thick and healthy and what’s hilarious is that I see sistas getting ‘natural’ weaves that look like my hair. Go figure. And I’m no longer interested in being acceptable to ‘society’…now ‘society’ must accept ME…as I am. And that is the most uplifting feeling, trust me.

    User Detail :  

    Name : RhondaOutlaw, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : Black/African American, Religion : Lutheran, Age : 41, City : New York, State : NY Country : United States, Occupation : Account Representative, Education level : 2 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #22369

    Jay20858
    Participant

    I think shame of ones ‘natural’ state seems to transend racial boundaries. I see very few women of any race with their hair in its natural state. Its kind of sad that females have to pluck, shave, wax, straighen, highlight, curl, darken, lighten, tone, and make-up – all with the intention of looking ‘natural’.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Jay20858, City : New York, State : NY Country : United States, 
    #14000

    valerie
    Member

    I have often wondered why black women fight their hair. I know most dont think the texture of black hair is desirable. But as the years and styles have changed, I noticed black women cropping their hair very short. I think the style is great and have never seen a black woman who didnt look good in it. Maybe its the strong features and bone structure of the face, but I think that look is great for a black woman who is tired of fighting the texture.

    User Detail :  

    Name : valerie, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Mormon, Age : 45, City : Ft. Lauderdale, State : FL Country : United States, Occupation : sales, Education level : 2 Years of College, Social class : Upper middle class, 
    #25926

    I agree that there are beauticians who don’t care about their client’s hair, and that women should be better trained in caring their hair, and I agree that ponytails (although I detest them) should match one’s hair texture. But your comment about one’s own hair ‘looking like taco meat’ disturbs me. Just where did you learn such negativity about natural hair? My hair is natural, and based on the compliments I get on my hair, I would say it hardly looks the way you describe. One of the keys to our success as a people will be to learn to love ourselves, as we are, which MANY Black women do not. As long as we’re stuck in the ‘lighter, whiter and straighter is better’ mode, Black women cannot come full circle as Black women. But when you FULLY accept and love yourself, that is when you begin to blossom. I speak from personal experience. Three years ago when I would walk out of a salon with ‘bouncing and behaving’ hair, I never felt 100% okay with me. I felt like I was living a lie. When I walked out for the last time with my chemically straightened hair on the salon floor, I left the lie behind. Three years later, and I’ve never been happier…I’ve got a head full of beautiful, healthy hair, and I have come full circle as a Black woman.

    User Detail :  

    Name : RhondaOutlaw, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : Black/African American, Religion : Lutheran, Age : 41, City : New York, State : NY Country : United States, Occupation : Account Representative, Education level : 2 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #27496

    Flora21804
    Participant

    I’m white, so it’s really none of my business, but I think that natural Black hair is beautiful. It has such great textures and shapes. My hair is completely straight’n’shiny Caucasian hair – and incredibly boring.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Flora21804, Gender : F, Race : White/Caucasian, Age : 23, City : Exeter, State : NA Country : United Kingdom, Occupation : Grad student, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #35766

    Lis22733
    Participant

    If your hair is naturally wavy, then why would you have a problem combing through it?

    User Detail :  

    Name : Lis22733, Gender : F, Race : Hispanic/Latino (may be any race), City : Brooklyn, State : NY Country : United States, Occupation : Student, Education level : 2 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #29099

    Angela
    Member

    Look, I know many black women with strong healthy hair that happens to be permed. What gets on my nerves is when we choose to judge each other’s physical appearances. Black women (just like all women) are free to create whatever look that they want. No one says anything about the number of white women who wear weaves…and YES they wear them too! Or the Asian women who dye their hair red and blonde and also wear color contacts. Black women in Brazil wear their hair in many beautiful styles whether it is straightened, left natural, permed, or wavy/curly. I feel that black women in the USA judge eachother too harshly. Instead, enjoy the fun and freedom of change once in awhile. Most women that I know try different things with their hair just to do something different, it has nothing to do with being ashamed of the culture. I guess you have not heard of the tribes in Africa that straighten, braid and/or color their hair. If it makes them feel good about themselves, no matter who is doing it, why knock someone’s fun?

    User Detail :  

    Name : Angela, Gender : M, Race : Black/African American, Religion : Christian, Age : 30, City : Washington, State : DC Country : United States, Occupation : writer, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #22390

    Liza22558
    Participant

    I caught myself asking this question once. Then I realized i had highlights in my own dark, brown hair. When it was in fashion to do so I also had perms. Now, it is considered tacky for a caucasian to get a perm (mall hair). You see white girls with way over processed, died hair. And look at celeberties like pink or Christina Aguilera…way over died. Then ther’s asian chicks with bleach blond hair. I think it’s all the same thing; we’re trying to get attention and sometimes we do things that do not make us look our best when trying. You’ll notice the older a woman becomes, the less this is so; with age comes wisdom.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Liza22558, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Agnostic, City : San Francisco, State : CA Country : United States, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #23080

    Sweetyb
    Participant

    **’Why is it that so many of my black sisters would rather walk around with damaged relaxed hair than simply wearing their hair natural?’** Good question, but I can’t say ‘so many’. But, for those sisters with damaged relaxed hair, one would think that if these women simply stopped relaxing their hair and grow out their natural texture of hair that they would be better off. But I beg to differ. If they can’t take care of their relaxed hair, what makes me think they can take care of their naturally curly textured Hair? It’s these women’s lack of knowledge on how to care for hair that’s damaging their hair, not the relaxer. I wear my naturally curly texture and know that it too can be damaged if not taken care of. Also, you have to take into consideration that the haircare industry has not been on our side until recently, but only because many more African Americans are creating products designed for OUR hair. Also, we have only begun publishing books about taking care of OUR hair in the 1990’s if I’m not mistaken. In order for cosmotologists to pass their certification exam, what type of hair must they be able to work with? Well, it certainly is not our hair, and if it is it’s on how to fry it straight. And what’s up with Firefighters not allowed to wear dreadlocks? It’s all miseducation about OUR hair. ** ‘Most relaxed heads of hair look terrible, and the weaves and ponytails look downright tacky.’ ** Most? I can agree with saying ‘some’ because I can’t generalize for everyone who wears relaxers, weaves, or ponytails. These things aren’t race-specific either. For one, O couldn’t say that Laila Ali’s or Natalie Cole’s weaves are ‘tacky’ because they look very beautiful, and very realistic. There are many women with long, straight hair who use a relaxer. Not all relaxed hair is necessarily ‘tacky’. As for whether or not someone’s hair looks tacky, I don’t think that’s up to you to decide. Everyone has the right to make their own choices as to how they want to wear their hair. And even if their hair looks ‘unhealthy’ I have no right to judge them because I have no idea what they may be going through (i.e. bad health). I have no right to say that they are ‘ashamed’ of their natural hair. And this goes for women of all races–if they want to dye their hair, wear weaves like Brittany Spears, shave their head or grow it out in dreadlocks, it’s their choice… and their hair.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Sweetyb, Gender : F, Race : Black/African American, City : L.A., State : CA Country : United States, Occupation : student, web designer, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, 
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