7 things girls with natural hair are tired of hearing
The minute you start embracing your natural kinks and curls, people’s reactions to you become a broken record. They might approach you with personal questions or sometimes even offensive remarks (we’ll get into that in a sec, folx). Asking a black woman with natural hair if she cares for it, if it’s hers, or if you can touch it, among other things, contributes to the culture of exoticizing and othering black women and their beauty. Black women are powerful, beautiful, and deserve the space and consideration anyone else would have with how they present themselves to the world.
So on behalf of all the girls with ‘fros, puh-leeze chill on the following:
1. “Is that your real hair?”
Does it matter? It’s FABULOUS!
Everyone has a different relationship with their hair and for some this is a pretty personal question, especially if you’re just approaching someone on the street to compliment them. Best advice: admire them with a smile and respect everyone’s right to their own beauty secrets.
2. “How do you get your hair to do that?”
Sure, there are a ton of techniques for natural hair, but they’re more about helping your hair do better what it does naturally. So all that gravity-defying glory is just our hair doing its thing.
3. “Your hair is so WILD!”
The “wild” thing is pretty annoying. Like ummm, nope, it’s just sitting on my head the way straight hair would. Also the term wild has an animalistic connotation that can be offensive.
4. “Do you wash your hair?”
Sigh. Yes. Natural hair can be washed, some even choose to wash or wet their curls daily. IT’S HAIR AND IT’S NOT VERY DIFFERENT FROM YOURS.
5. “You would look so pretty with straight hair.”
Chances are the curly-haired friend you’re speaking to has straightened her hair at some point in her life, so while this may seem like a compliment, it’s kinda throwing shade at her current hair situation. In the off chance that you’re in the presence of someone who has never straightened her curls, you might want to keep the unsolicited advice to a minimum. It can come off anti-fro, and ain’t nobody got time for that.
6. “Does your boyfriend/girlfriend like your hair like that?”
For some reason, people are really concerned with the dating life of natural-haired women. Call off the inquisition, it’s all good over here.
7. “CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR???”
Oh boy. This is the worst. It’s nice to ask permission first (most people just go for the grab), but this is a no, no, NO. First of all, it’s invasive—not to mention unsanitary. Second, it really makes you feel like a pet or an oddity or something other than an actual person. Of course, I’m only speaking for myself, but word to the wise, if you ask to touch a head full of curly hair, get ready for a “No.”
It’s natural to be curl-curious, so here are a few totally cool questions to ask a curly-haired friend:
“Are you more of a coconut oil or an argan oil person?”
“Did you big chop or transition?”
“Do you prefer a flat twist or a three-strand twist?”
“What’s your opinion on protective styling, does it really work?”
“Have you ever tried an avocado mask?”
Pretty sure you’ll think of something. But yeah, that’s a firm “no” on the touching.
Originally published September 19th, 2016.