The following are excerpts from our online chat group #BodyTalk on Hair.
Fatima: ‘TV hair’ is not the only good hair. Your hair doesn’t need to look like a shampoo commercial before you like it. What do you think?
Eliane: Growing up, I had this fetish… I wanted my hair smooth, so, I could be able to flip it, so the wind could blow it. The first opportunity I got, I relaxed my hair – I hadn’t come to appreciate my afro.
But, some years later, I realized the products do more harm than good, moreover, I could still go afro and it’ll be nice. So, I shaved, and since then, I’m going natural, and I love every single painful minute of it.
Akwen: Just to support the idea of being judged by our natural hair, my mum is totally freaked out with natural hair and (un)fortunately for her, all her daughters keep natural hair.
She offers money for relaxer products and even if you style it well, it is only good enough for local visits; important places deserve wigs or permed hair. I love my hair and I will flaunt it however it suits me and my mood…I’m not it though.
Misper: It looks so simple but I think it has a lot of depth….so in the aspect of looking natural are there any restrictions? Is there an aspect to it where people will prefer the artificial to the natural? I ask this because I had an experience once…when I was volunteering in a hospital I had on my natural hair-do. Immediately I started working, the administrator started complaining that I had a FRIGHTFUL hair do and that it was going to scare the children and make them cry if I should go to administer drugs to them. At first I thought she was joking only to realize later on that she was very serious. I was more than perplexed …so that brings me to the same question above…are there some unacceptable natural do’s which are less preferred to synthetic stuff?
Hilda: I would say, yes. But the yes is not for natural hair only but any hairdo in general. Just like the business world or even some professional schools do not accept certain hairdos, so it is even worse in a hospital setting.
Misper: Are those conventions not to some extent biased? Like a teacher telling you that you look bushy…..you look wild when you are in an afro style…is that not the crux of the matter?
Fatima: The truth is while there are dress codes in every profession, there is a bias when it comes to natural hair.
Here, it’s no longer a question of ‘neatness’ but predefined conceptions. ‘Natural’ seems a little too radical. Sounds like somebody who doesn’t want to blend in, follow the line.
It’s a cultural thing to me. So how do we send out a message that every hair is beautiful? (Allowing for professional restrictions of course 😉)
After all the hairiness…
Akwen: I think my conclusion is:
★Wear your hair however you want and be comfortable
★Whatever the hairdo, be neat about it
★Be unique with your hair, without judging another person’s preferred look.
Vanessa: Love your hair, be it Natural, Unnatural or Supernatural!
India Arie’s beautiful song is full of inspiration, ‘I am Not My Hair’
Amazing lyrics which just summarize a black woman’s hair struggles. Enjoy!