So I just stumbled across an article called “Natural Hair For White Girls” and it got me thinking. Normally I wouldn’t go so far as to write a blog post about someone else’s article, because everyone has the right to say what they want to say. And I’m aware that this author is known for writing satirical articles. But I would hate for someone to read this article and get the wrong idea about natural hair, so I decided to put in my two cents.
First, I don’t like how the author proclaimed that American women “belong to one of the most statistically oppressed groups of people in the entire world”. Yes, many American women take society’s views of beauty very seriously, and standards of beauty are almost everywhere in the media. But no one is forcing us to adhere to those standards of beauty. No one has ever forced me to put on makeup or straighten my hair. No one has taken money from my wallet and told me where to spend it and what to spend it on. I like to think of advertisements, and the media in general, as friendly suggestions. As an American woman, I have the freedom to make my own choices, as opposed to women living in other countries who have little to no choice about what they do. We have the freedom to adhere to society’s standards, and we have the freedom to ignore them. I can’t speak for all American women, but I certainly don’t feel oppressed when it comes to my hair or my beauty routine.
Second, I don’t understand how the Natural Hair Movement excludes White people. I may be new to this, but I thought the goal of the Natural Hair Movement was to help people learn to love their natural hair. I cannot count the number of times I’ve heard my White friends wishing for their beautiful curls were straight or for their beautiful straight hair to be wavy or curly. This is not to say that White women are the only women that do this; I and plenty of other Black women have wished for a texture other than our own. I’m sure women of other colors have felt the same way from time to time. Loving your natural texture/color/look is something that shouldn’t be exclusive to one race.
As for natural hair being a slap in the face to White women…..first of all, what? Second, maybe this is just the Black in me speaking, but I personally that this ‘slap in the face’ is nothing compared to what Black women see in the media EVERY DAY. We can’t go a day without seeing some image of a beautiful White woman and being told: “THIS is the image of beauty that our society has, and THIS is the standard of beauty that you should adhere to.” The message is hardly ever that explicit and you might say, “Oh, no one takes it that seriously.” But think for a second about all the little Black girls who want White Barbie dolls instead of Black ones because they think the White ones are prettier.
Think about the slightly older Black girls who want to be White when they grow up and beg their mothers to let them chemically relax their hair so they can stop being teased at school. I know; I was that little girl. I relaxed my hair at age 11 because I was so desperate to ‘fit in’ and for people to like me, and because I thought my natural hair was ugly. It’s no picnic, and I always wish I could take it back and not have to spend years growing out my hair and healing the damage. You, as a white woman, are lucky; as long as you’re safe about it, you can achieve the look you want by straightening or curling your hair, and it will LAST. It will last more than a couple of hours (less if it rains that day), and if you don’t like it you can wash it out and go back to being natural.
The part where you mocked the bleaching and relaxation process may be the only part where satire worked for you. A lot of ‘relaxed’ Black women don’t realize how potent the chemicals in relaxers are and how appalling it would be to see these chemicals out of context of ‘creamy crack’. (check out this clip from Good Hair, if you’re interested .)
To finish, Ms. Mullen, I understand why you admire us Nubian queens (as you put it). Personally, it’s such a blessing to feel so liberated and confident about my look. Your two Black friends, Acura and Delicious, might be inclined to agree with me, based on your observations. I hope that one day you can feel the same confidence as us Naturalistas, and I hope you find the strength and confidence to start rocking what you were born with, learn to deal with the things that frustrate you about your hair (because let’s be real, Black women aren’t the only women to be frustrated with their hair), and REALLY start to ‘smash the patriarchy’.