Why I Love My African American Hair

black hair is beautifulBy the time I got to college, I’d not only morphed into Freshman Class President, I was a also the worst kind of natural hair snob. My best friend and I would stalk and shame any black girl we saw whose hair was not what we deemed to be Afrocentric: braids, fro, curls, twists or dread locs. Looking back, that time in my life makes me a little sad. It wasn’t fair for me to be so judgey. People are from different cultures and hair has different significance to everyone.

In grad school I was finally back to rocking my big, beautiful Afro. The Afro dress was long gone but I was in Vermont so it was too cold to wear it anyway. People were so obsessed with petting my head as if I was a dog or pet that I did an art project called “Don’t touch my hair!

Today I might rock my luscious Afro one week and a Farrah flip wig the next. Curls, twists, locs, flat iron, weaves–I love it all. It’s fun to play and experiment with hair, and nobody should be judged for what they do or don’t do with theirs. I love myself and I love my hair. My love for me does not increase or decrease because of the way I choose to express myself on a given day.

For some black women, their hair is almost like a religion. They only hang with other women with similar hair philosophies and judge anyone who sees things differently. It’s almost like there are separate churches, The Church of Natural, Church of Weave, and Church or Relaxers. It has been said that our hair issues are the equivalent to white women’s eating disorder issues. Unfortunately, all women battle with both body and hair image challenges. On TV, I’d bet that 99.9 percent of the women of all backgrounds have dyed hair and/or extensions.

I love the versatility that my gorgeous kinky hair allows me. I am a goddess, queen and bombshell. Yeah, I said it! Why should I have less style options than Lady Gaga?

Love your hair–whatever it is and however you choose to wear it. As with anything concerning your body, it is your right to choose.

What is your hair like? Do you have African American hair? What’s your favorite hairstyle? Tell me everything in the comments!

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  • dommie05

    Black hair is such an complex discussion when it shouldn’t be. No matter whether u wear weaves, relaxers, or natural hair whatever you wear do it because you personally like it for yourself. I see alot of black females have insecurities on this because they feel their natural hair isn’t good enough or that guys won’t like it. So they continuously hide it under a wig. That’s not good theirs women out there dying for our hair texture. Some Japanese women perminate wave their hair to get it kinky like ours. They love our texture, and our skin tone. The same way we sometimes go out our way to emulate European hairstyles, they do with us. Vidal Sasson is a famous hairstylist from London he has always gave black women credit for wearing such fabulous cuts and creative looks. We are beautiful and any man that can’t see that is blind, any person who doesn’t think so is shallow. All women is beautiful so what ever your style rock it with pride in the words of Marcus Garvey “Take the kinks out your mind….not your hair”.

  • nickayla

    i do have african american hair, well more like type 3b and i know exactly what you mean i would love to do so much more to my hair but i dont like taking time and this has really really helped, but this dosnt change my desicion about getting my hair relaxed, its something new and i might learn something from it

  • Afrogal

    wher i live their is a lot of ethiopian people and most of them weat they hair natural talk about african pride

  • Nuni

    Amazing post! i may shun any church besides “Natural” but really feel like you’ve explained the issue very well:)

  • Samm

    My hair has been relaxed forever, and I love the straightness. Everyone says: Why do you wear it straight?

    I’m 16, and now with all of these people going Natural, I feel guilty for relaxing. I feel like an outcast for my hair, but I don’t want to change it.

    My hair only breaks off when I wait too long to get it relaxed, or if I been stressing excessively. I keep it moisturized, I don’t know how to wrap it quite yet but I moisturize, brush through, then put a satin sleep cap on to sleep in.

    I just feel now that the black hair stigma is changing from Relaxed is gorgeous, to Natural is the most beautiful thing on Earth. I just want be perceived just like the Naturals, beautiful too. Relaxed hair may take work, but it can be healthy like natural hair too.

  • atiya

    everytime my hair gets an ok length it breaks off wtf ! So for my 9th grade year my mom decided to keep me with sew ins smh -___- . i used to to love wearing my hairs with curls on the top , straight on the sides pulled back into a bun almost like a mohawk or my press and curls but we’ll see how this turns out. i told her once im done with sew ins i think i wanna keep it natural 🙂

  • Lostgirlfindingherself

    Thank you, now I don’t feel so left out about going natural

  • Quinnie

    I have Asian hair. It usually messy but i love it anyway. Waiting for my hair grows longer so that i can have braids and buns 🙂

  • Esther

    I want to go natural! Could I do so by braiding my relaxed hair till my natural hair grows more than the relaxed bits?

  • Bebe

    I HATE when my hair is down natuarly, its a pain but it does look pretty. My hair is long and thick, all the way down to my boob and i look like jesus when it’s down!

