“Your hair needs to be done. Do you plan on getting it done soon?”
“Why don’t you wear braids? They’d look so much better on you!”
“You always wear the same style. You don’t want to try something new for a change?”
“How about something that looks more natural?”
“Why do you never wear your natural hair?”
“Are you really about to walk out of the house looking like that?”
The Hair Police
I can’t speak on behalf of everybody’s experience with this topic. I can only speak for myself and voice my own personal experience, but I still want to advocate for others because hair-shaming in the black community has always been an issue. The debate between wearing our natural hair and not wearing our natural hair seems never-ending.
Let me begin by saying that I adore my natural hair and this post is not meant to degrade or shame natural hair in any way. That being said, if you’ve ever experienced hair-shaming as a black woman, you know the frustration that comes with it. Imagine a person being so pressed and stressed about hair that isn’t even attached to their head. That person who’s giving constant unsolicited advice and opinions may or may not have your best interest at heart, but at the end of the day, you’re not obligated to listen. This kind of invasive, judgmental behavior is enough to throw somebody into an identity crisis or develop low self-esteem, and it needs to stop. How are we supposed to express our individuality by constantly listening to people’s opinions and allowing them to change our perception of ourselves?
I personally know several people who have acted and still act like the “hair police.” They see one thing “wrong” or “off” about my hair, whether it’s the color, the texture, or the style, and immediately start with the questions, comments, and concerns. Although I always shut these comments out, it still astounds me that these grown people don’t know how to mind their business. From makeup to clothes to hair, they’ll find anything to comment on. Forget the “sexy bedhead” look because the slightest bit of frizz or lack of attention given to my hair suddenly means that I need to take a trip to the salon ASAP. My extensions are too long? Suddenly I “hate my short, natural hair” and am “whitewashed” because I’m choosing to wear it down my back, which makes no sense because there are plenty of black women out there who are capable of growing out their natural hair. The weight of these remarks once made me feel like I was suffocating in failure within my community, and that’s why I finally chose to stop listening altogether.
As black women, and more importantly, as human beings, we have the right to do what we want, how we want. That includes wearing weaves, extensions, or wigs. A style that appeals to me may not appeal to you, and there’s no problem with that. However, you don’t get to speak on my hair and determine whether or not it’s an acceptable style.
Unless someone asks for hair tips or advice, don’t assume they’re looking for it or are open to listening to what you have to say. If I want to embrace having long, wavy or curly hair, that’s my right. If I want to wear it smooth and straight, I’ll wear it smooth and straight. Just because I choose not to wear it natural doesn’t mean anything, other than I don’t feel like wearing it natural. It’s not a sin to experiment and have fun with other options. Nobody should ever have a say in how we choose to wear our hair.