Why Are So Many Black Women Debating Over Hair?


As women, we care a great deal when it comes to our appearance, and our hair plays a major role. Hair has become a statement in many aspects, and it can define you, your sense of style, and your definition of beauty. Black women have a wide array of hair styles to choose from such as braids, twists, Afros, weaves, curly, and straight. With these being such a variety for women why are there still so many black women debating over hair?

I, personally, do not care what people do with or to their hair. I prefer mine natural, and that is how I have been wearing it for the past nine months. It seems that natural hair and natural hair styles have become more popular and trendy this year, but there are still many women who still prefer to chemically alter and relax their hair. Some natural women find this to be a problem and they tend to come off militant minded when it comes to the subject of their hair and what it means to have natural hair. Some make it seem as if they are “more black” than women that use relaxers. This debate becomes political in the sense that they are not sticking to what society has identified as the idea of beauty – straight, maintained hair. Some naturals can let their hair dictate their attitude toward women who are relaxed. The same can be said, however, of women with relaxed tresses as well. Since going natural back in March I have experienced many confusing and passive aggressive questions and statements. These questions come in many varieties, such as:

“Hey girl, why did you cut all of your long, pretty hair? It looked better before, but it’s cute now, too.”

Or, “What are you going to do with your hair looking like that?”

My mother was not sold on the idea of my decision to go natural either, and she was not sure I would actually go through with it. Usually hair that is not straightened is not viewed as “good hair.”   The debate has reached an all new level since most women have decided to let the relaxers go and embrace their natural texture. However, there are still many women that prefer the easy maintenance of relaxers and weaves. Aesthetics and levels of maintenance are subjective and can support either side of the good vs. bad hair debate.

This ongoing debate has created a new tool for black women to divide themselves instead of letting it be a way to define a culture, or simply define them individually. There is nothing wrong with wearing a weave or wig just as there is nothing wrong with wearing relaxed or natural hair.  All women can achieve the same standards of hair length because we all follow the same standards of hair care. Hair is definitely just hair, but it shows who you are as a person and defines your style. Everyone should wear their hair the way they feel comfortable and not how they feel they are supposed to. There is a misconception and a misunderstanding on both sides of the debate, and that is where the problem lies.

The definition of beauty is being altered and redefined every single day. The notion that you have to have a certain look to appeal to others expectations or desires is not the ideology you want to feed into. Women should embrace their hair, and whatever way makes them happy, however they deem fit. Your character and attitude will shine through, and this will allow who you are to be the main focus of attention. When society realizes there are a variety of hairstyles and textures just as there are a different variety of people and cultures, this age old debate will cease.