Tales of the Young and Relaxed
Its 2016 and Black women have learned how to properly care for their hair and shamelessly love their natural tresses. The Natural Movement is great-- its absolutely amazing that we've learned how to love the hair that grows from our head and that we keep creating new ways to style and maintain it. I love that young Black girls can see more and more beautiful natural representations of themselves.
But with over-bearing "naturalistas" insisting on forcing their own thoughts and opinions onto others, Black women with relaxed hair often get left behind and trampled by the "movement". What about the rest of us? What about the women who chose to keep their hair relaxed for various reasons-- most being none of your (or anyone else's) concern? Honestly, truly. We shouldn't have to be questioned, explain ourselves, or help you understand why we've made our decision... but if you MUST know, there are plenty of reasons why some Black women chose to continue relaxing their hair. Some value the convenience (as learning a new regimen and embarking on a hair journey is very time consuming) and others simply prefer to stick with something they are comfortable managing.
Me personally, I would definitely transition to natural in the future. I actually wish that I had never received a relaxer at the tender age of 6 years old (the history of Black women, their daughters, and relaxers is a lesson for another day). But this time of my life is very busy and I cannot put the time and effort that I'd like into learning a completely new way to manage my hair (learning how to care for and manage my relaxed hair was a rather lengthy journey itself).
Of course, celebrating natural hair has absolutely nothing to do with bashing relaxed hair. This is not a "celebrate me too" or an "I want to be included" post. I recognize the value of the Natural Movement and the self-confidence and self-love it promotes. I support it wholeheartedly. My point is that, Black women, we are diverse. We come in all kinds of shapes, tones, sizes, and hair types. Thats what makes us beautiful. There are Black women out here with healthy relaxed hair and there are Black women out here who would like to learn to care for their relaxed hair.
It is possible. We do exist.
"Embrace your culture", they say.
Okay, so we must stop pushing this destructive and divisive narrative that remaining relaxed means that you deny your roots and refuse to embrace your culture. That's the biggest load of horse manure that I've seen [natural] Black women use to constantly to shame other [relaxed] Black women. Social media has confirmed that portions of our Black community have a hard time balancing more than one concept at a time. If you're interested in one thing, you can't possibly be interested in something else simultaneously.
Contrary to popular belief, I can be 100% in touch with my blackness, embrace my culture, and acknowledge my roots while being relaxed. I can appreciate, celebrate, and love your natural hair and the entire Natural Movement while being relaxed as well. I can respect you and your decision as a Black woman while being relaxed. These concepts are not mutually exclusive. I can love myself, I can love you, I can love my hair, and I can love your hair... while being relaxed.
The Ethnic Section
So you ran out of shampoo, conditioner, heat protectant, or some other staple hair products that you need to re-up on. Your local beauty supply store is closed until tomorrow.
Whats your next option? Either Target, Walmart, CVS, or Walgreens, right? Cool. Maybe you have a few other household items to pick up also, so lets choose Walmart.
You walk into Walmart and your eyes scan the hanging aisle signs for "Cosmetics" and "Hair Care". You approach the hair aisle and you see all of the Aussie, Tresemme, Herbal Essence, and Pantene products almost taking up the entire aisle (and no shade to any of these product brands because I actually love Tresemme and Herbal Essence-- but lets be honest, we didn't come to Walmart in the middle of the night for that). As you walk past the hair products that you don't need, you come across a small section at the very end of the aisle that reads "Ethnic Hair Care". Now of course different stores have different sized sections and the section names range from "Ethnic Hair Care" to "African American Products".
My issues are 1) why does our section have to be labeled? The other section isn't called "Non-Ethnic Hair" or "Caucasian Hair Care". What does that even mean? The term ethnic can include many types of people, so why are the only products in this section aimed toward black consumers.
And speaking of consumers 2) why are almost ALL of the products in the "Ethnic Hair Care" section labeled for "natural" hair? All of them. Even the ones that aren't good for your hair. Its like these companies are using it just as a marketing scheme toward Black women. It frustrates me. I always encourage people to ignore the packaging and labels on products and be sure to read the ingredients! These companies will say anything to get your money.
3) I've also heard people say, "you should be happy that you even have a section"...
Listen, I can do without your lil stank section. My local beauty supply store caters to all my needs-- weaves galore, conditioners of every kind, 30 different brands of edge control, jewelry, makeup, AND clothes if I'm tryna be fancy.