Friday, January 7, 2011

Natural Hair 101 Part II - Handling Negativity


When you decided to transition from relaxed to natural, or if you have been natural for quite some time now, have you ever gotten comments such as:

"OMG! Why'd you cut your hair???"
"Are you growing locks?"
"I bet it would look SO good if you straightened it...."
"I liked you better with longer/relaxed/etc. hair!!!"
"So you're into Neo-Soul?"

Ya'll know the list could go on and on and on......

We all know these comments are going to come, regardless of the amount of people that you DO have actually supporting you. A big number of people, interestingly, are always invested (in some way, if only just for curiosity purposes) in other people's lives and what they choose to do with them (that's why drama-filled reality shows make such a killing). Some people feel like just because you two have spoken before, work together, etc that they can really question your choices and actually expect to get an answer.

Now, honestly, there is a simple way to deal with these questions/comments. I choose the route of "If they're ignorant, educated them!!!!" And it also really depends on how well you know the person who is making the comments. No matter what, don't let another person change the views that you have already set for yourself. Take this time as an opportunity for you to shed light on an issue that NEEDS attention. If you want opinions in order to make a decision about something, then, of course, be open to everyone's suggestions. However, in the realm of "natural hair", we all know opinions are going to come, regardless of whether they are asked for or not, unfortunately.

Also, the way YOU deal with the comments may not be the same way I deal with the comments. In any case, I do think you should not allow those comments to have a negative affect on your natural hair choices. I also think that no matter what, people should not take these comments personally, because you have to realize that just because you have chosen to embrace your natural hair, doesn't mean that everyone will see the "light". No matter how healthy your hair grows out to be, how long it becomes, how FIERCE is turns out, SOME folk will never acknowledge that natural hair is a good thing. Now, let's move on to how to deal depending on how well you know the person making such comments.

Randoms, GDI's, Co-Workers, etc:
These folks can sometimes be downright oblivious to the ignorance of their own comments. Don't expect ANYTHING like right from random people. Sometimes you'll get ignorant, "positive" comments such as "Girl, you got that "good" hair and "If my natural hair was like yours, I'd consider going natural myself", and other times you'll get ignorant, "negative" comments such as "Why did you cut your hair, you looked SO much better with long, straight hair - or - relaxed hair". Ugh! I know that your internal thoughts may be along the lines of "Oh NO you didn't!", or "Girl, you got the wrong one!", or "Please Lord, help me not to choke this person!!!". You're going to question LONG and HARD as to HOW in the world people think it's o.k. to say such things to people they hardly know????? Do you know how you sound right now????

You have to think about it like this. Remember when YOU were relaxed? Do YOU ever remember saying things like "I can't WAIT to get a perm" as you "pat your head trying to rid yourself of the itchies" - or - "Going natural aint for everybody" - or - "That stuff is NAPPPPYYYY!" - or - "Someone needs to slap a perm in their head". C'mon now. Think long and hard. OR, if you've never been relaxed, try to think about the fact that there is a true, true ignorance among the ethnic community that has been perpetuated in every single aspect of the media that burns into the minds of individuals that "beautiful" is straight, non-nappy, loose-curly, relaxed hair. It's just the truth. And just because you have been blessed with the truth and knowledge that natural hair can be beautiful, too, doesn't mean that everybody has reached that level, yet. Have mercy on them!!!! Whatever the case, do NOT go off on people. Because you know what that makes you look like? The "angry black woman". And once you go into that realm, the effectiveness of whatever words you're about to/in the process of laying in front of them, will be ignored and you will just be standing there looking crazy. What if someone came at you like that about something? You'd probably be like...."Dang it's just ________ ! If I offended you, why didn't you just say something? And not jump down my throat about it?"

Those outside the realm of natural hair, and those that do not know you all that well, do not understand that it is something near and dear to you, and they do not really understand why. Instead of snapping on someone, take this as a time to spread knowledge about what natural hair really is, why it's not a bad thing, and how it really can be beautiful. Samples anyone?

Random: "Your beautiful hair!! Why'd you cut it????"
Natural: "Well, I just realized that I was really damaging it with heat and relaxers. Our hair is not meant to be straightened like that, so when it is, it causes damage. Relaxers contain harmful and damaging chemicals and instead of helping our hair strands, they really turn out damaging the internal structure of the hair. I think my natural hair is beautiful as well, and what's best about it is, it's healthy.

Random: "Are you growing locks?"
Natural: "No." - you can go further in your explanation, but this is my general answer. *shrug*

Random: "I liked you better before!!!"
Natural: There are plenty of ways to attack this one. But to make them "get it", throw them a light, non-agressive curveball: "You would've hated me once all my hair fell out *laugh*" - or - "It'll grow on you, you'll see!" - or - *smile & shrug* lol

Random: "You're into Neo-Soul?"
Natural: "No, just accepting the fact that there's nothing wrong with my natural hair. I'm still the same person, otherwise." - or - "No, but I do love me some <insert some off-the-wall artist in no way related to neo-soul music (Justin Bieber)" LOL!

Relatives, Close Friends, etc.
These are the worst, not only because you probably deal with it more often, but also because these can strike an emotional nerve in your psyche. It's best to nip these in the bud before they get out of hand. If these are people that you really feel close to, you should feel comfortable enough with being honest with these and "tellin it like it is". I'm not saying that this is the time for you to be the "angry black woman" because they will be o.k. with it, but it is a time for you to really communicate how you feel about the issue in a positive way. If you value the relationship you have with these people, take out the time to explain to them why you honestly chose to have natural hair, and the benefits of doing so. Tell them how it makes you feel inside to hear comments going against your personal choices. Tell them that you would rather them offer you support in the things that you choose to do with your hair (and your life in general). It's hard enough to do with outsiders unknowingly bringing you down, hopefully they won't join the group. Explain to them that just because they see it differently, doesn't mean they have to bring you down by saying unnecessary things. Even if it's a small, dismissable comment, explain how and why you're negatively affected by such comments and you'd appreciate your friendship if they respected that. If they're your TRUE friend, they'll respect that and hold themselves to it. Perhaps, after seeing how deeply you care about your hair, and how it is thriving so by not putting harmful chemicals or applying heat to everyday, they'll even begin to see the beauty in it and be encouraged to do the same.

I said it before, and I'll say it again: "If they're ignorant, educated them!!!!"

Stay Tuned!!!!


  1. Lol....this topic is such a deep and sensitive one being that making the life transition of being a "natural" gal is so frown upon in many families and social circles. I know for a FACT that I failed at my 1st to attempts at going natural because of the negative comments I was receiving. I mean some comments out right cut me deep from very close family and friends. I allowed those comments to shake my confidence. Now on this 3rd and FINAL time natural I realize I just have to do me! But I would be lying if I said I wont care what others think. I will. I just wont let them shape my own views of self this time around.
    Once again, great commentary. Keep it up!

  2. Great post for newbies and those who wear their hearts on their sleeve! It's ALL about educating others (if we choose to do it). I've had a close friend tell me that I needed a perm, and another person close to me say my hair was wild and unkempt looking, but I am not letting any ill-advised and obviously uneducated comments affect me!


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