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Reflections of a former “good hair” girl…

Avatar • Aug 26, 2010

All the compliments I received and jealous glares from short haired women didn’t make me want to keep being “that girl.” My hair was broken, damaged from relaxing and bleaching. But what else could I do?”

By Natalie Sanders, Contributing Writer

I’m that girl. The girl that always had “good hair.” I had to have my relaxer every two months to the date! I just loved when I could flip my straight mane and be compared with the white girls…my hair was just like theirs, I would tell myself.

But secretly, all the compliments I received and jealous glares from short haired women didn’t make me want to keep being “that girl.” My hair was broken, damaged from relaxing and bleaching. But what else could I do? I HAD to have that relaxer to keep that “nappy head” girl away my friends used to tease me about in grade school.

I had no resolution until one day after work. I listen to the radio on the way home in my car. The radio personality, on the station I listen to has a show called “All Natural Thursdays”. On that particular Thursday, the conversation revolved around natural hair and how much better it is. A lady named Stephanie Suthers came on the show. She said she was in her early 50s and her natural hair was down to her waist!! I could not believe it. She said, she wanted to prove that black women can grow their hair long and natural without locking it up.

I intensely listened for the rest of the show. She talked about how she has her own line of all natural hair products that will help hair grow from its damaged state. That’s all I had to hear. I jotted down the website address quickly so I would not forget. My intentions were to use her products just to help my RELAXED her grow, and then stop using them…never to go natural. I couldn’t stand for my hair to be greasy or oily…and her products did both.

When I did decide to let everyone know was going natural, I got all negative responses! They said oh, that’s a big step, why would you want to do that, your hair is so nice when its straight, etc. I have to admit, I wasn’t doing it for myself, I was doing it for them…to show them I still could have that “good hair”, long hair.

As I began transitioning, I started to love the texture and feel of my hair. No longer does it bother me to have oil in my hair, because I know now that’s what my hair loves and needs. A year later, and 6 inches shorter, I am LOVING my natural hair more than I could have known, and I am a forever lye-free chick. So yeah, I’m “that girl” 😉

Any former “good hair” girls out there? Can you relate?

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honeybrown1976
honeybrown1976
10 years ago

I still wrestle with being a “good hair” girl. But, that’s coupled with being “the light-skinned girl with good hair” thing has well. Growing up I was constantly praised for my hair and skin tone; so, it’s no wonder why I ended up feeling exceptional.

I’m a work in progress, even at thirty-three years old. As I transition my hair, I will transition my thoughts.

Kierra
Kierra
10 years ago

I can totally relate. In middle school I was always that “good hair” girl. I was constantly told that I was white because my hair was long (a little past bra strap length) and didn’t need relaxers or perms. Instead of compliments, I was subject to alienation from some of my peers. So before high school, I chopped off most of the length of my hair to start new and to fit in more. However, thats the same time I took that dread adventure to the hair supply store with my best friend and bought a cheap flat iron and ever… Read more »

sarah
sarah
10 years ago

being a “good hair” girl leads to a lot of resentment. my friends resented me and i resented my hair. but, i always keep my hair good and straight to please other people. i went natural to please myself. and i have never loved my hair more.

Betty
Betty
10 years ago

I just think it’s so ridiculous how we as women of color put so much emphasis on “good hair” vs “bad hair”. We are in the 21st century!!! “Good Hair” is healthy hair!!!No matter the length or texture! As long as it’s healthy and kept clean and moisturized!

Robyn
10 years ago

I am dealing with this right now. Even from family members. My hair has always been able to grow (the longest it has been is below my bra strap) and stay relatively thick even when I got perms. Not that I have been transitioning for almost 4 months and am thinking about cutting my hair off since 1. I’d like to give me hair the optimal chance of being as healthy as possible and 2. I have never had short hair! I am going to be 22 in dec will graduate from my undergrad studies in May. What better time… Read more »

Gabriella
Gabriella
10 years ago

I don’t know what a good hair girl is though I never heard it described as a girl with a relaxer before. Those labelled as having ‘good hair’ when I was growing up either hair long natural type 4 hair or loose textured hair, the 2s, 3s and 4as. Sadly Good hair and bad hair will never go away because people will never let it. It’d be nice to think that short type 4 could be viewed as pretty but many people do not feel that way. It’s as though tighter textures will only gain praise through length, hence the online… Read more »

Pmef
Pmef
8 years ago
Reply to  Gabriella

I agree–this term is used rather loosely here. As disturbing as the concept is/was it really implies someone with a slow-moving curl or straight hairs and as such not in need of straightening. I’m talking about from my childhood in the ’60s.

