When It Comes To Hair, Who Holds the Power?

October 26, 2012  |  

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There are a lot of issues tangled up in a woman’s hair. When making a change, especially one as drastic as going natural, there is a lot to consider. One of the most daunting questions to consider on the brink of a transition, though some will never admit it, is how men (or one in particular) will respond to it.

It’s no surprise then that Curly Girl Collective‘s most recent event, entitled “Mane Attraction: His Voice, Her Hair” and billed as “a ground- breaking, thought provoking, panel discussion on how men feel about women with natural hair,” was packed to capacity. As part of its mission to foster acceptance and celebration of kinkier hair textures, the collective decided it was time to include the male gender in the natural hair conversation.

“Our first event was in May 2011. We’re serving to bring unique questions and topics that are top of mind,” said Charisse Higgins, Director of Public Relations for Curly Girl Collective. “The fact that so many people are coming out to hear what the fellas have to say about natural hair; it’s beautiful. And it’s good to see the guys are here to support, or to voice how they feel about it.”

Surprisingly, the sea of afro-textured crowns that filled the venue did not intimidate the men in attendance. The raucous discussion’s main point of contention came when a moderator declared that any woman in a committed relationship should consult with her man before making drastic changes to her hair.

Bloggers Franchesca Ramsey (S*** White Girls Say…to Black Girls) and Cipriana Quann (Urban Bush Babes), represented for women on the panel and minimized the importance of hair. Despite being the reason we had all gathered in Brooklyn, there was so much more to us than our hair. By their logic, a man should be as invested in a woman changing her hairstyle as he is in her changing her nail color.

The men on the panel, namely bloggers Jozen Cummings (Until I Get Married) and Slim Jackson (Single Black Male), agreed with some apprehension. “What I don’t like isn’t nearly as important as what I do like,” said Cummings.

The idea that a woman not be valued by her hair may be naively feminist. A guy asking for a head’s up when you plan on coming home looking like a stranger isn’t asking for much. Communicating changes to your partner can be viewed as a sign of unity. However, any man that believes an experimental haircut or new texture warrants walking papers probably doesn’t value his woman much to begin with.

The event’s interactive mural asked attendees, “What is attractive about women with natural hair?” Confidence, carefree-ness, and natural beauty were some of the top responses. Maximizing our appeal to potential partners is an important part of the job description we give our hair. But, the women attending the event made it clear; hair is a personal affair.

When asked to give advice to women considering going natural, the panelists encouraged the audience to trade fear for confidence. Everyone will have their opinions, especially during those awkward stages, but ultimately, the only opinion that counts is your own. Many women fail to realize the impact the opinion they have of themselves has on how others view them. As one male panelist said, “Be comfortable. Your lack of comfort is what really affects the relationship.”

C. Cleveland is a freelance writer and content strategist in New York City, perfecting living the fierce life at The Red Read. She is at your service on Twitter @CleveInTheCity.

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