Is Natural Hair Helping Or 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.

Originally posted 2013-12-04 15:00:19.

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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, 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

About Sabrina Perkins

Hello all, I'm Sabrina. I'm a freelance writer and a full-time blogger at my site, 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


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  1. Nicole Malone Carroll
    Nicole Malone Carroll

    Helping. We are the most emulated people on the planet. Once we see our un Europeanized beauty, others will follow as history has proven. We have centuries of white privilege/supremacy to debrief. Everyone should be comfortable and happy in their natural state, everyone.

  2. Tiffany Murphy
    Tiffany Murphy

    Helping, the acceptance of who you are in the fullest can only enhance the quality of human you are! It’s evolution!

    1. Sabrina Perkins Post author

      It might hurt some in the workplace and we have all seen in the news some schools calling our natural hair a distraction or unprofessional. It that sense it does hurt. I’m grateful for the outpouring of love and attention these women and children receive from other naturals that ultimately change policy and allows this discrimination to stop but why does it keep occurring?

  3. Felicia Robinson
    Felicia Robinson

    Definitely helping. Going natural has helped my self esteem. And the world is standing up and saluting us. I see the natural on tv commercials, magazine (not ours), movies and everywhere out. I love it and thank God for all the sisters who held it down all these years and has informed us of knowledge to care for our hair. Much love and proud to represent. We haven’t seen the half of what The Lord will do for us. I’m happy to see the little ppl hairstyles.

  4. Sarah Juchemich
    Sarah Juchemich

    Why am I not surprised that a school in Florida tried to ban natural hair? Ugh. Natural is beautiful! As a white woman with a Jew-fro, I can say that the European ideal is frustrating for all women who don’t fit the “ideal”- but women of color have it extra-difficult. It is tremendously powerful to stand up and confront ideals that seek to oppress you. So natural is beautiful and it’s revolutionary.
    The article talks about some white people feeling at ease when people of color embrace more euro-centric looks. I do think there is merit in that statement but also feel that advertisers use that insecurity to keep women in general, tied-up in our appearance and more worried about our ability to look thinner, lighter, and younger than our ability to manage a stock portfolio or buy a home. Anyway, viva la revolution!

    1. Sabrina Perkins Post author

      Sarah you make a great point. The media feeds off of insecurity or fear in just about every facet of our lives. Women (we) are constantly judged on our appearance from our weight, to our age to our hair. It is a sad and sick way to value an individual that most men never have to encounter. Dodging bullets of ridicule is nothing new to women but with the rise in natural hair there is a rise in attacks on the acceptance of ethnic beauty.

    1. Sabrina Perkins Post author

      Exactly! It shouldn’t but I have had a supervisor make a point to say my straight hair looked better and was more professional. When you have closed-minded individuals like that you can see they actually WANT us to alter ourselves for their benefit.

  5. Shireen Lyons
    Shireen Lyons

    Helping definitely….this is just the beginning. It may be hard for us as the sort of “pioneers” of going natural. We have a lot to figure out, sort through and overturn. But when you think of it, the next generation will be that much more comfortable with being who we are naturally and that will keep going.

  6. Querida Joy

    How can wearing your natural hair hurt you? I dont understand why we are still so concerned about what others think of us. People will always have opinions about our hair. That is their business, not ours. As long as you are not denying me my rights , I could care less about your views on my scalp-grown, God-given hair. Maybe if we would stop trying to fit in and stand out, this would no longer be an issue.

    1. Sabrina Perkins Post author

      I agree with you 100% but there are some that feel they must tell us what looks more professional or right for certain circles. I prefer to just be me and standing out is wonderful but some do not like or want to stand out and may feel the pressure to stay relaxed because of possible fallout at work or with their significant other. Not everyone is strong enough to battle fallout and not everyone is open to diversity. Thanks for commenting.

    1. Sabrina Richmond Perkins
      Sabrina Richmond Perkins

      There is a lot of flack from some when we wear our hair in it’s natural state. Just last week a poor little girl was about to be expelled for wearing her hair natural and the school called it a distraction.

      1. Sabrina Perkins Post author

        True, but if the attack is directed at one’s hair it may be easier for some to succumb to the bullying and remain relaxed or go back to relaxing instead of dealing with the negativity.

