Describing Someone’s Hair As Unkempt Is Insulting To Their Natural Expression

 

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In the natural hair community, the words “kempt”, “well-kempt”  or “unkempt” are being thrown around much more in recent times than before. When I say before, I mean before the explosion of natural hair on the fashion and beauty scene. When it was just relaxed women running around here I didn’t hear it, but now it seems like the question of kempt versus unkempt goes hand in hand when discussing locs, fros, or curls.

Kempt or well-kempt means well-groomed or neatly kept. Both of those terms make my eyes twitch because what someone considers well-groomed or neatly kept is highly subjective and as we all know, everyone has their own perception of what is beautiful.

We also know about all the stories of curly and coily women being harassed at work and by family members telling them their hair is ‘unprofessional’, ‘unattractive’ or ‘ugly’. With a history that has been marred with negativity, our hair does not need to be subject, yet again, to a confinement on style preference.

Beauty is supposed to be in the eye of the beholder, but when it comes to black women, often times our beauty is under scrutiny. When embracing straightening treatments like relaxers or wearing wigs and weaves there is no real issue, but as soon as we step away from those hairstyles, the mood changes and words and terms like ‘inappropriateness’, ‘unprofessional’, and ‘unkempt’ creep up to describe our tresses.

It is insulting and wrong to tell any woman her natural body is not good enough and when you add those types of negative words to our hair, that is just adding another layer of self-hate that we just don’t need.


Just a couple of months ago, we told you about a natural haired woman, Tiffany Bryan, 27 from Queens NY was fired from her job because she refused to “tame” her Fro. Taming her hair? So, our hair is a wild animal now? Tiffany is a cancer survivor, and had opted to keep her tresses chemical free when it grew back in after chemotherapy.

She was hired at AEG Worldwide in September 2013 but didn’t receive any flack on her hair until her security supervisor, Denise Brown, told her last March that she “look[ed] like she stuck her finger in a socket and was electrocuted.” She took it as a joke, but a few days later the security manager told her that she “needed to do something with her hair”, and was told to “tame it.” Refusing to do so led to her firing, and she’s now suing the Brooklyn Arena’s security team.

Originally posted 2014-08-15 15:00:51.

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About Sabrina Perkins


Hello all, I'm Sabrina. I'm a freelance writer and a full-time blogger at my site, http://www.seriouslynatural.org/ where the focus is on Natural hair, beauty and style. I became natural 8 years ago at the tender age of 35 and love sharing my ups and downs as I master this thing called natural hair. Married, with two kids (one being a natural herself) gives me a different perspective on our hair and why I love being natural. I want healthy hair, long hair and sexy hair! I'm an older natural---that's right---I'm grown and sexy, and I have much to share. I love fashion too and recently opened a clothing shop for beautiful black women at www.seriouslynatural.spreadshirt.com

About Sabrina Perkins


Hello all, I'm Sabrina. I'm a freelance writer and a full-time blogger at my site, http://www.seriouslynatural.org/ where the focus is on Natural hair, beauty and style. I became natural 8 years ago at the tender age of 35 and love sharing my ups and downs as I master this thing called natural hair. Married, with two kids (one being a natural herself) gives me a different perspective on our hair and why I love being natural. I want healthy hair, long hair and sexy hair! I'm an older natural---that's right---I'm grown and sexy, and I have much to share. I love fashion too and recently opened a clothing shop for beautiful black women at www.seriouslynatural.spreadshirt.com

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Comments

    1. Wendy Jean-Louis
      Wendy Jean-Louis

      Well good for u. There are ways to still look presentable and self expressive. U don’t expect n I have yet to see an unkept businessman/woman. Every job had requirements for everyone no matter what race. I don’t see why people can’t get that through their skulls. It is expected to hsve proper hygiene practices and hair grooming is part of that

  1. Tamara Muhammad
    Tamara Muhammad

    Yea it’s insulting it’s a persons natural hair pattern just because it’s combed it’s still their natural hair whether it has more curls puffy etc

    1. Sharmane Smith
      Sharmane Smith

      There is a difference between natural and just not doing your hair… Hair is meant to be taken care of I don’t care the texture.

