Yes, I Stretch My Natural Hair – No Biggie…
If you read my post, “4 Topics That Unnerve and Divide The Natural Hair Community“, one of the topics that seems to be up for much debate is the idea of stretching one’s hair using braid and twist outs, hair banding, and other methods that don’t break down the hair through the use of chemicals.
For naturals who are “purists”, altering one’s hair in any way is some type of admission of self loathing or that you are denying your heritage.
There is a lot of emotion tied to black women and their hair. It goes back to the days of slavery when we were brainwashed into thinking that everything about us, from our kinky hair to our skin color was less than, ugly, unacceptable.
After our emancipation from slavery, we needed to fit in to society as best as we could in order to be self sufficient, find jobs, and start businesses – survive. Our kinky, coily, curly hair was seen as wild and unprofessional; not only by whites, but by this time, by “Negros”. We tried a number of methods to tame our hair in order to fit the social standards of the day which resulted in inventions like the straightening comb.
Madame CJ Walker is known for perfecting the straightening comb and is often credited with inventing relaxers, but it was actually Garrett Augustus Morgan, a black inventor, (whose best known invention is the traffic light), who invented hair relaxers in 1910. He called it hair refining creme. It was an accidental invention which Morgan eventually patented.
I’m not saying that black women are consciously thinking negatively about their hair because of slavery. What I am saying is that the emotion that we actively tie to our hair: how we style it, and the products that we use on it has very deep roots. Some of us have been able to dig up those roots and move on.
Yes, I stretch my hair using braid and twist outs. I love the look. I love the fact that my curls and kinks don’t get matted, tangled and hard to manage which happens when I choose wash and go’s. And guess what? I don’t like shrinkage…
No purists, I’m not trying to get a mixed race hair look. And I’m not trying to change my curl pattern because I hate my hair. I’m just another woman who is making a choice; just like every other woman in the world who is able to make a choice about their hair without the emotional baggage. It’s nothing deep or complicated.
You’ve heard it before, but I’ll say it again – we should do what is best for us. Like to wash and go? Fine! Love to twist, braid, bantu knot, use curlformers, banding, locs? Great! Live your life for you and don’t worry about what others think. It’s only hair after all.
|“Changing attitudes about natural hair” is what we do at Natural Haircare News. Through informative articles, podcasts and videos, we go beyond just sharing the latest advice and tips on kinky, curly, wavy haircare – We shake things up and focus on the realities of wearing our hair natural.|
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We all know there is history about our hair. I wonder many times if we take our hair to seriously. It doesn’t matter to me how you wear your hair. I believe most people by now, including the status quo who was the first to be anti our hair, know the history and politics behind our hair.
My main concern is that the times don’t roll back to pre 1960’s where natural hair wasn’t an option for gainful employment and success in this world.
As long as we love our hair, how we stretch it or style it doesn’t matter. We need “love” to surround our hair and not “criticisms.”
That said, I understand the passion that some have about embracing complete natural hair; but I also know that some of these people were the same ones who once dared to wear their hair natural.
I hope they remember from whence they came and from those memories more compassion for those on the path.
Thank you for this post.
I appreciate your perspective. I do think that we sometimes take our hair too seriously – myself included – but as you so aptly stated, there is so much history behind our hair, much of it negative, that I suppose it’s to be expected. I’ll be glad when we are able to get point where “love can surround our hair and not “criticisms.” Thank you for taking the time to share your insights on this topic!