Relaxing Your Hair Is Just A Hairstyle Not A Sell Out

No Afro Zone WarningAnd wearing your hair natural is not a political statement

When did how a black woman chooses to wear her hair become a political statement rather than what it is; a hairstyle?

I recently saw a thread on a black hair forum about relaxers being no different in terms of self hate than skin lightening creams and plastic surgery. A strong statement that’s likely to gauge a reaction whether your hair is natural or relaxed.

Some may agree due to the risks associated with relaxers like hair loss from scalp burns, cancer risk and risks to unborn babies in pregnant women. Why risk having a caustic chemical on your head just for straight hair? That aside, many other cosmetic and household products we use also come with risks associated yet we use them anyway because we always have. Soaps, shampoos and cosmetics also contain many allergens and parabens which have been linked to cancer yet we go on using them.



This may be a very naive view of things but when I was around 10 I asked my mum if I could get my hair relaxed. She refused saying that I could have it done when I was thirteen. When I was finally old enough, on the night before we were due to go to the salon to relax my hair, I was so excited I could barely sleep. I was excited not because of any socio-political reason but because it would make my hair look different. Just the same way I would get excited about wearing a brand new outfit to a party I was invited to. By the same token, I was ecstatic to see my natural hair grow when I decided to transition a few years ago. Not for any other reason than my hair would look different.

In previous generations it is possible that there was a slight element of self hate that made many women opted for relaxers as there was the conception that straight hair was more’ hygienic’.  Silly I know! However in current generations girls from a young age relax their hair because it is the way things are done. Your mum’s hair is relaxed, your sister’s hair is relaxed so it follows that you will relax yours too right? Others opt for relaxers because they feel it will make their hair more manageable.

Let me pose a question however. If relaxing hair was a sign of self hate then how do we explain all those African women who relax their hair? I am talking here of the women who live in African countries where more than 90% of the population is black. There aren’t many white women with straight locks to envy and want to emulate. Television does not play that much of a part either particularly in rural areas of Africa where electricity is not common. So why do they relax their hair? The answer is simple. For the same reason that brunettes want to be blonde. For the same reasons that we paint our nails, put on lipstick, wear jewellery and even braid our hair. Because it makes us look different and feel different and we think it will enrich our lives somehow. It’s just the human urge to try new things and experiences.

Relaxing your hair is only a problem when you are not doing it for the right reasons. If you are caving in to pressure from work to look ‘presentable’ or to fit in with a perceived image of European beauty then you have a problem!

Let’s be honest here. We are the ones who have made an issue out of the differences between relaxed hair and natural hair. When a white woman gets a curly perm, she’ll probably get comments about her new hairstyle. No such luck for a black woman, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. After all, how many other races call the hair that grows out their scalps anything other than natural? By drawing the battle lines, we have created the problem.

Being natural is also nothing to be particularly proud of. For better or worse, it’s just a hairstyle.

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About Alma Ruddock


I’m Alma Ruddock, the founder and editor-in-chief of Blackhairinformation.com.I stumbled on a hair care forum back in 2008 frustrated with my breaking relaxed hair and the information that I found there changed the fate of my hair, and quite possibly my life, forever! I immediately started to transition to natural hair and started BlackHairInformation.com as a way to help both myself and other women of color achieve their dreams of long healthy hair. I have now achieved my goal length and I continue to help others achieve their dreams too.My three passions are hair, art and entrepreneurship and I love to be able to bring my unique view on hair growth and successful hair journeys to our readers. I am an eternal optimist and workaholic. In addition to BHI I have founded quite a few other websites and businesses including Elongtress Hair Vitamins and Urban Gyal which all fall under the umbrella of my company Coils Media Ltd.

About Alma Ruddock


I’m Alma Ruddock, the founder and editor-in-chief of Blackhairinformation.com.I stumbled on a hair care forum back in 2008 frustrated with my breaking relaxed hair and the information that I found there changed the fate of my hair, and quite possibly my life, forever! I immediately started to transition to natural hair and started BlackHairInformation.com as a way to help both myself and other women of color achieve their dreams of long healthy hair. I have now achieved my goal length and I continue to help others achieve their dreams too.My three passions are hair, art and entrepreneurship and I love to be able to bring my unique view on hair growth and successful hair journeys to our readers. I am an eternal optimist and workaholic. In addition to BHI I have founded quite a few other websites and businesses including Elongtress Hair Vitamins and Urban Gyal which all fall under the umbrella of my company Coils Media Ltd.

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204 Comments on "Relaxing Your Hair Is Just A Hairstyle Not A Sell Out"

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sorry

sorry but your statement about african women is not accurate. African women are indeed influenced by western standards of beauty because they DO have televisions and they see white women on TV all the time. And for those in rural areas without electricity , many of them are not relaxed and those who are , are influenced by the women that come from the city. The demand creates an offer and relaxers are sold left and right in many areas of Africa. So by some type of domino effect western standards of beauty do end up influencing the remote areas also.

I see you read our thread on BHM but you aren't totally impartial, some points were made as to why some women think relaxing is a sign of self hate that you left out of your article.

Saiyah

Ok America! Understand this. I wore an afro for ten years, and loved it. I wanted a change recently and decided to
flat iron. I did not want to have heat damage so I relaxed last year. I miss my fro, so I recently bc. Bottom line,
us black women are not self hating humans. We should be allowed to wear our hair any damn way we choose,
w/o idiots assuming we are trying to be white. Hell, most of the world has straight hair, not just whites! Our first
lady, is intellegent, educated, and currently wears her hair straight. Who gives a darn! Stop reading more into how
black women wear our hair. We do not give a darn about you and your hair. Please leave ours alone! And woe to the
fool that says anything to me about my hair choices.

