Thursday, February 05, 2009

My Hair is Good, It Ain't Never Hurt Nobody #1

TwitThis


I have been nappy since 1993. While there are some people
that contend
that Black women with natural hair love
themselves
more so than women who don't. I don't subscribe to
that notion.
There are some women with natural hair that
like themselves,
others who hate themselves, the same
goes for women with perms.


The last time I straightened my hair, I had an interview at
Spike DDBO for an administrative assistant job. For
someone
reason I thought that I having straight hair
would increase my
getting a job. It was Spike Lee's ad
agency, if I was going to be able to have a job as a nappy,
it should have been at his agency.
I was 22 and looking
for a job, I didn't know any better.

My boyfriend at the time flipped out. When my hair is
pressed, I have big James Brown-esque curls. This
boyfriend
, Black Bill Clinton, irritated me about my
newly straightened hair so much,
that I ran my hair
under the shower to show him that it was
a temporary.
He learned really quick that the water will
turn back the
naps
. I was livid and tired. Latoya Peterson,at
Racialicious wrote recently about
the politics of
telling your partner about going nappy.

She recounts sharing her decision with one of her friends,

“What did your boyfriend say?” she asked carefully.
I was kind of shocked that this was the first comment from my pro-natural, all organic food eating, anti-make up, womanist, vegan friend. However, she was simply expressing a sentiment from her own experience - sometimes, something simple like transitioning your hair can end your relationship. KJ still felt the sting from prior relationships that were seemingly full of love, trust, and shared personal politics - except when it came to the issue of her hair. In that case, she was encouraged to conform to a beauty standard she did not believe in to please her boyfriend with a long sheet of silky hair - after all, she’d been growing it out for years, so it should be really long by now, right?
In many ways it reminded of the ways in which,
historically
Black women's bodies and their hair
specifically
have been seen as family and or
community property.
Latoya speaks to this notion when
she writes,

Of all the stories I heard from the women I spoke to, it is the incident at the wedding that stands out to me most. Two women expressed the desire to have natural hair and yet would not do it because of the perceived social cost. And that saddened me, because two women subverted what they wanted to do to please others.
Latoya also mentioned how older Black women can
sometimes feel like a thick head of natural
hair is
"a waste" and that it should straightened
to see how long it is.
I remember how in the eyes of my mother I went from a
person with a "whole lot of hair sticking up on my head"
to someone with a thick head full of hair and that "I should
let her press it out." Long hair is capital in our society, in the
same way, lighter and or white skin is
. In the book
Tenderheaded Mariame Kaba explains one of the
reasons why Black women straighten their hair. She
writes,
Kathy Russel, co author of Color Complex: Politics
of Skin Color Among African Americans. Black women
"take the heat" to achieve access to the economic and social
resources within American society. (Of course there are
other powerful incentives for straightening ones hair, which
have more to do with gaining social acceptance from family,
friends and men). And the usual results from pressures within
the community, but that isn't my focus here.
She goes on to say that,
While these notions have some validity I find them lacking.
My research suggests that if they are also practicing a white
standard of beauty then it is a means to an ends. Anita, a 32 year old
housing specialist, offers this insight, " I wear my hair straight so
that I can fit in. My mother said that if I didn't have good hair,
I would
have no hope of getting a job, a husband, or any
real respect
in society.
When I was in middle school, and admiring the b-girls

at Skyline high school who were natural and the women
with twists that I would see in Berkeley, a woman
who lived in my building told me "My hair is good,
it ain't never hurt nobody." I love that because it speaks
to how our hair is just hair, but also loaded and full of historical
meaning as well.

I went to a predominantly white prep school high
school in San Francisco. It was at this high school that
I broadened my idea of what African American
beauty was. Ironic, no? In some ways, my white peers were
more receptive to my natural hair then the people
in my family. They thought it was "cool." My brother always thought
I was weird. My dad thought that I was completing my transformation
into a vegetarian hippie,and my mother thought it was just a phase.
My sister thought it was awful and offered to send me to "the shop."

Everyone had an opinion about my naps.

I was also reminded of this when I read about the
Chris Rocks new film, Good Hair, which was inspired by
his daughter
asking him "whether or not she had good hair?"

Any conversations about napps lately?

How much do you spend on your hair per month?

For men/women, who date women, do you have
a nappy/straight preference? If so, why or why not?

14 comments:

Dame is ILLAIM said...

Off Top Please allow me to say hello and since preemptively say everything is going well on my side Super Bowl victory and all :) And hopes things for you are the same.

