Negativity towards natural hair within the Black community/society as a whole??

3d3n3d3n Registered Users Posts: 6

I'm posting because this is a topic that frustrates me and i'm keen to find out other womens opinions and experiences.

After seeing Chris Rocks documentary Good Hair I realized the dangers of relaxers and decided to go natural, i'm almost all the way there now and am really happy with the results and have learned to accept and properly take care of my curly (3b) hair.

However... In his documentary Chris Rock touched on but didn't delve into the idea that weaves/relaxed hair portray an idea of beauty that is to be frank.. white.

I have absolutely no problem with women who want to straighten their hair, nor do I think that women that do are consciously trying to conform to a European ideal of beauty.

But personally I felt that my decision, and many women i've met who had relaxed their hair (and some in the documentary) have done so because they felt that it was more socially acceptable, that they would e.g. have a better chance of getting a job...

I started thinking about this in particular today whilst standing in the Airport (in London, my hometown) and I heard two guys who were both black saying 'whats wrong with her hair' .. 'she hasn't straightened it'. At this point i'll mention that i'm mixed (Black/White). This brought me back to past experiences growing up in a predominantly white neighbourhood and being told my hair type was ugly and greasy, and then moving to a predominantly black neighbourhood and being told my hair was ugly and I didn't know how to care for it because it wasn't dead straight or I didn't have a weave (you can't win?).

For me acceptance of my hair is strongly tied to acceptance of my ethnicity.

What I find really strange is that i'm now living part-time in Sweden which whilst multicultural is so on a much smaller scale than Britain.. whilst there are black swedes there is no obvious 'black culture' as you have 'Black British culture' .. and natural hair is soooo much more popular here, I have never in my life seen as many women of colour with natural hair- when I suggest it to my friends in Britain they look at me like i'm crazy.. and I recall wearing my hair natural once at my old pub job in London and had about 6 people tell me it looked bad and I should straighten it.

I wonder if is because Sweden has so much less of a pronounced black culture that women go natural so often here. Personally, i've had tons (really, loads) of compliments on my hair in Sweden (which is I imagine the reason so many women wear their hair natural, perhaps because it's alot less common here big curly hair is considered a bit exotic- but not in a patronising way) and never heard a negative comment as in England.

So as I said, i'm keen to hear your thoughts/opinions/experiences(especially if your from another country) regarding this topic.


  • 3d3n3d3n Registered Users Posts: 6
    hmm, wonder if this is the right thread.. ?
  • TeresinaTeresina Registered Users Posts: 291 Curl Neophyte
    I'm caucasian but I think I understand a little what you mean. I think there is just this general attitude "out there" that straight hair is prettier and if you do have any kind of curls you better control them. God forbid your hair is too big or wild. It just seems that society frowns on it. I have a mix of 3b/3c and some 4a and I have tons of hair. When I wear it down, it is seriously BIG. I mean it stands out wider than my shoulders sometimes (right now it's just above shoulder length). Someone once told me I had "black people hair" and it would be okay on an African American but not on me and that I should try to control it. I think it just sucks that everyone is expected to look the same. I can only say that now as a 39 year old woman but I tell you it was hell growing up surrounded by girls with long, flowing locks who would call me Brillo head and such. Only now that I'm older do I appreciate that I don't look like everyone else and that my hair is really unique. I will say that it is definitely challenging and requires a lot of work but people definitely remember me LOL.

    I'm sure you'll get more perspectives from other curlies here but I think it's great that some society somewhere is embracing natural hair and people as they are!!!
    3b/3c/4a coarse, high porosity
  • 3d3n3d3n Registered Users Posts: 6

    Thanks for your post Teresina, the stereotypical idea of beauty doesn't generally include curlies regardless of race. But your right its good we this little community on here and have a place to vent about stuff like this. I think it takes a little courage to buck the trend but its those sort of qualities that help you in life!
  • Melanie_LinnMelanie_Linn Registered Users Posts: 457
    That mentality is very big in the black community in the states to. It's sad really. Not to mention the fact that some black americans have a fit when people of mixed heritage claim all their heritage. Drives me absolutely nutters when they do that. Now I love the community, but I aint putting you down so you really don't have the right to do it to me. Thats how I think about it anyway.
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  • toinetoine Registered Users Posts: 15
    I have been in either predominately Black or predominately White environments over the past few years and what I have found is pretty disturbing. My natural hair is way more accepted in White communities than in Black communities. I think White people like the texture and that it is unique. Many Black people have been socialized that long, straight hair is "good hair" and we all know from growing up that the popular/pretty girls gained much of that popularity due to their hair. While thinking back to high school, I just thought of this girl who had very long very wavy/curly jet black hair...she was beautiful. I think her hair was more accepted because it was not kinky and more closely resembled what we consider "good hair".
  • smasters467smasters467 Registered Users Posts: 527
    I'm not black so I can't accurately comment on how natural hair is viewed within the black community. I can say from what I've seen and read, natural hair in the black community isn't always well accepted, or appreciated. I think it's sad, when a woman embraces what she was born with, black or white, it should be celebrated. I have become very intrigued within the last few months with natural hair, in the black community. I have searched and searched on youtube for curly hair videos, but the only ones that I can find that deal with CG-friendly products are black women. So I started watching them, and I have to say their hair is absolutely gorgeous. I think it's beautiful. I actually think that it's crazy what black women in particular go through, to have straight hair. Hours literally to have something that society tells them is beautiful, when what they have already is so much better, and healthier. I know that I would never spend that amount of time, money, or risk having my scalp burned, to have straight hair. I don't even think straight hair is all that pretty.
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  • DecagurlDecagurl Registered Users Posts: 107
    Did you know that African women in america (african americans) started hating their natural hair since slavery? Black slaves who were bi-racial due to rape or intercourse with whites, were sold to more reputable places because their appearance resembled white americans more than the purer Africans... they were also treated better. So all the little girls were left there, trying to find ways to identify with the caucasion standard of beauty and began straigtening their hair, etc. Over time, most african americans in america identified their hair with class, beauty, etc, and forgot about the superficial reasons that originated in slavery. Good Hair Bad Hair complex. For me, I always wanted hair that mixed african americans had. It had a little black identity to it but it was also silky and smooth. My fuzzy and coarse hair (Im mixed with Filipino) drove me nuts and from since I can remember I had relaxers. When my hair started to break off, you think I wanted to go to school like that? No. So I did braids, weaves, etc for years until my hair grew out. Even though I started to go natural, I STILL was ashamed of my hair. Its hard. In america, the blacks here are descendants of slaves and some of this mentality is still lingering.
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  • MaciMaci Registered Users Posts: 180
    3d3n wrote: »

