So He Hates Your Natural Hair…What Does That Mean?

On the surface level, it means he ain’t the one. But on a deeper level we must acknowledge that there are many men (and women) in our communities who share the same perceptions of natural hair. Nappy, unruly, unprofessional, child-like, lacking sex appeal, just to name a few.

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Our society has made hair a qualifying or disqualifying factor in beauty and femininity. I remember growing up as a child and seeing ads for Vidal Sassoon or Herbal Essences and wondering why there weren’t any brown girls rubbing suds in their hair? I recall being 7 or 8 and laying in the bathtub while immersing my hair in the water, watching it gather around my face like a sea of tiny black ants and thinking to myself “Ooh, look at my hair. It’s so pretty and long!” I remember having length contests with my friends, stretching my neck and arching my back while pulling my plaits down. I can recall times when my mom would put beads on the ends of my braids, giving me an extra swinging affect that made me feel ultra cute. I also remember what it was like getting my first perm. I had begged my mother for it on countless occasions and I would often try dropping a Just for Me box in the grocery cart. When the day finally came, it burned like hell. I had scars and odd patches of matted hair in places. It was quite the process but when it was done, I had the softest, slickest edges, humidity-proof curls and I looked like the little girls I’d see on television. I felt like I had arrived!

Back then things were much simpler and it wasn’t until I began to really mature and become self-aware that I realized what I had been conditioned to believe about myself and my hair. When I decided to go natural, it was because I had been permed for so long that I’d not only forgotten my real texture, but I’d forgotten what it meant to love my God-given appearance. For years I enjoyed compliments on my wraps or roller sets but what was missing was the knowledge that I was being appreciated in my natural state. That I embraced and appreciated my natural state. It took me a while to come to the decision to wear my natural hair. I toyed with the idea but as I got older it became more and more important to me to see myself…on the daily. I wanted to see what I’d look like with no color, no flat iron, no blow dryer, no contacts, just me.

I’ve found so much power in embracing my natural state. Re-birthing my hair was, in some ways, a rebirth of myself. A rebirth of Jasmine. Of course, not everyone is aware of what most naturals go through daily to relearn their hair (for big choppers or those transitioning), the countless hours on sites from Klassy Kinks to Mahogany Curls looking for a texture match to get tips, then the time we actually spend doing our hair. It sucks that when we finally present our manes, some (not everyone) in our communities make comments that are insensitive, ignorant or flat out rude. I acknowledge that people are entitled to their preferences. But I’m not talking about preferences today. My intention is to bring awareness to the affects of what I will call “natural-shaming”. Examples:

“Oh, you should straighten your hair for interviews.”

“Its pretty but its just so wild.”

“That style looks a little ghetto.”

“You look like a little kid.”

“I hate when you wear your hair natural.”

“Your bush is wack.”

“Looking like a light-skinned Celie.”

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For all the adjusting one may endure in an effort to reach this particular type of self-acceptance, ridicule from others in our communities, especially the men we date, makes the adjustment all the more trying.

 

If a Black man disapproves of your natural state, can he really love you? A better question is does he love himself and his people? That is the question I pose to my readers. Not rhetorical. I’d really like to hear your opinions.

Drop comments below!

xo,

Jazz

Life Lessons: Why On Earth Would You Not Water the Seeds of Friendship?

I don’t pretend to know everything. All I can do is take little lessons from my various experiences and create this sort of infrastructure that shapes my moral compass and thus, guides my life. One thing I’ve struggled with since childhood was the concept of friendship. If you think I’m a shy person now, you’d think I was a mute if you met me as a child. While I was goofy and loving with my family, becoming familiar with others was quite the task for me and I often used my siblings as barriers to any unwanted interaction. I could count on them to interpret my facial expressions and body language for anyone that threatened my watchful solitude. I was indeed an observer. As an adult I’ve learned to quickly decipher between good and not so good people but as a child this process often took me hours to complete. I’d watch interactions; I’d stare really hard which in most cases prompted a snide remark or eye roll. My attention to detail has proven to be my gift and curse but I had to make sure the coast was clear. Then, and only then, would I begin to ration out bits and pieces of myself. I can recall a few incidents when I didn’t take this precaution and it resulted in a feeling of flat out rejection. From my experiences throughout life, people will hate you without knowing you, the real you. I wasn’t too keen on how or when to say things or even ways to start a conversation. I was socially awkward with new people and I think it’s fair to say I would rub them the wrong way. Knowing this, I would sit back and allow myself to be sort of recruited into a friendship or in most cases, a group.

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Some of my best times were spent with ‘my girls’. I’ve been a member of a few cliques. There are my hometown girls, the ‘Fab Five’ of Wilson High, ‘XBL’ of Blount Towers, ‘Unbreakable’ of Alpha Delta and last but certainly not least my coworker cliques. I’m not the type to dominate a group but I’m even more ill-suited to be a follower. With the exception of the ‘Fab Five’, I found that cliques in my younger years tended to have a leader and followers. Being that I’m neither, I found it hard to exist in these groups without rebelling in some way shape or form. And then there was my love life that always seemed to be my most pressing of concerns. I was the girl that was always boo’d up, barely went out and partied with my friends and would probably have passed up a trip to Cancun just to spend quality time with bae (Oh wait, I did that). Mistakes we make when we’re young, dumb and in love.

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Anyway, I was never the one to place great emphasis on friendship. Often times I didn’t think I was missed or that it mattered if I showed up to things or not. I’d forget birthdays, forget to reply to texts, cancel plans and miss important life events. I was pretty much in my own world. Don’t get me wrong, I was always there to give advice, you could always come hang out at my place, I’d feed you, I could keep a secret, I’d fight for you, was always down for some adventure and would even egg someone’s car with you (yes I’ve done that) but I was lacking in a lot of ways. It was only through the loss of a few friends that I loved that I realized just how important the friendship relationship was. Through these losses I’ve learned that friendships need nurturing just like any other thing in life. You work in your career, you work in your spirituality and you work in love. Why on earth would you not water the seeds of friendship?

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You don’t get to choose your family but you have the God-given right to choose your friends. I’ve recently begun to take advantage of that and in a city of 20 million people; I have a close knit family of friends that I cherish dearly. How’d my brokest years end up being my happiest? Because I’m rich in things untouchable. I come alive with my friends. I recognize the need for that ‘life’. They give me life! I’m just living and learning, y’all. I’m better than I was last year, last month and even last week. It’s something I’m doing on purpose. If you’ve ever struggled with friendship I hope this post goes to show you that you’re not the only one and there’s still hope for you to ‘get it’. Don’t wait forever though. Lol.

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Xo,

Jazz