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Culture — Not Texture — Is the Reason Many Struggle To Grow Healthy Natural Hair

• Apr 15, 2013

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By Domineque Michelle (pictured above)

Growing healthy hair is a mission impossible when defeat has begun prior to your attempt. Hating your origin will do you in every time. This article serves as a step in the right direction for changing your mindset about yourself and your hair, because hair growth takes more than products — otherwise those with the most product would have the most bountiful and nourished hair. If you are already on track, let this be a reinforcement of self love and an opportunity to gain a new insight.

I can recall growing up in a separate home from my older sister for a few years. She was probably 6 and I, 4 years old. Our mother never relaxed our hair, but where my sister was to reside, it was decided that she “needed” a relaxer at the tender age of 6 years old. I continued on without a relaxer; my mother told me that my hair was beautiful and that was confirmed to me when she gently washed my hair over the kitchen sink, while letting me hold a towel in my hand just in case shampoo or water got in my eyes or when she’d gently comb through my hair to give me Rudy Huxtable-like twisted pony tails. Instead of harsh chemical straighteners, she’d sit me on the floor between her legs, grease my scalp with blue grease or Vaseline and blow out my hair with a blow dryer. There was also that time that she burned my edges clean off, right before I got on the school bus because I wanted straighter edges, but there’s no doubt that those incidents make the funniest stories. Unfortunately, during this time when the health and thickness of my hair was being maintained, my sisters hair was thin, breaking and caked with grease, but this seemed to be the norm of many women of color in the 90’s and even still.

I shared a snippet about my family past to incite thought and to show how separate households with different ideas about how Black hair should be cared for can really shape the thoughts you have about your own hair and subconsciously dictate the health of your hair. I ended up getting a relaxer at 14 and cutting it all off at 17. The positive thoughts about my hair that I grew up with stuck with me. I took command and responsibility for the health of my hair ever since. As far as my sister, I talked her into getting rid of her relaxer years ago and her hair remains natural and is shaping up quite nicely with regard to health.

-Did you get a relaxer at a young age and perhaps don’t recall what your hair texture is like?
-Was the adverb “nappy” used to describe your hair? Hard? Rough? Brillo? Ugly?
-Did you receive chemical or heat burns commonly in an effort to obtain bone straight hair?
— I know ya’ll didn’t think I forgot about waiting from 1 month and beyond to get your hair relaxed or pressed out only to be told by your stylist aka the grim reaper of length retention that “you need a trim”. Noooooo!!! Then whether the hair was actually damaged and needed to be cut or not, right before your eyes, it was GONE.
— Last but not least, maybe you are the girl who was never tempted by the “creamy crack” and never had a relaxer, but you never knew to treat your hair, therefore it never seemed to grow.

When we were stolen from Africa, our wooden and ivory combs were left behind. Our natural hair cleansers and emollients of the land no longer surrounded us and scalp infections occurred in abundance. Styling muds were no longer available to us and we didn’t get to create the intricate braided styles that only we are known for creating, due to a loss of skill due to enslavement and discrimination for failure to assimilate if we wore braided styles. We had to figure out how to care for our hair in a land of people who were made to seem so outwardly dissimilar to us and hateful of us.

We have come a long way with learning about our hair with blogs like BGLH and having products created by women with hair like us. Continue to appreciate, take and share the knowledge you receive from people whom you are inspired by and only came to know because of hair. Forgive your mom. Forgive your grandma. Forgive anyone who has planted a negative seed in your mind for the mistakes they’ve made and don’t hold them accountable for the state of your hair now, if you are unhappy with it. Instead, absorb the knowledge that’s available to you like a thirsty plant absorbs water and allow your hair to grow*.

*Allowing your hair to grow means that you’re not fighting against your texture and ripping at your hair or even neglecting it for months in braids under weaves.

Ladies, what were you taught about your hair growing up? How did it affect your treatment of your hair?

For more reflections on hair and life, follow Domineque on Youtube at Longhairdontcare2011 and on Instagram: lhdc2011.

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sucking_my_teeth
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sucking_my_teeth

hair “GROWS” no matter what.keeping the length is the issue.

Black Girl With Long Hair
Guest

We meant it in the sense of ‘growing out’ natural hair.

Jamz
Guest
Jamz

there’s a typo. U guys asked “ladies what are your ‘taught’…” that should be ‘thoughts’ 🙂

fluffy-in-flight
Guest
fluffy-in-flight

The question is “what were you taught about your hair growing up?” which is correct not “what are your thoughts?” those are 2 completely different questions. The first question is what is posed to the commenters.

Aj
Guest
Aj

I was taught good and bad things about my hair growing up.I think I got my first perm around 7 or 8.Different family members always said I had “sorta good hair”.My hair is naturally thin.They associated thick hair with “nappy” hair.Also,my hair was a little longer then most little girls my age(not Rudy long).My family(still to this day)is very color-struck and doesn’t like natural hair.As I got older I was upgraded from a mild perm to regular.Chemical burns were the norm,but they weren’t too bad.It wasn’t until about 13,my cousin gave me a super perm,because that’s all she had.I had… Read more »

Deb
Guest
Deb

.My family(still to this day)is very color-struck and doesn’t like natural hair”

this is sad to hear and breaks my heart. I pray this sort of mentality stops with you and other women as a result of this natural “revolution”. I truly think there will be long term benefits to this mental shift happening about natural hair and black beauty in our communities.