  • LotusFlower182

    I love my natural hair. At fifteen, I made the choice to go back to my natural hair. My mom didn’t agree with it. Four years later, it’s so big and full of body and down below my bra strap. Now my mom is going natural, LOL. Never will I go back to that bone straight hair. It’s so lifeless.

  • Bea

    I’m not black (allthough my sister and I have been mistaken for black before… I’m Dominican, I promise!) but I have very frizzy, curly hair. I used to be so ashamed of it! Not to mention all my friends were blond hair-blue eyed at the time. I was the weird tan kid in a sea of pale girls! I used to straighten my hair everyday for about 3 years until I recentley got two new friends- Georgia and Gia, best friends ever!- who are OBSESSED and so jealous of my natural hair (feeling bold, I wore it natural one day) Then Georgia told me wearing my hair natural makes her whole day! I couldn’t believe something I used to be so ashamed of made someone else so happy! I’ve learned that I’m okay with crazy curly hair and I’ve even worn it natural everyday for a record of 2 weeks straight. I’m so proud! Oh, and Georgia and Gia? They’re tan brunette girls like me. Holla! 😉

  • Sian

    I am in Yr. 7, from Australia, and have only recently started wearing my hair out to school. In Primary School, my hair was always braided or plaited. Only my best friends knew hat my hair really looked like out. When I wore it out for school photos in Yr. 6, people started telling me that people ould kill for mt hair. Now I realise that it is naturally frizzy, but it has beautiful curls, and i should be embracing that!

  • Jeannette

    I’m glad that at such a young age you took matters into your own hands and embraced your natural hair. Yes, it is sad that People like Ms. Headley have such stereotypical views towards hair and skin color. When in reality, a Person’s hair texture has NOTHING to do with the color of their skin. I have encountered waaay too many Dark Skinned wavy/curly/straight hair People and Light Skinned tightly coiled, nappy headed People.

    My hair is thick and kinky. My favorite hair style is mini twists. It’s been approx. four years since I’ve been natural and I didn’t realize how much I enjoy doing my hair. I also didn’t realize how versatile my hair is as well. Although it’s been a few years since I’ve worn it straight, weaved, wig or extensions, I will wear all of those if I am feeling up to it.

    I’m so glad that you are no longer Judgy towards females who wear their hair relaxed or in a weave.

  • Lexi

    I live in Vermont and there aren’t a lot of African Americans here so everyone is always like “Your hair is so beautiful can I touch it?!” But my hair is a little different because my mom is white and my dad is black so it’s not nappy but my curls are pretty small and I have lots of hair:) Most people are always saying “why don’t you you ever have it down?”… It’s not that i don’t like my hair it’s just that everyone is touching it or commenting on it. So I like straighten my hair the best!

  • Finding_Me

    I’m an african-american 14year old, and I have been all natural for 8months now. In 5th grade my dad decided to relax my beautiful long hair, and it definitely took it’s tole. My hair started to break off and what now. All through out middle school I was struggling with getting it back healthy, but every few months it would just break off again. Finally I decided I wanted to cut it all off. At that point, my hair was naturally straight from me using the flat iron to much, and there was a small fro at the top(new growth). I wanted my beautiful curls back, so for onths and months I begged my mom to let me cut my hair off and the answer was always no. Finally she said yes, and I’ve been rockin a fro! My hair hasn’t gone near a flat iron for about a year now. I’m so happy and relieved to have my curls back! I’m just going to let my hair grow out and show off my ethnicity through my hair =)

    • Bea

      Dude, that sucks! It should be your choice how you wear your hair, not your dad’s and I’m so glad you embrace your natural hair! I’ve been natural for only two weeks. Wish me luck!!!

      • Ky

        Good luck gurl! The adjustment is definitely frustrating, but you’ll be happy in the end when you realize that no one else has hair like you, and that it will certainly make you stand out in a beautiful way!

  • misslmh11

    I love this article. Mostly because it points out how some natural women judge other black women who belong to The Church of Relaxed, and how that’s not right or fair. My hair has been relaxed since I was 3 years old. I had no choice in that, and I’m afraid to go back to natural. I’m scared to! My sister managed to successfully transitioned to natural, but I love my straight hair so much that I’m afraid natural hair won’t make me happy.

    Right now I have my hair in Senegalese twists and I LOVE them. This style looks cuter on me than any other style I’ve had. I’m thinking of just keeping my hair in braids and twists with extensions forever.

    • scottymakura

      I was a relaxer child until I was ten and I realized just how much hair I’d lost! Now, I still straighten my hair, but I don’t relax it. It’s got volume but it’s still straight. Now I’m just working on growing it out! I wouldn’t trade my hair for the world!

