Black Women Can’t Even Call Their Hair JUST Hair

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

A lot of things have opened my eyes since I found the black conscious side of the internet and around 2010-2011 when I found the natural hair side of YouTube. People from both of these communities encourage black women to wear their own hair the most. Some black women’s response to this is that it’s “just hair” and it “shouldn’t be that serious”.

I believe it’s NOT just hair. Thinking about the history of how black men and black women have been disrespected and discriminated against for their real hair is enough for me to see that, already. But there are a lot more examples that show me that it’s not “just hair”.

Many black women can’t even call their hair JUST hair. We always have to put a descriptor or something in front before we say hair when we talk about our hair. For instance, instead of calling our hair JUST hair, we call our hair “natural” hair or “4a/b/c” hair. Black women are literally the only group on the planet that has to call our hair “natural” or refer to our hair as subcategories. I don’t hear white, Asian or any other race of people, calling their hair “natural” or referring to their hair as “1a/b/c” and so forth.

I also hear a lot of black women calling their hair a “crown”. Our hair isn’t a crown! It’s HAIR! I believe we call our hair a “crown” because we’ve been made to think negatively about our hair for so long and we say that so we can feel better about our hair. Crowns are associated with royalty. So if we call our hair “crowns”, we can feel like we’re associated with kings and queens when we wear our own hair. Honestly, I feel like that it so unnecessary. We shouldn’t have to think of our hair that way just so we can be happy with it.

This reminds me of a children’s book I saw on social media a few years ago titled Penny and the Magic Puffballs, where a black woman wrote a book to help her daughter, I believe, feel better about her hair because she wanted straight hair like all the other girls around her. She styled her daughter’s hair into puffballs and called them “magic”. I understand the message, but I just think that it’s sad that a little black girl’s hair has to be called “magic” just to get her to be happy with it. It can’t JUST BE hair.

Whenever black women are finally breaking away from wearing weaves, wigs, and relaxers, and are started to wear and take care of their real hair, they refer to wearing their real hair as a “journey”. Wearing the hair you were born with exactly as it grows out of your scalp without altering it shouldn’t be a “journey”. It should just be you finally not being afraid of wearing your hair.

When I go into the hair products aisle in every store and see every product labeled as JUST hair products, but the black hair products have to be called “natural” hair products makes me sick and angry.

Most black female cartoon characters and dolls are depicted with straight hair and they aren’t even real. If it’s just hair, how come most black female fictional characters and dolls don’t even have our textured hair?

This society made us feel that we have to call our hair something different because they’re uncomfortable with it. This is why I believe it’s important for us to get rid of the fake hair and hair straighteners anyway just to give a FUCK YOU to this obviously racist society that tries so hard to make us hate everything about ourselves.

We are constantly calling our hair everything except JUST hair. So, the next time I hear someone say it’s “just hair”, I will know it’s a lie. I think people only say that because they know that the encouraging people are right about black people embracing our own hair, but they don’t want to listen. They just say that because they don’t have a better rebuttal. Black people and this society as a whole clearly have an issue with our hair.

Is Black Women Wearing Weave Cultural Appropriation?

Whenever black women call out these white women or any other nonblack women who purposely and willingly copy things from black women and act like it’s some new thing, someone always says, “Well, what about black women wearing weave, blue/green eye contacts, and bleaching their skin? Aren’t they cultural appropriating?”

I think this question is stupid and deflecting. Instead of acknowledging that these nonblack women are copying black women and getting put on a pedestal while black women get overlooked or dogged out, they try to flip it on black women. Black women wearing weave, bleaching their skin, or wearing blue or green eye contacts is not cultural appropriation.

I feel like a lot of black women who do those things do it to feel more beautiful in a society that puts down black hair, skin, and features. White and other nonblack women who wear black women’s hairstyles, get surgeries to get black women’s body features, etc. aren’t getting those things to feel more beautiful because their looks are already the standard in this society.

