Natural Hair Nazis: Can't We All Just Get Along?

I read an article last night over at Clutch Magazine that really echoed some sentiments that I've been feeling for a long time.

If you don't spend much time on Black hair forums, you may not be familiar with the term "Natural Hair Nazi". A Natural Hair Nazi (NHN) is a person who belittles other women for relaxing their hair. The NHN feels that relaxed hair is a direct reflection of one's self-hatred and desire to assimilate to a White standard of beauty. Personally, I couldn't disagree more.

True, I have recently become natural, but I go to great lengths never to impose my decision to go natural on others. True, there are probably some Black women out there who dislike their kinks and curls, but there are also many women who, I think, just think of relaxed hair as a style. Nothing more. Nothing Less.

When I made the decision to go natural it wasn't because I wanted to make some political statement or connect to my "roots", so to speak. I wasn't experiencing breakage of thinning of any kind. Quite the contrary. I gave my hair a lot of TLC, switched to a gentler relaxer and my hair hadn't been that full since I was a little girl. So why did I make the decision to go natural? Curiosity, plain and simple. I wish I could say it was something more interesting or life-changing, but it wasn't. I wanted to see what I looked like with natural hair, so I went to my brother's barber and had him chop it all off. That's it.

I understand that a lot of natural women harbor some resentment because of the way they were treated when they first went natural. Having the people closest to you question your decision and make you feel like you've ruined your appearance can make you feel like people have an unhealthy obsession with straight hair. And some of us do. I just don't see how passing on that negative energy is helping matters. Fortunately for me, my family and friends were very supportive of my decision to go natural. My mother and best friend are both natural, and rooted me on, as did my friends with relaxers. Maybe they're just good friends like that. Heck, even my dad and brother passed on hair tips and product recommendations to help me style my newly cropped hair.

I send this message out to all hair forum participants, beauty bloggers, and regular gals, alike. If you feel so strongly about natural hair, why not give some of the support you wished you'd received. As they say, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, so be a little sweeter the next time the discussion of natural hair comes up. Instead of going into attack mode and accusing her of being "addicted" to the "creamy crack", share your story and explain why you went natural. That is, if she asked for your opinion in the first place. And don't make assumptions. Don't assume that every relaxed woman is a few strands from baldness. Don't assume that every relaxed women hates her natural texture. For that matter, don't assume that of any natural woman who gets blow outs, or wears a wig or weave. It would be wrong for someone to dog you for wearing dreads or a fro, so why is it ok for you to dog someone for wearing a pixie or bob? Its simple. Treat others how you want to be treated.

Will I be natural forever? I have no idea. I may do like my mother and switch back and forth every year or so. That's my prerogative. All I'm saying is, there are enough problems in the world. Lets not wage a war over hair relaxer! It's just plain silly. Women, and Black women especially, need to stop competing with one another, and support one another. And that includes supporting every woman's right to wear her hair how ever she wants.

That's why I created Beautè Noire. I want this blog to be a place for all women of color to revel in their beauty! So, yes, there will be tips and products for both relaxed and natural hair. If a relaxed woman emails me for help with her hair, I'm not going to turn her away. Same for my natural girls. Does that make me Pro-Natural? Pro-Relaxed? I think it just makes me Pro-Beauty!

Your Sister in Beauty,

-Amber


Photo: Clutch Magazine

4 comments:

Laquita said...

You said it - when I was given that assignment the editor (Dede) and I thought the least we would do is to get people to think before they made negative comments. As they say, boy were we wrong :o( - instead some of the comments proved the point of the article.

And just I wrote in the piece - I'm sure some didn't even read it - they just saw the title and went crazy. I didn't get a tenth of the comments/attention when I wrote about homemade hair products - lol

Well at least we know that hair harmony can be achieved from sites like Hairlista and K.I.S.S. (Keep it Simple Sista) - :o)

BTW- nice blog and thanks for the insightful comment - hopefully, some will take heed :o)

May 27, 2009 at 12:09 PM
Beauté Noire said...

Laquita,

First, kudos on the article! You did a really fantastic job summing up how a lot of women feel about natural women bashing people because of how they choose to wear their hair.

I can't believe the negative turn the comments took. Like you said, it was as if they never even read the piece! Hopefully they'll go back and really digest what was written, and take into account the spirit in which it was written.

Thanks so much for stopping by!
May 27, 2009 at 1:00 PM

Arionne said...

I agree with the perspective of Beaute Noire! A woman should be able to wear her hair however she wants--particularly Black women. We have had too many historical experiences in which others are controlloing our bodies.

I went natural 3 years ago and I have enjoyed every minute of it. I had worn a perm for probably 15+ years, and eventually I grew tired of the chemicals. The last time I relaxed my hair I literally felt sick to my stomach because of the damage it was doing to my scalp. And I knew that was it for me. When I first went natural I did not have a plan really. I just knew that I wanted to make a healthier choice for my hair.

The emphasis here is that I chose for me--not anyone else. I think every person has the right to decide how to care for their own bodies and this was my choice. However, I am not going to down another sister for her choice to keep relaxing her hair.

In fact, I often blow my hair straight so it looks like I do have a relaxer when I am really all natural! But I do that because I like the way I look. I will also rock a fro and some twists when I choose to. Again this is my choice. And if we can choose what style of clothes, shoes, make up we like, why can't we choose our hair style--or whatever process it takes to achieve that hairstyle. Beauty is about expressing who you are.

So I say to all NHNs in the world--CALM IT DOWN!!! Sometimes it really aint that deep! Our choice to be natural, relaxed, or even to rock a Jheri Curl is all our own--it's not our sisters, brothers, parents, or even some rich white man in Europe who decides that. We do. Respect your sisters choice to express herself.

May 27, 2009 at 2:19 PM
Beauté Noire said...

Well said Arionne! "Calm it down" is right. It's just really not that deep.

I especially loved your comment about our history of others controlling our bodies. So, so true. Like you said, not only is our hair style our choice, but so is the process it takes to get!
May 27, 2009 at 2:31 PM

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