• We will be performing necessary maintenance on the forum and related hardware from Satuday 25th of September onward. Users might experience some downtime, which we will ensure that it is limited - if at all noticeable.

Is natural hair helping or hurting black women?

Lilmama1011

Well-Known Member
http://www.blackhairinformation.com/general-articles/natural-hair-helping-hurting-black-women-today/

Let’s face it, the idea or the perception in the world about black women is clear; we are strong, mouthy, angry, and loud. We are difficult to get along with which results in many Black men choosing to turn their backs on us as their choices for a girlfriend or wife. Do I agree with that notion of us? HECK NO!
It’s shallow to assume any type of woman is easily categorized with the same attributes based on such a stereotypical point of view.
Other than the majority of us being discriminated against because of the color of our skin, we are very different. Can I be loud? Yes. Am I loud 24/7? No. Can I be angry? Yes. Am I angry 24/7? No. You see where I’m going with this?
Any woman can be angry, loud, mouthy as well as difficult but somehow we have been labeled with these negative qualities. As if black women don’t have enough to deal with, we are being singled out because we choose to wear our natural hair.
You can almost feel the pressure of it like a threat hanging over your head, “change or else”; you will stand out, you will not be accepted by us, you won’t be fit for that promotion, you can’t go to school here. The message it communicates is that our natural hair is an offense, so is natural hair helping or hurting black women today?


This gives way to an even deeper question; what is the purpose of all the talk about embracing diversity, if there is still a concerted effort in effect to force conformity on us? Some of the steps to get us to subscribe to the “sameness” of the standards of Eurasian beauty are so glaring while others are a bit more subtle.
Workplace Woes
It is almost like being caught between a rock and a hard place and often that is where many of us find ourselves in the workplace. Taking up for yourself should be understood but if you do it, you may be labeled one of those all too often used labels listed above. I remember when I was working for a state agency how I was made to feel my natural hair was not up to par.
I primarily wore my hair in a wash and go style back then (like now) but the couple of times I wore it straight a co-worker made a point to comment on how wonderful my hair looked. She even went so far as to say it was more ‘professional’. Whaaaat? Yea, she said that with a straight face and yes, that person was in a supervisory position.
Stand up for yourself in a case like this and guess who gets the wrong end of the stick? I am not a fan of others feeling the need to tell me what is professional or not with my hair. Clothing? Yes, you may have a valid point there, but my hair? To me that is crossing the line.


Weighing in on The Ol’ Plantation Mentality
I am about to get deep for a minute. I am one of those women that thinks some white people feel less threatened by our attempts to buy into their standards of beauty; straighter hair, less African features, and even lighter skin. Now, I did say SOME so stay with me for a minute.
The mainstream media, society – whatever you want to call them – has made most of us believe that the only true representation of beauty is the European standard of beauty. That “beauty” translates to being skinny, white or light skinned and having long straight flowing hair. Do I buy into this? No, not even a little but many do and because of that, there is a real resistance to black women wearing their hair naturally.
Now before you go off on me, let me say that not every black woman who wears her hair straight or relaxed is buying into that beauty standard. Many just want their hair that way and while there is nothing wrong with that, I am sorry but there are plenty of us believing long straight hair is way more beautiful than kinky coily hair.
Couple that with many whites and even many of our own black men feeling the same way and you can see why some naturals feel attacked; attacked for wearing our hair in its natural state as we did when we were kids. Why should I be labeled as a “hot mess” when I choose to make a public appearance with my hair in its natural state?


Waiting To Exhale
In addition – speaking of kids – who else is tired of hearing how schools are trying to ban natural hair (see here and here) for various reasons? It’s not just natural hair mind you, but natural black or afrocentric hair, that has been under fire. Just this week a poor little girl was facing expulsion for wearing her big beautiful natural hair at school because the administration saw it as a distraction.
SERIOUSLY? A distraction for being YOURSELF? If I didn’t know better I’d say that’s an excuse to stick it to us. Essentially, afros and locs are on the list of “distracting and unprofessional” styles. I can only imagine that soon more of our much loved styles will be added. At what point will the line be drawn though? Will we have to wait with bated breaths until they succeed at bullying us into submission?
This is just one story-line in a long line of instances where our differences were rejected. In some cases it took news media exposure and countless naturals writing or calling in, and threatening lawsuits before the schools’ administrations backed off and reluctantly acknowledged the need to embrace our diversity.

