My Natural Hair Is Not A Fashion Trend

Now that it's been almost a year since I cut my chemically straightened hair off, a few folks have asked me, "So, how long are you gonna do this natural thing?"

The question always surprises me because the underlying assumption is that the hair I have sprouting out of my head is just a fad, a temporary fashion thing.

If I was into fashion, I'd go back to straight hair. I mean, in a world where every makeover show gives the woman with textured hair a blowout and flat iron session, this look does not fit in. But I like it, and this is the hair I was born with, so why the questions?

It's honestly hard for me to believe that folks who know me and talk to me on a regular basis actually think I'm going to travel backwards to the land of chemical straighteners and flat iron dependency.

Guess what? It's not happening.

This is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the happiest I've ever been with my hair. I think it looks better and I spend less time and money on my hair than at any time in my adult life.

I'm not paying someone $80 to slather dangerous chemicals on my hair every couple of months. I'm not spending four hours in the salon while a stylist works on my wash, condition, blow dry and flat iron, all while simultaneously working on two or three other clients. I'm not constantly searching for some miracle hair potion that will keep my hair from looking like straw baking in the desert. I don't pray it won't rain so that the hours-long flat iron job doesn't get ruined, and I don't sit around bemoaning loads of split ends.

Instead of all that straight hair drama, I probably spend 10 minutes a day at the most on my hair, sometimes not even that much time. As far as cost? I don't believe natural hair products should cost $25 for a few ounces of product. Hello? Recession! I just can't pay that! -- So it helps to get really creative with products from Sally Beauty Supply, and to remember that my African ancestors weren't spending $50 on hair conditioner. Instead they used natural oils, shea butter and aloe vera gel.

The other thing that helps is to realize that nothing, no magic product, is going to make my hair flatter or more "appropriate". It's big hair! There's no way around that, and I feel sorry for the people who are so afraid of my hair, think it's unprofessional, or think it's not fly.

And there are definitely those in my life who could do without my afro! There are folks who I'm sure would be quick to point out that they've never technically said they hate my hair.... to which I'd reply that you don't have to say it explicitly for me to know. Sometimes what's not said, never hearing that it's beautiful or looks nice, conveys the same message.

Does that bother me? Not anymore. With all that's going on in the world, with all the pressures of being a black women in this country, at this point in my life, the last thing I'm going to be stressed about is anybody who still thinks that long, straight hair is what's best for me. Yes, straight hair looked pretty on me, but I think this looks better.

Do I have bad hair days? Sure, but that's OK because guess what? The hair along my hairline actually grew back this past year. Yeah, that thick hair I kinda remember from my childhood? It came back. If I start using chemicals on it again, it's gonna go away. Me no likey the balding look, mmkay?

The nice thing is that I see more and more black women on the streets of Los Angeles totally rocking their own, natural hair. And I almost always stop them and tell them their hair is beautiful. We need that encouragement to break away from the societal expectations that we're less than if we don't have long, straight hair.

We need that encouragement to get away from that fear that we're gonna be unloved, unwanted, laughed at or fired, all because we choose to wear the hair that God and genetics gave us. Sisters, take it from someone who was totally afraid to step away from chemicals and really had no idea what my hair would look like, if you walk away from them, it's gonna be alright... and if your boss doesn't like your hair, honey, that's what lawsuits are for!

So no, this is not a fashion statement for me. No, this is not a trendy thing I decided to do just because I live in LA and people are crazy out here. And no, this is not a midlife crisis. It's just me being happy with the way my real hair looks. Please get used to it because it's here to stay.


Leili said…
I absolutely LOVE your hair. It is some of my favorite hair, ever. You are gorgeous.

But really, who cares what people think? Go ahead, girl.
Tafari said…
Stand you ground & be happy with this curlies.

As someone with locks, I get similar questions etc about my hair. Strange shit. People just dont get it because they are so caught up on a acceptable look if you know what I mean.

Check out my last hair post. Guaranteed to make you laugh.

Liz Dwyer said…
Leili,Thank you, dear sister! :) You know whose opinions I care about most? O & T, and those boys LOVE my hair!

Tafari,People are definitely caught up. It's interesting to me that I get the most direct verbal negativity from other black folks. Other people may feel negative about it but they don't verbalize it. That said, if it wasn't for supportive sisters and brothers like yourself, I don't know if I would've had the courage to let the straight thing go!
Tafari said…
I guess supplying the link would be helpful right!
I love your hair - truly - it's your crowing glory. I love the way it curls - so beautiful. And the color is fabulous.

1969 said…
You and your hair? One word GORGEOUS. Don't change a thing about either one.
Daniel said…
Los Angelista,
All I gotta say is WOW. On many levels.
1. Love the personal self-confidence to be what you are!
2. To be you, for that IS who you are.
3. To buck the system, and all it’s totally fake mess.
4. And it’s Beautiful. Really.

