Sunday, June 9, 2013

Relaxed vs. Natural Hair: Which One is Right for You?

Today I'm going to start a discussion on a topic I have never touched in public -- African American hair. The reason I haven't touched it is because it is very, VERY hotly debated, and I found it easier to keep my opinions to myself. But blogging is all about expressing your opinion and discussing it with others, and now that this blog has a decent following, I think it's time to address this issue.

As you could probably tell from the photos on my blog, my hair is relaxed and not at all natural. For my non-African American sisters, relaxed means that a person, usually a person of color, has used a chemical relaxer to straighten their hair. It's also known as a perm, but can be confused with the type of perm that makes hair curly, so to make life easier, I'll use the word relaxer. Natural hair is hair that has NO chemicals in it whatsoever. Most of the time the person's natural curls and kinks are grown out and taken care of, though occasionally people with natural hair do use heat from flat irons or curling irons to straighten it.

I have nothing against my sisters who keep their hair natural. I think honoring your heritage by showing your hair's natural texture is a beautiful thing, and one of my best friends has been rocking the natural look for years and looks fabulous. However, I do have a problem with some natural hair supporters who bash those of us who choose to use relaxer. They cite the risks of using the chemicals in relaxer and how that can damage our health, and many claim that we are conforming to society's standard of beauty by straightening our hair instead of leaving it as God intended.

There are risks to putting heavy duty chemicals in your hair, that much is true. But those are risks women who relax their hair are willing to take, and it's really no one else's business. My hair is extremely thick and coarse, so it takes to relaxer very well, and I haven't had issues with my hair thinning or falling out. If you have, then obviously relaxer wasn't for you and that's okay. As for conforming to society, I'm sure many girls are. I'm sure lots of little black girls all over the world look at magazines and see the models with perfectly straight hair and wish that their hair looked that way, too. I know I wanted long, straight hair like the Disney princesses when I was a child. But as awesome as it is to stand out from the crowd and be an individual, it is also perfectly natural and HUMAN to want to fit in with others. Shallow? Maybe. Conformist? Perhaps. But if it makes that person happy, is it really any concern of yours?

Personally, the biggest reason I relax my hair now is because it's just plain easier. It is easier to take care of straight hair than it is to maintain natural curls, which can easily look like a frizzy disorganized afro if not cared for properly (remember Buckwheat from the Little Rascals?). I'm not interested in investing the time it would take to grow out my natural hair, cut off my chemically treated hair, and buy all natural products (which are more expensive) to maintain my new do. Maybe I'll feel differently one day, but as of right now, that is where I stand.

I would love to spark a discussion on this blog about this controversial topic. Input from my black sisters would be greatly appreciated since we all have to make this choice at some point, but I encourage anyone from ANY race to comment as long as they're respectful. Also let me know if you want more blog posts about my hair and how I care for it.

Peace and blessings. <3 p="">

1 comment:

  1. I am feeling you with this post. I don't know why some natural-haired gals insist on bashing others for not following their crowd. Is that not conforming to what is norm now too? I've had my hair all kinds of ways, texturised, natural, jheri curled and relaxed. I've always loved long straight hair. It looks sleek and cute to me. I have the choice to curl it how ever I desire, and rock full volume hair. It's not like we're telling them to go douse their head in a relaxer...

    My natural hair was harder to manage, bordering unruly, despite how many tutorials I watched and how many tries I made. Sometimes natural hair doesn't work in your climate without the right products too. Frankly, being natural was one of the worse states my hair was in, it was dry and I had split ends. I was not happy with it anymore. It's simply not for everyone.

    Really glad that you posted this, it's good to get a little controversial on your blog. Honestly I like to do it too, to hear people's output.



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