However, these results do not signify an acceptance of the natural hair but rather a strategic move to quell the uproar the situation generates because it hurts their organization publicly.
We are being attacked for being ourselves, for wearing our hair in it’s natural state. Embracing natural hair has been an affirming experience for some. It has resulted in some of us leading healthier lives, and even in mending gaps in emotional development, since once where our natural texture was seen as a badge of shame, it may now be seen as a beautiful part of our heritage; a sense of belonging. For some, that is empowering.
I myself and others choose to eliminate chemicals that alter the hair and some have issues with this. I have a real problem with this and I hope that whether you are relaxed or natural you do too. Perhaps the case against our naturalness is mounted because it makes us seem less subservient, but we need to be asking ourselves why there is a need for others to erase the things about us that make us the unique and diverse set of people we are.


Setting The Record Straight
How I choose to wear my hair is not indicative of my level of intelligence, my competence to do my job, my ability to find a mate nor does it breach “the unwritten laws of beauty”. At the end of the day, what’s in my head should be more important than what is on my head, the quality of my work should be the basis of the criteria for the standard of professionalism and a man has his preferences.
Diversity is a word that gets thrown around quite a bit these days but it seems more of a figurehead; devoid of any true power or potency. Judging from the reactions from society, diversity is not an accepted concept, since many just say it but their actions depict the total opposite of what it implies.
Diversity sounds real good on a TV commercial for a company that wants your business but if you are telling Sabrina, Tanya or Sharkisha she needs to tame her hair then you know that word is merely for show.
So I ask you Naturals… is Natural hair helping or hurting black women today?
 

pearcey

Well-Known Member
Like the poster L'bellatrix said years ago, all black women should go natural for a year just once.

it is OUR hair, we should know what is lurking. and as many times as I have gone natural, this time was the first time i actually let my coils do it's own thang and i was friggin amazed. I hadn't seen my hair do that since I was like 7 or 8 years old.

That being said, i am getting the bug to relax again.

but no, we should all know what is growing out of our scalps. I can not believe i am almost 40 and only for the last 8 or so months have a seen what my uncombed hair does.

that is telling. and all women should know.

can't wait to read other responses...
 

Lilmama1011

Well-Known Member
I was natural all the way until 8th grade year (13 years old) and I always had my hair in braids so it's like I never saw my natural curl pattern and thought that was just something you do as you get older and just relax your hair. I wish I had never relaxed my hair. My hair wouldn't have had major setbacks and would be way longer. But since I am relaxed I feel for me to transition would take to long even though I have seen good length after three years but that's still too long for me. And seeing all these long relaxed hair makes me want to keep relaxing and achieve long relaxed hair myself
 

DoDo

Big Hair, Don't Care
I think natural hair is indicative of a larger trend; and that trend is not at its close yet which is why there are the hiccups at present.

Black women are rising to the middle class levels of society, they are more educated, they can not be argued down with language or mental politics because many (not all) of us have attained an education, position as well as in some cases visibility in the sociopolitical sphere.

Natural hair is a symptom of this. It is through a clear understanding of the sociopolitical forces at work and a sophisticated level of agency on a professional and sociopolitical scale that black women have found a path towards reclaiming their identity, whether it is through quitting relaxers, or letting the new growth come in while stretching that relaxer. We are more interested in gentle self care, positive self talk and a positive self image. These changes are occurring, but they are FAR from complete.

Not all of us have reached this same level in our careers because for us the journey is only beginning, some of use are not the children of the emerging black middle class but of first generation immigrants or blacks who live in the inner city. We still have to make our way through the minefield.

In addition to this we are still learning to reject the beauty standards we absorbed unconsciously in our childhood as well as the negative comments that we as black women have faced in school from students as well as school officials, in our first jobs, in our first office jobs, in the boardrooms and for some of us in our homes.

This is an open wound that we are finally beginning to tend because we are only just beginning to acquire the resources and power to do so. It is a long time coming before it finally heals. Perhaps our grandchildren will inherit a world where it is not called natural because a term is not needed to wear your hair as is. Our grandparents have seen their grandchildren inherit a world where wearing natural hair is even possible.
 