Hmmm The sample from a forgotten piece of media still resonates with ya boy

“Our condition has been conditioned”

----------------------------
sometimes, something simple like transitioning your hair can end your relationship
----------------------------

I can’t say personally that I find a change in my partners hair style as being a simple thing. Almost every demographic in this land takes hair very seriously and it’s a big component of how we view our selves and others view us. Male/Female and shade one can think of.

Love is supposed to conquer all, but hair, like weight, can make a person love you or leave you, and I don’t paticrularly on the surface seem to have a problem with that.
-------------------------
Long hair is capital in our society, in the
same way, lighter and or white skin is.
-------------------------

The is no debating or arguing that point….at all..nothing but truth there.

I’ve never liked the term “Good Hair” even tho I’ve always been put in the good hair category (maybe it’s the sting of having my water and grease usage slandered as a s-curl) I’ve just figured that some styles looked good on some women and others don’t. While I am a sucker for a simple pony tail and smile (see “Fronting video) I see beautiful women with dreads down here in the D.C metro on constant.

But… I would be lying if I said I had a overt affinity for the Baby Angela Davis look

My Conditioning………

My friend/ co-worker have these types of convos all day…..he like many others HATES naturels…and has all types of ignortent statements he draws upon to make his point known.

(Thinks) I spend to damn much…..Some times I think the Africans feel that they are the only people on the planet who know how to braid/twist….. around $120 a month

I would be lying to you if I said I didn’t have somewhat of a straight preference, but I would say that there really aren’t enough people rocking naturals to make the competition fair.

Where is my India Arie Akon joint at?

the prisoner's wife said...

conversations about naps? DAILY.

i wear my hear au natural as well. and almost everyday at least ONE (usually more)of my students asks "why don't i get my hair pressed?" or makes some kinda comment about nappy hair. just today a student (6th grade) said he had "good hair." i shuddered & QUICKLY told him that there is no such thing as good hair. as the previous commenter said...it's conditioning (insert "Brown Skin Lady").

it's not that i'm against pressing. i press every now & then, but it's SUCH a waste of money for me cuz my roots be THICK and my hair will "go back" QUICK.

my issue is that THIS, our hair, our bodies, our blackness is still an issue. *sigh* it's tiring sometime.

Vee (Scratch) said...

I really, REALLY want to check out that Chris Rock film. Thanks for the link, I heard about it, but I understand that it is now showing at Sundance. Hopefully it will hit theaters some time soon. Notwithstanding his daughter's question, I am shocked that Chris Rock made this movie. REally shocked.

No preference, just keep it healthy. I definitely don't care to smell a weave that's been on some one's head far too long, especially not in the club. Hopefully some women will get the memorandum that the scalp needs to breathe.

M.Dot. said...

@Vee,

I swear you are becoming my favorite reluctant feminist.

Hopefully some women will get the memorandum that the scalp needs to breathe.
====
What your comments fail to recognize is that we leverage the hair to try and have access to resources in a society that says that Lisa Bonet and Freddie got good hair.

Cues up, "light skin girls are better than dark skin girls."

it's not that i'm against pressing. i press every now & then, but it's SUCH a waste of money for me cuz my roots be THICK and my hair will "go back" QUICK.
====
Gurl, I been wanting a Dominican blow out for like 2 months. Them sista's know how to straighten some hair W A EFFIN BLOW DRYER.

thelady said...

The Black Snob has t-shirts that say "no touchy, its hair, not a bunny" which I will be wearing around certain acquaintances and relatives. I don't understand why people I'm barely speaking to think it is appropriate to grope my hair, perhaps it is just apart of their general asshole behavior. I've only been natural for about a year now and I don't care what other people do to their hair as long as they leave me alone. I first started thinking about going natural in 2005 but it took me a long time to let go of both my own straight/long hair vanity and what others thought of me. I'm a type 4A and wore my long relaxed hair in a bun. It always disturbed me how focused men became on my hair when they found out how long it was. Like I was so much more attractive even though I had the same face/body as before. When a male friend asked how long my hair was and I said should length. Later on I wore my hair down and he freaked out cause it was longer than he expected. The hair thing is almost a fetish. Why should only a few inches difference mean so much?

Aunt Jackie said...

I have fine curly hair and have worn it natural for most of my life, just cuz it's so damn curly there's not much else to do but let it be. I had the big Afro that brought too much attention. I had the short short fro that got me hit on by many many more women than I was comfortable with. I cut it all off almost once a year for about ten years to prove that I wasn't connected to it. I did the wash and wear and was accused of having a curl....seriously I mean WHO has a damn curl anymore?