  7. Germaine Robinson Anderson
    Germaine Robinson Anderson

    I don’t understand why is it such a problem for us to embrace our natural selves. But as long as we are straightening our hair to be like other cultures its okay

    1. Sabrina Perkins Post author

      Some non-naturals feel that way but we cannot force them to love our hair anymore than they can force us to stop wearing it natural. My take is this: you don’t have to like it but you damn sure better respect it!

    2. April C.

      It’s just another form of oppression . All the negativity even from other sisters is a shame but not a surprise. Folks fear what the don’t understand. We will just keep moving forward.

  8. Mieshel Jett
    Mieshel Jett

    Totally helping!…I’m not only embracing healthy hair, but lifestyle as well. My change has also motivated others!

  9. Renee Strob
    Renee Strob

    I believe it is helping. I see so many young ladies wearing their hair natural and it is encouraging. I have been natural for 2 years and it’s still a challenge for me to accept my own hair at times because of those opinions of kinky/curly hair. It has been an interesting experience overall. I’ve noticed who accepts my hair and who doesn’t. Generally, I get encouragement from other races, black women, lastly black men. It’s discouraging that (in my experience) that I don’t get much support from black men (especially when it was shorter).

    1. Sabrina Perkins Post author

      I find this disheartening that there are still many black men who do not find natural hair or kinky/coily hair attractive. I dare not say curly hair because many deem that acceptable and unfortunately even some naturals desire those very distinct curls. I digress. I’m married and have been for 15 years this month and when I meet my husband I was sporting box braids down to my butt. He has seen me with wigs, braids, weaves and now natural and how I chose to wear my hair never became an issue. To me, a real man is less concerned with your hair and more concerned with the woman wearing it. There are black men who love natural hair or just don’t care how you wear your hair so ditch the idiots who buy into that shallow and narrow description of beauty and know the right ones will become present in due time.

  10. AlexxaRhea Lee
    AlexxaRhea Lee

    Helping! It’s been the best thing we’ve ever done that shows true love care and acceptance of ourselves and each other.

  11. Rachel Thomas
    Rachel Thomas

    Why does it have to be so deep though? Lol. Its hair. Yep. I get the history & expression etc. Just do you. Be it natural or otherwise. Is it clean & ur confident n feel pretty? Lol Rock it n keep it movin

    1. Sabrina Perkins Post author

      What a wonderful way to see the world but not everyone feels this way and if you are in a place where your boss and maybe even your significant other has an issue with your hair then it DOES become a big deal and deep.

  12. Donna Campbell
    Donna Campbell

    I love my natural hair would never relax it again feel like I’ve found myself again. Feel strong and individual. Love love love!!

  13. LaVanda Godbee
    LaVanda Godbee

    Very interested in reading a well articulated opinion that natural hair is hurting us. As for me, natural hair is right in line with my natural choice of foods and my preference towards natural exercise. As I gain more knowledge, the more I embrace my natural journey. Being myself is invigorating and liberating. For me, there can be no happiness without my self-acceptance.

    1. Sabrina Perkins Post author

      Thank you LaVanda and I couldn’t agree more. As I grow older I see myself gravitating to healthier ways of living and natural hair is huge component of those changes. My natural hair journey has allowed me to embrace my own beauty.

  14. gena

    I think that’s the whole point, little girls in school Being denied access to education
    Or women at work being bullied. It slowing Invading on your rights,
    And of your not strong enough, you can forget it.

    1. Sabrina Perkins Post author

      Gena, you have said a mouthful. How I choose to wear my hair, especially in its natural state is my right! People are being bullied for their choices and if you do not have a great support system or just strong you will succumb.

  15. Amena Hamilton Agnew
    Amena Hamilton Agnew

    Both…unbeknownst to people you will get discriminated against in interviews/at work…but on a personal level it helps you feel more liberated, ready to take on new challenges

    1. Sabrina Perkins Post author

      Back when I was wearing box braids pretty regularly (90’s) when I was looking for a job I would go back to being relaxed but when I got the job I would go back to box braids. I know an interview is more than checking your qualifications. Now, when looking for a job I am natural and proud as I do not want to work for persons who have an issue with my hair. It is too important to me to conform to ease someone else and their insecurities. I am natural and either you like it or you don’t but don’t think I’m willing to change for anybody!

  16. Amena Hamilton Agnew
    Amena Hamilton Agnew

    Some of you that say it doesn’t hurt anything I beg to differ. I have spoken to many men who do not like natural hair and also like I said before at work and/or interviews they do discriminate at times…but I do notice older men appreciate it but the brainwashed men my age (30’s) do not appreciate it…and yes I said brainwashed.