Lol!

Taffie

R-i-g-h-t ON !!!!…….As We used to say in the DAY. Right ON!

Imade Iyamu

I wanted to say this too. African women are highly influenced, and almost no one has natural hair. Hair care is judged by how you manage your weaves, not your real hair.

I left out the bit about why some women think relaxing is a sign of self hate on purpose because there is no universal reason why people relax their hair. When I relaxed mine all those years ago it was simply because I wanted something different and nothing else. I cannot speak for everyone but relaxing is only a sign of self hate depending on the reason one does it eg, to fit in with caucasian friends or whatever. In truth however, it's impossible for any black woman (or man) to be totally impartial on the subject. Relaxing or not relaxing is always going to be a controversial issue.

Mark

I do agree with the response… There is often a lot of self hate involved in straightening the hair and often the women believing in straight hair are not even conscious of it. When a black woman straighten the hair of a 3 year old lil girl, i believe that no excuse she would come up with will make me see anything else than a troubled person in total disconnect with her origins, and totally lacking self respect for her color. No excuse in the world… I accept straight hair Only if a woman is confident with her natural hair, and does not utter stereotypical degrading comments about natural hair…. Other than that anything else would tell me that I am facing a troubled black woman with deep identity issues.

Mark

"Sorry" is also right about the third world, the same self hatred exist there about hair type and skin complexion… Traveling and watching more afrocentric content would enlight us on a lot of misconceptions we have abut Blacks around the world… Colonizations has crreated a worldwide Black mess, education is important to reverse the miseducation and self hatred ongoing process created and perfected centuries ago…

Anita Nankam

Before you ask, I'm Cameroonian and lived there for most of my life. You say "in current generations young girls relax their hair because it is the way things are done". First of all, young girls do not relax their hair- their mothers/guardians do, and why? Because it makes it "easier" for them to deal with that little girl's hair. Who wants to comb out nappy hair for hours on end anyway? Girls as young as 3 years old (from what I know) will get their hair relaxed, and even though they hate the sensation of a burning scalp, it is preferable to not having "good" hair like all the other little girls at school.

Black women hold a very unique place in American society. I don't think many other black women would disagree with me on my assessment that we are generally the lowest on the "totem pole". I believe, that in America, Black people as a whole have generally been encouraged by society to embrace self-loathing. It has been encouraged to separate ourselves from our unique culture, language, food, etc. On top of that, we're women stuck in a fairly staunch patriarchal society. It seems that the only way we win is to blend in and quit our "whining".

Now, here's where I get into the hair argument. What I hope every Black woman strives to achieve, and what I want us all to achieve is healthy hair, no matter the style. However, you CANNOT say, and it is in my honest opinion, disrespectful of some of our sisters to say, that going natural is not a political statement. If you had written instead that it seems a little ridiculous for there to be such an uproar whenever a Black woman announces that she is going to revert to the way her hair was when she was born, then yes, I would have agreed with you and probably taken more kindly to your article. But when you say in this day and age that going natural is about as remarkable as putting one's hair into a ponytail, you are denying the women that do so the respect they deserve for daring society to "deal" with them, as they are, without blending in to make others feel comfortable. It is hard to deny that silky, manageable hair is widely desired in our society. I do not fault the Black women who genuinely want to relax their hair for a new look. I think that it is perfectly fine. However, it is SO rare to find a Black woman who wants to straighten her hair SOLELY because it is a new look, and not because it is a way to finally have the hair of her dreams, i.e. silky, glossy, straight, straight, straight. It is the attitude in which they do this that is so damaging to ALL Black women, especially the other women who may choose not to partake in it.

Bottom line: If some Black women want to rid themselves of their “nappy” hair, fine. It is absolutely their prerogative. But DO NOT take away from the courageousness of other women who choose to go natural by deeming it “just another hairstyle”. Yeah, it’s the hair we’re born with- it doesn’t seem like it should be such a big deal. However, as long as this country is afflicted with the notion of the perfection of Euro-centric beauty, “going natural” will continue to be a political statement. Don’t get it twisted.

Tammie Thomas

AMEN my sister! AMEN!! PREACH!!! I don’t think she gets it at all. And you can call me a natural hair nazi all you want BlackHairInformation blogger… but whether you like it or not being natural is something to be very proud of!!!! I think that because we are persuaded and made to feel that in our natural state we are not looked at as attractive because of our hair, hips and lips we succumb to westernizing ourselves… now look who’s trying to plump filler in their lips and hips! HA! Don’t tell me we aren’t a political, socio-economical, statement! WAKE UP!

divideandconqeror

This is interesting but so far fetched!!!I don’t understand how wearing your hair in it’s natural state can cause someone to respect you more or less…Our counterparts already deal with us and have to accept us as we are rather our hair is straight or natural,simply by the color of our skin!!! Another thing I don’t understand is why such a commotion is made about being natural…why do you need support groups and encouragement…why don’t just be natural..why you gotta try to convince people to be natural..sounds like to me your struggling with it but don’t want it to be known!!

