I recently came across a post on Curly Nikki where a young woman talked about how people’s hate of her natural hair actually energized her on her journey of returning to her natural hair state. I found it pretty interesting and started to reflect on my own experience of dealing with “natural hair hate” so I thought I’d weigh in a little bit. Note, the post below may consist of incoherent rambling at times.
First off, let me say that as a culture we are so quick to throw out the term “hater”. A “hater” isn’t someone who just doesn’t like what you do/how you look. In my opinion, a “hater” is someone who has nothing constructive or remotely ambivalent to offer you. A natural hair “hater” won’t comment on how healthy your hair looks. They won’t say how well maintained or style your hair is. They simply just won’t have anything positive to offer even if the style isn’t for them. For instance, the man who once yelled “Ewwwww!” at my growing fro (unsolicited I might add) is probably just a hater. Whereas someone who engages me in a conversation about my hair and says they don’t prefer it is simply just offering an opinion. See the difference?
That being said, I’ve run into my share of negative comments, stares and interactions at my hair because my hair didn’t look “how it was supposed to”. After giving up my decades long love/hate affair with dark Caesars, the fro made me stand out and people definitely took notice. Truth is, I kind of liked that. I liked feeling like I was doing something not everyone was doing. It was nice to know that I didn’t look like a carbon copy of everyone else.
But standing out comes with , well…standing out. I got a lot of negativity from people thinking my hair looked fake or was even a wig/weave (no, I’m not joking) to people policing my gender and questioning my masculinity because I had a growing fro that I took/take VERY good care of. At times, it seems like some people want guys to look ragged because in some way that shows that we’re “manly men” who aren’t into that feminine stuff.
But for me, I’m not that guy. I’m not that guy to be overly concerned with other’s perceptions of me. But I wasn’t always that way. Actually, the fro helped me cement that lesson and put it into daily practice. Even now that my hair is much shorter, I occasionally get looks from people, but hey maybe that’s because they just like my face (or don’t!). Either way, I remind myself just to keep it moving because there’s noting like looking in the mirror at the end of the day and thinking, “I’m good with who I am.” Trust me, you should try it sometime.