Relaxed Hair Guilt- Do You Suffer From It?

stylistAs many women of color would agree, relaxed versus natural hair has become a bit of a hot button topic and for understandable reasons.  Hair, much like clothing, can be seen as making a statement of its own and says a lot about how you choose to present yourself to the world.  Going natural has come to epitomize ‘embracing and accepting’ oneself and flaunting luscious kinks in the face of the beauty industry which has brainwashed the masses into believing that beautiful hair is nothing less than sleek, straight and shiny.   Women of color who rock their natural hair are seen as being empowered, daring to be different and radiating true unaltered beauty.

What about women of color who choose to relax their luscious kinks?   By chemically altering the structure of our hair what message are we sending to the world?   Are we ashamed of our roots?   Do we cringe at the thought of having the world see our hair in its unaltered form?   To dig even deeper and go slightly Freudian, do we subconsciously wish we WEREN’T women of color?

I cannot speak for every woman of color with relaxed hair but I can personally attest that for me, the answers to the previous questions would be a profound no.

Now before I start, I’ll be the first to admit that I do get envious when I see a natural haired woman walk past me with a head full of healthy, vibrant hair.   I am well aware of the fact that natural hair is by nature much healthier than relaxed hair and would be kidding myself if I were to believe that applying harsh chemicals to my hair every few months was ‘healthier’ than not doing so.   I am aware that relaxers by nature strip hair of much needed protein and make strands weaker than un-relaxed hair and having to relax new growth every few months can be quite an expensive and arduous task. However, I am also aware that several women of color with relaxed hair have what can be described as ‘healthy’ relaxed hair.   This means they either tex-lax or diligently make sure that relaxers don’t overlap whilst providing optimum care to their already relaxed hair (frequent co-washes, protein/moisture balance, moisturizing daily, protecting their ends, satin cap/wrap at night, etc)

I, ladies and gents, am unfortunately not one of these women for the simple shameless fact that:   I am lazy.

Perhaps I’m being a bit too harsh on myself because I do excel in many other areas in my life but when it comes to my hair, the simple truth is, I am lazy. The reason I relax my hair is purely for convenience.

So, do I love the color of my skin?   Yes, I adore its rich chocolate hue, I love how it glistens in the sun, I love the makeup colors that pop and look positively radiant on my face.   Do I love my natural hair?   Yes, I love its color,  I love its length and believe it or not, I love its pre-relaxed texture.  Do I love taking care of my natural hair?   No.   I lack the patience (and until very recently) the knowledge to take care of it.  I’ve never been one to care much about looks (again until recently) and living a full and busy life meant that pampering my hair was the last thing on my mind.  So what did I do instead?   I went from weave to weave to weave, because this meant I could continue my ‘get up and go’ lifestyle and even more conveniently, didn’t have to take care of my hair, just cornrow it and slap a sew in on top.   This method got me through high school, college and grad school.   However, a few weeks after I submitted by dissertation, I removed my weave, threw it in the bin and haven’t looked back since.   This act was spurred on by several factors:

– I had finally finished my studies and a new chapter in my life was about to commence, I wanted a change.

-After removing my weave I noticed that my hair was the longest it had ever been and I was quite pleased with that.

– I had spent countless nights browsing the net, soaking up information on how to care for my hair. The thing that shocked me the most was finding out that you’re not supposed to relax your entire head each time. (Gasp!)   Not knowing this vital piece of information made me realize what little I knew about my hair.

While a lot had changed, the one thing that hadn’t changed much was my hair care laziness. While I no longer wanted to wear fake hair on my head, I still didn’t want to deal with the grooming that comes with natural hair (mainly detangling.)

I wanted to keep my ‘get up and go’ lifestyle but I no longer wanted to resort to weaves so a compromise had to be made.   I therefore chose to relax my hair.

Do I regret this decision?  No.  Nor should I feel guilty for liking my hair in a more manageable state (given the nature of my strands.)   I love the texture of wavy hair and when taking a break from heat, I’ll rock the occasional braid-outs, but in general I love waking up in the morning, unwrapping my hair (if I remembered to wrap it before falling asleep) running a quick comb through it and walking out the door.

If you are a woman of color who relaxes your hair, only you know the reason why.   Perhaps like me, it’s out of pure convenience, but whatever the reason may be, you are within your rights to do with your hair as you please.   Given the growing popularity of the natural hair trend it can be easy to start second guessing your choice but it is exactly that, a choice and one that should come with a guilt-free conscience.

Marcus Garvey once said ‘Remove the kinks from your mind; not your hair.’  As powerful as that statement is, if you truly do not have any kinks in your mind so to speak, then by all means remove the kinks if you so wish.

Hair, like many things is a personal choice.   At this stage in my life I choose to relax mine but who knows what the next stage will bring?

If you have also chosen to relax your hair, what are your reasons for doing so?