Anita, clearly you take the same view in my argument but have come to a different conclusion. When I speak of rural women in African countries I go by the ones I have seen with my own eyes and not some guesswork. The younger generations do relax their hair, not every single one of them of course. That would be a generilization which is wrong. Saying that they relax their hair so that they can finally have the silky hair of their dreams is a bit far fetched. They are not exposed to western standards as much as a city girl! In any event, the reason I had my hair relaxed was because it was different from my natural hair, that's all.

I am also natural now because I my hair is stronger natural and I am currently enjoying it curly, anyway I digress. What I am trying to say is that if a person has chosen a hairstyle soley to make a point (political or otherwise), then there's something wrong with the picture! I sounds to me like rebellion and rebels must surely grow up at some point and choose to remain natural because they enjoy having their hair that way or relax it when they realize that not many people were paying attention to the little drama they created themselves.

By some of the responses I have received to this article, it seems to prove my point that we are the ones who have created the problem by drawing the battle lines on the ground. To me it just shows a subcouscoius guilt ladies have in relaxing their hair which brings on the underserved pride for going natural.

My mother in law has always worn her hair natural, she says she prefers to 'wear it as God gave it to her'. It couldn't get any simper, no uneccesary pride at being natural or looking down on ladies who choose to relax. If only everyone could see things as simply.

who's image

black women who wear their hair natural for me not only looks much more healthy and tend to have a far more varied style than the stright,stright stright plastic greasy unnatural or after the burnout yamout heres a wig for your woes a women that knows her self will learn about hair care and not hair mis management check out the glossy mag on offer to black women so called hair care most black women saloons do not do hair care very few cause they are using products that are manufactured by white companys for a fast buck of the backs of black women who has an image issue's that has been programmed by the media via the african holocust mindset .burning a three year olds hair and not trying to instill her self beauty is tatamount to abuse of image self worth and a disregard of self love and sound education, finance,and health.

cournita

No one is checking black women's hair but black folk! Let's stop the hating! I for one agree with the Author Alma,
it is just a hairstyle. Let's say you are natural, but straighten all the time. You are still altering your original hair texture,
whether it is straighter when wet (chemically treated) or not. I agree every woman should know their original hair texture,
but come on "selling out." I have a white friend who tans weekly, perms her hair, and has not seen her original hair color
in years. Yet, no one calls her anything but natural. Let a black woman perm without doing anything else and she is trying
to be white. My mother in law rocked a fro for years and is now relaxed in a short style. She was a great women with an
afro, and she is still a great woman with a relaxer. Black people need to stop letting superficial things divide us. We need
to focus on the alarming murder rate in our communities. I have never seen a relaxed female doing a drive-by! Move on
folks, and concentrate on the important things in life!

Ha! You got my point of view spot on!

Melissa

AMEN! Best comment so far. I have went from natural to relaxed and back and forth again. Black females need to grab on to reality and hold on tight. It is a simple change in appearance. The same people talking about "Be black be natural" I dont see them walking around in moo moos with baskets balanced on their heads. Get over yourselves. Weomen go natural for different reasons and relaxed for their own reasons. Mind your business aslong as you are striving for healthy hair that is the bottom line. SHUT UP! Go to college or something. Gosh!

@beatlesluv22

THIS COMMENT WINS. Completely eloquent and accurate

Wendy

I totally agree with you!

Love me for me

Okay, I know I'm a little late with this article but it was definitely a good read. @Cournita, I couldn't agree more. I am currently natural, almost 2 years. AND I'm getting ready to go back to relax hair because I want a cute short crop hairstyle. My lifestyle at the moment doesn't allow for the time it takes to manage and style natural hair. Like India Arie sang, " I am not my hair" and that goes for both spectrums. Love me with natural and love me relaxed. Get to know me, not how I were my hair, if my lifestyle says I'm a sellout, then call me one but not because I choose to relax my hair. Yes, I agree that natural hair is healthier for your scalp because I witnessed it for myself. As Cournita said, there are more pertinent issues to concentrate on than each other's hair and who that woman is because she chose to be relaxed or natural. There are plenty of issues in our communities that can be addressed and attended to besides black women's hair.

I know right? We have countless other issues and we shouldnt have the time to hate on each other because of our hair!

Just so you know

First things first, we are ALL capable of perversion. By that I mean we all have been effected by the diaspora, slavery, Jim Crow, and colonialism. Every Black African person! We have all partaken in some form of self hatred due to being Black. You can say you haven't but you're lying to yourself. I say that in reference to the authors consistent statement that she only relaxed her hair for a new look.

