MY hair

Hello. My name is Jennifer and I have a relaxer. Every six weeks, I go to the shop and my hair dresser applies a chemical to my hair to permenantly straighten the roots. Once a week, she shampoos and flat irons my hair to achieve the straight hairstyle I have been wearing for many years. Every once in a while, I’ll get curls. I’ve gotten braids a few times (the last time was the LAST time) and the length and color of my flat-ironed bob varies with my mood and disposition. I love MY hair. Notice the capitalization of my? That’s because it’s mine, not yours.

When I was growing up, the majority of the girls I knew wore their hair natural; our mothers would press our hair for special occasions, but after those Easter curls got nappy (don’t act like you don’t know what nappy is), it was back to natural hair. Some of us had “good hair” (I cringe as I type those words); some of us had hair from the Motherland (yep, me) and some had hair in between. As a teenager, I chose to wear my hair in the style I continue to maintain for one simple reason: I like the way it looks. As an adult, conversations swirl around me about the state of Black Hair and I sit and wonder how it became anyone else’s business how another woman chooses to wear her hair.

I have friends that are bald, have weaves, afros, braids, dreads, and relaxers. I never question anyone’s Blackness because of how they choose to wear their hair, yet because mine is straight I couldn’t possibly be as down for the cause as a woman with a ‘fro. A friend questioned whether a woman was still “down” if she dyed her dreads blond. I mean, how many natural blond black folk are running around here…(Quite possibly the same number of blacks with naturally straight hair)? Her point was that dying one’s “black” hairstyle blond is considered a fashion statement while chemically straightening our hair is selling out. Both involve an unnatural process but only one of the two makes a person less black in the eyes of the disillusioned who believe that one’s hair defines their blackness. For every thug ass fool with dreads is a woman with a relaxer being a productive member of society and helping their community. (eg, Lil Wayne vs. Michelle Obama)

I’ve heard the argument that the chemicals in relaxers are dangerous but I hear these arguments from people who are nowhere near being a chemist and the last time I checked, most hair care products contain some type of chemical including shampoo, conditioner, and styling products. EVERYTHING we utilize contains some type of chemical, even the food that we eat, so if you’re not living the complete organic, vegan, minimalist lifestyle, miss me with the relaxers are bad as you pull away in your vehicle chock full of inorganic components.

I have nothing against people who choose to wear their hair naturally. I don’t give a damn what you do to your head. What I do have a problem with is people who put a definition on who I am because of how I choose to wear MY hair. Did you see that again? MY HAIR, not yours.


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