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Five Ways Black Men Interpret Natural Hair All Wrong

Avatar • Feb 29, 2016

Now, this article isn’t to say that compliments are terrible or that men can never comment on our hair. For the most part, it’s positive and mostly welcomed. However, there are some notions that men can have about natural hair that do more harm than good, or lets me know that they missed the “meaning” of natural hair.

When they assume that you don’t care how you look because you have short natural hair
Because short hair is masculine, right? So if you have short, natural hair, you obviously can’t be into makeup or dressing up. Right?

Exhibit A:

  • TWA-Natural-Hair-Inspirations-12

Exhibit B:

TWA-Natural-Hair-Inspirations-6

Of course, if you choose to wear minimal makeup or opt for a more low maintenance appearance, there is nothing wrong with that, but I always find the often perceived association between the two “funny,” especially regarding a more “feminine” look. It’s like they think because you have short, kinky hair, you gave up on your appearance. Most of the naturals I know have amazing makeup skills as well. So yea, this mentality is definitely getting natural hair wrong.

When they make bashing women with weaves or relaxers the center of their “compliment”
Envision yourself at a party, natural hair free flowing and oh so badass, when a guy comes up to you and says, “Wow, I really love your hair, it’s dope.” You’re about to say thank you, but he keeps going, “…I get so tired of seeing our sistas wearing the crown of another. It’s nice to see someone with enough self esteem to try it.” Hold up! Contrary to popular belief, all women do not love talking shit about other women, and there was no need to put a negative spin on the compliment. Say the hair is fly and keep it moving.

When they believe their validation is central to your sense of self
Have you ever noticed that some men act as if them liking your hair obviously, I mean it must, it has to, mean the absolute world to you? I feel like there is an undertone to this notion that screams, “I’m sure no one else likes your hair so it must feel good to know that at least I like it!” Compliments are nice. There’s nothing wrong with a sincere compliment, but there is a difference between a compliment and validation. Validation is definitely getting natural hair wrong. Love it, great, but know I love it too.

sassinessnicki

When they expect you to only like “deep” subjects
Having natural hair means one thing: having natural hair. Women with natural hair do not have all the same beliefs or like the same things. And some of us eat steak and like Love and Hip Hop. It doesn’t need to be deep, it’s entertaining. Deep conversations are great too, just don’t be surprised when we turn on Real Housewives of Atlanta after discussing Black Wall Street at dinner.

When they don’t think naturals can experiment with their hair
Natural can mean a lot of things, but it doesn’t have to mean doing nothing to your hair (see first point). Sometimes, you get tired of your fro, or you want to protective style for a bit, or for whatever reason, you want to change your hair. Straighten, color, get a weave, install crochet braids, whatever you want to do, and then you hear, “I thought you were natural. That color/style isn’t natural.”

facepalm2Just because my hair is hidden or temporarily altered, does not mean that it’s no longer natural. It’s still natural underneath or will go back to kinky when I wash it.

Ladies, what are your thoughts? Do you think there are some wires getting crossed when it comes to how black men view natural hair?

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Sangha
Sangha
4 years ago

good article

Guest
Guest
4 years ago

Lol, I love this list. Too funny.

Afroetry
Afroetry
4 years ago

I get exactly where you are coming from, as I too don’t wear any makeup, but let us not fool ourselves into thinking that others don’t question that decision. Does it affect us and our choices, no or else we would have our faces beat. She’s just trying to make a point, the wording isn’t great, but I think with a topic like this it’s very hard to phrase it perfectly. On the other hand, really found this amusing, had me thinking about all the assumptions people make about me because of my hair, like the minute you chop those… Read more »

bOr
bOr
4 years ago
Reply to  Afroetry

The problem with that line, which I also found offensive as well, is that in writing about men who think short hair means low maintenance, the author equates low maintenance/not wearing make-up to “giving up on your appearance”. A man (or anyone) assuming you’re not into make-up/dressing up is not the same as a man assuming that you’ve “given up on your appearance”, becau. To me it also sounds like the author’s bias showing, and if that’s not the case, it’s definitely a line that should have been more carefully worded (and it really wouldn’t have been that hard to… Read more »