Candy
Guest
Candy

This is an extraordinary article. Almost made me cry, thinking about the time my mom went to the store and my auntie snuck and gave me a relaxer at 7. I can’t lie. I wanted it. I believed that straight hair was beautiful, not my 3C, 4A and 4B curls. It’s only in the past 3 years that I realized how beautiful my hair is in its natrual state. I love it and I am very proud! Thanks for this! Mag story!

colorfulkinks.wordpress.com
Guest

Omg! Same thing happened to me! My aunt gave me a perm at 7 without my parents consent (both my parents are against relaxers) and my mom didn’t get suspicious until after a week because it was twisted in a ponytail and just look the same as I would normally use a hot comb.amazing huh? I remember my mom using some type of rinse that would remove the perm but now I know that It probably didn’t do much. Now I’m 19 and almost 4 years into my journey and my entire family love it. Just can’t wait until it’s… Read more »

Tabatha
Guest
Tabatha

I was given a relaxer at 8 or 9 and it was because my hair was so thick and kinky that it took a lot of time for my mother to get through and I hated the hot comb because people would always burn my scalp cause they didn’t realize how close my scalp was to the root of my hair. I do have a few funny stories. I was never really told that I had ugly hair or anything, but my mother used to tell her friend’s that I had Indian Ginchy-gooma hair, which didn’t sound positive to me,… Read more »

Cirius Travel
Guest

I went natural 2010. Even though there was much information available with youtube and many others sites that existed, I Still made TONS of mistakes. I was so ashamed of my hair for a while I just braided it and wore scarves ALL the Time! That not only dried out my hair but it pulled out my edges. We African descent women have been taught MOST of our lives to hate who we are. This is why so many women of color wear weaves and refuse to allow their natural hair to even show. YES we have been brainwashed and… Read more »

Deb
Guest
Deb

My oldest daughter (who’s also 10) has even had little girls tell her that her hair is short and nappy!! She in turn reached up in her head and pulled out her coiled twist which happens to fall below her shoulders. She then explained to the little girl whom had a head full of weave and tell her “This is what God made my hair to look like and it’s beautiful”!”

Real evidence that you are an AWESOME MOTHER.

Iva
Guest
Iva

I’m kind of appalled that there is 10 year old out there with a full head of weave. How sad.

And kudos to you for being such a good mother and raising such proud and self-aware children.

fluffy-in-flight
Guest
fluffy-in-flight

I’ve seen some with so much extensions in their head that their poor little necks didn’t look like it was able to support it. I’ve even seen this little kid with her mother who was wearing a wig ( I was thinking that she probably had cancer, and was wearing it until her hair grew out) but then these other 2 little girls with heads full of weaves — yes weaves who was walking behind me was laughing at her when she passed them with her mother. The two little girls was walking behind me, but the mother and her… Read more »

Cleo
Guest
Cleo

Great article!!! This is truly insightful and so true. We have been taught and brainwashed to hate our hair even though it is fine just the way it is. If you really think about it it’s so weird why do we “need” relaxers, I hear my mom say it all the time about herself ” I need a perm” why?? Your hair does not grow out straight they why do you need this relaxer that does something your hair does not do naturally? Since going natural my eyes have been completely open the foolishness of bad black hair care smh.… Read more »

Leslie Mac
Guest

I was given a relaxer at age 10 or so. Before then I had my hair in beautiful braids & beads in the summer time with neat plaits during the school year. I don’t remember there being any talk of “good” or “bad” hair, just that like everyone else, once you go to double digits, you started your relaxer. I do however recall MANY burns and that old adage “with beauty comes pain” being told to me by both my mother & grandmother when I complained. I retained good length & kept my relaxed hair at APL until I went… Read more »

jjac401
Guest
jjac401

I really appreciate this article. I also never had a relaxer until I was well into my twenty’s. My mother always cared for my hair and told me my hair was too soft for a relaxer — (which was pretty much true). I was never told that my hair was too nappy or too this or that. My hair thrived when I was a child, it thrived relaxed, and it thrives now. I really believe that my mother instilled positive messages in me about my hair I have never felt a real sense of insecurity about my texture.

Black Girl With Long Hair
Guest

I remember a time when I truly, genuinely believed that black girls with kinky/tightly curled hair were not meant to wear their hair out. I didn’t even connect it to a sense of self hate. It’s just what I — and many of the people around me — believed. Like, the sky is blue and black girls aren’t meant to have their hair out in public. I’m saddened when I think back to that time, and how many years of instruction on the proper care and grooming of natural hair were lost. I do have a few good memories —… Read more »

nylse
Guest

congrats on the baby!

Black Girl With Long Hair
Guest

Thank you Nylse!

Deb
Guest
Deb

It makes me feel good to know that, within my own family, I can play a role in reversing some of the negatives of black hair culture. Hopefully, from my generation on, there will be a knowledge of healthy hair care practices, and a love of natural hair.”

amen. I’m going to pledge to work towards this within my own family also. Gotta get started even though I do not have kids yet.

Sabrina
Guest
Sabrina

Thank you for this article. I don’t thank you for myself, as my reasons for going natural were built on overcoming the reasons behind what I perceived to be my own self-hatred, I thank you for those who have yet to open their minds beyond the trends, beyond mainstream expectations, family mindsets, or even beyond what they think they know. I saw an article not too long ago that listed the top 10 reasons for going natural and my reason wasn’t listed there. I went natural to understand myself more as a Black woman and overcome my own self-hatred. It… Read more »

LuLu
Guest
LuLu

I can’t really remember my hair story. I remember my first relaxer tho and loving being able to flick my hair around like the models did. I remember just being fascinated at how the comb glided so easily thru it now. I had relaxer on and off from I think the age of 10 all the way to middle of Uni where I decided to go natural on a whim. Iv always had thick healthy hair but had problems with length retention because I never knew how to care for my hair. So I’m so grateful for sites like this… Read more »

Janelle
Guest
Janelle

I have been natural all my life, but when I turned 12, my mom started taking me to the salon to get my hair pressed. Even then my hair thrived under heat, it didn’t break off till I dyed it and started stressing out really bad because of school. But now i wear it completely as it grows out of my scalp and use heat occasionally. I was always taught that my hair is beautiful , not even that, I was taught I was beautiful no matter what I looked like. I didn’t even care about my hair till other… Read more »

