So, I’ve poured over YouTube videos in the past month in an effort to learn different ways to style my hair. I now know my hair is 4c, which means it’s not Christina Milianish or Beyonce-like but moreso India Arie-ish and Lauren Hill post weed-ish. Yea, it’s thick, with really tight curls, and probably the kind of hair that you would readily perm if you didn’t want the bother. Of course I learned this watching countless “how to” videos of twist outs, two strand twists and natural hair updos. It was overwhelming and I realized, this “natural” hair requires the same upkeep as a woman with a perm who has to flat-iron, deep condition and spend hours in the chair before going home and sleeping pretty at night to save her “do”.
Can I be honest? I finally get the tweets and comments that rant so eloquently: “Just because you have natural hair doesn’t mean you don’t have to comb it, comb your hair girl!!! I couldn’t figure out who they were talking about and for a while thought they were being kind of harsh. But after watching the videos, I can see the difference between a woman who styles her hair versus some (me when I first started) who would slick product in that made it curl up and hoped for the best.
I think there’s a certain freedom women with natural hair expect to have. To some, natural means uncombed, or wild and free or basically less effort. And true enough, if you have a nice curl pattern, spray some water in it and you’re on your way. It’s weird but even I’ve seen the side eye glances when I don’t glaze my head with pomade and oil to curl my hair. If it’s straight and afro-ish, the thought is “you obviously didn’t comb your hair today”. Tsk. Tsk. But if you put curl activator in it, think Wave Nouveau from the 90’s, then you must have combed your hair because of the natural waves. Newsflash, Care Free Curl in your head means it’s responding to something other than itself. It’s a trick of the enemy. Seriously.
There’s always a certain amount of pressure to have your hair laid. My boss is Black, and when she talks to me, she starts with my head. If she likes the style that day, she freely looks me in the eye. But don’t let it be too “bushy” even with a cute headband and some pudding pomade junk in it….she just keeps her eyes at forehead level. Shady. But I can go right around the corner to my co-worker with the 10 yr old dreads who then raves about loving my hair “just the way it is.” I’m confused. Not really, see boss loves perm and India Arie loves natural. See what I’m sayin’?
Natural hair is not for everyone. Mine is best when it’s short because I’m a get up and go woman. But thanks to YouTube, I see the struggle of women everywhere trying to pretend suddenly they are master hair stylists holding up product and bobby pins attempting to convince me my hair is going to curl up just like theirs. Just stop it. When you had a perm, you went to the shop. You let her trim, cut, perm and color it. Guess what? Nothing’s changed except the texture of your hair. Until you learn how to manage it, you will probably get “forehead” looks from your friends. I’m just saying. I had to tell the truth about this because I couldn’t imagine someone not combing their hair just because it’s natural. It’s a matter of perception so go easy on ’em. It will take them a while, or a decrease in dates and no one wanting to be seen with them, but they’ll get it soon enough. The uncombed head is not cute. So, even if you think you can rock a Solange 70’s fro with nothing on it, (which is suspect even for her), let a stylist work on your head now and then. This PSA was supported and submitted by a former uncombed head. Even though it took me an hour of struggling every morning and it still looked that way, I have now been set free. Talk to you later. I have a hair appointment in the morning.