Thursday, October 20, 2011

My Hair is Better than Yours, So Don't Criticize Me

I just read an article on Black Girl with Long Hair called "Some People Would Rather Look a 'Hot Mess' Than Go Natural?" from a woman of color who wears her hair natural (without any processed perms or curls). She tells about how she recently got on a bus and had to endure really ugly comments about her tresses from two other women who were seated near her.

Now, since I wear my hair in an afro, when I read that I was feeling indignant for the sister. All of us who live in the USA and wear their hair just as it grows out of our head have experienced this. It's so common that I've lost count of how many times it's happened to me and my daughter. It hurts, but it comes with the territory. It's one of those things that you will have to endure, if you want to be true to how you want to look.

Often, when women with natural hair get together, we talk about it. We comfort and encourage each other. We praise the hair styles that each of us come up with to accentuate our kind of beauty. Doing this really helps. My daughter is a self-confident young lady now and she has lived her whole life as a natural-haired girl, so she has more clever responses than I do when someone says something negative about her coiffure.

However, there's a nasty little secret that some women with natural hair won't admit. When a lot of us get together and talk about how some sister with processed hair made ugly quips about us, it often goes much further than that. I'll tell ya', the conversations almost always turns from praising our beauty to comparing us to them and attempting to reaffirm our decisions by putting down the way that some sisters with processed hair look. And as this article and the majority of the comments shows, it gets really, really nasty.

This time, the writer went on to criticize weaves and women with alopecia and women who dye their hair in vibrant colors. On and on it went, all about how inferior those women are and how their hair proves that we are superior to them. And the folks weren't just talking about our hairstyles being superior to all others. Several of them (and I'm not just referring to a few isolated comments) waxed on about how these hair choices showed that those women don't have the same courage as we have, that they are jealous of us, that they lack confidence. You may have to see it to believe it, but it's all there.

I think that the writer and most people who commented are overlooking the real problem. The problem isn’t how the writer’s hair looked or how the other girls looked. The problem is WOMEN JUDGING EACH OTHER. Until we see that this is a serious problem, there will always be women with perms snickering at women with natural hair and there will be women with natural hair making snide comments about someone’s weave. Criticizing their choices or their hair just as they criticized yours is a bit hypocritical. I think that instead of having a few laughs or rolling our eyes about bad weaves and alopecia–it should be noted that it’s not always the result of anything that the person did to their hair–we should try to figure out what is making BOTH groups think that it’s okay to do this. I don't even have the energy to delve into the classism that's also involved in this.

This makes me so sad for both those with natural hair and those with processed manes and disappointed with us all. The “hot mess” is that both groups do it and then turn around and get mad when it’s done to them. On days like this, it’s just so apparent that sisterhood between black women is truly dead…and maybe people prefer it that way. *sigh*


bayoucreole said...

I left so many hair forums because of the relaxed vs natural war going on.
It's pathetic. My daughter is newly natural, she did her BC 3 months ago. I'm relaxed.
It's just hair and how someone feels superior based on how they wear their hair is crazy.

Lori said...

I am new to your blog and am really enjoying your writings. This same crazy discussion happens with those of us who are gray and those of us who prefer to colour our gray.I have my opinions since I am naturally gray now. But I remind myself that one of the points of the women's movement was/is "we will have choices".Too sad that we are hard on each other; life is too short!