The other issue is health. I am a natural hair stylist doing natural hair for over 12 years. I was born and raised in Africa and in the US. I see women everyday in my salon who have sickly scalps from chemical damage, broken and thinning hair from relaxing for a decade or more. I get referrals from dermatologists who tell them YOU CANNOT RELAX ANYMORE! They come to me reluctantly to save what they have left! Black women are loosing their hair at alarming rates and it's not older women going through menopause anymore. My clients are younger and younger. 21-35 year olds. These women have known that their hair was being eaten away, but continued to relax. WHY would you put a chemical directly on your scalp that has pores and is very close to your brain, when stylists wear GLOVES when applying it to protect their hands???!! Yes it's true that we are surrounded by harsh chemicals everyday, but it's your choice whether you want to continue damaging your skin and scalp in order to have a "New Style" or whether you have the self control to remove those toxins from your body just like it's up to you whether you use chemical laundry detergent or a more natural version. 25 years from now the effects of relaxing your for decades upon decades will come to light and I believe that Black women will STILL continue to use them!! What does that really say about us?
India Arie is right, You are not your hair, but whatever hair you do have should be HEALTHY. Would you put relaxer on you face and body? Of course not so why the hell would you put it on your scalp which is ALSO YOUR SKIN? These are the basic questions that I try to get people to understand and answer. If the author really felt that relaxed or natural she's just changing her hair then she wouldn't have been compelled to write this article in the manner in which she did. Black men and women would had to be living in a society where the White Euro-centric image wasn't the epitome of beauty, colonization, slavery, Jim crow, and other race based injustices never existed, our mothers, aunts and other female figures did not relax their hair systematically, and we saw consistent positive images of our people, in order to truly say, "Mommy I wanna relax my hair today because I just want to try something new" It's impossible! That's like living in a post 9/11 world and saying that it has no effect on you or those to come in the future.
You spoke on rural Africa. Please remember that Colonialists touched every part of Africa including rural Africa. Why do you think that in a remote village in Burkina Faso a family would have a worn and torn picture of a white Jesus hanging on the wall?!!? African women have been adorning and changing up their hair styles for centuries without trying to emulate caucasian hair. Straightening our hair came directly out of trying to embrace a White ideal. Christianity and Islam effected the ways that Africans viewed themselves. It doesn't take much when your oppressor is telling you that what you are and what you believe is not good enough, you eventually start to believe it.
Why do tons of African women use skin lightening creams? Because they want another look? They wanna go light for the summer?? C'mon people putting a caustic chemical on your hair is NOT SMART! I don't care if your hair is bouncing, behaving, and "healthy" now, you're still applying the same ingredient that's in a bottle of NAIR to your scalp! the words "Healthy" and "Chemicals relaxers" are NOT synonymous
I don't want to see you in my chair begging me to help you disguise the bald spot that will not grow back.

As difficult as it is for you to believe, when I relaxed my hair it WAS just for a new hairstyle, no different than when I wanted cornrows or braids. When you are 13 years old you don't really understand the concept of permanence and it would not have registered that I was making a permanent change to my hair. To be honest, nor would I have cared at the time. I just want to be the voice of reason here, why are we hating on ladies that choose to relax their hair? I think some of this self-hate sterotypes you put out are a bit flawed particularly in rural africa. Even if they watch caucasians on tv and are trying to emulate them on some level with their hair it does not explain everything that has changed in their part of the world. Many of them eat white bread and unnatural fats like vegetable oil etc. Why do they do this when it is not the food that their ancestors ate? Because it is convenient for them at that particualr point in time.

I argue that some women choose to relax because it is convenient and not because of self-hatred!

divideandconqeror

Now im gonna sit here and disagree with everything(almost) you said!!!..
1)I have been a licensed stylist for over 15 years and my clients are relaxed and have healthy hair..If you know what you are doing when you apply the relaxer, and the client keeps it up,, you won’t have damage…look around you. There are many people who didn’t go natural and there hair is healthy…Actually being natural can be harmful too because all the darn heat you gotta use to straightened your hair out but we not gonna talk about that…lol…plus you have to really moisturize natural hair bc the cuticle is closed and its hard for anything to penetrate to get in there!
2)I don’t hate myself bc im relaxed..thats the moist ignorant thing I ever heard!..You might want to question your love for you race is your discriminating against people that are relaxed..thats a form of hating your race!! My ancestors are powerful and great women and I respect them for all they have done!…I RESPECT THEM FOR WHAT THEY ENDURED AND WHAT THEY DID, NOT BC OF HOW THEY WORE THERE HAIR!!..LOL…REDICULOUS!!..I am strong and confident straight or kinky or curly or whatever terminology you wanna use!
3) if your child ask for ice cream bc they see other kids with ice cream,, you can either give it to them or explain your reason for not giving it to them or why don’t have it…Its called a maturation process!!..You cant tell me you that insulted because a child wanted hair like their friend..they want a lot of things they see other people want…that is called human nature!!!
4)LETS KEEP IT REAL!! ALL THIS TALK ABOUT NATURAL HAIR IS ALL ABOUT THE MONEY!!! It is clearly economical..all this came about , the movie with chris rock and nia long good hair brought your hair to attention bc of money!!! they were paid to do a job which is create a dislike of relaxers so you can be natural..while your contemplating being natural, they got a ship load of product to sell you for just your hair type…don’t you feel special!!..Now you got so many products you don’t know what to do with them..im sure spent a whole lotta money too!…now you got all these natural shops that haven’t even been trained in cosmetology but they can tell you what to do with your hair..yea ok…I see nia still got her relaxer and chris rock wife too..shucks his daughters probably relaxed by now too!..
5) We have got to stop allowing people and society to divide and conqueror us!!..being one or the other doesn’t make you better more educated pro black or any other of that political crap…and yall at these lil natural hair shows and private home meetings for your support group of natural hair movement as you put it needs to be given a rest…why not tell them you got some product you want to sell them and be done with it!! im just being honest!!..all these are marketing tactics to get you to by their crap..that half the time don’t even work, now they got you in the kitchen mixin up natural stuff bc you know it didn’t work but you too ashame to admit it..If you fell victim,, its ok,, you can always change the course.
AND NO IM NOT BITTER IM JUST TIRED OF THE GAMES THAT ARE BEING PLAYED!!THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH NATURAL HAIR AND THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH STRAIGHT HAIR!! wake up people..these people just want your money!!!