Last edited:

SEMO

Well-Known Member
Is straight hair unprofessional? No. Are certain styles that can be done with straight hair unprofessional? Yes.

Is natural hair unprofessional? No. Are certain styles that can be done with natural hair unprofessional? Yes.

This is just my opinion. What constitutes professional will vary between industries and workplaces.

Edited to add:

I went natural years ago, back in college, and the back to natural thing was just kicking off. When I first told my family I was going natural they were skeptical. But once I cut off the relaxed ends and went fully natural I've had nothing but positive feedback.

On the rare occasions that I straighten my hair, I do get more attention. But I chalk that up to the length and the fact that I look so different with straight hair. Rather than thinking it's because people (white or black) accept me more with straight hair.
 
Last edited:

january noir

Sunny On a Cloudy Day
Is straight hair unprofessional? No. Are certain styles that can be done with straight hair unprofessional? Yes.

Is natural hair unprofessional? No. Are certain styles that can be done with natural hair unprofessional? Yes.

This is just my opinion. What constitutes professional will vary between industries and workplaces.

Edited to add:

I went natural years ago, back in college, and the back to natural thing was just kicking off. When I first told my family I was going natural they were skeptical. But once I cut off the relaxed ends and went fully natural I've had nothing but positive feedback.

On the rare occasions that I straighten my hair, I do get more attention. But I chalk that up to the length and the fact that I look so different with straight hair. Rather than thinking it's because people (white or black) accept me more with straight hair.

I agree.

I'm 55 and cut off my hair in May of this year after being relaxed for almost 45 years. It's just past 6 months since my Big Chop and I'm learning to love my hair as it is in all it's fine, wispy, sproingy, coily glory. I don't have a desire to straighten it and just the thought of doing it makes me a little ill. I don't give a damn what people think of my hair (at work or outside work by my family/friends). I think I look fly & pulled together no matter what, so wearing my hair without relaxer or texturizer is just another facet and phase of my beauty and brains. :yep:

Also, I've gotten nothing but compliments on my natural hair look (at least to my face :lol:).
 

Holla

Well-Known Member
Depends on natural hair type. That's my first thought whenever this topic comes up, as it has of late given the increasing popularity in Black women going natural without relaxers.


Folks love to gawk at a woman with 3a/3b/ even 4a coils. Let a 4z sista with NO coils/springs/waves/NADA walk into the room and folks start asking if natural hair will doom the race.

Yeah. Ok.
 

koolkittychick

Well-Known Member
This article was so spot on. I was natural for five years, before I discovered LHCF, and while I loved my kinky coils and had actually grown hem to APL with the worst regimen (if I had known then what I know now...smh), I hit a snag that I didn't know how to deal with, made it worse at an incompetent "natural hair care" salon, and eventually ran back to the creamy crack.

Though I regret changing my natural hair, I did learn such good practices on this forum to care for my relaxed tresses that I have managed to grow my hair longer than it has ever been in my life. I only wish it could have been with my natural hair.

At some point I will transition back to natural, but for now I'm just enjoying that my relaxed hair actually shows the length I work so hard to achieve, as opposed to the 80% shrinkage I get with my natural hair. Once I get to WHIP length, I will reassess how I feel about the transition process, and make my decision then.

Still, I wouldn't trade my time as a natural for anything in the world. I never felt more like my authentic self than back when I was rocking my cute, bushy 'fro. I hope every Black woman gets to experience this sense of freedom, authenticity, and uniqueness in their life, and most importantly, fully enjoy the experience like I did. :yep:
 
Last edited:

NewGirl

New Member
I wore braids for a short time and corporate America had a fit. They were like children on the play ground. They made remarks, nothing overtly offensive but yet, the expression on their faces, the look in their eyes, they were making fun of me. If I repeated what they said, I sounded overly sensitive, or petty. Most of the remarks came from my boss and the HR representative, so who could I turn too.

My braids were neat, half cornrows, half individuals, pulled back into a neat bun. No scalp was showing between the cornrows, they looked very professional and neat to me but the looks, the remarks, and under-eyed looks at each other became too much for me. I was angry everyday. You can say, don't let it bother you, or I don't care, but the constant school yard mess became too much for me. No one would look at my presentation because they were looking at my head. I didn't get the next promotion I was up for when, before the braids, I was assured it was mine due to my excellent work. Of course, I asked why and was told "We decided to go in a different direction"

After 2months, I went to a sew-in and suddenly, respect and compliments on my work returned. What's up with that??? I was totally shocked. I am not kidding or exaggerating, this happened.
 