    2. Tamara Muhammad
      Tamara Muhammad

      Like is said before it’s their hair I don’t care what they want to do it I’m not one and I can’t say to someone oh your hair looks unprofessional not my place

  2. Victoria Mackie
    Victoria Mackie

    I don’t know why it would limit their freedom of expression. Hair can be unkempt the same way a skirt can be too short.

  3. Tracey A. McDonald
    Tracey A. McDonald

    I don’t think it’s insulting at all. Make it look “kept.” What seems to be insulting, to me, is how “our” so called “natural” hair has turned into another “black hair” big money business; is it going in our pockets though? It’s our “natural” hair. Just my thoughts!!

  4. Tamara Muhammad
    Tamara Muhammad

    To be honest Noone was born with a damn comb we had whatever we were given I could care less if my hair is big and curls short and puffy to hell with what anyone wants to think my head my hair my body Noone will tell me how to wear my hair and this is someone who has been working since she was 14 who cares I don’t your personality shines mire than your damn hair

  5. Ni-Ni Patterson
    Ni-Ni Patterson

    There is a difference between unkempt and presentable. Stop trying to justify walking around looking like you got jumped, raped, and fed on by a pack of wolves ‘by the head’ because of your decision to wear your hair in its natural state. Comb or not, hair in any state can look presentable, so quit making up excuses.

  6. Southern Bell
    Southern Bell

    Its my natural hair I feel it is insulting tlking about someone hair not bein presentable or presentable, my hair nappy I walk around with my nappy fro, and I dont care what anyone says my personality speaks more than my hair, I have a professional job as a nurse and my patients love my nappy hair presentable or not its how you wear it

    1. Sharmane Smith
      Sharmane Smith

      But you’re hair is done… Unkempt is for someone who does absolutely nothing to maintain their hair…. I’ve seen people who don’t do their hair and it starts to look like a big dread on their head, matted, and dirty.

  7. Tamara Muhammad
    Tamara Muhammad

    There is a difference no one wants to get raped jumped or fed on by a pack of wolves but they do love their hair I don’t see anything wrong with it too each is own

  8. Candi Ballard-Zolicoffer
    Candi Ballard-Zolicoffer

    I’m sorry but too many women use this im natural ish to not comb their hair since you’re so natural do you not bathe or brush your teeth it’s the same thing you take care of your hygiene well at least I hope your hair is a part of your body it should be taken care of so comb that mess hell walking around looking homeless ass smh

  9. Southern Bell
    Southern Bell

    Ohk and yall act like ion wash & oil my hair unkempt hair to ME PERSONALLY MEANS not putting it in protective styles and not doin

  10. Mavis Butt
    Mavis Butt

    When the petition on Beyoncé ‘ baby was raised, it caught lots of attention but see how nice she keeps it now. No matter the hair, you don’t have to have an excuse to keep it unkept.

    1. DLB

      I’ve seen straight hair, looking greasy, the hair is smelly (like wet dog), with dandruff (possibly lice) all decorated on it.

  11. sha

    When I worked at a pharmacy as an intern there was a certain way we had to dress, and we had to pull our hair back if it was to the shoulders. So I get it when people say there is a professional way to where your hair. Even though my hair is natural, I never walk into a job interview or a job with my hair in a full blown out fro. I always either pin it back or where it in a twist out.

    On the other hand white people have never given me crap about my natural hair. Many people want to touch, but they never say anything bad about it to my face. In fact when I went natural in high school the majority of the people who complemented me were white. Now that I’m in college a predominately black school I here comments about how girls with looser textured hair have “good hair”. I may not comb my hair every day, but I do own and use one so my hair doesn’t tangle.I find that the longer I don’t use a comb the more shed hair I have.

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