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afro3A Facebook friend once wrote a post centered on black women and their hair choices. Why can’t they wear it natural? Why wear weaves? They have no edges (can I just say I have no idea what that means, I think I have an inkling but I’m still uncertain). They look ghetto with blonde weaves, or it gives them bald spots etc. Basically it was a post meant to encourage black women to simply enjoy and show off their natural hair, but it ended up being condescending.

It seems so many people have something to say about how black women wear their hair. It comes from all directions. Both men and women. Some women with natural hair believe that because they spot an Afro or a natural hairstyle, they are therefore proud of their roots (pun intended). They also can’t be accused of trying to assimilate to white standards of beauty. It means they aren’t sellouts. These women look down on other black women who wear weaves or relax their hair. It’s like they turned into the spokespeople for natural hair and black pride the minute they began spotting a fro. Really?

I should point out that this isn’t an American or black issue. It’s prevalent in Africa too. I once watched a Nigerian music video about African pride. The artists were talented, the song was amazing, yet numerous comments about the video were centered on the female singers and the way they chose to wear their hair. One person asked how they could sing about African pride yet wear straight hair extensions. That’s what some people took out of the video. Again, really?

Here’s my question. What’s it to you? Hair is not a cultural statement. Hair is just that, hair. The one thing many of my white American friends always marvel about is the versatility of the afro hair. You can do whatever you want with it. You can wear it natural, relaxed, natural and straightened, in box braids, crochet braids, twist outs, weaves and extensions, headwraps, dreds, faux locs, the list goes on, literally. Choosing to wear weaves, extensions or relaxing your hair doesn’t make you any less proud of your heritage, your self worth, or your background, just like wearing your hair in its natural state doesn’t automatically mean you’re oozing with black pride.

wrapHair shouldn’t be a dividing factor among women or people of African descent. So can we please stop with the nonsense? Stop with the shaming! Stop the noise. Do what works for you and your budget. Do what makes you look good, what you’re feeling that day. It’s all about you and your style. Anyone who feels the need to comment how much they hate or can’t stand another person’s hair should cough up the money for the necessary changes. If you can’t do that, stay out of it. It’s really that simple.

somaliThere are lots of black people with naturally long flowing hair. Just ask East African women. Their choosing to straighten that long hair doesn’t make them sellouts. There are lots of women who wear weaves as a way to protect their natural hair, and women who chemically straighten/relax their natural hair. It’s all a choice. Their choices don’t make them victims of colonization or western beauty ideals. Do we accuse white women who complain about their natural curls and undergo expensive treatments to acquire straight hair sellouts? Do we accuse them of hating their culture and having a low sense of self worth? I don’t think so.

If you really want to be revolutionary, if you want to showcase your pride for your roots and background, learn to speak an African language, speak out and stand up for issues that affect people of color and above all, STUDY. It’s the best way to build knowledge about your African or black heritage, and knowledge is everything. Shaming women who choose to wear their hair a certain way doesn’t help achieve any of these goals.

I’m sharing this Facebook screen shot from Tonya Jones. She beautifully sums up this issue a post years ago. Bottom line, do what works for because how you choose to wear your hair is not and should never be a cultural statement.