Their looks are celebrated over black women’s in the media all the time. They copy our looks to be trendy and/or replace us in media and not to be more accepted because they will get accepted with or without the surgeries and hairstyles. Black women actually HAVE TO have lighter skin, straight hair, and a certain body shape to be accepted and celebrated in both media and regular society.

At the same time, although I believe black women altering their features is not cultural appropriating, I do believe it is wrong and hypocritical of us to cry and complain about other races of women “trying to look and be like us” when we’re sitting around with a straight blonde wig on or whenever we’re taking a picture online, we have to turn the brightness up to make our skin look lighter. We have a lot of nerve crying because some white woman wore braids when we don’t have our own hair in our heads.

One thing I’ve learned about white people is that they like to use people’s words against them. They know when they are cultural appropriating, but they like acting like they don’t know what it is. So, when they’re called out on it, they like flipping the script to, “Well, what about you?”

If we want to call them out for what they’re doing, we can at least not do the same thing they’re doing. We have to get rid of weaves and hair straightening, skin bleaching/photo lightening, different color eye contacts, or anything that remotely erases our blackness. It may not stop them cultural appropriating altogether, but at least they can’t use us as an excuse to keep doing it. We can call them out and actually hold them accountable for what they’re doing.

If we’re not going to stop with the straight hair and skin bleaching, we can’t say anything about them. They have a point when they say that. And we can’t bring up, “There are black women all over the world that have naturally straight hair and natural blue/green eyes,” when that’s not you. You don’t have naturally straight hair or natural blue or green eyes. That’s why you have to go buy it, so that’s an invalid argument.

We have to start accepting all of our features 100% with no altering. Then, and only then, will we be right in calling out all these nonblack women who are cultural appropriating. Until then, we can’t say anything.

Discrimination Against Black Hair Types & Lengths

(Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini – Backstage – Milan Fashion Week/Matteo Valle/Getty Images)

This was brought to my attention by a fellow reader. I’ve noticed this myself in the natural hair community. When the natural hair community first began to gain popularity on YouTube, I was happy because I thought real black hair was finally getting accepted…until I noticed this.

A lot of black women who first start going natural wear weaves at first because they refer to their short natural hair as the “ugly phase”. They will wear weaves until their hair grows to a certain length (Some women say that they do this to get their hair to grow longer easier, but I explained in this post why I believe that is an outright lie and excuse). A lot of people only like natural black hair when it’s a certain length. I feel like some people took the black women with long natural hair the wrong way (probably purposely) in the natural hair community online.

There aren’t as many popular natural hair YouTube channels where the women have short hair. I don’t think people compliment women with short natural hair as much as they compliment women with long natural hair. When I first cut my hair and went natural and it was really short, I didn’t get many compliments for it. I didn’t start getting a lot of compliments until after I grew some length to it.

The women with long natural hair on YouTube was supposed to show that black women’s hair can grow long and how to get it to grow long. For a long time, there was a myth going around the black community that only mixed or nonblack women’s hair could grow long. It wasn’t to send the message that only long natural hair is beautiful.

I noticed the natural hair length discrimination, but what I didn’t notice, which was brought to my attention by this fellow reader I mentioned at the beginning of this post, was texturism. Only a certain type of texture of natural hair is more acceptable in the black community than other textures. To make things more clear, looser textured natural hair or the texture mixed women have when they wear afros are sometimes more acceptable than women who have kinkier textured hair.

I searched natural hair on YouTube and women with looser textured hair popped up first, their videos took up most of the page and, for the most part, had more views than women with kinkier textured hair. The same thing happened when I searched it on Google.

(Photo: Flickr)

We have to learn to accept our hair AT ALL lengths and textures! Cut out the discrimination and “picky-choosiness” between hair textures and lengths! We have to learn how to accept our all of real hair textures and lengths just like we accept straight or loosely curly hair in every length and texture.

Like I believe I’ve said in a different post about natural hair and what you might see me saying a lot more in the future, we won’t accept our hair as our own unless we accept it at all textures and lengths. We will always come up with some excuse to cover it up and be insecure about it if we don’t. We shouldn’t be ashamed and insecure about our own real hair that grows out of our scalps!

