Live Your Most Beautiful Life
Do you wonder what a debate would actually sound like between a woman with relaxed hair and a woman with natural hair about their chosen hair style? There are so many blogs and articles out there by women who explain why they prefer wearing their hair natural or relaxed. Cafe Belle has pretty much summarized that conversation/debate below: (Disclaimer: the conversation is not meant to summarize every single woman's hair story).
<-Natural Belle (NB): Natural Belle loves wearing her hair natural. NB used to relax her hair and chose to grow her relaxer out and embrace her natural roots. NB has no plans to apply a relaxer to her tresses again and believes that her hair is much healthier in its natural state.
-> Relaxed Belle (RB): Relaxed Belle prefers getting a relaxer. RB has considered going natural but has chosen to stick with a relaxer for now as well as the near future. RB likes wearing her hair straight and indulges in any and all literature about keeping her tresses as healthy as possible.
RB: I love your hair - it's gorgeous! I love the style.
NB: Your hair is pretty too.
RB: So why do you like wearing your hair natural?
NB: I love wearing my hair natural. I used to relax my hair for years but got tired of it breaking off all the time. I also like the styling options that are available to me now, and it feels and looks a lot healthier in its natural state. Why do you relax your hair?
RB: I've relaxed my hair for years and am used to wearing my hair like this. I have considered going natural but I'm so used to relaxing my hair and prefer taking care of it in this state.
NB: I can understand your hesitation about going natural. It is a major decision for anyone who has been used to wearing their hair relaxed for a long time. However, once you make your mind up and go through the emotional transition as your hair changes, it is easier to get used to your natural tresses and embrace them.
RB: I understand, but I just don't feel the need to go natural. I have been accused by some of being "addicted to the creamy crack," and I find that a bit harsh. I simply like wearing my hair relaxed because I prefer the styles that I can achieve if it is relaxed. When all is said and done, it is my choice. I would never question your choice to go natural. I shouldn't be questioned on why I am relaxing my hair.
NB: To each his own I guess. I think there is a part of you that wears a relaxer to please others and assimilate into Eurocentric environments. Think about it, RB - The whole point of creating relaxers was to help blacks assimilate to the status quo/white environment. In addition, many of us have been brainwashed to believe that we look prettier when our hair is straight and flowing.
RB: We work in the same corporate office, and I don't believe that I am treated any better than you in our predominately Caucasian environment because I have straightened hair. We are both judged on our work product. If you performed better than I did on the same project, I highly doubt the employer would say, "Well, RB has straight hair so we like her better even though NB made us more money." Highly unlikely. Our hair doesn't play a role in our success in the workplace, and I never thought it did. In addition, why are black women judged so differently when they straighten their hair, when there are plenty of non-black women out there with naturally curly hair that like to wear their hair straight as well. There are a lot of non-black women who treat their hair with harsh chemicals for various purposes, like bleaching to get blond hair, etc. We all do things to alter our beauty to fit what we want. So why am I "brainwashed" because I straighten my hair?
NB: I'm not trying to make you feel bad about relaxing your hair. In my opinion, it's the mental state that goes behind doing the beauty-altering process. Non-black women who straighten their hair or bleach their hair do not necessarily believe that they will be more generally accepted in a Eurocentric climate if they do such a process. Black women are more likely to believe that their hair will help them assimilate in a Eurocentric environment. Non-black women don't even think about assimilating, because they already belong to that environment. In essence, the chemical straightening for a black woman is more likely executed to please others and be accepted more-so than for beauty purposes. Some women refuse to believe that we blur those two purposes quite often.
RB: Please acknowledge that is an assumption that we are relaxing our hair to please others. Do some women relax their hair to please others? Sure. But there are also women out there that simply choose to relax their hair because they like the styles it allows, and that's all. I can easily assume that some women go natural for people-pleasing purposes too, you know. That some women only go natural because they want to please other women who prefer natural hair and criticize and sometimes even bully other women who stay relaxed. But I am not going to assume that, because everyone's case is different. Plain and simple. Judging someone based on the outward manifestation of their choice is different than judging someone for the actual reasons behind their choice. Assuming the actual reason is flawed analysis from the outset.
NB: Understood. I don't bully anyone into going natural. You know that your hair would be a lot healthier if you go natural though, right? I can honestly say that it is definitely mentally freeing process. In addition, my hair is a lot stronger in its natural state.
RB: Just a thought - maybe you think your hair is healthier in a natural state because you didn't know how to take care of your hair while it was relaxed?
NB: I don't think so. I tried different relaxers and I took excellent care of my hair. I found that my hair simply had an adverse reaction to relaxer. My hair stopped at shoulder-length and would break pretty easily. Not everyone's hair can take a relaxer. Plus, even if my hair did do well with relaxers, I probably would have gone natural anyway. I didn't like the idea of having to get such harsh chemicals applied to my hair so often. Have you seen Chris Rock's movie, "Good Hair"? That sodium hydroxide chemical can burn through metal. Something like that should not be applied to a human scalp, or any part of the skin for that matter. It seems pretty dangerous for any person's health.
RB: I agree that some hair simply doesn't react well to relaxers, so I understand. I saw "Good Hair", and I agree that the chemicals can be harsh if not applied correctly. That's why I don't obsess over having "bone straight" hair while getting a relaxer treatment, and that's why I don't like the relaxer being applied directly to scalp during the application process. I also don't have the chemical applied to already relaxed hair. I also stretch my relaxers and I don't mind taking care of my natural roots for a while before I get my next touch up. Overprocessing hair is one of the top reasons why relaxed hair breaks so easily. I can go on and on about what I do to keep my relaxed hair healthy, but that is another conversation all together.
NB: Ok, that all sounds good. But that sodium hydroxide chemical still gets absorbed somehow into your body whether you like it or not.
RB: True. But I believe proper technique negates the deleterious effect of the chemical application. Just ask some older black women who have taken good care of their relaxed tresses over decades and still have a healthy scalp and healthy hair. Plus, don't believe the hype about the "green chemical" that gathers under the scalp of women who relax their hair over time. There is no legit study to even prove that rumor.
NB: Well, I will say that you fair a lot better with your hair compared to women who are obsessed with getting bone straight hair and relaxers every 3-4 weeks.
RB: Yeah...I don't do that. That's really disturbing.
NB: You know, I love my natural hair and won't change how I feel about it for the world. However, I appreciate talking with you and respect your decision to take care of your hair in a way that works for you.
RB: Thanks NB. I feel the same. I love your hair, and respect your decision to go natural and rock the styles that you do.
*End of the Debate*
What do you think? Do you think that this debate summarizes the relaxed v. natural hair debate? If not, leave your comments and thoughts below this post and we will consider doing a Debate Part 2!
-Written by: Cafe Belle's Healthy Hair Barista