Well, here we are. Some thirty-odd days into 2018. Just because we’ve entered a new year, however, doesn’t mean we’ve left all of our old hair-related questions in 2017.
And the one question that just won’t die in natural hair forums all over the internet?
That almost age-old question about whether or not our various boos or baes like our natural hair and the heartbreaking follow-up question about what we should do if they don’t like our kinks and coils.
So what should we do in these situations?
Because, clearly, the answer to the question is not as obvious as some of us believe it to be if so many of us fret about our partners’ feelings about our natural hair.
Here’s one take on things:
First Thing’s First: Dismiss the Dismissive Attitudes
Before we even start thinking about how we should deal with this dilemma, we must first dismiss our dismissive attitudes.
We need to leave behind responses like:
- “Why do you care what people think about your hair?”
- “Love yourself, Sis. How do we expect other people to love us when we don’t even love ourselves?”
And why leave behind these responses? Well, because:
- Answering a question with a question is just asinine.
- If telling people to love themselves actually solved any problems, the issues with self-image that are unique to black women likely wouldn’t exist.
The overall point here? Some of us need to treat the question as if it has a more nuanced answer than, “Hey, you have self-esteem issues. Get over them.”
That said, when people in the natural hair community give you answers that amount to this one, pay them no mind.
Realize That Not Every Woman Sees Her Natural Hair As An Integral Part of Her Identity
If you’re going to pose a question about your significant other’s dislike of your natural hair, be prepared to be bombarded with responses which suggest that your natural hair is an integral part of your identity.
But let’s be clear on one thing: Your natural hair doesn’t have to be an important part of your identity or self-image if you don’t want it to be.
For some of us, hair is just hair; we don’t all have to be down with “the cause.”
Now is my natural hair an important part of my identity? Yes, it absolutely is. I realize, however, that some women are perfectly fine with relaxing their hair because, ultimately, hair is more about making a fashion statement than sending a message for these women.
Which is OK.
So if your man doesn’t like your natural hair and you decide to change it for him? Don’t feel like you’re a traitor to some cause.
This is your life. Live it and prioritize what’s important to you.
Understand That Relationships Are More Complex Than Your Partner’s View of Your Hair
Even if you’re crazy about your kinks and coils, you need to understand that your relationship as a whole is more complex than what your partner thinks of your hair. For this reason, I suggest that you ignore any advice that simply urges you to dump your boyfriend.
While our kinks may be a part of our natural aesthetic, some of us might be hesitant to tank healthy relationships just because our partners don’t like our hair. That is to say, some of us may be willing to sacrifice our texture for a person’s companionship.
Because, sometimes, you have to make sacrifices to preserve a relationship. Not everyone gets everything he or she wants out of a relationship; life isn’t a fairy tale.
Now would you be wrong to leave a man if he doesn’t like your natural hair? Nah. Personally speaking, my hair and I are a package deal. You won’t get one without the other.
And there are plenty of men out there who would actually love and appreciate my hair.
Now am I going to judge a woman because she chooses her boyfriend over her hair? Definitely not. She thinks that sacrifice is worth it and I have to respect her decision. After all, who am I to tell her what her natural hair should be worth to her?
All of this to say:
There is always an element of sacrifice to a relationship, even a good one. Relationships are built on compromise, so if you’re comfortable with sacrificing your kinks or coils for your boyfriend’s personal preferences, you don’t have to justify your decision to the natural hair community.
Of course, there’s a fine line between having personal preferences and being controlling or emotionally abusive. That, however, is a conversation for a different day.
Make the Decision That Lines Up With Your Values
I’ll confess that I would be ecstatic if black women always embraced their natural attributes and gave all of the naysayers the middle finger.
But I acknowledge that we all have different values.
Some of us put our love of our natural hair above all else, and that’s perfectly fine. Others amongst us have different priorities, and that’s perfectly fine as well.
Having said that, do what you will with your hair. You can still, after all, be a supporter of the natural hair movement with a relaxer or perpetually pressed hair.
You just have to learn to ignore the Natural Nazis who tell you otherwise.