Friday, August 6, 2010

How We Talk About Our Own Hair

What is a bad hair day?

Rebellious, unmanageable, nappy, untamed, unkempt. These are just some of the words I hear about how people describe their own hair, and its usually not meant to be positive. This is what makes us look for so-called "miracle products" for our hair. I'm even talking about those of us who wear our hair naturally; I still don't think we have gotten rid of negative thinking about our hair. Some of us are wearing it out and proud but still talk about certain sections of our hair being "too unruly." I know some gave up relaxers and frequent flat iron use (me) because we were tired of fighting with our curls and coils. But then why are we still trying all these products and techniques in attemps to "fight" with our hair even more?

Don't get me wrong, I like playing in my hair on days when I'm not being lazy. I like finding out what it can do. But I stopped thinking about my hair as these unruly fibers sprouting from my head and then suddenly, styling became easier and so did my product searches. I am NOT searching for a product to solve all my hair problems because quite frankly, my hair isn't problematic. Having curls and coils isn't a disorder that needs to be "taken care of" or handled. Even though I have different patterns all over my head and it's in layers and I easily get single strand knots, I still don't think these are issues, but things about my hair I have to work with. Do you note the difference in wording? I said I had to work with my hair, not manage or tame it.

Obviously, the issue with naturally curly hair (particularly the afro-grade) is that information isn't mainstream enough for people to understand how their hair works. And let's face it, most products we love market themselves in ways to promise us to deal with these "problems." Look at the description of some (even ones that I have) that talk about using the product to have beautiful or managable or better hair. If we want to fully accept our hair, I say that we stop using words (unconsciously) that make it so negative.


  1. I think this is a weird disconnect that black women have towards their physical bodies. Do we talk bad about our noses? our legs? or the more obvious places, our butts, breasts, and skin? We do, we are always too big, too small, too floppy, too dark - but we rarely just love the package the creator put us in.
    We dont think about the purpose of our bodies in the shape they are in: That our skin (for some) helps protect us from the skin, so does our hair. Our bodies are designed for harsh conditions (small and large frames).
    We focus on how we can be what we are not, instead of just enhancing who we are.


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