I have noticed comments on many of the posts I covered on taking care of African American Hair that’s relaxed, that held very strong positions when it comes to keeping the hair natural or relaxing it. I’ve seen comments from those who wear their hair natural saying that those of us who relax our hair are not embracing our hair or our heritage. Others who relax their hair feel that what we do with our hair is our choice, not an indicator of how much we embrace our African American culture. Both sides of the argument really got me thinking and before I ask what you’re take on this is, I’ll share my opinion.
I relax my hair and have done so since I was 20. Before, my natural hair was fine and wavy (all I needed was a hot comb and I was good!). When I moved from up north to down south, I started relaxing my hair with a children’s relaxer. Why do I relax it? Because I want to! That’s it! It doesn’t go any deeper than that. For me, to keep my hair looking straight as it did up north, I relax it to combat the heat and humidity down here. I’m not trying to conform to society’s standards of beauty (otherwise I’d be throwing up everyday to be a size 2!). Do I know that relaxing your hair is a harsh process? Absolutely and I do it as responsibly as I can. Do I know my history in terms of what was considered “good hair.” Yes I do ( I am a history buff in my other life!) With that said, I still relax my hair and do so because I like it. Am I abandoning my heritage? Absolutely not! My hair doesn’t hold that much power over what I think about my culture– what’s under it does!
I don’t knock anyone who wears their hair natural. I actually want to know how they take care of their hair and rock those beautiful styles! Natural hair is beautiful! And the same way I don’t knock them, I shouldn’t be knocked down because I chemically alter my hair. Going natural at this point in my life just isn’t for me! The status of my hair doesn’t determine my status of self awareness and self appreciation of the cultures I come from (afro Cuban and Irish). Instead of separating ourselves, we need to come together to appreciate all of our beautiful differences, regardless of what’s going on with our hair!
So that’s my take on it. Let’s open up the floor! What do you guys think? Is there pressure to go natural? Do you feel society pressures you to wear your hair straight? Or is your hair exactly that and not a measure of who you feel you are?
More on African American Hair:
Photos courtesy of: www.eblackhairstyles.com, ehow.com