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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.

6 Responses to “Fed Up Friday: I’m Fed Up With the Natural vs. Relaxed Hair Wars”
  1. SHEA says:

    I have encountered, within two days, two different women, that are relaxed, that seemed to have a problem with natural hair. One lady’s daughter is natural and she was not happy with how she is wearing her hair. She had a look of disgust when she spoke about it. The next lady told me that If I am going to wear my hair Natural I should keep it short with a little on top. I told her I am happy with my lenght and she was like un uh. You should wear it short. I have no problem with people with relaxers but I encounter a lot of opinionated relaxed people who look disgusted when you wear your hair natural. It is like it is offensive to them. I don’t really get the strong dislike for natural hair. Some would say it is self hate. I don’t know about that but it triggers somthing deep in a lot of people women in particular.

  2. key key says:

    Damn, this is deep and real. *checking self* True, it’s about unity. Thanks for sharing this, I’ll b more conscious of how I perceive women and speak to friends who haven’t gone natural yet

  3. Thank you for the article. For the life of me why do women feel they have to share their thoughts without being asked. I did not relax my hair til I was in my thirties. Truly it was to decrease the grooming time and potential damage from hot combs from attendants not knowing how to press my hair-I’m disabled. Prior to this my hair was locked since I was eighteen. I’ve tried weaves and like I said relaxers but its is so darn expensive and I hate going to worn down hair shops to sit for hours. I am wearing my hair “natural” with the grey I’ve earned and would not dream of making another sister feel bad about their hair choice. Whether one buys it, chemically treats it, or lets it grow as is out of her head it is hers. If you cannot uplift a sister do her a favor and keep your opinions to yourself. In all my hair choices I never felt that I was trying to be white. Lets give ourselves permission to destress from our hectic schedules and spend more time with ourselves by ourselves. We are and have always been beautiful.

  4. LadyI says:

    Before going natural, I have to admit that I did not notice “the war” brewing between #creamycrack vs. #teamnatural. It was when I was in my transition stage that I notice alot of sepration between the two. I really don’t get it, people should be able to do their hair the way the feel comfortable and not be judge for it. I should be able to wear my hair straight, curly, long, short, extentions, wigs, color or no color and it not be the center of attention or a converstional subject. We are so much more than our hair. India Arie said it best in her song, “I am not my hair”.

  5. Karsten says:

    I have no idea why but recently I’ve been looking into relaxed vs. natural and I think it’s weird how women can be so concerned with hair. I’m 18 and relax my hair. I haven’t been doing it since I was 8 years old or anything. I actually believe I got a relaxer when I was 13. I believe that hair is hair and as long as I’m living a life that is pleasing to God and that if I’m content I’m all set. My relaxers have been professionally done. I thank God my hair hasn’t fallen out. I’ve always known this choice comes with risks but my hair actually does a good job with relaxers. Recently I went to an event where a lot of the African American college girls wore natural styles. For a little while I felt bad for wearing relaxed hair and I almost started thinking about what it would be like to go natural… but I soon realized that I was falling into peer pressure and after a talk with my mom and some thinking I realized that I was happy with my hair. It’s still think and healthy and for that I love it. I know what’s best for my hair and as long as it doesn’t fall out or some life altering event happens I’m good.
    God loves us all equally, but for some reason people can’t see that and continue to build barriers amongst each other for something as trivial as hair. We need to start focusing on ourselves and not other people. No matter what hair style I wear I will be loved by God and because of that I have freedom to live a life pleasing God and doing what’s best for myself <3

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