Rosie T
Guest

I think that culture can have an indirect effect on your hair maintenance because you can be trying to work with your hair to make it look a certain way, maybe to look like someone else’s hair that has the look of so called ‘good hair’ and you will handle your hair using methods that might not suit your texture of hair but because you want that ‘look’ you will try and use products not suited for your texture. These two things combined I feel can cause the hair to not reach it’s length potential. I can use myself as… Read more »

Ashes
Guest

I like this. My sister usually did my hair, she is 9 years older than me. My mom would talk bad about her own hair, but I don’t really remember her talking badly about ours. Even though we got perms, my mom would always beam about how thick her girls hair was, And how much we had and how fast it grew. she loved the fact that we have thick hair, because hers was always fine and thin. My sister went natural ages ago, and then I followed suit. We have both been natural for over 10 years, my sister… Read more »

Robyn
Guest
Robyn

This post really struck home for me. I had really thick and coarse hair as a child and I can vividly remember my Mum, perming it at 3 years of age, struggling to comb it and on three occasions taking a scissors and cutting it off because she was fed up with dealing with it. Both she and my sister had very long thin hair, they still do. I grew up with and still hear comments about my bad, hard, rough hair. Everyday I contemplate cutting it all off and going natural but I have been programmed that natural is… Read more »

LuLu
Guest

So us your hair relaxed at the moment? It made me so sad to hear what you had to say.there is nothing wrong with having a relaxer (I had one and maintained good hair health). But tbh chica, if it’s making you so miserable, why keep it!? It’s your head, your hair. Don’t business what everyone else has to say. Trust, there is so much you can do with kinky curly hair, I’m discovering that even now. And this idea of it not being professional?! My mommas a nurse, my sister is a business analyst and I work in finance.… Read more »

Valerie
Guest
Valerie

Thick strong hair is the best and in haiti they say this is the best hair ! My hair is puffy and a lot of work but so is a perm and extensions
[img]https://bglh-marketplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/image-20.jpg[/img]

Allison
Guest
Allison

Great article and I love your YouTube channel as well, thanks for sharing. Even though I was surrounded by negativity regarding my hair growing up, it never gave me a negative image of my own hair. For me, my hair was always a mysterious thing to me that fostered curiosity. I wanted to know why it behaved the way it and and what I could do to manipulate it and change it’s state. I’m proud to say that to this day I’ve maintained a very intimate relationship with my hair and I think this has been my key to healthy… Read more »

Caramelcurls
Guest
Caramelcurls

I started getting a relaxers when I was 9 years old. As I grew older, I started to resent waiting in the salon for 4–6 hours and dealing with the scalp burns and chemical smells. I also used to HATE how flat my hair would look after getting a relaxer–I have always been a big fan of natural hair. When I mentioned to my mom that I was planning on going natural back in 2010 and doing the big chop, she was upset that I was going to cut all my pretty, long hair off and that black men love… Read more »

G
Guest
G

MOST ladies who never had a relaxer have very long(BSL) hair or type 3 hair. I have yet seen a story featuring a short hair 4abc lady who never relaxed! If they do exist I love to hear her story.

Deb
Guest
Deb

I believe there’s a story on the front page right now. she’s type 4, never relaxed.

Kayce
Guest
Kayce

We are out there. Neither my sister or I have ever had a perm. I am 4abc throughout and my sister is mostly 4a with some 3(c?) mixed in. My mom wasn’t going to have it. I would beg her for a perm constantly around the time I was 10 and at the time she told me I could get one at 13 but I never did because she scared me out of it over those three years that I had to think about it. I’m glad she did because I love my texture now (although it took awhile to… Read more »

Cherise
Guest
Cherise

Hi, I have 4b hair and I’ve never had a relaxer. However, growing up my mom would alternate between putting my hair in braids (using my own hair) and using a straightening comb. At one point my hair broke off pretty badly because of using too much heat but my mom proceeded to put my hair in twists for a year and it made a full recovery. In any case, even though I’ve been natural my whole life it was only about 3 years ago that I learned to love my hair. Before that I had this mindset that straight… Read more »

Elica
Guest
Elica

Although I don’t use the hair typing system, I’ve never had a relaxer and I believe that my hair type may range between 3c — 4c. Growing up my hair was ridiculously short. My mum had really long curly hair (maybe 3a — 3c?) but she didn’t have a clue on how to take care of mine. I always felt envious of girls whose hair was even slightly longer than mine but I never ever wanted a relaxer. Growing up in London, most of my friends had natural hair anyway so I didn’t want straight hair — I just wanted… Read more »

Alycia
Guest
Alycia

I got my first relaxer when I was around 7 or 8 years old. 10 years later I stopped getting relaxers, ONLY because my hair was thinning. I thought it was just a “break”. I was still afraid of my hair because the transitioning phase was so confusing for me. I loved my hair once I cut the relaxed parts off and started to learn how to take care of my hair properly. It’s been an adventure and I loved every minute of it. The funny part is that for SEVERAL years my mom tried to get me to stop… Read more »

Shelly
Guest
Shelly

I have never processed my hair. I have kept it natural due to religious reasons. I am from a mixed background in that part of my family has Indian roots. My mom has three sister. She and one of them have more distinct Indian features, so their hair is longer than shoulder length. My other two aunts, however had the short, kinky hair. One was teased about being an outside child and the other compared herself to her light skinned sister and soon as both were old enough to leave the church and make that choice. As a child, I… Read more »

Stace
Guest
Stace

Thanks for sharing this story. I wish you much joy and success in your journey to abstain from heat and embrace your texture.