Just so you know..

Wow!…. Some women THINK it's a conscious choice. They don't realize (or won't realize) the sub-conscious impact that imperialism, slavery, ect.. have had on them even decades and generations later. You can tell yourself all you like that you were not effected by those things at the age of 13, but unless you were living on an isolated island or in a bubble, you're lying to yourself. Anyone who really thinks that they can detach themselves from those roots that have been embedded in our psyche (as well as our parents and grand parents who pass them on) need to read "YURUGU" by Marimba Ani, and look really hard within themselves. Look beyond your surface and really understand. It takes a strong person to be able to really delve into those complexities. For most people it's easier to just believe the hype. Ignorance is bliss for most….
Also, I am not HATING on anybody! Hatred stems from envy and jealousy. I'm a natural hair stylist, The clients that I see with relaxers have no elasticity to their strands, broken ends and itchy irritated scalps! Why would I hate on them Hun? I want my clients to have the healthiest hair possible! Stop looking at it from such a light-weight and two-demensional perspective because when you really get to the meat of it, Relaxing your hair = damaged CHEMICALLY UNHEALTHY HAIR! Plain and simple. Whether you think you had a epiphany to one day get a relaxer, or you were forced to, or whatever your motivation was, YOU ARE STILL SLOWLY KILLING YOUR HAIR AND SCALP! Now How does that message get lost in translation??! If you want women to feel like relaxing their hair is OK because it's "Their choice" then you're leading your readers down the wrong path. I am obligated as a natural hair stylist to provide women and men with the healthiest options possible and I would NEVER recommend that ANYONE put sodium hydroxide on there scalp. It's not about HATiING it's about HEALTH AND HELPING. I've seen countless women with irreparable damage crying to me because of the "CHOICE" that they've made for years. Stick to the facts. It's a fact that Chemical straighteners were used by Black Men and women to conceal the kinky hair they were ashamed of. It's a fact, the FDA lists hair straighteners and hair dyes among its top consumer complaint areas. It's a FACT More and more Black women are loosing the battle with relaxers and loosing their hair! SO for you to make reckless statements that lead women to think that it's OK to apply Sodium Hydroxide to your scalp whenever you want a "NEW LOOK" is leading them down the path to a dermatologists office in the future, or to a stylist like myself to fix the mess they've created. If you worried less about people HATING on those who wear relaxers and more on relaxer wearers LOVING their hair enough to be vigilant and stay chemical free, then articles like yours would be more progressive.
Please, don't get it twisted I know you went natural because you're hair is healthier and that is the case for everyone. It's as simply as 123, Chemicals lead to damaged hair and scalp. You may not see it today, but one day it will negatively effect one's hair.
Also, have you ever lived in Africa? Since you feel my views are flawed and you want me to EXPLAIN some reasons for changes in rural Africa, I will. I grew up in Liberia. At that time everyone ate red rice which was rice locally grown by farmers there. It was hearty, healthy and very much a staple. In the 70's Uncle Ben's Quick rice was introduced by America, and surely because it was AMERICAN, it had to be better! They didn't want the local rice anymore. It was uncivilized! Civilized people ate Uncle Ben's even though it cost more and has basically no nutritional value AT ALL! Now tell me, is that not SELF HATE? Who tells us that Red rice is what the poor peasants eat when it was good enough before? How did we get those ideas? It is SO much BIGGER than just convenience Hun… Imported French bread and English tea are much more expensive than local items, but they are attached to having higher status and class Liberians didn't just make an unbiased decision to buy Uncle Ben's because they liked the taste, It was embedded that the foreign product was better than what they themselves could ever make. Just like the feeling that someone else's hair texture is better, easier, shinier, longer, than their own hair! Is that not SELF HATRED? the seeds have been planted and even though you can't see the point of origin through the thicket does not mean that it's not there. Why can't you understand this???? Why do African people lighten their skin? Is that convenient too????? Or is that self hatred???? They MUST just want to switch up their look again like you, right??
Please… Stop the Madness and open at least one eye….

I cannot in good conscience say that I believe that relaxers are slowly killing ladies hair because I have seen ladies who have been relaxing for over 30 years and don't have the thinning edges and bald spots that you speak of. In actual fact if asked directly I do tell people that I believe that natural hair is 'healthier' than relaxed hair because of the added strength, elasticity and versitility. I win over more converts by telling them this rather than if I was telling them that they are self-hating by using relaxers.

In the meantime, I do accept that the great majority of women choose to relax their hair but don't want to be seen as lepers for choosing to wear their hair straight. Maybe what we should be doing is campaigning for gentler relaxers that don't burn the scalp to be standard on the market? I don't know, all I know is sadly in spite of everything women will continue to relax their hair.

