When It Comes To Hair, Who Holds the Power?

October 26, 2012  |  


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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  • Negress

    If you do what you want with swagger you have the power make him drink the Kool-aid. Put your glass down girl or at least y’all can toast to your new fro!

  • Candacey Doris

    I thin that when you’re married, yes, your husband should at least be able to have his opinion heard about our hair. If you left looking like India Arie and come home with hair like Beyonce, he’s going to be at least a little shocked. If you’re just dating then it might not be his business though.

  • Nope

    “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.”

    lol, that’ll be the day….

    Women like ‘power’ and ‘independence’, but hate the accountability, scrutiny, and free will of others that goes along with it. You’re not going to be everyone’s type. Just like you’re not feeling every man that approaches you, everyman that you cross paths with isn’t interested in you either. Lightskinned vs darkskinned, black vs white vs other, fat vs skinny, chemically treated hair vs natural hair, it doesn’t matter because men are also entitled to their standards. Maybe it’s your look, or maybe it’s just YOU in general.

  • gee

    This topic has been done to death. What’s the big freakin deal about natural hair? If you have a problem attracting a mate with natural hair, maybe it’s you and not your hair. Women have the power over how we choose to wear our hair. You can shave it all off, leave a patch on the side. If you are happy with it, there are men out there you will think you’re hot. I’ll be waiting on the day when natural hair is old news.

  • afroveda

    I think it’s silly for a woman to be concerned with how a man feels about her hair. It’s her hair. She has to like it and she has to take care of it. Her feelings should come first. Out of all the issues men and women face in relationships there had to be a panel discussion about natural hair? C’mon son!

  • Men SAY they like it, but CHASE something different. Men hold the power. Women will conform to any standard men set because women compete for men. Period.

    • Britt

      Speak the Truth!

    • MLS2698

      Not me. My head is nappy. Never going to straighten it ever again; not even to do a length check. Its my hair.