The Tinder Chronicles: When He Tells You He Loves Your Natural Hair
If you’re serious about actually trying to find a mate on a dating app, chances are you put a lot of effort into choosing the right pictures. Of course you want to upload pics of you looking your best, but you also need to be sure you actually look like your pictures when you meet a potential partner in person because…false advertising. It’s for that reason that I put up a variety of shots on my profile — good angles that show off my figure (but not too much ‘cuz we still have work to do); images of me dressed up for a special event as well as casual options because, let’s be serious, that’s what I’m most likely going to look like day to day; and then a variety of hairstyles. Now for Black women that can mean a lot (I have a friend who has on a different wig in each of her pictures, plus one of her natural hair so men know what’s up). As for me, I’ve been off and on the same app for months without making any real updates so a lot of my pics are either of me with a weave I wore this past summer or a low bun; but none show off the curly ‘fro I recently (and somewhat traumatically) big chopped myself into.
I didn’t intentionally hide my ‘fro but it did give me pause when I got a notification from a cute match which led to a date a week after talking by phone. In the midst of that first week of talking, the match asked for a picture which I initially questioned, but then I remembered we’re living in the day and age of catfishing and ain’t nobody got time for that. I made a joke to that effect before sending a photo with my hair out and texted “Here’s one sans weave, since we’re being honest lol.” He told me the pic was beautiful but when it came time to meet for the first time I still opted for a low bun. Part of me wanted to be sure the representation he met for the first time in public matched the expectations he had by phone, and I was still growing into my new look. A bun felt like me, the two-month-old ‘fro? Not so much yet.
Things went well that night and we actually met up again the next day when I decided to wear my hair out — well half out. Some days I’m still not too keen on the shape and pinning the top back keeps things sort of neat and tame, which is more my style. Within minutes of seeing me he simply said, “I like your hair,” and inside I breathed a sigh of relief. Ahhh thank God.
Date three happened some weeks down the line and I decided to go balls to the wall with my full little medi-fro (I think I just made that up). As the drinks flowed, we naturally began talking about all the issues unfolding with Black people in this country. As an aside my date told me he doesn’t date white women which, racist as I may sound, was pleasant to hear when, daily, I’m trolled by comments from Black men justifying why they prefer white women’s quiet beauty over our loud, nappy-headed attitudes. And then he told me he likes me because I look like a Black woman. “Look at your hair, you’re curvy, your lips, you have features like a Black woman. That’s what I like.”
And that’s what I like to hear. For most of my life I’ve been asked about my nationality before my name from men expecting me to explain that I’m some exotic mix of barely detectable Black, and I always got the inkling that it was that assumption of a mixture that intrigued them most about me. Here I was now, finally being complimented for obviously Black features like my wild ‘fro and my large lips, and my non-skinny body. In a word, it felt…good.
Hair shouldn’t be as much of an issue for us as it sometimes is, but in the back of a lot of our minds we’re always working to accept our curls and coils as they are and hoping our current partner or a potential one will feel the same. The Internet is full of horror stories of men who claim to not be attracted to their woman after a big chop and there’s no shortage of praise given to long, flowing hair (read: weave) in music. It’s nice to be told by a man — especially a Black man — that he likes you because you look like what you are: a Black woman. And it’s especially nice when the features he points out are the ones often criticized (hair, lips, etc.) rather than fetishized (a big butt).
I know bad dates make the best stories but good dates also give hope. And that’s what a lot of us need because it’s rough out here in these online dating streets.