In actual fact I have lived in Africa, my grandmother still lives there and I think the most likely scenario for the why people choose to buy white bread is because it saves them from making it themselves!

you know

Another thing….Think about relaxing one's hair as if it were akin to smoking cigarettes. Everyone knows the risks of inhaling tobacco for a long period of time, it's right on the package. Just like people know what sodium Hydroxide can do to your scalp and hair because you feel the burning sensation when you get a touch up and a lot of women develop scabs afterwards! Ok, so if a teenager grew up in a environment where her mother, aunts, sisters, grandmother, teachers, church goers, movie actresses, models in magazines, tv stars and classmates smoked, she wouldn't have to make a CHOICE to gladly pick up a cigarette and smoke because i would be expected at some point and practically normal! Even if GrandMa had lung cancer, and others started to deteriorate from smoking, It's all around her! She would have to make a choice NOT to smoke! It's the same principal when we are bombarded with relaxer laden images and most of the Black women we come in contact with have relaxers, wigs, weaves, or some euro straight style. It's not a choice it's more of a right of passage! We make the choice to go AGAINST that and go natural. Grown women that come to me ready to go natural don't even know how to comb their natural hair! They don't know how to care for it, what products to use, NOTHING! It's like teaching them a whole new language! Nobody teaches young ladies to care for and LEARN how to do their own natural hair FIRST! They know know to wrap roll and flat iron though…When their relaxed hair starts falling out they have to learn the basics like what's a Loc is and what makes it different from a braid! I don't feel like you are making a choice when your mother gets your hair relaxed before you're 18 and you continually wear it relaxed well until adulthood before going natural again. You don't know anything about your hair at that time. Let's teach our girls to be just as fluent in natural hair care. I mean, they should know what products work for their hair, what tools to use, they should be able to twist their own hair, detangle their own hair, and style their own hair. How about letting them understand all those things before even ENTERTAINING the thought of a relaxer instead of the other way around….

I'm just saying….

There you go, you kinda proved what I was trying to say with the smoking analogy. They smoke because its practically normal until they realize that it is not good for them and they quit. In my case, relaxing your hair was a rite of passage, everyone did it, and when I was finally allowed to relax nobody told me about the dangers, or maybe they did but I was 13 and determined so I didn't care! It wasn't a question of self hate. In time I came to hear and absorb the dangers of relaxing my hair and yet I continued to do so year after year. It wasn't until I heard women preach the BENEFITS of natural hair that I finally listened and decided to go natural.

However I lets be honest, some ladies will NEVER go natural so all I can do is help them get throught the experience with as little damage as possible. I'm a proponent of texlaxing/texturizing over relaxing one's hair to avoid scalp burns and leave some strength and elasticity in the hair. They get a taste for their hair in an 'almost natural' state and hopefully eventually decide to go all the way natural.

In the meantime, relaxed ladies believe that their relaxed locks are just a hairstyle, they are not selling out and I agree with that because it's truly what I believe having been one of them in the past. I would not congratulate somebody for choosing NOT to get a tatoo nor will I hire a mariachi band if someone decides to go natural, they are not making a statement with their hair, they are simply leaving things as they should be.

Melissa

Well I love my hair wether it is relaxed or natural. BTW even though it is almost impossible to do, relaxer isnt suppose to go on your scalp anyway. It is only for your new growth, so if it is being applied correctly, then there shouldnt be many worries. If you know how to properly take care of your hair, soes it really matter? I wish a female would come tell me Im a sell out because I relaxed my hair… ALMA keep doing what you do. You have love from me all the way from Baghdad Iraq! MUAH!!!!!

Thanks girl!

Ms. V

To piggy back on Alma's and Just So you know's comments:

Contemplate this: The only country in Africa not to be colonized by Europeans is Ethiopia. Do ya research on how they wear their hair. You'll see that relaxers and weave are not as common. Men do not wear as many fades and women may straighten their hair, but will wear their natural texture interchangeably. On the other hand, perms and weaves are the norm in many other countries that have experienced colonialism and slavery around the world and the women who get them often become dependent on their hair style in order to feel attractive. I doubt this is a coincidence.

I don't believe that all women who relax are self hating. Many of them are mis-educated on how to style and manage their natural hair and sometimes its just easier to go with what you know. As a natural, I give and receive I from women with all types of hair styles. Hey, everything ain't for everybody all the time.

However, there are some women, even myself at some point, who straightened because they feel their texture is inferior. They want to be able to flip their hair over their shoulder, have that bounce and that shine. If you know enough black women, you know of at least a few who do this.

Go on sites like nappturaly.com, tytecurl.com and goingnatural.com and read some hair stories. You'll see that many who are now natural also had loathed their texture at some point. They eventually grew tired of the relaxers or weaves but for a long time didn't know what else to do and initially thought natural hair would cost them job opportunities, love interests and cause negative comments to come their way. Trust, It takes some audacity to go natural. For me its not a political statement, but a lifestyle choice that involved a lot more thought and research than just your average "style".

I know what you mean about Ethiopians, my mum is half Ethiopian and I agree that it's just a question of miseducation on how deal with our hair that causes the problems. The ladies I know who loathe their texture hate it because it is dry and wiry but try telling them that afro hair doesn't have to be like that, that you can be natural with soft well moistuized hair. They just laugh and tell me that maybe mine's like that but theirs can never be!

naturally yours

it dosent matter if black women have been influence to wear straight hair. it is still a choice.if i try to influence a person to do something and if they choose to do it or not it still a choice. even though i was relaxed i didnt have the negative mentality towards natural hair most relax women have.so was i still a selfhater? i love my hair regardless how i choose to wear it. some people have a habit of putting their issues on others. we all have different experience and are different indivduals so how can u say all women relax because of selfhate.u have to know the individual mentialty. some women do it for a style while some have deep issues.i do belive as long as we are expose to straight hair it will always be an option. the greater exposer to natural hair the more it will be an option.if u relax because u cant mantain natural hair, thats lack of knowledge not self hate.women relax for multiple reason not just self hate. why is that so hard to believe?