Cami
Guest
Cami

Wow! Great article! Growing up I always felt ashamed of my kinky hair. Although My mother didn’t allow me to have a relaxer until highschool, unstraight hair was not acceptable. I was teased by peers and family members. When I started highschool I got my first relaxer and the teasing stopped. My hair at that point was longer then most of the girls who made fun of me (BSL). Back in 2011 decided I wanted to go natural and posted a pic of my transitioning hair on my facebook. I wasn’t anything fancy just a flexirod set to blend the… Read more »

JustLeavingaComment
Guest
JustLeavingaComment

Soooo cute! My brother and I have an age differential very close to yours. Lol, so I understand the “I’m not a fan of the feaux ethnic look” commentary maybe getting to you. My brother didn’t rag on me like I thought he would. I think he has a new found respect for me and natural women period. My family (like it or not) has been on a journey right along with me and have learned to accept themselves, just by accepting me.

Tisha
Guest
Tisha

lol that was a great read.But again,I don’t believe a matter of culture is the ONLY factor responsible for hair growth and retention. My hair was taken care of with love from the moment I was a child. My mom knew how much I hated detangling and she would tenderly detangle my hair from tip to root, she was so genle that I would fall asleep sometimes. I wore various proectives styles with my own hair braided & twisted up. My mom never made any of my sisters or myself feel inferior b/c of the way our hair grew out… Read more »

bsbfankaren
Guest
bsbfankaren

What she’s saying is that for most of us, we never get to figure out that health or nutrition is leading to hair problems because our hair has been chemically treated from the time we are very young, and that is in fact a cultural issue.

Summergirl
Guest
Summergirl

I’m sorry, but I much prefer the word “nappy” over “kinky.” When I see the word “kinky” I think “kinky sex.” Why is our hair called “kinky”? Is it because people think it looks like pubic hair?

nikki
Guest
nikki

Lol, that comment made me chuckle. My husband does not like kinky and HATES nappy so he, we, use the term “coily.” Like the little watch spring coils :). Hope that helps.

Summergirl
Guest
Summergirl

That helped. I’m gonna use “coily” instead.

ema
Guest
ema

i thought nappy means:
natural + happy = nappy

thats why i liked the word nappy.
does it have also another meaning ?
sorry for my english.
english is not my first language.

Nina
Guest
Nina

The original meaning of nappy is downy, as in soft and/or fuzzy. I like that. It has also been used, however, (in the US — I’m not sure if anywhere else) to refer to black people’s hair in a derogatory manner. Apparently, this derogatory use dates from the 1950s, which is why a lot of black people today feel uncomfortable with the word and why it is sometimes still used as an insult, by white people and by black people who don’t like the idea or appearance of natural hair. You are right that some people have been trying to… Read more »

sophia
Guest
sophia

Sorry, but your account of history is false. Nappy, when used for hair, means tangled and matted. The world was applied to black people during slavery where slaves were called “nappy heads.” Don’t believe me? Look it up. And I mean research scholarly journals and history books. Not just online. African Americans find the word offensive because the world is negative. Black people shouldn’t try to “reclaim” the word, because our hair is not meant to be called nappy any more than we’re meant to be called niggers. And then you have people trying to reclaim the world nigger. I… Read more »

TWA4now
Guest
TWA4now

@ Sophia Well said!

Oats22
Guest
Oats22

omg, pubic hair? I never thought of that, that’s disgusting. I always liked “kinky” because…well, things with kinks in them are kinky. Kink is a work: “A sharp twist or curve in something that is otherwise straight.” I’ve never thought of it relating to sex until recently when I’ve ready a couple people say it makes them think of sex.

Oats22
Guest
Oats22

Also, I do like “coily” as well, but I don’t think all hair is coily. Like, some of my hair is coily, like tiny springs. But other parts are more “kinky”–they almost look like little boxes/squares, or little steps. It’s cute. “Kinks” “kinky” has always seemed like a cute little word to me.

Kinky Canuck
Guest
Kinky Canuck

Beautiful article. Very well written and touching.

Stephanie
Guest
Stephanie

Just like sisters can be different heights or different colors, they can also have different hair types. I’m sure your “Rudy Huxtable” hair is lovely, but it’s conceited to dismiss your sister’s thin hair as the result of poor care. It is more likely you simply won the genetic hair lottery.

Ami
Guest
Ami

Perhaps it is more reasonable to conclude that, since she is much more familiar with her sister’s hair and practices than we are, she would be more likely to correctly ascertain why her sister’s hair was thin and damaged. Calling her conceited when you do not even personally know Domineque or her sister makes you presumptuous, and the irony of it all certainly isn’t lost on me.

MrsGlam
Guest

Thank you, Ami, for saving me some key strokes. I’m fairly certain that the author knows whether her sister’s thin hair was genetic or due to poor care. “Stephanie” needs to have a bunch of seats.

goyta
Guest
goyta

i’d say it’s probably less likely. and most often in case of children with thin, breaking hair, it IS poor care that’s at fault. rarely is that not the culprit.

bsbfankaren
Guest
bsbfankaren

You should consider following this particular natural hair diva on YouTube. Then you will see that she has NOT always had long hair, and in fact has worked diligently to get her hair to what you consider to be “Rudy Huxtable” hair.

MrsGlam
Guest

I follow her on YT and you are absolutely right: she didn’t always have the length she has now.

Shanel
Guest
Shanel

Great post. It was kind of different for me. I have always loved my hair. How soft it was. The curls. Pulling it back into a ponytail and braiding the end. The fact that the ends of the braids didn’t unravel. So when my mother decided that she was going to relax my hair and there was nothing I could do about it, I went kicking and screaming. My mother had long hair. I have cousins with hair to their waists. Long hair has always been feasible in my family, but I still thought it was not possible for me.… Read more »

Mary Cosedine
Guest

I agree with Stephanie. My hair from the start was “kinky” and quite coarse and a bit of a handful, but my brother’s hair was totally different being finer and much better behaved. I didn’t mind that mine was kinky, but I did envy how easy his was to look after!

