Is It Hypocritical To Be Natural But Straighten Your Hair?
If you have watched Empire, then I’m sure you know who Serayah is. She’s the young woman who played Hakeem’s girlfriend Tiana on the first season of the show. She’s a pretty good singer, but most people know her for the show, her friendship with Taylor Swift, and, of course, her beautiful head of hair.
If you look in Google Images, there are very few images of Serayah without her curls shining, big and bountiful. People compliment her on it often, and some even have that Tracee Ellis Ross hair crush/obsession with it. That would explain why her decision to wear her hair straight on the red carpet recently bothered one of her fans a great deal.
“She was so upset because my hair was straight,” Serayah said of a female fan she ran into while catching up with the New York Daily News last week. “But I get it. I’ve grown up with curly hair and being biracial and things like that, so it’s been a part of my life and I completely understand why they’re obsessed that I’m on television with the way my hair is.”
Still, I found it odd that a temporary change would rile someone up so much. But then again, maybe folks think she’s under pressure to suppress her curls. Maybe they think it’s not a temporary style after all. Like the time on Sister, Sister when Tia and Tamera went through high school with curly hair but went to college with straight hair. They made a new intro and theme song with their sleek strands on display, and they never looked back…
But this is actually a topic that has riled people up for a while. Like the woman who told Clutch writer Alisha Tillery in 2011 while she was transitioning that “If you are going to wear your hair natural that means no blow drying or straightening it to look straight.”
And women often beat themselves up for choosing to straighten their hair every once in a blue moon to enjoy some sort of variety. Like the young woman who started a thread, seeking advice, with a title that said, “Is it normal that I feel guilty for straightening my curly hair?”
“I have naturally curly hair and the times that I’ve straightened it I’ve felt so bad afterwards,” the young woman wrote. “I feel I’m gonna give everyone the impression (including myself) that I’m trying to be someone I’m not, when I just wanna try something different.”
One young woman I know even said that when she wore her afro all throughout our college years, she never tried to straighten it, nor did she want to.
“I’ve always found that weird. I didn’t go natural to wear my hair straight.”
It can definitely cause some internal conflict for some women–and that’s a problem. The idea of other women making you feel bad for wanting to straighten you hair? A problem. The thought that a simple press means you’re brainwashed and want to be something you’re not? Another problem.
At the end of the day, many women go natural because not only do they want to embrace the hair that God gave them, but they don’t want to feel confined by anyone else’s standards of beauty and expectations. It doesn’t make sense for us to turn around and judge each other as naturalistas if we want to try to put a little heat on our hair and let it flow in the wind sometimes or all the time if we so choose. Because God forbid you have a moment where you grow weary of trying to do the same style day in and day out…
Wigs, braids, flat ironing at the Dominican shop–that’s your decision. That’s your business.
We’re all thinking way too deep into hair and how it ties into one’s identity. It might frame your face and accentuate your beauty, but that mess does not define you. It’s one thing to feel bad about straightening your hair because you don’t like the amount of heat or the impact pressing your hair may have on your strands. But it’s another to feel bad because you feel like you’re betraying someone or something (or the idea of what it means to be natural).
As an adult, you don’t need to explain what you decide to do with your strands to anyone. And as far as internal strife, you should feel free to experiment with your hair in any way you like. In fact, the more freedom you allow yourself when it comes to what you decide to do with your hair, the more likely you will feel like you are being authentic to who you are, no matter the style on your head.