CSI
CSI
10 years ago

I can relate. It’s nice to have this thread because sometimes it’s something hard to talk about w/o getting judged. I always was the girl with the good hair but I tell you that I didn’t really believe it because if I did, I wouldn’t have relaxed my hair for 20 years. I’m finally 9 months perm free and for the first time just really knowing what my hair is like. I’m still in amazement and wish I knew then what I know now. It’s just so refreshing to live for me and no one else. It’s sad that compliments… Read more »

Natalie Sanders
Natalie Sanders
10 years ago

Thanks so much guys for reading my blog. Its good to know I have some people that can relate to me!

binks
binks
10 years ago

I agree with Gabriella. I never heard the term “good hair” being used to describe someone who has a relaxer, usually it is someone who had natural hair that was long with a loose curls or waves to it usually like biracial people but never someone with a perm…shrugs. Personally I can’t relate even though I was the quintessential long hair, light skin black girl growing up I never felt that way nor never rubbed my hair into anyone face. I had friends growing up who wore their hair natural and friends who had their hair relaxed like me at… Read more »

SoulfulSista
10 years ago

I can relate to this. Though I never had people tell me that I had that “good hair” when I was relaxed, I did have people tell me all the time that my hair looked like a weave. I tried to act offended but I had a kool-aid smile on the inside. I got crazy comments from family the first time I went natural. “But your hair was so pretty” is what I would always here; to which i would respond, “and it still is pretty.”

sunshyne84
sunshyne84
10 years ago

I grew up the light-skinned girl with long hair as well. People assumed I was mixed therefore my straight hair must be natural even though I was getting perms like all my other classmates. I always got compliments on my pretty hair whenever I had a fresh perm and it bothered me because nobody remembered the previous week when I didn’t have that touch-up. It was like a personal struggle to prove that I didn’t have good hair. Even though I liked the ease of combing and styling my relaxed hair, deep down I always wanted curly hair. Last year… Read more »

Shadelle
Shadelle
10 years ago

I can very much relate to this posting. When I had a relaxer, my hair was still much different from other AA girls with a relaxer. It might be hard to explain but I was also labeled “good hair”. It was not just straight, it was EXACTLY like a white woman’s hair. It was fine and bounced with every step. I loved to showcase my hair because although me and my gfs all had relaxers, my hair was still envied. However, dying and frying my hair to death resulted in it becoming shorter and shorter. I never realize how short… Read more »

Natalie Sanders
Natalie Sanders
10 years ago

@Shadelle..wow, you sound exactly like me! I went natural only to grow my hair out for length and had every intention of relaxing again! Everyone has their definition of long hair…mine was at shoulder length at its longest. I wanted to go natural to get to bra strap length. If I would have never stop transistioning and cut my hair, I would have! But, like I stated I love love my natural curls! Thanks so much for the respond!!

-Natalie

NikkiNaturally
NikkiNaturally
10 years ago

I can really relate to this post. I wasn’t a “good hair” girl, but I always had really nice hair (read: not that water hair). It was always soft, thick and long. I kept it that way because I’m a dark-skinned woman and lots of people tend to think that dark-skinned girls can’t grow long hair. People would always ask me if my hair was a weave and I’d proudly tell them that it was all my hair. I guess I thought it was my job to prove everyone wrong. When I transitioned and then big chopped it was difficult… Read more »

Gen
Gen
10 years ago

I can relate. I wore my hair long and relaxed throughout middle school and high school until I decided to cut it into a short bob my junior year. I remember people being quite distraught about that decision and my mom, though she didn’t say much, would have preferred that I kept my hair long. By the middle of college my hair was long again and became even thicker and “healthier” than it had ever been. By my senior I decided to chop of all 12–14 inches and my family was shocked. I guess having this rare thing, long hair,… Read more »

Anu
Anu
10 years ago

I can relate. I have always been the good hair girl. My got my hair relxed at the age of six, but despite this, my hair has always been long (between bsl and mbl) and THICK. I never had a problem with breakage and admittedly I revelled uin the attention that my hair (and I by association) got. I never had problems with breakage, spilt ends etc, even though I had been receiving regular relaxers for over 22 years! The only thing that bothered (and STILL does bother me, even after going natural) is many peoples’ insistance that my long hair… Read more »

b.
b.
10 years ago

Although I cannot relate to being the “good hair” girl, I’m glad to read this. I’ve given little thought to how someone who is placed into that position feels once they return to their natural hair. I enjoy reading the different sides to the “natural story”.

