While there may be a renewed sense of self and freedom that comes with women shifting to natural hairstyles, the sexual politics don’t disappear. A texture and variety of curl and kink patterns unlike any other ethnic group, black hair remains one of the great marginalizers. When the standard is long and straight, but that is the polar opposite of what naturally coils from your head, how does one compete?
For decades, the solution has been to singe our scalps with chemical relaxers. Or better yet, weave-in the locks of an unsuspecting Malaysian girl whose head was shaved in her sleep. But, given the prevalence of fibroids in black women and its connection to relaxers, the high price of maintaining a good weave, and just wanting to try to embrace the hair God gave them, more black women are transitioning to their natural state.
Whether or not men approve depends on who’s talking.
Just as transitioning can be challenging for women, it can also be quite the adjustment for a woman’s significant other. Men may insist that they prefer natural hair, but many still gawk over women flaunting Pocahontas weaves. Why? Because many men, like some women, have grown accustomed to the standard.
There isn’t a woman I’ve spoken to who didn’t receive a bit of push back from her husband or boyfriend when deciding to take the plunge. I do understand. It’s a drastic change in look for most of us. It’s a change that comes with political implications and antiquated assumptions; a change that challenges perceptions of beauty.
Comparing black beauty at its barest to the white standard is like comparing apples and oranges. To appreciate natural black hair, beauty has to be interpreted as fluid rather than absolute. Even then, the power lies in what we internalize and subsequently emit in our attitudes and behaviors. We control the narrative of real black hair.
Confidence remains the number one draw when it comes to attractiveness. If you’re walking around murmuring, complaining and allowing the “less pretty” you think your tightly coiled hair feels on the inside to flow outside, that is what you will exude. But, if you’re owning your big chop or ‘fro, standing tall, smiling bright – you may find yourself getting more attention than before.
Mainstream media may say otherwise, but believe it or not, there are plenty of black men (and non-black men) who can’t get enough of curly girls.
Sometimes we give men more credit than is due and too much say in what we do and decide not to do for ourselves. Men are not that complicated.
As black women grow more comfortable and confident in their natural hair choices, I believe that men will follow suit.