Aint that the truth. I find that it's the people who had deep issues themselves when they relaxed that imagine that all other women relax for the same reasons they did. It must be impossible for them to imagine a woman wanting straight hair just because . . .

Ree

I'm so glad I ran across this, as late as I may be, I feel the exact same way. I call those women Natural Hair Nazis. I don't understand why can't getting a relaxer just be a choice. Like anything else that's a choice…some of these ladies rant and rave about how much damage you are doing to your hair by using chemicals, but these same women drink like a fish, smoke, and any other thing that could be looked at as unhealthy. Don't point your natural finger at me because I've chosen to get a relaxer, but your liver is tore up because you can't put the patron down.

lol at this!

Elle

You are SO right. Many natural ladies can give you a complete run-down of all the chemicals in a relaxer, and how they can supposedly kill you, but at the same time they are using many other products that also have questionable ingredients. Chemicals found in perfumes, deodorants, soaps and toothpaste have been reported to have serious adverse effects, but no one has any issue with those products. What some people fail to consider is that many of the dangers associated with relaxer chemicals usually occur from exposure to high doses. The concentrations that are used in health and beauty products are not enough to cause serious harm, unless an individual is particularly sensitive to a chemical. Then there's also the fact that some chemicals can be made in industrial grades, food grades and medical grades. Phosphoric acid, for example, is a common rust remover, but its food grade version is used in many colas and its medical grade is used by dentists to soften tooth enamel before drilling. Naturals LOVE to tell you how sodium hydroxide (lye) is used as drain or engine cleaner, yet have NO idea that it is also used to process chocolate, solidify ice cream, and it has many other food processing uses. Of course a chemical-free body is more healthy, but some people act as though relaxers will cause you to spontaneously combust, or that there is a 100% chance that you will die of some terminal disease if you use them (even though there are many relaxed ladies who are so old they may have gotten their first relaxer from Madame CJ Walker herself, LOL). If there were a DIRECT link between these products and permanent bodily harm, then someone would be able to provide sound medical documentation to say this, instead of just saying what each chemical can do in general (even though they have no idea of how much of each chemical is even being consumed, or if those amounts are any more toxic than other household products). And before anyone says that the ubiquitous "they" are hiding this information just to harm black people, there are other races of people who relax their hair and there are black doctors who should be able to provide the info — if it were true. Those who are burning and maiming themselves with chemical products are either misusing them, or as stated earlier they have some type of sensitivity. I don't believe in vilifying an entire class of products — and the people who use them — for the sole purpose of justifying one's personal choices or to scare people into doing what you do. And I really don't see how choosing to go natural because you were scared into it by some wanna-be doctors and chemists in natural blogs is any better than relaxing your hair out of self hate. Either way, your choices are being forced by someone else.

I burst out laughing at 'spontaneously combust' but I hear you girl. Lye is even used to give pretzels that lovely shade of brown without burning the inside! I bet you plenty of naturals are munching on them!!

Ree

I don't get it. I am just deciding to transition to the natural world after 23 years of being relaxed. My dad thought it would be a good idea for my sister and I to get a relaxer. I was only 6. So this was my "norm" nearly all my life. Growing up in a household where my dad wouldn't allow me to have a white babydoll, I doubt very seriously that he suggested a relaxer so I could conform to the European world. More than likely it was because he watched my mom take ALL day to comb me and my sister's hair and figured relaxing would be more convenient. It is totally unfair to assume that because a lady chooses to wear her hair straight that she's self hating.

Thanks for writing this, Alma. Finally someone who sees this issue much like myself.

Thanks for your comment! It's the same in my household. My hubby won't let our daughter play with white dolls and yet he recently asked me to texturize his hair. His hair is quite long and he hated having it combed and braided coz it would tangle and hurt his sensitive scalp. Is he trying to be white too or is just using a mod con that is the relaxer?!!

Elle

I'd also like to know… if a black woman gets a relaxer, then covers her hair in gel and freezes it into some outlandish "urban" style that no self respecting white OR black person would ever want to wear, are they also "trying to be white"? What about a black woman with long straight weave that's blue and green? I'm just trying to get a handle on this self hate thing, since people want to throw the term around so freely. Is there a rule book on it?

Knee-Na Heiress

You can love one thing without bashing the next. This is so extra.

Shawn Wise-Joseph

Doing the same thing they’re telling us not to do. Hypocrites!!

Shana Smith

Team Madame C.J. Walker!

Sandra Morgan

Well I would assume they think we r bashing them for perms. I think I’ve seen a photo similar to this denouncing perms. We all should b careful. For to each it’s own.

Lynda Landzeh

Why all this? we should instead appreciate the different ways in which we can wear our hair…as far as it’s healthy it’s ok !!

Mahogony Love

I love my natural hair <3 and I don't bash relaxed hair. I used to have relaxed hair. To each their own.

Knee-Na Heiress

Yes Sandra this whole perm vs relaxer is silly! It’s hair! Not world dominance lol.

Stacy-Ann Shreeves

This needs to stop! I have relaxed hair and can appreciate women who are transitioning and have natural hair.. The important thing we are all trying to achieve is healthy longer hair.. Stop the hate

Renee Afi Callender

Thanku for this post Stacy. Women wear hairstyles by choice. The hateful remarks are so gross. If your hairstylist know about hair and seeks knowledge about hair products relaxed can be healthy.

Cleo Maureen O'hara Jones

exactly why I don’t give a xxx

Crystal Mari Gaines

We can coexist. I do me and you do you. Without the hate. Simple.