Author: Aisha R

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  1. I am Native American and African American so needless to say my hair was long and thick. I brok IDK how many combs, and while natural for a year found out I was tenderheaded. I went back to school and realized I didn’t have time for school and 45mins in the morning @ 5 a.m. for my hair. So I gave in to the creamy crack. I miss my natural curls, but love the convience. I know I’ll go back, but for now I’m wrappin n slappin. Ladies do you and be GAW Georgous Ambitious Women!

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  2. well i confess. I am one of those black women who embrace my blackness by wearing my hair natural. I have for several years. Hopefully I will not be stupid enough to hate myself by going straight to the beauty parlor and straigtening what God has already perfected. I hate to mess with God’s love for me by destroying it with straight hair.

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    • Wow! I find it interesting that with everything going on in the world we are defining our self worth by something as trivial as what processes we choose to do or not to do with our hair. As a people who have suffered for hundreds of years for freedom we are now in heated debates about what someone else is “FREE” to do with their own hair.

      Karen, you “hate to mess with God’s love for you by destroying it with straight hair”? News flash, God Loves you no matter how you come to him you hair has nothing to do with it. For me, he would just be happy if I could get to church on time instead of spending most of the morning trying to tame my natural do!

      I think the biggest sign that someone hates themselves is not how they choose to wear their hair but how much they hate on others for not doing things their way.

      I am currently Natural (Natural Girls Rock) but in one week I am going for a relaxer (Relaxed Girls Rock Too!). We need to learn to Love ourselves regardless of what is on the outside and we REALLY need to learn to Love each other. ALL GIRLS ROCK!

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      • What a mature thoughtful comment you made there. Thank you.

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  3. Most natural hair girls do everything they can to manipulate the shape of their curls, make them looser and shinier, and even dye it colors that aren’t generally found on women of color…not to mention a myriad of non-hair related rituals they do that are far from natural and the result of socialization (shaving, threading, plucking, wearing make up, etc.). There’s no such thing as natural in our society, but there is such a thing as hypocrisy.

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  4. I am natural but I straighten my hair…about every 2-3 weeks out of laziness. (Yes I will be the first to admit it, lol.) Some people get the misconception that in order to get longer hair you have to be natural (and wear it kinky).

    It takes a lot more than that. Just learning how to care for you hair in general will make hair grow. When I was relaxed I had long hair. BUT I kept putting heat on it and not moisturizing (it broke off). Now that I know what to do (moisture, trims, etc) my natural hair is growing like crazy! I’m at MBL now and want to keep going.

    I will also admit that I really don’t like doing my natural hair. At times I miss the carefree nature of the relaxer, but I LOVE the fullness I get from being natural.

    At the end of the day you just have to do what works for YOU! 🙂

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  5. I relax my hair for the simple reason that I want to. I do not over think it. I like straight sleek hair. I do not apologise for it. I think my hair is healthy because I care for it quite well, or I pay hairdressers to anyway.
    I also like weaves and braids and everything in between. I am glad that as a woman of color, my hair is so versatile, I can do whatever I want with it.

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  6. I appreciate this post seems with this natural wave everywhere i go to get a little info about hair is speaking about the evil of relaxers and the problem with having them instead of helping us to learn how to care for our hair in both a natural and relax state. It sucks. I am a student and I work many nights I barely have time to do my own laundry. It takes me nearly 20 mins just to get my makeup on in the morning and to add to that there is some expectation that I should have natural hair. That is a process I am just not ready to go on quite yet. I have tried it plenty times but it is time consuming and by the time summer is over and I begin my classes again I am once again relaxing my hair.
    To this site I really wish I could also come her as a black women with relaxed hair and learn more about caring for my hair in the state I enjoy having it in. Natural corner is cool but it excludes a large amount of women.

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  7. I concur with tu bailey, women are creatures of change and whatever they want to do with their hair it is their prerogative. Although our hair seems to be the target of other people’s opinions, it is just hair. Hair does not define who a person is or what they are capable of achieving.

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  8. Good for you. I say grown women wear their hair in the way that suits them.

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    • Hi Tu! I’m not a student however when I started a hhj I was so excited, I delve in feet 1st and long story short I don’t regret it even when the info/process became overwhelming. However we have to pump brakes…well over 6mths in to it I quickly realized…it was going to be expensive, extremely time consuming and to be honest being a 4b it was going to be tiring. I then discovered a pop relax & healthy blog site and it changed my world. It was my hand to my hair’s glove. The heavens sang. I still CERY much love my nh sistas and I wld love to maybe 1 day make space in my life to start a nhj…but that time is not now. I totally agree. I feel the resistance when I’m reading comments on blogs/sites and the “don’t even ask me about your relax hair” undertones. The encounters i have had they are not mean but just totally closed off to ANYTHING other than nh. We are all ethnic women/sisters so it wb be nice if personal hair choices didn’t divide us.

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