    1. Sabrina Perkins Post author

      How unfortunate you have come across many who feel that way. I know they exist and personally I say screw ém. I don’t want a man who is not attracted to me because of my hair. As far as a job…I don’t want to work for a company that won’t hire me for my hair so going in natural is a plus in that regard. Thanks for sharing.

  17. gena

    I know its definitely helping me. Through research I’ve been able to understand
    My natural hair, love every kink and curl, and my beauty and knowledge has been enhanced this whole
    Natural journey.

  18. Vicki Steverson
    Vicki Steverson

    Before I walk out the door, I look in the mirror and say, damn my hair is the bomb. I then walk out the door with my head held high, knowing my hair is on point, feeling healthy and happy. If people have a problem with my hair, that’s what it is, their problem. My hair be looking to good to deal with peoples negativity.

  19. Shay Carr
    Shay Carr

    Both. Black women are finally learned to accept thier hair types. On the other hand, The popular black women are having the european look being pushed into our community. I.e. Nicki, beyonce. It is hurting us & making our look natural more harder to be accepted. Its happening at once. Its tough.

    1. Sabrina Perkins Post author

      It is a battle but there are strong naturals in the public eye and they sport their natural beauty everywhere they go. Kerry Washington,YaYa Dacosta, Solange Knowles, and Janelle Monae just to name a few. The struggle to embrace our beauty on a national scale may never come but as long as we are comfortable with how we look then to me that is all that matters.

  20. Niecy

    We have the most sought after beauty, so what would you expect from a colorless world?

  21. Kelly Hall
    Kelly Hall

    I think it helps, Alot! Im more confident today than I ever was in life. I went natural 5+ years ago, and its been a constantly evolving journey of self discovery, acceptance and honesty. Professionally, I have had no problems in pretty conservative environs. As for my attractiveness, specifically to black men I feel they are more attracted, and I’m a big girl! (evolving her way back to her smaller self!) But no lie and all humility, I pull men aged 18-81 (and a few women too, lol!) Own your own beauty! The response will shock you. The women I see on this page are stunning!

    1. Sabrina Perkins Post author

      There is a serious self-love deficiency in some of us and I think that is part of the problem some black women have with natural hair. I know, I know that gets thrown around a lot but it does not mean it ain’t true! Confidence is EVERYTHING and you got it and good for you. More of us need it. Thanks for sharing and reading.

  22. Lozette Clemons
    Lozette Clemons

    I can honestly say both depending on the situation.. helping becuase its a nice thing that more and more black women are comfortable with their own hair- hurting becuase and this is depending on the individual- it is causing a division sometimes. i hear so many women that are natural down women with relaxed hair and say their health is unhealthy- they are appealing to european standards, its a form of self hate- and some relaxed women will down women with natural hair too, but their are women like me that understand healthy hair comes in many forms and both are beautiful when done right. btw my hair is hot combed not permed- the great thing about black hair is that it is so versatile and not one is better than the other. personally i wear my hair straight wavy curley weave natural what ever i love black hair period and all the wonderful things you can do!

    1. Sabrina Perkins Post author

      Our hair is versatile but also delicate. Many styles some choose to wear are hurting their tresses. Taking care of one’s hair, eating right, exercise and staying away from stress is necessary for healthy hair. Also, fostering a pride in what grows naturally out of your own head is crucial even if you choose not to wear it in it’s natural state. Self-love, self-acceptance are needed in every black woman’s life and mind.

  23. Nadia Bent
    Nadia Bent

    Helping, its definitely a plus it show us how to embrace our self, love our self and what God has blessed us with, we were made unique for a reason, we stand out among all cultures and I love it

  24. Sherice

    It’s helping. Every time I see a black woman on a televison commercial, her hair is natural. I really don’t think society has a problem with our hair….maybe some of the more ignorant individuals do, but if we love ourselves and are confident with how we look, how others feel about our hair should not matter.