Gabrielle Gaile Browne

This is ignorant and this post was not needed , as by posting this is gives a negative and dissociative view towards Afro hair.
What we need to educate ourselves on is first pride in our natural organic state , but more importantly , the way that these corrosive chemicals contribute to CANCER ! and FIBROIDS in black women !! The chemicals in these products are HIGHLY toxic ! So before we get all caught in the straight hair epidemic we should bear in mind that relaxer damages MANY of us psychologically annnnndd physically ! Yet we are too blind to see it !!

Cherrese Johnson

It’s dangerous but it’s their choice….. Just like smoking and drinking are dangerous but people still choose to do it.

Shelley Dianne

Thank you very much. As a black woman with naturally long hair (it’s been down to my waist several times..I keep it to mid back length now), I have to relax my hair for manageability. I’ve been called a sell out so many times.. ~Long hair, don’t care~

Donna Allsmiles Hightower

To each their own! I love natural looks and relaxed looks. I just do natural cause I like it on me! 🙂 we are all beautiful!

Nicole Williams

Thank you, some naturals make you feel like you’re committing a crime

Savon Love

Women always seem to form a division over foolishness. This natural hair thing is as hateful as the Lightskin & Darkskin issues. Its a dayum shame we can’t allow each other to choose whatever hairstyle works for US. Instead of finding ways to build with each other we settle for destruction over nothing. I asked one girl the other day “How are you such a Natural Black woman when everything else on you is European” You are designer this and that from head to toe, but you represent Natural black women & the movement back to your roots simply because your hair is in a fro??? Give em something to think about when they come @ you wrong.

Tredella R Vassell

To each her own!!!
Its your hair do what makes you happy!

Lina Gotmyeyesontheprize Jones

Oh, boy, I thought this was just for naturals? 🙁

Kelli SweetSpirit EverShining McClurge

REALLY???!!!! This is some bullshit. DarkSkinned vs Lightskinned, Long hair vs. Short hair, South side Vs. West side (Chicago thang), Natural vs Chemically Relaxed…WHEN! WHEN will it end??? We are always, ALWAYS AGAINST and at war with our OWN SELVES!!!! #WILLIELYNCH

Cullanda Brooks

Wow…I question who created this…yet another senseless issue to separate our race…”Just a hairstyle” really?? I question anything that starts off “just a…” it’s more to it than that…we all have choices but it’s easier to choose when we’re aware of all of the facts and ramifications (if any) of the situation…#chooseWisely

Ronnie Natasha Renee

I’ve been relaxed all my life just transitioned to natural I love both on me. Dont see why you should be judged for either way.

Evelyn Jones-Hill

Relaxed or natural. We can all unite as women.

Veeda Mae Bridges-Buckingham

Do you boo… I had relaxed hair and I loved it but when I went to natural hair I love it more… If you love ur relaxer, well done!!!!

Angie Jackson

If everybody just worry about themselves & stop putting people down for THEIR CHOICES we would be just fine. My choice is to be natural but it’s my choice not the law of the land…… Really ladies.

Stacey Lawrence

What’s with this hair war!?! The Bloods and Crips all over again. What’s next drive by texturizing?? If we all walked around looking the same with the same hair what kind of boring world would this be. GET OVER IT ALREADY!!

Synithia Dowdell-Cole

This is just another way to divide women and some fall for it. it’s just hair smh

Micky Blue Skies Stewart

Sheesh! So unnecessary. People need to do whatever makes them happy and stop worrying about the rest. Relaxed, natural, weave, braids, whatever! What someone else does to their hair is their business. This separation mess has got to stop. We are truly our own worst enemy.

Kimberly Medina Courts

It’s funny how when it’s about a relaxer the natural nazis come out full throttle…..lmao…..but when when the I’m happy and nappy post comes out y’all all for it…..some of y’all chicks are Hippocrates….. Sadly you don’t see men talking ish cause one has a fade and one has a Afro….black women need to step it up….this is sad….relaxed or nat…..do YOU!!

Valerie Hamer Layne

It’s My hair and I do with it what I want. But some natural hair wearing ladies try to make you feel guilty for relaxing your hair…it’s my choice and I choose relaxed!#mizani

Mey's Convo

In order for someone to love there relaxed hair….they need a “no fro zone” sign? That’s divisive….we need to do better in no longer promoting divisions amongst ourselves. What is it to me if another woman chemically treats her hair? My reasons for doing the opposite are my reasons….they do not devalue another woman’s choice.

Kimberly Medina Courts

Oh the natural nazis are going in…..lmaoooooo yall dont realize that just cause you natural dont make you conscious! Some of yall Be wearing color,lashes,pounds of makeup and eating pork by the pound hollering natural….lmaooooooooo reading some of these post have me holding myself and rocking like Miss Sophia in the color purple…..lawd…..lol

Jurea G. Richardson

I personally believe that everyone has the right to do what they want with their hair. But people do not know how to uplift themselves without putting others down, whether they are natural or relaxed. I say do what you are comfortable with!

Shatora Rowe

Sounds like another topic aimed towards dividing us.

Florencia Marie

The only thing I don’t like is when girls who are relaxed say: Girl I can’t go natural, my hair is too nappy for all that. Then I hit them with the side eye

Marandia Mack

I have to disagree with you just a bit because even the healthiest people that are chemical free can still get cancer and fibroids…..a lot of cancers are not triggered by anything……

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