  • Mecca Ren

    I’m a natural woman myself–I’ve been so since 2007, my 12th grade year. Back then, at least in NJ, where I’m from, it wasn’t really poppin’ to rock your natural texture. Most Black girls got their hair relaxed and would rock their hair in a wrapped doobie with the bobby pins still in it. (I hated that style btw! I always thought the point of a doobie was to get your hair freshly washed and styled, so you could wear it out and be proud of it, but whatever. lol)

    When I did the big chop and went natural, no one “understood” it. Classmates, friends, AND family members all thought I was crazy or stupid to cut off all my “pretty hair”. But going natural allowed me to embrace water, instead of run from it (lol!), and I co-wash every day and shampoo every week and a half to two weeks. I began using “greener” products with no sulfates or other hair-damaging additives. My scalp began to heal from all those chemical burns I used to get from lazy beauticians leaving my perm in too long, and my hair became the healthiest it had ever been. I get virtually no dandruff now, and I used to get a LOT of dandruff prior to becoming natural (found out that it was mostly caused by product buildup!). Plus, even though people who KNEW me didn’t understand the look, STRANGERS surprisingly thought I looked gorgeous and thought my hair was cool and inspiring.

    Five years later, and my hair went from being 2.5 inches long after my big chop (in its kinky texture) to now being three inches BELOW my shoulders (in its straightened texture). People are always so amazed at how much my hair has grown! The biggest downside to my hair being longer now is that when it’s kinky, it’s very voluminous and tedious to style. My arms begin to hurt before I’m even close to being finished. Lately, every four weeks or so, I get my ends trimmed, get my hair pressed out straight, and rock that for about two weeks. During that time, I use a feather-light spray oil and just comb it to style and wrap it at night and cover it with a satin bonnet. When it’s kinky, I co-wash it or DC it, then I’ll comb out the tangles, rinse, use a bit of styling custard and some leave-in conditioner, let it air dry, and rock it out in a kinky-curly afro a.k.a “the wash & go”. When I put in a little more effort, I rock in a low-maintenence style, like pinned up on one side or pinned up in the back. When I put more effort in it, I do braid-outs or create a style I’ve never rocked before. Plus, I’m in the military, so I have to rock a ponytail for work.

    Being natural gives me versatility and urges me to be gentler and healthier with my haircare and hair styling. (Now, even more of my lifestyle is greener–my skincare, my food, etc.) The versatility I have allows me to rock my hair kinky, kinky-curly, curly, wavy, straight, in updos, in wigs, and in weaves. In fact, I was thinking about rocking a weave for a couple of months so I can have a whole new look (there’s NO WAY I’m cutting and coloring my OWN hair! lol). My hair needs rest, and two or three months should do it. Of course, since braiding my own hair super tight and sewing tracks on it is known to be damaging to the hair, I’m going to have the tracks glued onto a weave cap, which also known as a quick weave. Much safer to the hair.

    Don’t be afraid of weaves and wigs. If wearing another human being’s hair creeps you out, wear synthetic. Be mindful that synthetic weaves only look good for about two weeks or so (with good maintenance and use of a dry shampoo to get rid of that fake Barbie shininess). Wigs are easier and fun and you get to look completely different for a day!

    • Jeannette

      Mecca…your response is impressive! I always find Young Ladies like yourself who go natural while in High School to be incredible. I’m in my mid 30’s (and a Jersey Girl too), going natural in my early 30’s was fine because I really didn’t care what people thought but I know that you caught heat when you were in High School. By the way, I also don’t understand the wrapped doobie with the bobby pins still in it, in my opinion, it was never really a style. I’m glad that you stuck to your beliefs and maintained your confidence…Go on witcha bad self! I so agree not to be afraid of weaves and wigs. I also don’t want to cut or color my hair and believe that weaves or wigs are viable options. My hair is as long as yours and when I style it does take a while but once it’s styled (I love mini twists), I can keep it in for weeks at a time and refresh my twists as needed. Be well!

  • Rose

    I really loved this article until it compared hair issues to eating disorders! Eating disorders are VERY serious problems, and its really disgusting that the author of this would just throw around the term without caution. Hair issues don’t require for you to miss 8 weeks of school, and have your best friend leave you because she doesn’t want to be branded with an eating disorder as well. Also, african-americans have eating disorders too! People of all ages, genders and religions can become eating-disorders because its a GENETIC DISORDER! Maybe next time be a little more sensitive before using eating-disorder so comfortably!

    • Lauren

      She wasn’t directly comparing the effects of an eating disorder to the struggle with hair. She was saying that just a prevelant as eating disorders are in the white community, hair care issues are common in the black community.

      • Nuni

        I agree, you’d be surprised how much effort black women put into their hair.

  • Cherri

    I feel exactly the same! I seem to be in the Chruch of Natural lol

    I’m glad someone’s posted something like this on here. I love my hair, but I’ve got ridiculously thick and long hair compared to the average black girl. Doing my hair properly takes about 3 hours! I remember when I used to moan about 1!

    Anyways, I’d never dream of perming/relaxers and I don’t like the thought of having fake hair sown into my head…