If you want the short version, no I’m not trying to be White. I don’t hate my natural hair and bitch stop asking.
Let’s rewind time and look back at the mid-late 80s. Yours truly was a lil baby potato and I had some long ass hair. I loved my hair. I loved wash days when my Mom would section it off and I’d lay back with her hands in my hair. I loved having my scalp oiled, I loved the occasions I got to go to the Fancy Grown Lady salons and get my hair blown out and curled. I even low key a little bit loved the hot comb.
On occasion, my mom would wash and blow out my hair and I’d get to run around with it out. It was big and soft and fluffy. I remember being outside by myself in late Summer, none of my friends around and I just twirled around in the sunlight feelin myself. My hair is deeply intertwined with some of my earliest experiences of feeling beautiful and magical.
Like so many other things about being a lil Black child, I had no notion of there being a problem until other folks introduced them. When not pressed my hair was too nappy, not good, too big, too much work. I understand now that those comments from Black friends and family are full of internalized White supremacy and I forgive them. Yes, they hurt me very badly but I understand.
When I was a bit older and started relaxing my hair (lots of Black folks know this story) things went bad in my relationship with my hair. I didn’t know how to take care of it and thus it broke off. I got teased about it a lot. Sideways comments about my hair being greasy or being called nappy weeds.
In high school at various times I just cut it all off or wore tree braids. But I really hated my hair. I didn’t really know about extensions other than braids or wigs or weaves. I would look at the hair magazines and Black celebrities and I was just mystified as to why my hair didn’t look like that when I straightened it or whatever. The problem as far as I was concerned and as backed up by the culture I was exposed to was that I just had bad hair.
At some point I stopped trying to care and just did whatever I wanted to my hair. Relax and color the same day, sure! Cut it ALL off? Yup. Burn that shit with a hot comb? YUP.
In the late 90s I discovered wigs and would wear them time to time. I had the seed of the idea about protective styling but back then information on Black hair care was slim. I had some bad salon experiences, shaved my head, bleached it, had purple hair, orange hair, reds, lots of colors.BUT, I didn’t know how to get and keep my hair healthy.
Fast forward more to 2010ish. I discovered Black hair care on the internet. I joined a forum, I started finding videos and everything.
I started to learn and everything. Eventually I went natural and here we are.
So all that history involved, yes, I wear wigs.
I see a lot of things questioning or shaming Black women for wearing wigs or weaves.
So let’s breakdown some whys.
- Because she goddamn well wants to. Black women are allowed to make decisions about their hair and how they deal with it and yes, sometimes it is because of some internalized self hatred and sometimes not. Leave them the fuck alone.
- Protective styling. For me, once I got my hair healthy I discovered that my super secret for length retention is protective styling.
- Because wigs and weaves and braids are fun.
Let me address #3 some more.
I have what you could call a short hair style attention span and I greatly enjoy looking however the fuck I want whenever the fuck I want. I like having different colors, textures, lengths and styles of hair without doing damage to my fluffy wonderful mane.
Additionally, I’m fuckin grown. I pay my own bills and it is really none of anybody’s business about my damn wigs.
Someone not too long ago tried really hard to shame me about my wigs and shit and y’all, I’m not the fuckin one.
The bottom line is that Black women get beat on emotionally, spiritually, sometimes physically regarding anything we do with our hair. From racist corporate “dress codes” that bar anything not “neat”, to having to battle the military to wear cornrows or natural styles, to having to argue with people about how deep issues with hair go.
And for some of us, it is really just hair because Blackness is not the monolith you’re looking for.
At the end I’ll say this.
Before opening up your mouth to fuss at a Black person regarding their hair, don’t. if you want to know what’s up, ask us kindly but if you are not also a Black person don’t expect an answer because we’re not here to do that type of labor for you. There are eight million resources you could read so Google that shit.