Mary
Guest
Mary

I like this article. I was relaxed at a very young age. There is only one picture of me with natural hair and that was taken at my first birthday party. For me, it wasn’t that I hated my natural texture. It was that I didn’t even know being natural existed. It just never registered. Even when I saw beautiful black heads in the media, I loved their texture, but I never realized that is what could be growing out of my very own scalp. Relaxers and weaves were the norm for me, so much so that when people (white)… Read more »

Vonnie
Guest
Vonnie

Are you underage & living at home ? If so, don’t let this unfortunately ignorant opinion of your parents change what you know is right. Sometimes parents DON’T always know best. When you get more freedom, you well bee able to explore more of your natural beauty, and they MAY come around..

Mary
Guest
Mary

Thanks! Yes, I am still under my parents rule. I don’t count on them ever changing their minds, but I stay motivated with all the different sites on the internet and people like you. 🙂 I know one day I’ll be able to flaunt what I’ve got! 😀

J
Guest
J

Don’t give up,even if your parents are not comfortable.aI know you are doing a great job with your hair as they have noticed.So rock your hair with pride and joy 🙂

Everyone has their own journey and I am sure they
will come around the idea even if they don’t say it. 😀

Jo Somebody
Guest
Jo Somebody

Good luck Mary! 🙂

Sasha
Guest
Sasha

Good luck Mary! I know it’s unfortunate that they are not accepting. Try to look on the bright side, being forced to rock protective styles while in their home should keep your hair healthy. So when you’re on your own you’ll have an awesome head of hear! 🙂

Mary
Guest
Mary

Wow, I miss articles like these. Reading through all the comments again is motivating.

keri
Guest
keri

I disagree with this article. My mom cared for my natural hair til i was 12 when i requested a relaxer and she allowed it. i had HEALTHY RELAXED hair for 15yrs with no issues of breakage, thinning etc. i chose to return to my natural hair as i was wearing a lot of curly styles like flex rod sets. i’ve been natural 2 yrs now and have had way more struggles than the 15 yrs relaxed.
i dislike that fact that natural hair communities make it seem relaxed hair cannot flourish

BarBQ
Guest
BarBQ

I dislike that relaxers are linked to fibroids and carcinogenic ingredients and people still defend them as a styling option. Actually, it’s not good for you- maybe not as bad as smoking, but not good. A lot of people used to wear lead face powder because it was fashionable too. Im not going to defend that either.

guest89
Guest
guest89

I wish I could give your comment a babillion thumbs down. You seen to have totally missed the point of the article.

guest89
Guest
guest89

*seem

Paula
Guest
Paula

Keri you are in the minority because for most of us, relaxed hair had many issues. Hence the reason we went natural.
I am sorry that you feel that natural hair care sites make it “seem relaxed hair cannot flourish” but can you really expect a weight loss site to encourage you to eat everything you see. Well it is the same with BGLH. They would not tell you that relaxers are wrong because it is your choice after all but they would encourge readers to the positives of being natural.

Natasha
Guest
Natasha

Maybe you’ve struggled with black hair because you haven’t learned how to handle it properly! No surprise there if you’re used to relaxed, straight “easy to handle” hair. I’m two years natural and i’ve just about learnt how to manage it. And personally, I’ve never understood the term “healthy relaxed” hair but each to their own.

Ellie
Guest
Ellie

Keri, I’m in the same boat as you. I never hated relaxers, my hair actually took well to them, but that’s not why I decided to transition. While my hair did take well to relaxers, that didn’t change the fact that a lot of my life revolved around and was limited to what I could or couldn’t do with my hair, which kinda goes with the cultural aspect of this article. Funny thing? The thing that jumpstarted my choice to transition was a conversation about children. A cousin of mine had just announced her pregnancy and most of the women… Read more »

Deb
Guest
Deb

very interesting a-ha moment 🙂

MrsGlam
Guest

Keri, I think the author makes it clear that this was her observation. Notice that she didn’t state that her relaxed hair was unhealthy-she mentioned how her sister’s hair was damaged by relaxers.

By the way, if you are having problems with your natural hair, maybe you should relax it. Seriously-you shouldn’t have to “struggle” with your hair.

jjac401
Guest
jjac401

Keri — I enjoyed the article, but like you my hair grew to almost waist length and was healthy while it was relaxed. I never had an issue. I went natural because my youngest son questioned why African American women tend not to be pleased with their natural texture. After our discussion I told him that I would start to go natural. Well, my son passed in 2011 at age 20 and as a tribute to him I BC’d my hair.

My natural hair is healthy and thriving and I really love my hairs texture.

Amber
Guest

I wholeheartedly agree that it is about culture which in turn makes it a political statement whether you want it to be or not. But I also try to remember that in so much as I have come to love myself. If you have reached that level of acceptance and self love we also need to be sure that we are conveying that to other women having the same experience. To often even in myself I’ve made the mistake of placing my natural hair and my experience above someone else’s instead of reaching out and loving them as I love… Read more »

Alexandria
Guest
Alexandria

I absolutely love this article and agree to a “T”! You know at the age of 11, I realized there was truly something wrong with my relaxed hair. The day after my mom got married (still age 11), my brother was being a trouble maker and asked me if I wanted to go swimming without moms permission, my dumbself said “WHY NOT!.” So as I arrived at the community pool, it was filled with the coolest looking kids doing flips and dives in the pool. Now at the time, I had just got a relaxer a day prior for my… Read more »

Kelly
Guest
Kelly

Such a thoughtful and honest post, Alexandria. I think Black women not swimming in part because of a hair is a HUGE issue in our community. Seventy percent of African American children have low or no swimming ability. People in our community die from drowning more than any other ethnic group. My daughters all take swimming and they are usually the only Black children in their swim classes or one of few. I signed them up for swimming because my daughters almost drowned and died at a pool party on the same day Michael Jackson was pronounced dead. Thank goodness… Read more »

Ace
Guest
Ace

Cultural has more to do with hair growth than texture. Really. That doesn’t even sound logical. I met a lady that NEVER HAD A RELAXER IN HER LIFE! And her hair was only shoulder length. Now you could tell it was very healthy, but it wasn’t long. I asked her how long she had been natural. She said very arrogantly and smugly, “I have virgin hair and never had a relaxer.” I wanted to take my compliment back she was so rude. Now I believe culture plays a huge role in black women’s hair. But it does not determine hair… Read more »

CJ
Guest
CJ

You do realise that not everyone who is natural is aiming to have hair down to their ankles right? I myself prefer a cute and funky fro over hair that hangs down to the waist.