  25. Teets Vicky
    Teets Vicky

    When u have those old dry.. Ashy… Fro’s yes it hurts. It looks as if u are neglecting your hair. If it looks dry and ashy u probably are. My husband loves my coils.
    Take pride in your natural & nourish your hair. Natural hair can be accepted just as much as relaxed hair. Check out the tv commercials now days. 80-90% of the African American women are natural on them,and I don’t mean Victoria’s Secret commercials!
    I will never touch a relaxer again- 2 yrs and counting

    1. Sabrina Perkins Post author

      We have to remember that everyone is entitled to a bad hair day and that is not just for relaxed women. Naturals can be off their game and we shouldn’t ride them for it. I know I have my bad days but I shouldn’t be judged for it.

    2. Ruth

      I have a friend where it will be three years since her last relaxer. She is one who has her hair heat trained because she does not know how to care for her hair any other way. After seeing that my hair is growing, I’m relaxed, and using natural products she is just now trying to care for her hair. She’s also asking my input on different styles she tries when she doesn’t flat iron. Whew! It’s a journey and only if that “unruly” group of naturals would take the time to learn about caring for natural hair, I think it would be more acceptable. You know how society is, they take the small group of bad apples and lump us all in the one dumpster… smh

  26. Eve

    I believe that Black women, which I am part off, are loud, mouthy, angry and have too much attitude. I do not think that we have to behave like any other race but the fact is here and none other us can take care of it. If our black men are turning away, I don’t really blame them as I, myself, wouldn’t want to settle with a man who is always angry or doesn’t deal with problem gently. I think we need to give ourselves some respect and accept to recognize that we have some changes to make and it does start by loving our own hair, being natural, let go of anger and attitude. It is true that sometimes any human can get angry but we are not tagged and stereotyped as always angry, mouthful and full of attitudes for no reasons. It is a fact that we have to accept and change. Any race is not perfect and the best way to change, yes we also have to change, is to face our defaults and qualities, not compared to another race but to the women God wants us to be.

    1. shanna mc

      That is so not true. Not ALL of us are like the ones with no home training or those who have poor ghetto mentality but not all of us. I believe that type of behavior comes from a poverty stricken area and in most cases are african american but there are also other races

  27. Valencia

    If you feel that natural hairstyle makes your confident(wonderful). However, if you are confident w/relaxed hair(wonderful) too! People will talk about each other no matter the style, so be yourself. I was natural back in the 90’s –it was considered “out of style” at that time, but I endured critism, but that was my choice. I am no longer natural and that is my choice. I see hair as beauty no matter texture or style.

  28. Doris Morrison
    Doris Morrison

    people should not stop us from being who we are and for the guys who dont like us means they dont like themseves. lets make oyr own companys that wearing your natural hair wont be a problem.

  29. GoldenD

    This has been a point of contention for me for YEARS! The armed forces have so many regulations about hair, many of which are discriminatory. There are also the unspoken rules. This affects men as well. the main rule for male hair is that it not touch the ears and doesn’t touch the collar. There may be a length rule, but not sure. Black men are harrassed if their hair is barely longer than a near scalp fade! As for the ladies…the bulk rule. This has been in existence since at least the 90s. Your hair must be above the collar and may not exceed 3 inches in bulk. Locs are now “against regulations” and last I heard, there were attempts to do the same for twists and extensions!!! It is hard enough to be a woman in the service without such BLATANT discrimination. One of my Sorors has beautiful locs and has to hide them under a wig to avoid having her career affected.

    It’s nice to chat amongst ourselves, but we should bring to the attention of the masses to combat it. Last I checked race, religion, sexual orientation were protected. The civil rights movement, gay right movement….Looks like the natural hair movement should be next! However, the stereotype of us being militant may be perpetuated…SMH!

    1. Sabrina Perkins Post author

      Oh wow. I had no clue. Having to hide your locs under a wig for your career? And many say natural hair is completely accepted and naturals are making a stink about nothing. Here is a clear example of just how wrong that belief is. Some stereotypes may never leave.

  30. Juliet Iziegbe Areghan - Okonkwo


    1. Sabrina Perkins Post author

      I so agree! We conformed, believed when we were told that European features were more beautiful than ours and it screwed quite a few of us up. We are walking examples for younger girls and as we raise them to love and nurture their natural tresses more and more women will be going natural.

  31. GN

    Hi I’m 15 and have been wearing my natural hair for 6 months. My school has never told me my hair is distracting but I get distracted by peers distracted by my hair. They like to pull at my curls or stick their fingers in my hair. During class I will get questioned about can I feel them touching my hair etc. They have a notion that I can’t feel anything because of how thick and curly my hair is! Anyway I believe its helping, because more girls are wearing their natural hair! I get tons of compliments on my hair from both men and women even more from black men. They tell me to keep it natural and that its beautiful! xp

    1. Sabrina Perkins Post author

      I”m glad your experiences have been so positive! You going natural probably gave other girls the confidence to do the same. Congrats on going natural and remember your hair is a part of your body and if you do not want anyone to touch it tell them.

