You might have noticed a lot of arguments about whether it is correct or not to have relaxed hair.
Black women’s hair has been controversial for a long time, in the 1800s banned black women in Louisiana from showing their hair, during slavery the violent shaving of black women’s afros was used as a disciplinary tactic. In post-colonial Africa, each African culture paid special attention to hair and head adornments and in the 60s it played an important role in the American Civil Rights Movement. In short black hair has a long history and intricate history.
Today, black hair is in a unique place where black hairstyle are praised and loved (mostly when not on black bodies) but systematically attacked for existing (for example natural black hairstyles being deemed unprofessional for the workplace).
I saw a tweet saying “Google unprofessional hairstyles for work”. I did. Then I checked the ‘professional’ ones ??? pic.twitter.com/5KLg7FZ6Hq
— Bonnie Kamona (@BonKamona) April 5, 2016
At the same time, we are in the middle of natural hair movement with more and more black women deciding they want to have natural hair black women and men all over the world are taking pride in the way their hair naturally sprouts from their scalp, and it is a magical thing. However, not everyone is going natural others are opting to maintain their hair straight i.e relaxing their hair.
The arguments against relaxed hair range from the style being a sign of self-hate and or an unhealthy option. While the arguments against natural hair are it’s maintenance being expensive both in terms of time and money or simply not being a look that works for everyone.
The initial purpose of relaxing hair was to match the eurocentric standard of beauty in a more convenient way as opposed to the daily use of heat techniques.
Today, undeniably there are women struggling with their self-love and have relaxed hair, there are plenty who simply prefer the look and maintenance of relaxed hair. On the natural side, a lot of black women are learning how to take care of their hair in a natural state once more an act of self-love and by extension black pride (but not always a political statement). Somehow this has translated (to some) as relaxed or straightened styles are the opposite of black pride and a sign of self-hate while natural hair is a political pro-black statement. Self-hate is something black women should be against because black women are absolutely beautiful but not a justification to attack fellow black women for how they choose to style their hair. For many of us, hair is a very personal process and the reasons we opt to style our hair should be personal too, the most the community should to promote the black women loving their hair (in whichever state they prefer) and maintaining healthy hair regimes.
Wanting to fight back against anti-blackness and unhealthy hair treatments is a great instinct but doing so without compassion and understanding is a counterproductive process.