Natalie Sanders
Natalie Sanders
10 years ago

@ NikkiNaturally…I am a dark-skinned natural myself. I would always hear, “oh you’re so pretty to be a dark skinned girl” like, wtf?? Am I supposed to be ugly or what? I dunno, I just felt I bought into that whole theory and that’s why I felt THEN I had so much to prove. Im glad I’ve come to terms with who I am as a person, natural, and woman of color. I love me with all of me!! @ Gen I agree…people put so much emphasis on having to have “good hair” to grow long hair. Since when do the… Read more »

chanelwi
chanelwi
10 years ago

I don’t have “good” hair but I am so proud of these women for sharing their stories.

Inez
Inez
10 years ago

Interesting BGLH would it be possible to get the opposite side of the spectrum from a former ‘bad’ hair girl.

BrooklynShoeBabe
10 years ago

I’ve never had a relaxer or a perm. I used to get my hair hot combed in high school, but I didn’t know how to style it. All I did was pull it back into a pony tail. I was afraid of my hair. I didn’t know if I could comb or style it by myself without it being straight. When I started college, I still wore it in a ponytail and then I had extensions. One day, my friend told me about double strand twists and did it for me. Suddenly, I wasn’t afraid of my hair anymore. I… Read more »

Sharon Thompson
Sharon Thompson
10 years ago

Can’t believe that in this day and age people are still thinking that ‘good’ hair means hair being like ‘white’ hair. Pure hatred of self. I can’t begin to say how disgusted I am by this post, and some of the obvious ignorant responses. All hair is good. Some is healthy and some is not. KMT

Natalie
Natalie
10 years ago

Thank you Sharon for your response! And taking the time to read 😉

Vonda
Vonda
10 years ago

I can totally relate to this post. People get so caught up in this is “good” and thats “bad”. I went natural because my relaxed hair was not me. I didn’t even bother to transition. I just went into the bathroom and shaved my waist length relaxed hair off. I’d always been told that I had “bad hair” until I got a relaxer and it was straight. Then it was “Oh yo hair is so pretty” and “You got that good hair you must have Indian in your family”.Girls would actually tell me that they didn’t like me the first… Read more »

Shell
Shell
9 years ago

My mother never had a relaxer. She and her sisters had varying degrees of “good hair”. Her sister got a relaxer to make her hair straighter and her hair was never the same. That scared my mother so she never got a relaxer. When I was growing up, she never pressed it either. I wish that I had her hair. It was so long (to her breasts) and so thick and wavy. I got the thickness but I don’t have her texture or the length… yet. My hair is coarse but I get a lot of compliments because it is… Read more »

Rae
Rae
9 years ago

I can really relate. I’m dark skinned and growing up around everyone who was lighter than me, being dark was taboo, so the one thing i had on everyone was long thick hair. My hair was natural until i was 21 and after i got a relaxer i felt like the playing field was finally somewhat even (lol so sad). Even though i tried not to be that “good hair girl” that’s what i became without even realizing it. So when i would get jealous stares from other girls, i guess that made me feel better about myself because long… Read more »

Nicole
Nicole
9 years ago

I was a good hair girl, but the damage took it’s toll. I feel you.

PJ
PJ
9 years ago

As one that is not totally into hair. I never understood the “good hair” thing… I have not had any kind of perm in my hair for nearly 20 years. I totally agree with Rae as I am so much more than my hair. I guess if I was into hair then this would make a difference. I used to hate when people would say ” oh , you got that white girl stuff” No I have the hair that I was born with.. I am not a white girl…I would not allow anyone to touch my hair and raised… Read more »

venu
venu
9 years ago

Its been like that the first 18 years of my life and now im 19 going on 20. Complements were flowing like water! I’ve only started transitioning only in march of this year. i first tried in feburary, but i panicked and begged my mom the perm. I’ve cut off all my permed hair 2–3 weeks ago and currently have 4 inch of natural hair (not stretched out), but im still a bit intimidated. but i REALLY REALLY REALLY love the texture! I’ve never seen my hair in its natural state before cause my mom has always permed it since… Read more »

Kay
Kay
6 years ago

I had my hair relaxed at 15 and my mom wasn’t to happy about it so we didn’t re-apply the relaxer by that time I had gotten used to having my hair relaxed and I couldn’t really cope with the transisiton back to my natural hair a few months later my hair had broken of considerably and my hair had broken up to ears but now I straighten my hair and I constantly get asked if my hair is relaxed or if I have weave in my hair and it was all due to me just using hair oil so… Read more »

Elodie Careme
Elodie Careme
5 years ago

I quite agree with you on that. That would be the first time I hear about “good hair” refering to someone relaxed.

Cosita
Cosita
5 years ago

I guess there are different meanings for “good hair” because in my family good hair people don’t get relaxers. They see good hair as naturally wavy or loosely curl hair.

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