My Hair, My Decision: Why I Straighten

Posted by on Jul 23, 2012

The buzzword is definitely natural hair as of late. From the weekly #NaturalHair Day on Twitter to actress and comedian, Kim Coles, unveiling her transition to natural hair on Afrobella, “going natural” is all the rage, so much so that it’s referred to as the “new black.”

During  #NaturalHair Day, I viewed countless tweets and pictures of women celebrating themselves and their hair. It was beautiful, but after a while, I became annoyed. I couldn’t decide if the trending topic was a celebration or a finger-pointing party, though I hoped for the former. I understood when a fellow writer tweeted, “I can’t participate with the (natural hair) hashtag like I deserve to be on a pedestal just because I’m a natural. I still think it’s very divisive.”

The trending topic reminded me of a Twitter debate I participated in just days earlier about straightening natural hair. Some women are saying it’s the number one “don’t” per a follower’s Twitter rant:

“I’m having a very annoying conversation with a woman who has natural hair. It turns out that I’m not ‘helping out’ the natural hair lifestyle by occasionally blowing out my SUPER thick hair and straightening it. Here’s what she said: ‘If you are going to wear your hair natural that means no blow drying or straightening it to look straight.’”

Give me a break.

Before you give me the side-eye, I, too, am transitioning. I have been relaxer-free for just over a year now. It started as a challenge of how long I could go without a relaxer. I didn’t do it so much for self-discovery or to see how dependent I am on my hair. Thankfully, I’ve never suffered from thin hair, breakage or chemical damage. I did it to see what my hair looks like without a relaxer. And get this: I straighten it…often! *gasp*

I will not be told what to do with my hair by anyone.

After nearly 17 years of relaxing my hair, I’ve almost completely grown out my relaxer, and it took patience and discipline. After accomplishing that, which I consider to be a milestone, I will not have anyone tell me that I have to wear my hair in its natural state. My hair, my decision.

I often hear the phrase, “It’s just hair” thrown around in discussions to promote various schools of thought regarding hair. If it’s, indeed, “just hair,” why shouldn’t I have the freedom to do with it whatever I choose—be it to relax, coil or weave it?

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