Nooni
Guest
Nooni

Just because you are natural doesn’t mean you can’t cut your hair! For all you know, she could have cut it really short and be growing it out. I’ve cut all my hair off before. We are allowed to cut our hair you know.

Cherise
Guest
Cherise

Also, has it occurred to you that this woman may just have a ton of shrinkage? My hair shrinks to above my shoulders (about neck length) when it’s fully shrunken and it reaches armpit length stretched. Perhaps her hair just doesn’t appear long.

Camille
Guest
Camille

Beautiful piece. I struggled with resentments against my mother who I felt really mismanaged my hair. She is from Ghana but was really bought in to western hair care practices. I went natural in frustration when I was 16 and in high school and I got negative comments from her and others but I was at my wits end. I ended up wearing locs for 10 years because I had no clue how to care for loose natural hair and assumed that only “mixed” girls’ hair could grow long. Years later I found the natural hair community, took down my… Read more »

Mimi
Guest
Mimi

I love your hair tips, been following you on YouTube.

bsbfankaren
Guest
bsbfankaren

Me too. I’ve been following her for about a year now.

Natasha
Guest
Natasha

This article and the comments have been uplifting to read. I bet some of you ladies writing have no idea how a few of your words can be so inspiring. Makes you realise that the physical chains of colonialism and slavery have long gone but the mental ones are so hard to break free from. Being natural for many is almost a spiritual journey, we’re learning who we are and learning to love who we are.

Amber
Guest

Natasha. Ditto to everything you just said!

Kelly
Guest
Kelly

I’ve been following this sista for a few years now on YouTube. She has hip length hair or tailbone length hair. For years she had the longest natural hair on YouTube. I didn’t even know her name was Dominieque because most of her followers knew her as Longhairdontcare2011. She shared her hair care tips on growing long natural hair when there weren’t as many naturals with waist-length hair. Typically she blow-dries once a month and flat-irons once a year. She’s caught a little bit of flak from naturals that don’t like any heat or who say that the texture of… Read more »

J
Guest
J

Healing can only happen if its acknowledged, processed , forgiven and left behind.

Mental freedom happens only with a change of mind and I believe we have an opportunity to do so and proclaim how beautiful and wonderful our hair is and leave behind our old school of thought which said the opposite.

Once we change our mind the growth will come as we understand our hair and apply common sense practices.

MrsGlam
Guest

Thank you for this beautifully written piece. The detractors and trolls are trying to derail the conversation, but I’m glad you wrote this. It’s all about removing the negativity we have toward natural hair. Until we approach our hair with a positive attitude, we will be frustrated and sabotage our hair care efforts.

Uniquely Curly
Guest

I loved this article, very well written and stated valid points of view when it comes to culture and our perspectives of hair/beauty. I have to say though, I acutally do not think that there is anything wrong with wearing extensions, wigs, braids, or weaves as long as you are caring for your hair underneath them. I have to say that I retained the most length during my journey when I was caring for it underneath a wig for a few months at a time. Due to my hair texture, my hair just seems to retain its length when I… Read more »

Alwina
Guest
Alwina

Awesome article! Never thought of it this way. Your thought process about your hair is important and it definitely shapes how you handle your hair. I enjoy watching Domineque’s youtube channel and her videos are informative. Thank you for sharing

Rayvinn
Guest
Rayvinn

I appreciate this article. I just had the last ends of my relaxed hair chopped off and am left with a TWA. This is the first time I can remember having completely natural hair since I was really young. I’m mixed, and unfortunately was taught to deal with a lot of self-hatred because my mother, in her ignorance, was scared that I couldn’t succeed or be happy in life if I didn’t fall in line with European beauty standards. She was born in Europe, so I suppose this was all she really knew. She not only took me to have… Read more »

bsbfankaren
Guest
bsbfankaren

You need to submit your photos to this website. Show your pride in who you are!

neli
Guest
neli

Great post. Despite my mother growing up on the continent, although she grew up with natural hair, its amazing how little she knows abt hair. I don’t blame my mum or grandma at all. She’s had relaxers n weaves for as long as I’ve known, I jst use my own experience to show her another way. She has started to listen, and spent sometime back home (recently)and sisters were doing twists that usually rock. Woop woop! She even asked for the style but she was told it wouldn’t look the same with her relaxed her. I’m glad that I became… Read more »

Michelle
Guest
Michelle

Well, my mother taught me that my hair was beautiful and curly BUT everyone else told me that it was knotty and hard … so, unfortunately, I believed what everyone else said and it took me years to realise that my mother was (and still is) right — my hair is beautiful and curly!!!