Me
Me
4 years ago
Reply to  Afroetry

I can relate to the other items on the list, but this was the first time that I’ve ever encountered “people think you’re low maintenance” = “people think you’ve given up on your appearance”. I’ve always been low maintenance/no makeup even when I was relaxed and have never heard such a conflation. Maybe I read too much into it, but I was taken aback by the assertion and the juxtaposition of whether a natural chooses to wear makeup or not to how much she values her appearance. If that’s what people have been thinking, either I have thicker skin than… Read more »

liberianwoman
liberianwoman
4 years ago

What’s important is that I love my hair. The author stated that these are men interpretation of women with natural hair. I agree! I would also like to add that many none natural black women interpret natural hair in the same light.

Elle
Elle
4 years ago

Actually, I was told several times when I first big chopped that it seemed like I didn’t care about my appearance as much (part of the reason why they assumed I did it, basically asking if I was okay). I even had a guy once tell me verbatim, “I didn’t think a natural would care about their appearance.” It’s unfortunate and I’m sorry you were offended, but it didn’t come from me. For the record, I also don’t wear makeup a lot of the time but definitely care about my appearance!

Elle P.
Elle P.
4 years ago

Good article. These response I have experienced before and I have come to this conclusion. People get pushed aback with anything that is different, regardless, if how good or bad the response. That’ s their opinion at the end of it all. If they like it then cool! If not, it’s not your issue.

Lily Seymour
4 years ago

I shaved my hair really short, I perm it so that it waves, I wear it that way or with a headdress (scarves) or sometimes I wear wigs if it’s too cold outside. I’m usually in the gym with my different head looks and when i’m wearing my natural hair, the guys look away or don’t make eye contact, if i’m wearing a headdress or wig, they come up and talk, stare from afar and even smile.

LBell
LBell
4 years ago
Reply to  Lily Seymour

This brought back memories: I went from relaxed to wearing long extension braids to wearing a TWA in the space of one year. I did this all while living in a neighborhood and an apartment complex that was mostly black. That summer I wore extension braids was the only time I actually became VISIBLE to my black male neighbors to the point where they would actually approach and compliment me. Once I BC’d, though…I became completely invisible. The sad thing is that this was 20 years ago. I’m sorry that this still seems to be the case today. I’m sorry… Read more »

lis
lis
4 years ago

Thank you Elle…I’m here for alla this..#TRUTH.

EbonyinOjai
EbonyinOjai
4 years ago

I thought the whole point of ‘keeping it in the race’ was that black men were supposed to ‘get’ you without any complicated explanations? Isn’t that what black women are told, that ‘no one else can understand us’ yadda yadda yadda?

TWA4now
TWA4now
4 years ago

Yes, they the black.men need a re education too. They need to ask themselves WHY they are uncomfortable with her natural.hair and it DOESN’T mean.she’s “conscious”. Support her DON’T MAKE fun.of her. If you like and love her, he will LIKE and LOVE her hair as is LONG or SHORT natural or otherwise.

Me
Me
4 years ago

It’s like they think because you have short, kinky hair, you gave up on your appearance”

That was a very offensive line. I’ve never met anyone who equated “low maintenance” with “giving up on appearance”. I wear no makeup and haven’t given up on anything. I’m pretty sure that’s the author’s own bias showing.

Sharice Bee
3 years ago

I really need black men to educate themselves on hair in general. Back when i went natural in 2011, the natural movement was still new so black men weren’t used to seeing our true textures, just like most black women since we have had relaxed hair since childhood. Now that being natural is more of the norm, even in work spaces, i think men just like how versatile it is but feel fooled for some reason when they realize some of us wear kinky tracks lol. Either way, they need to accept us regardless

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