2008-04-18

Natural Hair and IR Relationships


I stole the pic from Yan.


I went over to one of my favorite natural hair care boards, and noticed a conversation about WM reactions to natural hair. Being that I am obviously in IR, this conversation was interesting to me. Apparently several of the women on the site are open to IR dating, either currently in IR or have dated IR in the past. Someone mentioned that it seems many naturals are perceived as pro-black and anti-IR. I actually get that a lot from people of all races, but looking at the message board response, another noticed that that doesn't seem to be the case. She tried to figure out the reasoning for so many naturals that were open to IR. One made a great point:

"Hmm.. you know I've been thinking about this recently and I'm not sure if there's a direct correlation between napptural hair and the love/acceptance of non-black men. I think it's more likely that many black women who go natural are more comfortable with detouring away from societal norms. It is not a far reach to think that a black woman who will ignore cultural beauty standards in what she does with her hair might take a similarly independent attitude towards interracial relationships, despite cultural pressure to stay with "her own"."


I feel this person hit the nail right on the head. To go natural, in particular in the black community, is still somewhat taboo. You get the comments asking when are you going to do your hair, when will you get a relaxer, why are you so lazy and just letting your hair doing "whatever". I know when I first went natural nine years ago, it was a pretty big deal. My parents freaked, my mother told me, my husband (boyfriend at the time) would leave me walking around with natural hair, and my father kept telling me my head looked horrible and I looked like a "witch", he then told me I must think I was white to think I could just wash my hair and be done with it I got cards and suggestions for beauty salons left and right. The "your hair is so pretty, a good relaxer and it will be gorgeous" comments. I still rock a wash and go and have no regrets.

My husband is the one who convinced me to go natural after he saw me put my own relaxer in my head, yeah I was crazy. I used a child's relaxer because I am "tender headed", perms/relaxers burn my head, and I always no matter if professionally done or at home get chemical burns from perms/relaxers. He saw the burns and smelled the relaxer, thinking it was the most horrible smell ever, and it is true, they don't smell very pleasant, he asked me why I would put that stuff in my hair. I thought about it and thought he was right, and nine years later relaxer free. Now hotcomb or ceramic hot iron free is a different story, but for the most part 99.98% of the time I am au natural.

I feel that many BW who decide to go natural are expressing independence because it is a big deal for a black woman to go natural, the reactions you get aren't always positive,and even in the work place it is still taboo in some offices to wear your hair natural. I know many natural heads who break out the relaxer when it is time to interview for fear of rejection. I've done it before. With that being said, I think many of us are open because once you go against the grain in one aspect of your life, it isn't such a big deal in other parts. You are used to dealing with crap from others, so you don't have as many hang ups, causing you to be more open to not just dating, but everything. It is like you are part of a counter culture.

I do want to add, I am NOT trying to start a hair war. Relaxed hair is pretty too, and I don't dislike those who wear their hair relaxed.