Playing It Straight

Is it wrong for a woman who claims to support natural hair to occasionally straighten her mane? Some folks say it is. Writing for Clutch Magazine, Alisha Tillery recently addressed this issue in her article My Hair, My Decision: Why I Straighten

Regarding the issue of hair straightening, Tillery wrote: 

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.’”

Well, apparently, I’m a sell out because  I entered the new year looking like this:

Two to three times a year I have my curls flat ironed. But as Tillery says in her article, “I will not be told what to do with my hair by anyone…no other person has the right to dictate what we do with our own hair, natural or otherwise. The beauty about being a woman is we have an array of options, and that is what we should embrace.”
Yes, I occasionally straighten my hair for a different look, but that doesn’t change the fact that I am a strong supporter of natural hair. I love helping other women make the transition. I love experimenting with products. And I love my curls. 
But I think the bigger question is this: How do we celebrate natural hair without being judgmental of women who straighten their hair (with or without relaxers) and even women who proudly sport extensions?
I believe that all the natural hair blogs, books, mixers, and conferences that exist are completely necessary. Going natural is hard work. Many of us have no idea how to care for our hair once it’s relaxer-free. Many of us are discouraged by family, friends, and even lovers when we begin to wear our hair in its natural state. So we need these natural hair communities for valuable information and priceless emotional support. But as we create these communities we must make sure we’re not putting ourselves on some pedestal because we’re off the so-called creamy crack, and I admit I’ve been guilty of this in the past. 
Regardless of how we style and care for our tresses, the focus should be, as Tillery states, freedom from whatever is entrapping us through our hair. 


  1. I agree wholeheartedly. I am natural and I actually went through my entire transition straightened. While I love my curls it was easier to deal with my then toddler straight. I think we should focus on sharing healthy hair instead of dwelling on the holier than though attitude.

  2. Recommended viewing: “Good Hair.” It’s a documentary by Chris Rock that explores this debate.

  3. I have that saved on DVR and still haven’t watched it yet. We should check it out this weekend.

  4. I’ve never come across anyone who think its not right to straighten my hair but I do get comments on how I should just keep it straight and “hawaiian silky”.

    I think the best part of being natural is being able to go back and forth.

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  6. I unknowingly began my natural journey last September, after putting in a relaxer for my birthday. A month later, it was relaxer time again, and I just decided no. Got the Big Chop in November. I’ve never looked back.

    I don’t like the arrogance of naturals who seem to feel justified in disparaging those who choose to straighten. I don’t see myself ever chemically relaxing again, but if I do the flat iron thing, whatevs.

    I think the motivation behind the hairstyle choice should be like any other life choice – based what is first, healthy for the body and self-esteem and second, what works for your particular lifestyle.

    Do whatcha do.

  7. I have heard the same thing from some people about you’re not a true natural if you straighten your hair and I personally disagree. I think that people should do whatever makes them happy. If you are natural and you choose to wear your hair in a different style from time to time, I think that’s a great thing as it shows the flexibility and versatility of styling you can do.

    I personally have a relaxer and have thought about going natural, especially since I don’t get relaxers that often, but right now, I am not sure that I am game for the work that it entails and that is being honest. But do I consider myself a sell-out because I have a relaxer? Heck no! I even use products that are more natural in nature such as the Shea Moisture line of products.

    I say do what works for you and don’t allow anyone to dictate what you should or should not do with your hair. Your hair doesn’t define you. Your personality and character do.

  8. Javacia, awesome tips shared on hair straightening, please keep posting many more such topics. Keep up the good work.

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