So I caught the latest addition to the Isht that So & So Says meme called Isht that Natural Hair Girls Says and I got a good chuckle out of it because it just reminded me of how sometimes the whole fascination over natural hair gets to be ridiculous.
It reminded me of the time a couple of years back when I was at this conference, waiting for elevator with a bunch of other Black women. Anyway, as I was standing there, leaning against the wall wishing for this slow-behind elevator to hurry up, one of the women, a lady with a TWA (Teeny Weenie Afro for those not familiar with the hair lingo) decided to strike up this conversation about my hair. She asked the customary questions that I usually get from curious gawkers: how long had I’d been growing my dreadlocks, do I do them myself, what kind of products do I use, you know the normal stuff. I don’t have a problem with folks asking me questions; in fact I am flattered by the attention.
However the conversation took a drastic change from pleasantries to outright offensiveness when she started talking about her own recent “big chop.” In between gushing over how wonderful she feels to be free of chemicals and how long she agonized over the decisions, she started doing what a lot of newly converted natural divas do: defame and attack women, who choose not to wear their own hair. She actually felt like she was sharing some sort of camaraderie with a fellow natural sister-in-arms; however, what she was actually doing was drawing the unnecessary scrutiny and alienation from the other Black women, who stood around us in annoyance at her hair prophesying. And you know what? I was annoyed too.
Like most ladies, I love my hair. However unlike most natural converts, I am not, nor have I ever been, sentimental with my hairstyle choice. I don’t know its birth date, I didn’t document the stages of hair “growth” and I never thought my transition was a “journey.” In fact, the only thing I remember about my hair “journey” was getting on the subway’s Broad Street line and making my way down to South Street to get my hair done. Hell, if I am really going to be honest, I don’t even twist my own hair. I pay someone else to do it because I do not have the time or the patience (also known as lazy) to diddle around with my hair.
And yes, I love my dreadlocks. But mainly because it’s versatile enough that I can dress it up, dress it down and never had to worry about rain or humidity. However natural hair isn’t more or less maintenance than any other hairstyle I had. I still have to get it done, when I wash my hair at home, it takes forever to dry and I still have to find ways to style it, just like I would with any other hairstyle. And while I have grown to appreciate my hair in its natural state, I can’t quite say that I have reached some heighten sense of hair consciousness to feel that I am somehow superior to all of those “other girls” who still relaxed their hair.
There is nothing wrong with celebrating or basking in your newly defined and accepted natural beauty. However, some women, not all but some, treat natural hair like it’s some sort of secret society sorority club where membership is exclusive and password protected. In fact, they are on the same scale as the Born-again Christians, who post uninvited Bible scriptures on your Facebook wall and recently converted Vegetarians/Vegans, who go on and on during your lunch break about how much energy they have and healthier they feel now that they stopped eating hamburgers and pork chops two days ago.
In some of these natural hair circles, some women do more than just trade hair care tips. They actually use these grounds as some sort of nappy-jihadist recruitment/training camp, where they attempt to enlist a legion of hair cops to hand out tickets to those women, who defy the virtues of the Afro-Gospel. I see these women on various blogs, Twitter accounts, among friends, family and as strangers in supermarkets, lay down their vicious authority on women, who do straighten or weave their hair. Oh and don’t think that just because you are natural you are excluded from the inquisition. Just ask any woman, who was “caught” using the wrong product, wearing a wig while in “transition” or not having the right grade of naps to be considered a true natural.