Love
Guest
Love

Here’s my story… I was in fourth grade walking home from school with a bunch of kids from my class. We grew up in Chicago so snowy days were the norm. A few of the boys got the bright idea to have a snowball fight. The tomboy that I was, I was not going to be outdone by the boys in my class so I joined in! Needless to say when I got home my pressed curls that I had just got done at “the shop” the weekend before looked like a fluffy cotton Bally mess. My grandmother saw me… Read more »

bsbfankaren
Guest
bsbfankaren

The thing I am thankful for? While my mother chemically relaxed my hair from a young age, she never told me I wasn’t supposed to swim or do anything else that might do anything to my hair. It just wasn’t that important to her. Of course, I also didn’t go to a salon until the time I decided I wanted to wear an afro in the 70’s and I needed a perm to make my hair stand up properly. As I found out later, I got the first relaxer because my mother’s friends told her she should do it. After… Read more »

danielle
Guest
danielle

Very nice.

lexy
Guest
lexy

It’s funny because growing up I didn’t even know about the idea of “natural” hair because as long as I could remember I’ve always had my hair relaxed. In my town, black people are scarce so the ones that were around wore their hair relaxed like mine. Sadly it wasn’t until college that I finally understood what natural hair was and I immediately went to chop mine off. Ever since I was little I hated my hair! And by hate I mean I never liked the idea of straight hair. Yes its long and yes I was considered the one… Read more »

fluffy-in-flight
Guest
fluffy-in-flight

Strangely enough, my story is the exact opposite of yours — Our hair in it’s natural state was all I knew while I was growing up. I never knew anyone with relaxed hair, When I think of my grandmother, I remember her with very thick coily, extremely long hair, my aunts nor my mother, none of them was relaxed, nor were they ever, and neither were any of my cousins — on thinking back, I never heard anyone say anything negative about natural afro-textured hair, neither in word, or even in actions did I ever hear anyone imply that the… Read more »

Rosa
Guest
Rosa

This is a very nice story. I hope that one of these days it is natural to anyone (not just black people) to wear their hair natural (or any way they like…). It shouldn’t be a matter anymore to call hair “good” or “bad”. Some hair are maybe easier or more difficult to handle, but you can handle anything if you know how to do it. So please don’t take it from anyone, and especially not from yourself, to make you feel minor (or superior) because of your hair. I don’t mean that you need to fight for your right,… Read more »

TWA4now
Guest
TWA4now

Most of our parents are only learning their parents and society too…they’ve been taught x,y, and z whether it your hair is beautiful and good enough or it’s snappy and you need to straighten it. For me, I don’t know if my mom knew what to do with my hair at one point and I was tender-headed:/. I would say “ouch” a lot and cried when I couldn’t sport an Afro, my hair wouldn’t “stand up”…so it was braided with beads and aluminum foil at the ends…hahahah After the press and curl phase, we (My mom and I) both embraced… Read more »

Shell
Guest

When you were describing the hair knowledge that was lost as our ancestors were brought to this country, almost made me cry. A beautiful article.

Nicole
Guest
Nicole

me too, sad that all of that was lost

Rosa
Guest
Rosa

The world is open to all now. Information is available through the internet. There are shopping opportunities and markets etc. So why not search for whatever you can or would like to afford for your hair and which was described above by wonderful information sharing and supplying Dominique? You might even find other nice african products that are still used nowadays to tame or maintain african hair. The story does not have to be at an end, just because it was only told to a certain point. You can take the information, just as anyone can, and make your own… Read more »

Em.
Guest
Em.

A friend was telling a similar story about her nieces. The eight year old ‘bad one’ was living with her father. Her hair flourished (not to mention her behavior improved). Little sister was living with the mother and her hair was falling out. Though the five year old is getting relaxers and braids with extensions, they suspect the hair loss is related to stress. The mother is quite abusive and the father is trying to gain custody of both girls.

Was the adverb “nappy”’ Do you mean adjective? I cannot help it.

Sidellis
Guest
Sidellis

So true. Thank you for that last note about forgiving, cause I have in my heart and mind (but not so much out loud) blamed my mom for the condition of my hair (I should have been blaming my Dad too). I just turned 23 and over the last year transitioned to my natural hair. I blamed my mom because she started relaxing my hair when I was very young (maybe 4?) and so I have never known my real hair, relaxers were all I knew. But then I realized that I was old enough and had the resources now… Read more »

jewellthief
Guest
jewellthief

LMAO at ‘grim reaper of length retention’.…classic

great article.…

Tristan
Guest
Tristan

Growing up I had no Idea what a perm was or what natural hair was my mother has always had Locs, and before that it was a little Gumby haircut. I remember seeing girls who had bone straight hair I just figured that’s how their hair grew naturally. I wasn’t introduced to a flat Iron until I hit the 10th grade, and my mom would always get upset with me if and when I did flat iron my hair. I come from a biracial background my mom is African American and My Father Is Filipino. My mom would always prepare… Read more »

TWA4now
Guest
TWA4now

@ Tristan Thanks for your story too, and I believe there aren’t any pure races so everyone is mixed with something if they check their DNA! Lol Although your suggestions seem helpful, #1 Respect the choice whether she is relaxed, weaved loced, wigs, and natural. At the end of the day, it is her hair, her way. #2 Everyone’s hair is very, very different and they have to do what is best for them. Trimming the hair has its place some don’t, some do twice a year some like me every three months. I don’t think most are doing twist… Read more »

Tristan
Guest
Tristan

@ TWA4now- I wasn’t trying to state that I came from a pure Biracial back ground, I am pretty sure if I did do some digging I would find a butt-load of mixtures in my family. 1- I do respect the choices women made on whether she was relaxed/weaved/loced/wigged up or natural, I was just pointing out the fact that the girls in my high school at the time constantly made fun of me for looking different, and not being the norm… ( I wasn’t trying to offend anyone, and If I did I apologize ? ) 2- I do… Read more »

Tristan
Guest
Tristan

I am not sure why every post has a question mark at the end of it I meant to write a smiley face : )
and My number 3 answer got cut off I was saying that I was already subbed to the amazing naptural85, thank you for the advise, and i do love this blog I am always excited to see the new features for the week

TWA4now
Guest
TWA4now

Again, Tristan thank you for your perspective.