  32. Linda

    I went natural 10 years ago. There were few women “brave” enough to do it. For me it was a matter of time. I have woefully little time to do hair. I was amazed by the negative response of some blacks. I was down right shock by the utter fascination of whites by my natural hair. Whites are far more appreciative of natural beauty than some in my own community. Oh, the irony!

    1. Sabrina Perkins Post author

      Linda, it’s unfortunate you experience had to be so negative from some blacks but many are struggling with seeing our natural selves as beautiful. Many have bought into the belief that European looks are beautiful and anything outside of that is not. That is no excuse for their behavior but it may explain why they treated you so badly.

  33. Ruth

    Wearing our hair natural has helped some and hurt some women. I say it’s hurt some women because when they went natural they did not know how to care for it and that left them “lookin a HOT mess!” Some felt because they didn’t relax all they have to do is go to bed and get up and go; not realizing that they still have to care for the hair even if no relaxer is used. For those who did it because they wanted/ want to learn to care for their natural hair it has helped. This category of “naturals” has taken the steps necessary to bring a standard to where being a natural can and is being appreciated. It is showing mom’s of yesterday that because their daughter’s hair is kinky does not mean they don’t have “good hair” and need a perm/relaxer; they just need to know how to care for it. In my opinion, and I’m a relaxed girl, being natural has helped a lot of women become more confident in who they are because they realize that they can have unrelaxed hair and still have it be called “good hair” regardless of whether the hair is straight or how light or dark their skin color.

  34. Diana G

    I am 54 years old and had relaxed hair for about 30 years. I am once again “NATURAL” and am loving my kinky, curly hair. I had forgotten how BEAUTIFUL it is…… I ENJOY SEEING ALL YOU YOUNG LADIES ROCKING YOUR NATURALS; YOU ALL ARE AWESOME AND VERY CREATIVE !!!!!!!!!! I HAVE LEARNED A LOT ABOUT MY OWN HAIR BECAUSE OF YOU…………. We “NATURALS” are a CREATIVE group of people, if they don’t want to accept us let’s “CREATE” our own businesses and corporations……….IJS……..

  35. CurlSense

    I’d have to say it’s helping me. I’ll be honest, there was a time when I had a perm and I thought I’d never wear natural hair, let alone wear it out in public. I wear it in an undo, wear it braided and twisted out and can even get it in a ponytail. My hair is healthy and growing longer and in December I’ll be 3 years natural. At my daughter’s middle school I’m so proud to see sooooo many children, female and male embracing their natural coils.

  36. Pamela Smith
    Pamela Smith

    How can it hurt?? The woman wearing her hair natural is doing so for various reasons and all those reasons should be for her only. I wear my hair natural because it makes me feel good to not have all those chemicals in my hair and to just be natural. I’m not doing it to start a movement, wage a war or have a bitter disagreement with the white man or any man/woman about hair. I mean, it’s OUR hair. We were born with it. I didn’t see Bo Derrick start a white girl movement or riot when she wore braids in her hair. I think we need to keep the posts about HAIR-loving it, wearing it, experimenting with it and showing each other what we do with it. All these negative articles make me wish I’d never started looking for these sites. What happened to it just being about our hair? If anyone, no matter where I am, has a problem with me wearing my hair naturally, I’ll look them straight in the eye and tell them, “The day you start paying my mortgage, my car note, all my utilities and home schooling my son, that is the day I will go back to relaxing my hair. And by the way, that day ain’t neva gonna happen, ya hear me!”

  37. Lynne Young II
    Lynne Young II

    Why does it have to do either one? Why can it just be something a black woman chose to do or not to do?!

  38. Debra Manora
    Debra Manora

    natural or relaxed who cares. just wish everyone will ” do you “, i dont care how yo hair is, just dont look down on me cause i prefer mines a different way. no agreement needed just do you and dont worry bout mines.

  39. Nildy Mary Chapman
    Nildy Mary Chapman

    Its helping; because the day i decides to let my hair be natural i really discovered and accepted myself the way i trully am.

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