I get it, really I do. I know how frustrating it is for a sister to be loved and appreciated for exhibiting an alternative form of beauty, which is outside the scope and standard accepted form touted in the mainstream. Likewise, I imagine that those sisters that are natural hair police become frustrated themselves by the level of snide comments and mischaracterizations from both men and women within the Black community, who look down on our natural state. In our community, relaxing one’s hair is encouraged and embraced easily and straight hair is considered more beautiful. We learn those messages earlier on as little girls and as adult natural hair wearers, we stand against the stereotypes that the beautifully coiled texture growing out of our heads is somehow unacceptable.
Nevertheless, there is a right way and a wrong way to hold court. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how this bickering over hairstyle choices is a lot like the whole good hair versus bad hair debate we’ve been having since our ancestors left the confines of the plantation. We have to stop characterizing all women, who wear perms and weaves as adopting “slave mentality.” And, we have to stop all this divisiveness of who can be considered natural and who isn’t before we even begin to think about lecturing other women about what they can and cannot do with their hair. More importantly, we have to recognize how our tone in communicating our love and appreciation of our natural hair can come off as judgmental as the messages from mainstream society, which we seek to not be bound by. Think of it as Dr. King versus Malcolm X, W.E.B Dubois versus Booker T. Washington, Decepticons versus Transformers – I think you get the picture.
It’s just like that old saying goes: you get more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. As someone who has been rocking dreadlocks for over four years, I can tell you that the curious questionnaires by some straightened head or weaved sisters have sparked more interest in natural styling than the direct “you hair is going to fall out from all that creamy crack and lace fronting” approach has ever done. Not that I have ever taken that approach because it’s not my business what other folks do with their hair.
Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.