Lilmama1011

Well-Known Member
I wore braids for a short time and corporate America had a fit. They were like children on the play ground. They made remarks, nothing overtly offensive but yet, the expression on their faces, the look in their eyes, they were making fun of me. If I repeated what they said, I sounded overly sensitive, or petty. Most of the remarks came from my boss and the HR representative, so who could I turn too.

My braids were neat, half cornrows, half individuals, pulled back into a neat bun. No scalp was showing between the cornrows, they looked very professional and neat to me but the looks, the remarks, and under-eyed looks at each other became too much for me. I was angry everyday. You can say, don't let it bother you, or I don't care, but the constant school yard mess became too much for me. No one would look at my presentation because they were looking at my head. I didn't get the next promotion I was up for when, before the braids, I was assured it was mine due to my excellent work. Of course, I asked why and was told "We decided to go in a different direction"

After 2months, I went to a sew-in and suddenly, respect and compliments on my work returned. What's up with that??? I was totally shocked. I am not kidding or exaggerating, this happened.

oh wow, i couldn't imagine . i would have been deeply hurt
 

Saludable84

Better Late Than Ugly
Depends on natural hair type. That's my first thought whenever this topic comes up, as it has of late given the increasing popularity in Black women going natural without relaxers.


Folks love to gawk at a woman with 3a/3b/ even 4a coils. Let a 4z sista with NO coils/springs/waves/NADA walk into the room and folks start asking if natural hair will doom the race.

Yeah. Ok.

It is funny you say this.

The only people who tell me to go natural are those who can WNG it or who are extentionalist.

No 4C natural has EVER told me to go natural and it is actually I who tell them not to run back to the crack. Rebuke thee! And I notice it is the 3a-4a types that get all the compliments while the 4z's sit on the sidelines. Weirdly, they are also the most hostile or outspoken ones too. At my job, the 4z's get ignored, so they get extensions. When I see how some of them treat each other, it makes me sad.
 

koolkittychick

Well-Known Member
I wore braids for a short time and corporate America had a fit. They were like children on the play ground. They made remarks, nothing overtly offensive but yet, the expression on their faces, the look in their eyes, they were making fun of me. If I repeated what they said, I sounded overly sensitive, or petty. Most of the remarks came from my boss and the HR representative, so who could I turn too.

My braids were neat, half cornrows, half individuals, pulled back into a neat bun. No scalp was showing between the cornrows, they looked very professional and neat to me but the looks, the remarks, and under-eyed looks at each other became too much for me. I was angry everyday. You can say, don't let it bother you, or I don't care, but the constant school yard mess became too much for me. No one would look at my presentation because they were looking at my head. I didn't get the next promotion I was up for when, before the braids, I was assured it was mine due to my excellent work. Of course, I asked why and was told "We decided to go in a different direction"

After 2months, I went to a sew-in and suddenly, respect and compliments on my work returned. What's up with that??? I was totally shocked. I am not kidding or exaggerating, this happened.
Smh...I'm so sorry you went through that experience. That's one of the reasons why I am thankful that my jobs have been in the more creative fields (writing, web design), where you are less likely to get a side eye if you rock your natural hair. If I had a traditional corporate America job, even with my relaxed hair (I can get pretty creative with it when I'm deep in a stretch), I don't know what I'd do...:nono:
 

naturalmanenyc

Well-Known Member
I find that my natural hair helps me to stand out. More often than not I'm the only natural in the room even in settings with 100% Black colleagues.

I didn't transition to natural until I left the law firm world so I can't say how I would have been perceived with kinky twists and cornrows in that white shoe environment. However, I have worn lots of different natural styles to my current corporate job, including cornrows with silky dreads. I have not had a relaxer since December 2007 (my nappiversary is this month).

There are some styles that I find okay for work and others not so much.

I had this style done a while back, cornrows, silky dreads and two strand twists combined. I kept it in for 20 days: loose cornrows/silkydreads/two strand twists



Styled










More details are here: http://goingnaturaltransitionington...e-hairstyle-90-weeks-and-6-days-post-relaxer/

My camera was broken so these are cell phone shots. Day 20 photos:







I wore kinky twists and Senegalese twists to work.


