Fed Up Friday: I’m Fed Up With the Natural vs. Relaxed Hair Wars
By Ella Rucker
There’s a new set of mean girls in town, and their clique is #TeamNatural. You know the women; they are the African American women who have given up relaxers, or the “creamy crack” as the chemical is now called, for the hair growing right out of their head. Hair that’s not processed unnaturally.
I remember when I became a member of this clique. About 17 years ago I decided I didn’t want the relaxers any more. I was tired of all the work; washing it every day to rid it of all that hair gel, worrying about it when it rained hours after my day at the salon, trying to get the perfect wrap set and failing every.single.time. So I let the relaxer go by the wayside. I didn’t “big chop” opting for a less invasive transition. Once most of the resulting hair from the chemicals was gone I made an appointment for my locs and I’ve been with them for 14 years now.
What changed about me when I went from #TeamCreamyCrack to #TeamNatural? I was still the same woman who wanted financial freedom, a roof over my head, a good job, a man to love me, and to feel hella self confident when I walked down the street. I felt that last quality was lacking with my relaxed hair since, no matter what I did, I couldn’t tame my mane. Some days it was perfect, some days I made do with it, other days it was a baseball hat’s best friend.
But something did change. I became a little too self confident. I’m so ashamed to say this, but I actually may have made this claim out loud: On my worst day with locs, I looked better than anyone with a relaxer or a weave on their best day. I felt that the natural me was superior because I didn’t have to pretend to be something that I wasn’t. This was my hair and anyone who was so insecure that they had to manufacture beauty with the aid of anything that didn’t grow right out of their head was hiding and afraid of their true beauty. I even thought this about my aging grandmothers who chose to wear wigs. Ugly on the inside much?
When did this all change? Well, I was the #TeamNatural advocate. Any one of my girlfriends were privy to my “go natural, gurl”s at any time. “You don’t need those chemicals.” Then one day one of my friends intimated her hair challenge, and I saw in her what I knew was always in me. She was afraid of not looking good. In the “natural” world she couldn’t cover up this flaw, but with the right straight hairstyle it didn’t look so bad. I was ashamed. We shared the same plight. She just wanted to look and feel her best. And who was I to tell her how to do that?
So, getting back to the mean girls. I don’t think #TeamNatural means to be the bullies of the hair salon. The message the clique would like to send is to embrace the beauty within, but some are missing the whole point. Without allowing our sisters to express themselves in their own way, those who admonish relaxers, weaves, wigs, braids, extensions, pieces, etc. are showing an ugly inside. We are judging a woman without having walked 1,000 miles in her hair journey.
And don’t think for a minute I don’t know what is truly at the root of Team Natural’s concerns. After slavery a whole lot of things changed; maybe Black women did want to look less “ethnic”, but this is 2013. Ethnicity is no longer static. Maybe if slavery hadn’t existed Madame C.J. Walker wouldn’t have sought to help Black women “take a greater pride in their personal appearance and to give their hair proper attention.” But we know we would have ended up here anyway: the haves and the have nots. (You can substitute whichever group as a have or have not by the way. All how you look at things.)
The Creamy Crack vs. Team Natural wars (and I use “wars” loosely) are upon us. As a culture we can’t forget how we got to this juncture, but we have to eradicate the division and the “I’m better than you” attitudes that are springing forth. Our aim as a people is unity, and that is what is going to make each and every one of us beautiful, self confident, and our ever so natural selves.
Ella Rucker has been blogging for two years. She is currently the host of her own Blog Talk Radio show, Something Wonderful, and is stepping out into new ventures in blogging.
Writing is Ella’s passion. She authored Tick Tock Goes The Blog Clock: The Why, What and How of Having 365 Days of Content TODAY and is a contributing author to Anyone Can! Have A Happier Life written by Marion Licchiello.
An Ohio native, Ella has a 3-year old daughter who keeps her motivated, smiling and thanking God every day. Follow her on Twitter @ellalaverne.