You guys remember how I said that I have no problem stopping a complete stranger to tell them how gorgeous their natural hair is right? I do it all the time, and sometimes it leads to a 10-15 minute conversation about hair, products, and regimens. A few weeks ago my husband and I were out and about and decided to grab some subs. Two cars away from us a woman was also heading inside of the restaurant and she had gorgeous curly locks. Her hair was so full and had body, and it was colored the prettiest caramel color too. I knew right then and there that once we got inside and ordered our food that I was going to A) tell her her hair is gorgeous, and B) talk hair with her.
She was very nice and very sweet and our conversation started out really nice. She had been natural for seven years but she was still flat ironing her hair almost every day until the damage it caused made her stop. When she stopped straightening her hair was when she discovered and loved her natural curl pattern. She’s a curly girl through and through and never knew it! I’m sitting there excited for her and eagerly hoping that she’d drop more eye opening gems on me. We began talking about products and she said that there’s nothing on the market that works well for her hair so she started making her own concoctions like you know who. Y’all know my eyes lit up like the high beam lights on a car right?
So here we are totally engaged in this natural hair conversation while my poor husband was relegated to putzing with his phone because I had completely ignored him to talk to this stranger about hair, and then I hear this:
“Well you know most men don’t like natural hair, so then I go back to straightening my hair with the flat iron. But now that natural hair seems to be in style again I’ll be rocking this while it’s in style. Pretty soon the wigs, weaves and braids will be making a comeback too.”
Please insert the sound effects of car tires screeching to a halt. My face and my heart just fell. My excitement evaporated immediately. I looked at my husband like “Did you just hear this? Did you hear the words that just came out of her mouth?” (In my Chris Tucker voice) But of course he wasn’t paying attention to our conversation but I needed someone to confirm that I heard right.
Actually, this is how my face looked. True story.
There was so much wrong with her statement that I didn’t know where to begin. To be fair this was her opinion no matter how much I disagreed with it. Instead I simply said “Well, I don’t think natural hair is in style. I think more and more women are realizing that natural is the best and healthiest for their hair.” She simply looked at me wide eyed and nodded in agreement. Then I quickly added “I don’t think braids will ever go out of style. Neither will wigs or weaves. Those are protective styles that many of us use to protect our hair.” Again I got the blank stare.
Look, I know not everyone is trying to make a statement with their natural hair. However, I do feel the return to natural hair is a bit of a movement, but not a political one. I think it’s just women being more informed and educated on how harmful the chemicals are that make up relaxers are to their bodies. Then they make the informed decision to let their hair grow out of their scalps the way it was meant to because it’s healthier. This woman that I was speaking with was clearly looking at natural hair as a fad to be followed, to be hip with, but also as a hindrance to her love life because some of the men she dated didn’t like her natural hair. She’s trying to please too many people, and that made me sad.
My parting words to her was “Your hair is gorgeous the way it is, and if some man doesn’t like it then too bad. There are plenty more out there who will appreciate you and your hair for it’s natural beauty.” She thanked me and then her order was called and she left.
This experience opens the door to several conversations:
1) What makes people think or assume that the natural hair movement is a fad, as if it’ll go away or die down in another year or two?
2) Are you willing to go back to the creamy crack or use a flat iron every day if your mate doesn’t like your natural hair?
This experience also confirmed my long held belief that everyone’s natural hair journey is different. Regardless of the why’s and how’s I’m just happy that women have kicked the creamy crack to the curb. This naturalista that I met may be torn between pleasing the guy she’s dating (or finding a guy who likes her natural hair to date) and staying en vogue with the latest hair styles, but what sticks out to me is that she’s been natural for seven years. That’s awesome to me, and I hope she stays natural.