TWA4now
Guest
TWA4now

My “rant” was just me making general statements and responding to some of your comments–nothing else. You have to expect that if you are on these types of forums. Again, I did appreciate your perspective. Thanks

T
Guest
T

While eloquently stated and even heartfelt, your final comments come off as pretty self-righteous. You were bullied in school but that doesn’t mean you should turn that onto others. My hair really started to grown when I paid greater attention to its overall health. The residual effects of mastering mini twists which I then wear as a twist out after the second week include: softer, healthier, more moisturized hair with fewer split ends. Wash and gos are absolutely not the answer to hair growth and retention for many black women. If nothing else, this website is evidence of the different… Read more »

annie
Guest
annie

This is an awesome article&comments!! very inspirational w truth wisdom,advice,history,opinions&facts from different point of views of hair textures&styles&haircare wow!!Lets keep them coming we really need this n our lives THANK U SOOO MUCH!!Im also natural goin on 2and a half yrs(BSL)cutoff2”. iv protective style right now my braids.~GODBLESS~

Renee
Guest
Renee

I grew up getting my hair pressed and curled. I tried a perm in college didn’t like it and transitioned back to natural. When I transitioned I was wearing my hair natural and was very self conscience of my hair; I decided I would wait to try a perm again when I was working FT. Fast forward 10 years and I did get my perm and found an awesome hairstylist; I continued with a perm for 10 years. Unfortunately, my hair will not grow longer than my shoulders when permed eventually my hair stopped looking as healthy as it should… Read more »

TheRYL1
Guest
TheRYL1

Wow…I can tell soooooo many stories about hair in my family! I’ll say, as a little girl, I wanted to wear an afro so bad! My mom never allowed it and I didn’t understand why. But, I got the impression that it just wasn’t “right”. In high school, after accidently using a super.relaxer (too strong, I found out the hard way), my hair fell out! You could see my scalp! Yeah…senior year, too. Anyway, as it started.growing back, my texture was so soft…do you know that classmates actually started saying I had cancer!?! They said my hair was “too good”,… Read more »

TWA4now
Guest
TWA4now

Thanks for sharing! Lol<3

NewbieNatural
Guest
NewbieNatural

I really enjoyed this article and I can totally relate. When I started school at 5 years old, I remember going to the salon to get a press and curl. I would either get it done at the salon or one of my cousins would do it. My mother never tried to do my hair. My hair was so thick (and it still is) and long. When she would comb my hair, I would start to cry. So I started getting relaxers. And until now, relaxers and roller wraps are all I knew. As I kid I remember all the… Read more »

Nillaa
Guest
Nillaa

Im mixed, and my hair was relaxed from age 3. Unusually, my mum (white side) was dead against me perming or heat straightening my hair, but my black side of the family did it anyway because my hair was “too thick to comb” and to difficult to manage. Weird, as people always used to tell me to ask my black family how to care for my hair, and i used to follow them religiously, when i should have been listening to my white mum. My mum used to sing to me when i begged her for another relaxer “relax, don’t… Read more »

bsbfankaren
Guest
bsbfankaren

Congratulations on your hair journey. My mother went against my wishes and texlaxed my daughter’s hair twice while I was working nights, believing that her hair would be “more manageable.” My daughter’s hair was and is beautiful. While I was mad at my mother for a minute, I realized it was simply the mind set she had grown up with, and had continued throughout her life. In the last year of her life I talked her into allowing her hair to return to it’s natural state and we cut it short for ease of styling. It took her until she… Read more »

Nillaa
Guest
Nillaa

Sorry about your mothers passing, but it is so nice to know she left this world knowing her hair was actually nice rather than the mindset she had to grow up with. Alot of black women will never find that out about themselves.

And congratulations to you to, wish you luck on this, sometimes crazy, natural hair journey.
Lovely to hear of girls growing up natural aswel, your daughter is lucky to have you! Her hair & her mindset will be so much better than all of us who grew up with mad chemicals on our heads :/

Anjola
Guest
Anjola

This is soo helpful cuz my hair was like past my shoulder almost getting to my waist and then I relaxed it. It was the worst time of my life I was so annoyed and I shaved off all my hair. Well I started growing it again early this year(naturally) and it already past my ears. I feel a lot better cuz is healthier than it has ever been.

Philly
Guest
Philly

wow. Reading through the comments made me feel, not so alone. Growing up, my mum or my sister were the only ones who ever did my hair. IT WAS PAINFUL when they combed “through” it. I remember how we were sat outside, chilling with me in between my mum’s legs with my head by her knees. For every little touch, pull, tangle, detangle of my hair. I cried. The only thing my sister said to me was that: “it pains to be beautiful” and that has stuck with me ever since. I say it to my kid sisters now. But… Read more »

Milano
Guest
Milano

Love the article. Found out yesterday that this beauty past away. Rest in peace sweetheart!

Shighya Tolbert
Guest
Shighya Tolbert

I stopped relaxing my hair over ten years ago.. It made my hair thin.. Grease makes my hair feel havey. When I only use kemi oil in my hair my hair is light and grows longer. I love my natural hair.when I was a little girl I remember my sisters had Jerry curls I didn’t because I live with my dad and my hair stayed natural. my sister had the jheri curl her hair started to fall out and patches so she had to have her hair cut off.still to this day she relaxes her hair and then will turn… Read more »

Carla T.
Guest
Carla T.

Best article I’ve ever read about going natural, and I’ve been a natural-hair-blog type of subscriber since early 2015. Wish I had read it when it came out, because I know I would have gone natural then. As of now, being 6+ months fully natural (doing the MHM and everthang), this article makes me want to cry. I haven’t forgiven my Mom (and most of my other family members) for her attitude against nappy hair because she seems unwilling to change. But as long as I continue to get educated about black hair care health and styling information, and draw… Read more »

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