(I’ve re-enacted this scene from School Daze about fifty-hundred times)
I haven’t had a perm in a year. I have tried to go as long as I could, being cheered on by my stylist who says she can work with my new growth because she says I have “good hair”. This is a term I’ve heard one too many times in my life, and I think it’s ridiculous. Because right now, when I try to run my fingers through my hair, there’s nothing good about it. When I made the decision to finally perm it again, the great debate usually starts: To Perm or Not To Perm?
What I have come to realize is that someone will ALWAYS have something to say if you decide to give in to the creamy crack ( street name for the perm). I get inquiries as to why I would do this to myself, as well as pleas to wear my hair curly. What pisses me off the most (yea, I’m starting to let some emotions show) is when I get accusations of wanting to be white (FYI, I actually am half white, so there’s goes that stupid argument) or a challenge on my “blackness”, as if straightening my hair is somehow magically transforming me from Lauryn Hill to Jessica Simpson. And I’m not the only one. Friends of mine who perm their hair have shared the same sentiments, and feel like their identity is being challenged just because they decide to blow their hair out. It’s like Jane from School Daze ( played by Tisha Campbell), getting called a “Wannabe”. Ok, maybe that was a bad example because it comes from an extremely over exaggerated Spike Lee movie (which is one of my favorites!), but you catch my drift. And we can’t win, because Black women on the other side of the fence get the same flack, when they decide to wear their hair in its natural state. You’re always going to find someone who has a problem with your ‘fro, locks, or twists. Questions of whether or not you can make it in the corporate world, or even your attractiveness factor is questioned. We are NOT our hair, but what I really want to know is, when did we start the HAIR BEEF?
Straight hair vs. Natural Hair. Press vs. Permed. Dreads vs. Curls. Why are we fighting over how another woman wears her OWN hair? Now, I can only speak my opinion from my point of view, so I’m going to focus on the debate of Black women perming their hair, and all the flack that can come with it (isn’t interesting that the argument usually comes from another woman?). An interesting facet of this debate is what I like to call ” The Glorification of the Black Woman Who Decides to Maintain Her Hair in its Natural State”. I think the celebration of wearing your natural hair is much more prevalent than for those women who decide to perm their tresses. Actually, the party for permed hair is non-existent. I just did a quick search on Facebook for groups dedicated to Black women’s hair. Not surprisingly, I found several groups that showcased ladies “keeping it real” with their hair. Here is a few that I found:
- “Natural Hair Rules”
- “Natural Hair Lovers’
- “Natural Hair”
- “Natural Hair AKAs”
- “Natural Hair is Beautiful”
- “Thank God I’m Natural”
For some reason, I was not able to find a “Permed and Pretty” or “Straight Hair Don’t Care” groups I could join to make me feel good about my choice to straighten my strands. What I want to stress here is that overall, I think there is nothing wrong with celebrating Black women and their natural hair. What I do have a problem with is when this celebration turns into the degradation of women who straighten their hair. I have come across several comments in a few of these groups in which women who perm their hair are berated, and basically looked down upon because they don’t keep their hair natural. I uncovered this gem a few moment ago:
“Who should wear the natural look? All those who want to be black, beautiful, and true!”- Carolyn Rodgers, Negros Digest
I’m sorry, but this seems like a jab to me. A jab to the Black woman who doesn’t keep the “natural look”. Because I perm my hair, do I not want to be black? Am I not beautiful? Am I not true? You want to know why I perm my hair? Here you go:
I perm my hair because it looks like THIS in its natural state. Because it’s thick. So thick, that when I dry to blow dry it myself, I get a full-body workout. Because I have T-Rex arms, and it’s hard to handle all my hair with these little limbs I have. Because it’s a sponge that like to suck up all the moisture in Miami, and I’d rather not look like Michael Jackson from the Wiz when I go to Happy Hour. But I wear my hair straight because it’s MY HAIR. Just like your hair is yours. We are all beautiful, no matter if we Chi it up or use some Carol’s Daughter products. There is no need to tear another woman down if she doesn’t wear her hair the way you want her to. It’s my hot mess, and I’ll do what I want.
-KEEP IT A HOT MESS