2009-06-03

Natural Hair and Interracial Relationships


So over at The Coil Review(might have to scroll down or up to see part I or II), they have an interesting concept going on. They have a white guy writing about his experiences with his black girlfriend while she transitions from relaxed hair to natural hair. As you guys all know I am a natural head. Finding these articles were double gold for me.Interracial relationships and natural hair? You don't find stuff like this to blog about often. Most black women are still relaxing or wearing weave. Now over at the Coil Review, they are pretty strict about what they consider natural hair. Folks who flat iron on a regular basis, wear weave or wigs, or use texturizer per them are not truly natural heads (scroll down the page over at the Coil Review to see the article "A Natural Technicality" to get a full understanding of what I am talking about). So I think this guy is learning the whole, dirty, truth about natural hair.

My husband had some clue because I wasn't the first black girl he ever dated. He knew about the concept of weave and relaxers, although not completely. He once asked me why my hair never grew, and I had to explain to him it does and that I give it a good blunt cut every three or four months, about an inch or two each and every time, I just did it in the bathroom, instead of at the beauty shop. He truly just didn't know. Then he moved in with me (or should I say I moved in with him, it was his apartment before it was mine). Just to start it off, I can count on one hand how many times in my life I have been to the beauty shop. I grew up with a cheap momma who did at home relaxer kits, had the hot comb heated on the stove, and trims were done in front of a bathroom mirror. I continued to do that as I left the house. It was then he learned what a "perm" truly was as he saw me put my own Just For Me perm (yes I used kiddie perm, I have a sensitive scalp) in the bathroom of his apartment. He then saw my chemical burns the next day where I didn't wash it out good. He then asked me why I permed my hair if it was all that trouble. I couldn't really give him an answer. That was my last relaxer, and then for years after that I became a flat iron queen. It was time consuming and damaging to me hair. Then a few years back I said to hell with flat irons and went for the gusto with rocking my curly hair. I've been a natural head ever since.

A lot of men, black, white, or the other really don't understand the relationship black women have with their hair. He didn't understand why I was scared of humidity or had to mentally prepare myself for swimming. He didn't understand why I swore that flat ironing my hair was an invitation for a rain storm and how I hated rainy days. Or why after doing my hair I didn't want him playing in my hair. It isn't his fault, he is a guy with relatively short hair, he goes to pro-cuts, he washes his hair daily in the shower and all he does when he gets out is comb it back and throw in some gel. His hair dries in 10 minutes tops. Most men don't think to do hot oil treatments. It isn't their fault, they don't have to deal with it.

Black women have a unique issue when it comes to our hair. We have pretty much been told it was a burden. It is a bit time consuming. You can spend all day or several hours putting a relaxer in your hair. You are told in order to look acceptable it must be straight. That people assume if you don't have straight hair, you are making a political statement. Or that you are just too lazy or cheap to get you hair "done". The concept of swimming can be frightening. So can the concept of rain. As you know after these activities are done you will be fighting with your hair to get it back to it's straightened state.

When a white guy has to see the transition, it can be a bit daunting, and like this guy learned, he can come off as insensitive. Yeah,the hair doesn't always look pretty when transitioning. My husband for years thought the only hair styles I could do is a bun or ponytail. I didn't know to do the big chop back in 1999. So I transitioned by way of trimming over time. I remember feeling my hair was ugly and him hounding me to take my hair out of a bun. It can also be frustrating because the concept of length is skewed.

My husband prefers longer hair. When my hair was straight it looked longer, but with curls you get shrinkage, taking way that length. Most people never truly realize how long my hair is until they see it flat ironed, with is rarely if ever. So that is another obstacle, to explain to people the concept of shrinkage, I wouldn't think I would have to, but I do. Not to mention the whole "you should wear your hair like that more often" comments. Don't you know straight always equals better? ::sarcasm:: I as per usual, digress.

One thing I did notice was with white people they didn't seem to be repulsed by my hair, they thought it was odd, but they didn't ask me when I was going to go get it "done". My husband actually likes it because I spend less time in the bathroom and I am less inclined to fear rain or humidity. That and he can actually touch my hair without fear of drawing back a nub. I think guys overall still prefer the straight look, but white guys who are open to dating black women seem to be more open to the concept of "natural hair".

Overall understanding and accepting black woman's hair is a big task for black women, it is nice to see a white man at least trying to understand black hair and the black woman's relationship with it.