Weave As A Protective Style Is A Lie & An Excuse!

I kind of didn’t want to write about this because it’s such a touchy subject and ruffles quite a few feathers, but I think this had to be said anyway. As of recent years, I’ve been hearing more and more black women say they wear weave as a “protective style” for their natural hair. I hate to say it, but hearing so many black women say this irritates me! It’s a really big, obvious lie, but so many black women cling onto it like they don’t see it.

I went natural a few years ago and I did it with the help of lots of natural hair tutorials on YouTube. Through watching those videos, I saw that no one needs weave to grow hair. I saw so many black women who grew their hair to bra strap length and longer WITHOUT weave.

I think of all the black women who had big, beautiful afros during the ’60s and ’70s and I never saw them use weave to grow it. I think of how long black women have been on this earth. We’ve had this same hair since the dawn of time. Why now, all of a sudden, do we need weave to grow our hair? When I think of it this way, this excuse sounds even more ridiculous. It really sadly proves how brainwashed we are about our own hair in this society. The truth is we’ve been conditioned with straight hair for so long, we literally forgot how to take care of our real hair how it grows out the scalp.

I believe women who wear weave hijacked the protective style term from the natural hair community. While on my journey of learning how to grow and care for my natural hair, I learned that protective styles are styles that you do with YOUR OWN hair to protect the ends, like braids or twists. Not once did I see these women use or mention weave.

I believe these women hijacked this term from the natural hair community because they want to go natural, but they aren’t 100% ready to give up weave completely. They’re so used to wearing weave, they don’t want to give it up just yet. The natural hair community has really shattered a lot of lies and excuses that’s been going around about our hair for many, many years—black people’s hair can’t grow long; only nonblack and mixed people’s hair can grow long; our hair is unmanageable; our hair is ugly—amongst so many others.

Since the natural hair community shattered all of these lies and excuses, there’s literally NO reason to wear weave at all. So the weave wearing women made one up to make it seem like there’s still a use for weaves amongst black women. I’m also thinking that maybe the hair industry made up and is pushing this lie. With more black women going natural, I’m sure it’s threatening the weave business. With more black women going natural, less of them would buy weave. So they needed to push that to keep black women buying weaves.

I know we don’t like to hear this, but we as black women need to give up weave FOR GOOD! Let’s stop following this society’s rules about how straight hair is better. Let’s stop allowing this society to force us into hating our hair. Let’s give up weave 100%. I know you might be afraid, but please don’t be. We need to go back to loving and accepting our true selves. We don’t need to wait until it’s considered “cool” by the rest of society to do it. We have to just do it and forget about anyone who has a negative comment.

When I first cut my hair and went natural, I had to hear negative comments from my own dad and brothers, saying I needed a texturizer to “make my hair easier to manage”; saying I would never get a job with my hair; saying that my hair was going to fall out; all kinds of stupid, ignorant comments. But my want and love for my own hair far outweighed the negative comments from those closest to me. Also, lots of other people outside of my family always complimented my hair, so I knew that they were full of crap for saying what they were saying about my hair. Now that my hair has grown a lot, they’re saying they want their hair to grow and look like mine. Isn’t that something?

I’m sharing a little of my story because I know that many women are mostly afraid to go completely natural and give up weave because they’re afraid of negative comments. I know many of the negative comments will come from people closest to us. I want to encourage other women to not be afraid.

I now realize after being natural for a few years that the people who make negative comments are afraid, too. I believe that when women go natural, it sparks something in other people. I think deep down, they want to do it, too, and your hair inspired them, but they just don’t have the courage. I also think it has to do with them just not being used to your hair not being straight. They’re so used to seeing you and other women around them wear straight hair that when they see one that doesn’t have straight hair, they think it looks weird.

We really need to let go of these lies and excuses. We will never fully accept our hair as our own if we keep using them. Never in history have we ever needed weave to grow our hair! Let that sink in and let’s act accordingly.