I’ll never wear weave but relaxers don’t bother me
And why I reevaluated walking the straight-hair tight rope
Anytime I left WERQ dance classes or yoga, I put my hair in the same presentable style to head back to my desk — a brushed-back ponytail and a small lock of hair toward the right, front area that I can flip behind my ear. It was the easiest way for my hair to look “done” without going through a lot of trouble after a hot shower. In my Corporate America days, it was my go-to style when I went to the gym during my lunch break three days a week.
On one particular day, I smiled and waved at two sistas that I knew from our work floor. They worked in the financial department, and I worked in marketing. I didn’t know much about them nor their names, but we always greeted each other with smiles and friendly hellos if we shared the same elevator or happened to be in the gym locker room at the same time.
“I’m trying this natural thing with you,” one said to the other.
I grabbed my bag and collected my wet towel, lazily overhearing their conversation.
“But sometimes I just miss having a relaxer,” she continued. “It was just way easier to do my hair.”
“No! Absolutely not! Do not go back to that,” the other one said.
I paused and let out a “hmm.” I knew this wasn’t the conversation for me nor was it meant to be a shot at me. This was something they were both trying together. One straightened her hair regularly. The other was a newbie to Team Natural and had just taken out her braids. Not relaxing her hair afterward was apparently unchartered territory. And the two felt if they tried it together, they’d stick it out.
But the way the second sista said “that” about permed hair made me think, “OK, let me get out of here before I hear a diatribe on ‘creamy crack,’ ‘white women’s hair’ and hair brainwashing.” I just wasn’t in the mood. I’ve had a relaxer since I was in kindergarten — courtesy of my two-week visits with my grandmother — and I had no personal interest in testing the Big Chop or locks. So you would think I’d be more open-minded to weave if I’m cool with straight hair, right? Not exactly.
I thought about this recently after the criticism that Adele took for wearing Bantu Knots. I knew someone was going to point the finger at black women who wear weave and claim it’s cultural appropriation. Now I could easily go into a historical pattern of Human Resources manuals encouraging black women to wear their hair any possible way but the texture of the way it’s growing from their heads. I’ve already written posts on colorism and why certain groups are automatically considered attractive over others. Mainstream society has a frustrating view of black women’s hair, and that includes black men. But what rattled my cage during this debate was the belief that all black women must wear weave. No. We. Don’t. All. Do. It.