Respect the ‘fro…

I recently came across the above Youtube video called “Sh*t Relaxed Girls Say to Natural Girls”. (Thanks to CharyJay for creating the video and granting permission for it to be reposted) It was hilarious, mostly because the things the “relaxed girl” was saying to the “natural girl” was true. I know because I’m one of the “natural girls”.

I first decided to stop wearing a relaxer in September 2002, I transitioned with braids and a weave until January 2003 when I finally got impatient with the transition process and cut the relaxed ends off. I’ve sinced relaxed and returned to natural twice (I was completely natural for five years the first time, six months the second time, and this time around, it’s been about 18 months). My reasons for being natural and returning to wearing my hair natural are mixed.

1. I got tired of breakage – you actually charge this much for a relaxer and still you overprocessed my hair and now it’s falling out – I’d rather keep my hair AND my money

2. I got frustrated with sitting in salons – I do have a life, and a job, and a husband, and a child, and school work – I can do SOOO much more with my time than sit here for four hours…

3. Relaxers and color on my hair do not play nice with each other – They just don’t get along even though I requested they be kind to one another. I’d rather send the relaxer to time-out than ditch my color.

4. The style doesn’t last – For graduation, I had my hair styled in a flip so I can put my cap on. The style lasted through the graduation ceremony and the huge commencement exercise – two days. However, a flat twist-out that I had done for a church anniversary several years later lasted a good 10 days.The older it got, the better it looked.

The video, as funny as it is because it’s true, is also kind of sad because it’s true. Despite all the new products out for the kinky and curly chicks that didn’t exist nine years ago when I first cut my hair, there are people who still have these ridiculous opinions about what is beautiful and acceptable. I won’t touch on everything in the video, but I will bring up a few that stuck out.

One point of debate is the ability to land a job with natural hair. I can testify to the fact that the last three jobs I’ve held (two within the same organization) I received without having to go straighten my hair for the interview. When I was job-eliminated back in 2006, I went on a ton of interviews natural and when I wasn’t receiving offers, a few friends opined if it was because of my hair. So, I straightened it. And guess what, I still wasn’t getting any offers. So, there goes THAT theory…I’ve found that people of other races are more accepting of my hair (true, they do always want to touch it).

Another interesting point is when the “relaxed girl” says I’m so “brave” and it is followed up with a “I could never do it.” Well, how do you know? Have you tried it? Plus, there’s nothing heroic about being natural. However, Afro Girl does have a nice ring to it. I could take down the hustlers in the creamy crack (a relaxer to those not familiar with the terminology) game until I eventually have a showdown The Man…

I’ve also encountered women (including absolute strangers standing behind me in the check out lane at Wal-Mart) who feel the need to tell me why she’s still relaxing or wearing a weave or whatever style that her hair is currently in. Why do you feel the need to explain your reasons for your styling choice to me? Remember, I’m the ever-brave Afro Girl, not some militant NAP Enforcement Official. We’ve got the freedom of choice when it comes to our hair. I choose to be relaxer-free. You choose to wear one. And if that choice works for you, then cool beans.

Are there some NEOs (Nap Enforcement Official) out there? Of course. They are anti-pressing, anti-blow out, anti-texturizer, anti anything that takes the hair away from it’s natural state. I’ve been on forums where some are against color because it is a chemical and it can slightly loosen a curl. (So, I’m not “truly” natural in their eyes because I do color…what can I say? I’m not a fan of my real color. I like to throw in some blonde or red or light brown or I’ll go really, really Morticia Addams black). This doesn’t mean that every chick rocking a kink or curl is a NEO, so don’t put us in a box. Please and thank you.

As a side note, every time I hear “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” I tend to hold my fist up (something I picked up from four years at Howard). So, I will admit that this action combined with my ‘fro does make me look slightly militant…

There are some comments that weren’t made in the video that I’ve heard in the past nine years. Even though they didn’t make the cut, they’re equally asinine. The most recent comment I got was from a coworker. I can now pull my hair (with lots of gel, brushing, and pulling) into a ponytail. Actually two ponytails close together that I then bring together as one with a large ponytail holder. She said, “Wow, it’s in a ponytail. You REALLY can do a lot with natural hair, huh?” I managed to avoid giving her the side-eye glance and saying something really smart-assy. Given that I’m bilingual in Sarcasm and English, this was a little tough.

What has been the best thing about being natural is that I’ve learned to not become so attached to hair. If I get impulsive (such as cutting off five years of growth to wear a short, spiky, funky, and RELAXED hairdo) I can always start over. Hair grows back. I can braid it if I don’t like it or throw on a *nice* wig. I can truly be a chameleon and try different things. If I can undergo the big chop (when you cut off all of your relaxed ends, which usually results in a TWA or teeny weeny afro) THREE times, I clearly have no attachment to my hair. I now know that I can be happy with my hair (or lack of) regardless of how I’m wearing it.

I’ve also learned that people are going to make crazy comments about things that they don’t understand, regardless of what it is. Most times, it’s innocent. What can we do about it? We can ignore their ignorance. Or we can educate so they know better. What I’m NOT going to do is get my pressure up because someone doesn’t “get” it. It’s my hair and it’s working for me. It is the way I prefer to wear my hair. It may not work for you. And that’s totally fine.

So, please…respect the ‘fro…

Afro Girl, November 2011

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4 thoughts on “Respect the ‘fro…

  1. Saniyyah says:

    You are right most comments are because of IGNORANCE. I agree with your points about choice. Not just with hair but EVERYTHING. What is good for one person may not be for another and we need to allow room for that in America (the land of the free and home of the brave, or is it?). Be secure with whatever choices you make about your life HAIR included. In the Black Culture hair has been a stumblingblock for us I must say, that is why we have what you call the NEOs and the ignorant one’s who say this garbage in the video. Yes I have hair stories but who doesn’t. Lastly, this is a NEWSFLASH: white people have hair issues as well-don’t get it twisted. Thanks for the laugh, although I NEVER heard this stuff said. LMBO!

  2. Yolanda says:

    You go girl. It never ceases to amaze me how we choose to disrespect each other because of our differences, and then get mad when someone does it to us. How we choose to wear our hair is a reflection of us as individual women–not as a reflection on all black women.

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