I have heard it too many times..."you got good hair"

Good hair to me was hair that you could press, perm or color when you felt like it. Strong hair like ropes that wouldn't break off all the time. My hair was more like cotton candy and that was not the move.

I let it grow recently, after having a weave, just to see what it was like to have straight hair since I can't really perm my hair. It's now half way down my back. I mostly keep it i a bun. I'm not cutting it for rebellion either but I almost puked when a dude called me a red bone with good hair.

Gimme a break! How f*Cken cliche is THAT!

Aunt Jackie said...

okay I'm ranting now, forgive me. But a friend suggested a website for tips on natural hair, and do you know it had the nerve to basically say that it was only for "real" nappy sistas, as though my naps aren't real?

Are we the ones creating the divide for ourselves?

ahnka said...

my hair has been in various states of structural afros for the last nine years. i get a $15 haircut every three months and manage it with tea tree oil, olive oil and a $5 bottle of Neutrogena T-Sal.
i have never, ever, ever been able to understand the energy we spend on our hair. and usually walk away from conversations surrounding it, mostly because they tend to go in circles. i think my "what you see is what you get" attitude toward my hair has helped me on the dating scene. and, funny enough, it landed me on a page in a book about hair.

but really, i'm commenting because just when i think brooklyn can't get any smaller, i see mussa in the picture...

JP said...

I've been with my girl for almost 10 years now(6 dating/4 as wifey). When we got together she had this long flowing permed hair, that I used to play with all the time in our college student love. About 3 years in she cut it off, and to be honest I hated it at first and almost broke up with her over it. The she grew it out in dreads which I loved, which she's had since then except for a minute she cut it off for our wedding. But now IMO the dreads are too long. The politics and feeling on girls hair is a deep thing on so many levels. It represents the ideal of woman to men in ways that nothing else does and her changes echos the up's and downs of our relationship and how I feel about her in so many ways. The happier I am with her the more I like her hair.

Model Minority said...

@The Lady
Thank you for stopping by and sharing.

I'm a type 4A and wore my long relaxed hair in a bun. It always disturbed me how focused men became on my hair when they found out how long it was. Like I was so much more attractive even though I had the same face/body as before.
======
Hair, in some ways is capital.
Think about it like this, high earning men/women in our society may not disclose their wealth out of fear that prospective partner MAY want to date their wallets and not their person.

Hair is capital because Long hair is seen as apart of the dominant cultures symbol for femininity.

Think about it. There is a REASON WHY when Imus called the Rutgers team Nappy Headed Ho's that Black women flipped the fuck out.

The hair thing is almost a fetish. Why should only a few inches difference mean so much?
======
Inches matter in the same way that money matters.
Women with longer hair are seen as being more attractive in our society.

Model Minority said...

okay I'm ranting now, forgive me. But a friend suggested a website for tips on natural hair, and do you know it had the nerve to basically say that it was only for "real" nappy sistas, as though my naps aren't real?

Are we the ones creating the divide for ourselves?
=====
You ain't ranting boo.

Arn't their people that say that Obama ain't Black.
Puleese.

The Problem of the 21st Century Will Be Hair Politics.

Model Minority said...

but really, i'm commenting because just when i think brooklyn can't get any smaller, i see mussa in the picture...
=====
Funny...I know him from around the way...BUT couldn't remember his name for shit..and was hesitant about posting it up...BUT I LIKE MY HAIR in that picture. shooooottt.

ActsofFaithBlog said...

Well I relax my hair. I've let it grow out as well. I needed to learn how to properly take care of my hair. It does grow but it's very fragile and will break off easily. I always envied my mom's hair. Relaxed it was long and shiny and now that she switched to locs she's had to cut her hair many times because it would reach the floor. I wish I had industrial strength hair and I probably wouldn't care. Regardless it requires time, care and money.

Model Minority said...

AFB,
Thank you for stopping by and sharing.
You just reminded me that I need to go read your Obama posts:)

Relaxed it was long and shiny and now that she switched to locs she's had to cut her hair many times because it would reach the floor.
=====
This reminded me of how we sometimes get locks just TO SEE our hair long. Nothing wrong with that. Provided we can see the beauty in LONG and short. Given the world we live in, and the beauty standard we are subjected to I don't frown on women who think this way. Its a natural consequence of systematic oppression against our bodies.

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