“I never knew black people wash their hair…”
“Really? You can straighten your hair? I thought it just melts like clip-in extensions.”
“Did you cut your hair? It looks short today.”
“You have good hair… you’re coolie!”
“How do you get your hair curly like that?”
“Your hair is sooo bushy… it’s too big!”
“Are you mixed? You have to be mixed to have hair like that!”
“Have you got Asian in you?”
“Why is your hair greasy?”
“Does it grow?”
All my life I have been asked the questions listed above and they have shocked me every time.
Sometimes I feel like walking around with a billboard sign saying:
“Yes Afro curly/kinky hair grows.”
“No, I did not cut my hair; it is simply shorter today because I washed it and therefore it shrunk.”
“Yes, Black people can straighten their hair and no it does not melt like clip-in extensions! However, too much heat can lead to heat damage but that can happen to anyone’s hair.”
“No I am not mixed with anything… I am simply a Black African British born.”
“My hair is just curly; just let the smallest ounce of water touch my hair and it will go curly!”
“I add oils to my hair to seal in the moisture and keep it looking shiny and nourished. If you don’t like the ‘grease‘ then don’t touch my hair!”
“Yes my hair grows; all hair grows but may not retain length if the ends break off each month.”
“Solange said it best: “Don’t touch my hair!” – I am not a pet and you are not at a Zoo.”
I cannot believe that even in the 21st-century people still do not know or possibly choose not to accept that hair texture/type is not directly linked to a person’s racial background but more so genes and hereditary.
It also bugs me that people think that because my hair may not look like theirs, it means that I do not take good care of my hair. All hair types must be washed and cleansed in order to be clean and prevent clogged pores. The beauty of natural, Afro hair is that it simply does not need to be washed every day because it does not get dirty or oily as fast as straighter hair types.
Perhaps it is due to media that so many people are kept in the shadows about natural hair but maybe we, as a community, are partly to blame as we relax/ texturise our hair so often that when our natural hair starts to grow through, it is regarded as ‘weird’ or ‘uncommon’. People have become accustomed to believing that natural hair is ‘nappy’ and ‘unkempt’ – when I was younger, the term that people used often was ‘picky’. In actual fact, a lot of Black people do have beautiful, healthy, curly, ‘coily’, kinky, Afro-textured hair under the wigs, weaves, extensions and relaxers. Unfortunately, there is still this “good hair/bad hair” stigma which perpetuates that only a loose curl or hair that is closer to straight hair is beautiful. Hair shaming is not cool guys! Instead, I like to go with the notion that ‘good hair’ is healthy hair regardless of hair texture or curl pattern.
Even in the workplace, natural hair is still regarded as unprofessional… but why?