    Thanks for your post Teresina, the stereotypical idea of beauty doesn't generally include curlies regardless of race. But your right its good we this little community on here and have a place to vent about stuff like this. I think it takes a little courage to buck the trend but its those sort of qualities that help you in life!
    This is one of the reasons I love this board. I'm mixed and it seems neither race likes curly, natural hair. Everyone thinks everyone else should have straight flowing hair. Mine is the opposite - coarse and just curly enough to drive everyone crazy.:geek:
    Spirals, curls & waves, Med-Coarse Texture, Med Porosity, Low Elasticity
  • *Marah**Marah* Registered Users Posts: 8,032 Curl Neophyte
    All this drama with black folks and their hair is because their white oppressors told them their hair was yet another ugly and degenerate thing about them.. and blacks have interalized it..especially black women that have been always told they are the ugliest women on the planet and could NEVER EVER compare to other women and especially white women..the cream of the crop. Black women especially want to be found attractive and they know they will be found more acceptable if their hair looks more similiar to white folks..hence the super uber long stick straight swinging hair weaves, relaxers and touch ups like it's the cure to cancer, flat iron addictions, and ignoring frickken working out so their hair won't "revert". Revert to effing what ? HOW GOD MADE YOU ? OR HOW YOU WERE BORN IF YOU DO NOT BELIEVE IN GOD ?

    And no, I am not anti-weave or anti-straight hair, or anti-relaxer.

    MANY black people have been scarred and feel their natural hair is a stigma so consciously and unconsciously black women straighten their hair to fit more in with the highly valued white asethetic of beauty. And so when a person of color doesn't have "good hair" and opts not to straighten it.. suddenly that person in a community that should embrace them is stigmatized and treated like a second class citizen simply because they choose to embrace what is natural. Which I find rather ironic since black folks fought and still fight all the time to NOT be treated second class.

    But then on the flip side..when you have a mixed race person or a black person with "good hair" (and it's only suddenly good because it looks more similiar to whites and isn't kinky) everyone wants tooo.. oooooh and ahhh about it like it's the best thing since sliced bread. And then they gotta hear their hair is only like that cause you're mixed with "something"..and oh you are soooo special if the other mixture is white!

    Just look how light skinned or mixed black women are treated better than darker skinned women of color in society and hair is an extension of that..even right in the black community! Lighter skinned loose curly ladies are favored while darker skinned kinky haired ladies are not. Heck, even darker skin girls get "pass" if they have "good hair". That saves them let some ignorant fools tell it. I mean just look who gets all in black music videos in the front.. light skin girls with "good hair" UNLESS the darker skinned girl has an incredible body and tons of straight weave all down her back and is willing to basically look like a skeeze dancing all skankier than everyone else.

    I don't care what anyone's true and if it wasn't true we'd see a much higher rate of black women wearing their natural hair and NOT as some political statement and they wouldn't have to explain that they aren't "mixed" or "biracial" or "multi-racial/ethnic" or are.. but just to do it because it's their hair and nothing to be ashamed of and people wouldn't even BLINK twice at a woman of color wearing her natural curls, kinks, naps, and whatever else is growing from her head.

    Dudes of color don't get flack as much cause most of them keep their hair real short..and mainly have a definite styled cut that doesn't move around much. So it's not so "distracting" let other people that hate on natural hair tell it.

    Okay.. I am off my rant.. for now. But I guess this thread pissed me off after I read the absolutely offensive humiliating and degrading behavior 3D3N had to endure all because she wears her own hair and wears it natural as if the HECK something is wrong with her hair just as it is... UGH!!
  • kanevekaneve Registered Users Posts: 38
    3d3n wrote: »
    Thanks for your post Teresina, the stereotypical idea of beauty doesn't generally include curlies regardless of race.
    I am Greek and many, many of the Greek women I know have naturally curly hair, but straighten their hair on a daily basis! I am one of the only ones I know that does not. And I'll be honest, I think people think I'm lazy and frumpy b/c I don't do it. Well, I guess I kinda am too lazy to do it!

    I have no idea why straight=good though. Maybe it's just trends? Heck, didn't everyone perm themselves crazy curly in the 80's???

    On the black vs white hair, I can't really comment except for one thing...I truly, TRULY, had no clue that natural hair was not socially acceptable, until I came here years ago. I had never given it any thought I guess. I knew lots of black women relaxed, but I never considered it was for acceptance or anything like that.

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