Kinky twists being done at salon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYXcsarYuoo

I would not wear this bantu knot out style to work although it was fierce. I was in a natural hair show. Details are here:
http://goingnaturaltransitioningtonaturalhair.com/hair-model-for-a-day-modeling-natural-hair/





I have friends and family members who say they can't go natural because their hair is too thick (4a/b/c) but I just attribute it to them not being ready to make the change. I personally did not Big Chop. I held on to my relaxed ends for two full years until I could mentally make the transition to natural hair.

I find that the more comfortable I am with my natural hair, the more comfortable the people around me are with my hair. Yes, they ask if I cut my hair when it shrinks, but that's all they do now is ask questions out of curiosity. I've recently started to wear big, fluffy hair to meetings and even interviews when I would normally pull my hair into a bun. I call it my "faux wash and go":


In my most recent professional photo for work I am wearing a twist out. For all other prior photos (law firm website updates) I was wearing relaxed hair and sometimes a weave. At this stage in my life and in my career, I don't feel like I have to conform.
 
Last edited:

caribeandiva

Human being
I skimmed the article. The natural hair movement is helping black women because it teaches us to accept ourselves completely.
 

Ogoma

Well-Known Member
I started my current job when I was already natural so that could be why I don't get negative comments or looks about my hair. I used to wear WnGs when I joined because it was shorter and now it is in a bun more. When I do have my hair out, I get a lot of comments on why I don't have it out more often.

It is sad people have been made to feel uncomfortable or ostracized at work. It is so frustrating that this can go on and there is little anyone can do because most of the actions/reactions are not explicit and cannot be reported.
 

NewGirl

New Member
I started my current job when I was already natural so that could be why I don't get negative comments or looks about my hair. I used to wear WnGs when I joined because it was shorter and now it is in a bun more. When I do have my hair out, I get a lot of comments on why I don't have it out more often.

It is sad people have been made to feel uncomfortable or ostracized at work. It is so frustrating that this can go on and there is little anyone can do because most of the actions/reactions are not explicit and cannot be reported.

It is sad!!!! There was also a lady who was natural and she came to work with many little pony tails and she was called to her boss' office and told to never come to work with her hair looking like that again. She was a temp, her boss was Black and he told her, "I'm trying to get you hired permanently on a professional job and you have the nerve to come to work with your head looking like that!!!!"

She cried but conformed and was hired.
 

Lilmama1011

Well-Known Member
It is sad!!!! There was also a lady who was natural and she came to work with many little pony tails and she was called to her boss' office and told to never come to work with her hair looking like that again. She was a temp, her boss was Black and he told her, "I'm trying to get you hired permanently on a professional job and you have the nerve to come to work with your head looking like that!!!!" She cried but conformed and was hired.

Like many pony tails all over her head like a child? I'm trying to get the picture in my head! NewGirl
 

Lilmama1011

Well-Known Member
She should of put a pretty headband on and some cute earrings and called it a day. I dare someone to say something to her then, because then it would be that her natural hair is a problem
 

Lilmama1011

Well-Known Member
image-2130333184.jpg

But I also see with designing the parts it looks more classy then boxed puffs, but these are bantu knots I think, but what if her puffs had designed parts, would it be different?
 

curlicarib

Lovin'' All of Me
Doesn't hurt me at work and never did. I've had my hair in everything from shaved to MBL natural and all I get is complements. At my first "professional" job, I interviewed with straight hair. The second week on the job I went back to curly hair and by the second month I shaved it all off. That was the only time I got negative feed back. They were all upset that I shaved my head. However, they were all enthralled with the growing out process.

At my current job, I comb my hair every morning in my office and I get more visitors during that time than any other time of the day. I'm the only black person in my office and I find that white men are completely fascinated with my hair. Just this morning 4 of them came by, sat in my office and watched me comb it.

*Shrugs* I do think that my confidence level has something to do with how others react to my hair. I LOVE it, so why wouldn't they?
 

Ogoma

Well-Known Member
^^ I am curious about the combing :lol: No comb comes near my hair unless it is drenched in conditioner. I need to know your combing technique.

Agree with you on the confidence angle in some cases.
 
Top