Hair and the holidays

With the holiday season fast approaching and a number of us gearing up to see family that we may not see too often, I wanted to put this out there because there are certain things that us naturals wish that others knew.

Despite what the media tells us otherwise, this time of year can be extremely stressful for anybody. A lot of people experience frustration or depression over seeing TV or movie images of families around the Thanksgiving turkey or holiday lights with smiles glued to their faces while nary a cross word passes their lips, when their families would make the Bundys seem nauseatingly sweet. I could get into the various issues I personally have with the holiday season, but rather than write a novel, I’ll just limit this discussion as it pertains to natural hair.

Remember, having natural, unprocessed hair isn’t the norm in communities of color, as they feel intense pressure to straighten their hair in order to feel accepted by the world at large. So when us naturals gather with our families, particularly with members we don’t see very often, it’s not uncommon for them to make unflattering or downright ignorant comments about our hair. How can naturals deal with unwarranted comments such as:

“When are you going to do something with your hair?”

“Dang, you need a relaxer. Here’s the number to Shameka’s salon.”

“You think you African now?”

First of all, just because you may share DNA with someone, it doesn’t mean that they can’t be as thoughtless or as disrespectful as anyone else. They don’t get a free pass for treating you badly just because you may share the same genes. Respect and thoughtfulness needs to be a two way street. Probably the easiest way to avoid drama over your hair is to set ground rules at the start by stating that it simply isn’t grounds for conversation. If they try to sneak in a rude comment, just state that you don’t wish to talk about it and keep it movin’. Hopefully, they’ll get the message, but for those that are move oblivious, let’s break down the ignorant comments stated above and I’ll add my personal response to them.

“When are you going to do something with your hair?”

You DID do something to your hair, whether it was an updo, twistout, wash and go, etc. That question can be translated to mean that your hair doesn’t look sleek and tame enough for such a special occasion as a holiday dinner. Many people still think that your hair needs to be straight on special occasions because it looks “prettier” somehow. However, IMO, if your natural curly/kinky hair isn’t good enough for a special occasion, does that mean that it’s not acceptable for ANY occasion? Why should we hide our authentic selves simply because of some special meaning attached to one calendar day of the year?

“Dang, you need a relaxer. Here’s the number to Shameka’s salon.”

First of all, nobody “needs” a relaxer. Getting a relaxer is as much of a choice as someone choosing to wear their hair natural, yet being natural isn’t respected due to all the societal and political pressures I’ve mentioned previously. Someone offering the number to their stylist is rude because they clearly aren’t respecting your choice not to process your hair.

“You think you African now?”

I don’t quite know what to make of this one, particularly if this comment is said in a derisive tone. Our texture does descend from our African heritage after all. Someone saying something to this effect may have deep seated issues about their identity. A number of naturals actually don’t go natural for cultural reasons or to somehow feel more connected with our heritage. Some people do it just to have healthier hair. That statement says way more about the person uttering it than it does about you.

What other rude and ignorant comments can you think of? I do wish everyone a happy holiday season and that you’re able to keep the peace amongst your loved ones.


One Response to “Hair and the holidays”

  1. […] gave up chemically straightening it. I was prepared to deal with ignorance due to this goldie oldie post as well as from what I’ve seen and heard other naturals […]

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