Thursday, September 21, 2023

Black Women, The Great Hair Debate…

December 30, 2011 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Relationships, Sista Talk, Weekly Columns

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( My sister and I recently sat down to watch a show that we enjoy quite often called Millionaire Matchmaker.  The host of the show was setting up a session for a rich and distinguished black man and was in the process of considering black women who she thought would be of interest to him. 

One stood out from the rest.  She was tall, medium brown–and simply beautiful.  Her hair was in its natural state and styled in a neat mini-Afro.  The host asked her, “You have a beautiful face, but could you possibly style your hair something like Tyra Banks?”

The girl eagerly nodded, and the next day, when she was set to meet the millionaire, her hair had been straightened and she had added a noticeable weave. 

After changing who she was, though, the millionaire didn’t choose her as his date.

This set off a string of questions in my mind.  Are white people really not comfortable looking at a black woman with her hair unprocessed?  Are black women who don’t process their hair at the bottom of the dating barrel than  their processed and weaved counterparts?   Are black men more attracted to black women with perms and weaves?  Are black women who wear their hair different from the social norm just not attractive enough?

I raise these questions partly because, every time I read a blog, a young woman is being highlighted who wears her hair in its natural state–and she gets a tremendous amount of negative feedback from readers who post their views in the blog’s comment section.  While some consider her brave, others plead that she straighten or weave her hair.  Case in point, Raven Simon:  She has recently been wearing her beautiful natural hair in a short crop.  Many readers are uncomfortable looking at her and ask her to do something about it. 

What’s even more disparaging, some black men were even suggesting that Raven sport her weave because they didn’t like her hair short.  They were not taking into consideration the possibility that she was growing her hair out and that it would take time for it to grow long.  

It’s as if the world cannot accept a black woman who chooses to wear her hair in its God-given state. 

I myself have natural hair, but I cannot tell you how many times, going on job interviews, I make sure to blow dry the kinks out of it and consciously wear it in a pulled-back bun, making it as neat as possible so that I don’t offend a potential employer.  I know of some black women who don’t wear braids, although they are in a neat style, to interviews for fear that they will look too ethnic.  Black women, whether their hair is processed or not, have to constantly keep in mind how to wear their hair to make a good impression on everyone around them, even each other.  Straight hair versus kinky hair is still a subject of debate among black women.  This was recently highlighted on the Dr. Drew show, when Dr. Drew had black women discussing the topic of hair.  In that episode, he also let black men weigh in on how they viewed black women with processed versus unprocessed hair.  I wish such discussions were conducted in a more constructive way, because they don’t really answer any questions regarding how we truly feel about one another and our hair.

When it comes down to it, it’s all about acceptance.  Black women must accept themselves no matter how they choose to wear their hair.  When we feel comfortable in our own skin, then we can make an impact on the world–forcing it to accept us as we are.  Just last week, I went on a job interview and decided to wear my hair in a “twist out.”  The young Caucasian guy who interviewed me said that he liked my hair.  (I guess I can also attribute the compliment to the confidence I was exuding with my hairstyle.) I accepted myself, forcing others to accept me as I am.

I ask black men who act as if it’s a crime for a black woman to wear her hair unprocessed, What is your problem?  Don’t you know the same hair that grows out of our heads is growing out of yours?  It’s the hair that grew out of your mother’s and grandmother’s heads, too.  If we choose to not add a relaxing agent to our hair, you should accept us for the choices that we make. 

I want to thank the black men who don’t mind if a black woman wears her hair unprocessed, and find it sexy that she chooses to rock her natural tresses.  Thank you very much.  But for the others–if we black women can accept you black men with your natural hair, then you can accept us.  I mean, we’d rather have you natural than looking fried, dyed, and laid to the side in the manner of our 1960s grandfathers, or decked out in the Jerri curls you wore in the early ’80s (some West Coast brothers rocked it well into the ’90s).  And as a teenager growing up in the ’90s, I would have preferred to see you natural than with those sickening S-curl waves that were oh-so-popular.

Staff Writer; Yolanda Spivey

Also connect with this sister via Facebook; Y. Spivey.



15 Responses to “Black Women, The Great Hair Debate…”
  1. Dieudonne says:

    Black women, you heard the message! Keep it NATURALLY and be proud of yourself. Men will still admire you!

  2. Ramses says:

    If you’re gonna be natural, it’s not an excuse to not keep your hair up. That mamie look is not and never was appealing. Myself have always loved natural women. Years ago when black women used to wear cornrows was my thing (Alicia Keys really made it popular). Black women have a lot of self-esteem issues relating to their hair that they cause themselves. Some women have fights with their own mothers regarding them changing their hair from perms to natural. These mothers couch this criticism as love by saying things like “men wouldn’t want you, or what about jobs, they won’t hire you.” Really it’s fear of someone (their child) rejecting what they have been teaching them their whole lives: self hate. A lot of girls say they get perms because their hair is nappy, never having seen their hair in its original state. Hell even a white dude on here has told black women to go natural. So for all these ideas about the media influencing black women to do self-destructive things (perming hair), the realCan you turn your mother off? I agree there are brothers who are on this perm stuff too but it’s only because they have been conditioned to be. I remember when Jada had that short do. Very sexy. It’s plenty of brothers out here who love natural females. I’ve seen a lot of black women natural and have complimented them. But still make it appealing. I remember when Solange went natural. I loved it. It actually made her more attractive to me (she looks better than beyonce). Now I don’t know if she’s still natural but I was proud of her to do especially with her sister being beyonce. It took guts. I tell a black woman in a minute, if you got the choice between a white man who loves you being natural, and you got a brother there encouraging you to process your hair, then you’re better with the white dude because he’s affirming you totally being you while the brother is not and that’s unhealthy for your psyche. You have to love yourself first though as a woman before a Man will live you. Being comfortable in your own skin is the key. When I saw white people with locks, I knew there were no such thing as hair superiority. You have blacks wanting white hair texture and and whites doing the same. I remember when I had braids years ago and a white dude in best buy marvelled at how beautifully designed they were. i mean he was really amazed. Nappy hair and straight hair exist in black people. There are blacks with curly hair, straight hair, and nappy hair. No matter what texture, style is the key. If your hair is nappy, then make it look good. if it’s straight, make it look good. If it’s curly make it look good. that’s all

