Black Hair, or Health? 5 reasons why we need to do better.

DISCLAIMER

WARNING

Some of you may love or not love this post. I am writing it WITHOUT any particular person in mind. Take it for what it is and feel free to sound off your opinion, for or against, in the comments. I’ll read them all. Here we go.

Black women are crazy.

Whew. Now that I got that off my chest, let me explain. We are the only ethnic group who will choose our hair over our health. We are the only group of people who will spend money for a complete hair transformation because we think that what comes out of our scalp is somehow unacceptable. We will spend thousands of dollars and hours in the salon, sometimes not by choice, but because of a perceived obligation.

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It’s not entirely our fault. Good and Bad Hair is engrained in our psyche.

Pardon the School Daze flashback. Hair texture was one of the factors used to differentiate the treatment of different “types” of slaves, and it has throughout the years been an integral part of establishing class within the black community. The looser the curl, the better. The straighter, the BETTER. Kinky hair was bad. It required correction in order to be accepted.

Even Franchesca Ramsey talks about black hair in the mainstream in her book, Well, That Escalated Quickly. (Great book by the way.) She talks about making Loc care and style videos on YouTube in a society where children were being told to get rid of afros and Locs in school because they were “distracting.” How is something that grows out of my scalp DISTRACTING?

Despite understanding where these feelings against natural hair come from, I still think we should reexamine these norms. We all have free will to make hair choices, but

1) Chemical hair products can affect your physical health.

My friend wrote a whole post about the risks of long-term use of the chemicals in black hair products and styling techniques. Check it out to see, among other things, what the science says about the following:

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2) Some won’t exercise because of their hair.

Try if you dare to get a woman with a fresh blow out to sweat it out in the gym. I hope you are ready to have your feelings hurt. What is crazy is that I’m not mad at her. I wouldn’t sweat out a look that I spent real money to get, either. But, on the flip side, if my hairstyle prohibits me from reaching my target heart rate for a week or more, that sucks for my heart.

My HEART, which is more valuable than my hair, though admittedly not as cute.

3) And I haven’t even touched on the Hours spent at the salon. HOURS that I could be doing something else.

People ask me how I have time to work full time, raise multiple children, keep my husband happy, write and do a bunch of other stuff. Well, I don’t have all of the answers, but at least in part, I use the hours that some spend in the salon EVERY WEEK. Some women could start their own multi-million dollar industry with the cumulative hours they use to get their hair done during the course of their lives.

4) Snatched edges will snatch your edges… OUT.

You think the edges need to be laid and cute, but they’ll be gone if you aren’t careful. I have long theorized that Good and Bad hair isn’t a function of straight or curly anymore. It is the quality of the edges. If they lay down smooth and full, you’re in business. If they are patchy or not flat, you suck. Well some of us can’t have both. We can’t have flat edges that are ALSO full and abundant. The harder you pull on them or brush them to flatness, the more of them you pull out and the thinner they are.

5) Sleeping pretty means very little sleep for some.

For those unfamiliar, sleeping pretty means sleeping with your head off of the pillow, like over crossed arms with only the cheek holding the weight of the head. The purpose is to protect a style from the compression during sleep. Many a sexual position has also been altered, I’m sure, due to fresh hairstyles.

I am like a caged dinosaur when I’m asleep. I toss and turn. No hairstyle is safe. If my hair required pretty sleeping, I’d be UGLY ALL OF THE TIME. I need my restful sleep. Hairstyle be damned. I’m lucky if a satin scarf or bonnet stays until the morning.

But wait, Connie.

Natural black hair isn’t easy either.

 

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No other ethnic group has to deal with asymmetric afros or tangles beyond recognition. Bantu knots done properly are adorable but are not easy to sleep on. Tenderheadedness is a word that only has a regular presence in the black household. I know it well. I love my daughter’s fro, but if I let her tresses stay free for too long, they will bond themselves to themselves and tears would be shed. She gets it from her mama.

And Locs aren’t free either. If poorly maintained, one can easily look homeless. No shade to homeless people, but I need to at least look clean. I’m not trying to be walking down the street carrying my coffee and have someone drop a quarter in it.

HEY, I WAS DRINKING THAT!

All it all, part of the black tax is hair maintenance.

I just think that our hair should be our choice, not an obligation. If you choose perm and weave, mo’ power to you. Some people don’t think it is a choice. They think that if their hair isn’t straight or their edges aren’t laid, they aren’t ready to be seen.

I disagree. What say you?

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This video breaks it down. Shouts out to Remy New York for at least doing it RIGHT! Fair Hair!

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