comments on my hair when I wear it straight after it being kinky and fluffy for weeks. I’m sure that doesn’t surprise you at all, as we are all made to feel that straighter is greater so my straight hair is treated like a great relief to my white coworkers.
I’ve also noticed that there is even a difference in how people respond to the different natural styles I wear. When I wear my hair in a neat rod-out or twist out I always get compliments but after a few days of not retwisting my hair, those manufactured curls turn into tightly wound, frizzy coils the compliments shift to everything but my hair if I get any at all. In my own personal experience I’ve never been blatantly discriminated against because of my hair or explicitly told “Do not wear your hair this way”, but the types of comments I get send a message about where we really are as a society.
Comments like “I like your hair like that”, “your hair is so pretty today” and “Oh! You did your hair!” when I wear my hair straight are deeply coded responses to the point where the commentators often may be unaware of how problematic they are actually being. Yeah, I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt here.
Those people and their micro-aggressive words are saying “Your hair should be straight and if you must wear it curly then wear it neatly curled, in a way that I can understand it”. And I would love to say their reactions don’t affect how I choose to wear my hair but to be honest, sometimes it does. Before interviews or even on a regular basis I, and I’m sure a lot of my natural sistas, have a mental battle about what to do with our hair so that it won’t ruffle feathers, be too noticeable or too ethnic.
Keeping our hair natural should be an easy stress-free thing but instead, we end up spending a lot of time, money and energy developing and maintaining a hair care routine in order to keep our natural looking a certain way. There is an insane amount of pressure from both inside and outside of the community to have the right kind of natural. Typically this looks like loose, type 3 ringlet curls, where the hair falls over the shoulders in silky, bouncy coils. If your hair doesn’t look like this and god forbid you to have the kinky, type 4 stuff, you’d better keep it neatly twisted, edges slicked and tamed to be accepted.
Being a girl with thick, type 4 hair I can tell you that