  3. ShaNu says:

    Natural is the way to feel proud, flaunt your ethnicity. It is beautiful and it is ORIGINAL. Know that when you are frowned upon for wearing your God given locks. They are jealous, black men are embarrassed, becasue they cannot protect you of someone should say a disparaging remark your way. The insecure brother will stand in their company and laugh. I witnessed it. I was the victim. I see sisters in the gym wraping their hair instead of wearing it natural WHY? It is beautiful. Then you have the caucassion walk past and flip her long blond hair as if to say….you know you want it. Then I have to laugh….Recessive Genes are Weak Genes. I know SELF and all this black & beautiful Hue-man has to offer.

  4. Talia C. says:

    As an african american woman, who has been natural for 6 years now, I’ve never experienced the sort of disparaging remarks that other bloggers and the like have heard about their hair.I’ve had one friend suggest that I straighten it in a professional setting only, but her views are antiquated.

    As for your comment on job interviews- I’ve given that particular issue a considerable amount of thought. I’ve worn my hair, both back and free to interviews. Neither have elicited any negative responses. But I will say this, when I wear my hair back, it is never in a bun, it is always in a smaller poof, so that my potential employer is aware of my “hair status,” if you will. I am glad you were able to get a positive response during an interview about your natural hair. That is the way it OUGHT to be.

    I have decided that I NEVER want to work for any employer who has a problem with the way my hair grows from my head. If I have to straighten my hair, for a job, it’s not going to be the sort of job I want anyway. Just my opinion.

    I think black women ought to continue to wear their hair naturally, if they choose, regardless of what any other person tells them. (I think the host on the matchmaker show was wrong, and the girl on the show made a grave mistake by listening to the poorly, and misguided advice)

    Furthermore, I have found that many black men PREFER (at least the ones that I would date) my natural hair. I’ve actually had black men, who initially told me I shouldn’t have cut off my relaxed hair to go natural, come back and tell me afterwards, they like my natural hair better.

    Sorry for writing much… Just my opinion

  5. Wish says:

    Through the years, I have come to notice and realize- most women who wear, love, and can’t function without weave…. are covering up something.. other than their heads. Issues. Drama. Insecurities. Unless you just happen to be thee when they get it done, you’ll never see, or know, the “REAL” person.
    And have you noticed that the weave somehow always is an excuse “not” to exercise or be active? I’m just saying…

  6. bo says:

    As a white guy, i think black women who spend that much time making their hair look ‘white’ end p looking silly. Keep it natural.

  7. Patsy says:

    I really like your comments. I realize more and more that beauty is a state of mind. When I saw guys stopping their car to look at me because they thought I was beautiful it was not necessarily when I had extensions or weaves. We need to accept ourselves with what we have because there will always be someone who will think otherwise. As long as we feel good about ourselves nobody will be able to have any power over us.

  8. hoodgirl says:

    @Alice, you nailed it perfectly!

  9. Alice says:

    It is NOT about how dark you are or how you wear your hair, but how you wear yourself.

  10. Alice says:

    I am a dark skinned African woman who has always had natural hair. I don’t wear makeup, I’m smart as a whip and own my own business. I have never been at the bottom of anyone’s barrel, simply because I only notice those people who see my worth. I am happily married and yet, I am constantly being asked out by powerful men of all races. I am dark as night, kinky hair and I have conquered every man I’ve ever wanted, regardless of their race or socio-economic status, with just a smile. Feminine energy is subtle and powerful, if you know how to channel it. So sisters, it is about how dark you are or how you wear your hair, but how you wear yourself!

  11. Zula Black says:

    First sistas need 2love self then they will understand what going on. Whites are really not comfortable with their looks i no it confusing but pay close attention then u will understand what im talking about 1st they said ur butt was 2 big and ur lips was 2 big these peoples hates u because u really are the standard for beauty black women u need to take ur true position and go natural go against what they say they lying to u.

  12. Sheila Agnew says:

    Here’s the real deal Yolanda, the standard of beauty in the world is based on the 3% of women we see in the media. So if you do not look like those women, you are not considered beautiful by western standards. Patty from Millionaire Matchmaker has even added hair and plastic surgery to comply with those standards she sets on the show. I am glad so many sisters are returning to their natural roots and it is up to us as black women to set the standard of beauty for our daughters.

  13. Yolanda Spivey says:

    Thanks Patsy. And I’m so sorry to hear about your co-worker. We as women are our own greatest critics.

  14. Patsy says:

    I forgot to add that some parts of the article made me laugh. Keep up your great work!

  15. Patsy says:

    Excellent article! Black women need to free themselves from this dictatorship! In fact any women. I lost a young White colleague last week who killed herself on Christmas day! She wanted to be perfect in every way. She did surgeries for her breast, nose, etc. The society needs to stop saying to women how they have to look like. The media can be hard on any female with their weight also. I even heard once a crazy nurse (she was a sister!!!) who said that Beyoncé was fat and that was years ago when she was not pregnant. This needs to stop!!!

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