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.