Now, I do have to add, this whole black woman/girl hair thing has got to be one of the most baffling, crazy minefields I’ve ever found myself somehow stepping into, lol. How in the world do I convince my own daughter to just rock what she is? The ridicules levels of pressure to straighten, chemical-treat, flat iron, whatever, completely undoes my brain (and my wallet, lol!). Any “thoughts”?
I’m also amazed at the crazy ways this hair thang messes up other, more important issues. I just know you’ve found your “real” style (‘cause to me, that’s what it is) to be so much easier on the physically active side, getting ready for your triumphant entry into the world of Marathoner’s. I cannot believe the number of times I’ve heard black women use their hair as the reason regular physical activity/participation is so out of the question -“And mess up my $160 Doo?!” I just don’t know what to think of the ever increasing numbers of these women, wearing fancy hairstyles, while possessing 240 pound bodies. I think that’s utterly backwards! You AIN’T CUTE girl, if you can’t get in the front seat of the car without that poor thing driven all the way against the stops and tilted all the way back to get that belly under the dash. Heck, I’d love to find ‘average face, short hair’ on a woman of normal size, who, like, DID STUFF! Ya know, like let’s go for a hike or something?
Can you, Los Angelista, clue me in on what the heck is going on with THAT?

PS. I tried the ‘random natural hair complement’ recently. I thought I was gonna be in real physical danger, the way the girl rounded on me. Even called me “Imus”. (No, I DID NOT use the term, “nappy”, lol. I DO know better than that, lol).
Funny, I personally really like the natural/short/big/whatever ‘fro hair. It’s like, that’s part of what makes you unique, in all its own special beauty. Reveal in it!
Guess I’m just weird, lol.
the joy said…
hear hear sister!!! my mgr jokes that i need to get fingerwaves (thhats what he said when i came into work with knots) and people ask all the time when i am gonna get a perm. fortunately i have more natural haired people in atl than you do in LA... and your hair is gorgeous. if youre qanything like me it reflects your personality.
nick said…
Wow, is it almost a year? Well, I still think your hair is FABULOUS, Liz, and I can't understand people who dislike it or expect you to change it back. I'm glad you like it too and aren't tempted by all those fainthearts. I had a white Jewish girlfriend once with hair just as big and curly and I thought that was great too.

Tell me, nobody seems to mention it but does Michelle Obama straighten her hair? If so, why?
Ellen said…
I agree with everyone's lovely comments. Like commenter Nick's former girlfriend, I'm a Jewish girl with super curly hair.
Yes, I paid to straighten it over the years, but it was too much to deal with. After all you can just let it lie there straight, right?
I've had some unfortunate hairstyles over the years, including a feminine version of Clarence Williams III's 'do when he was in The Mod Squad.
I love my curly locks. It's fab having wash n wear hair. People often ask me if it's a perm.
Your curls are glorious and so are you.
BTW, even my blog url is a tribute to our hair.
Good for you! I feel like singing free to be you and me.
Jessica said…
Hi. I'm new to your blog and really love your posts. I think your natural hair is awesome and I love it whenever I see natural fros!! It is just right, it's like embracing your natural beauty and shows pride in who you are.

Rock on!
old sn said…
I got dreads 2.5 years ago and I still have people asking me "How long are you going to do the dread thing?".

Rock on! Natural hair is beautiful and the way God intended. It breaks my heart that young girls grow up thinking they aren't beautiful unless their hair is straight.
Anonymous said…
Amen, and THANK YOU!

What hit me most was, "Sometimes what's not said, never hearing that it's beautiful or looks nice, conveys the same message." Since growing out my gray in the front, no one ever tells me my hair looks nice. Which hurts when I think about it, but I am WAY too addicted to the ease, the savings, and yes, THE HAIR THAT'S GROWN BACK AT MY HAIR LINE, to ever go back to dyeing. Plus, *I* truly think it's pretty the way it is.

And your hair, btw, is GORGEOUS! :)
Anonymous said…
Good gracious, why would you go back? Sometimes I wonder how different the world would be if women could just embrace themselves as they are.
It's appalling that any woman should ever be made to feel inferior for refusing to disguise a physical characteristic. Plus, natural black hair is beautiful, soft and womanly and I love it. It is also far healthier than steaming ones scalp in noxious chemicals, and healthy is beautiful.

I wish Michelle Obama would wear her hair natural and perhaps she will at some point, if only so her daughters won't grow up believing that they must conform to a different beauty standard.
Liz Dwyer said…

LOVE IT! Everybody, go read his post!

Claudia,Thank you! I like that way of putting it, "crowning glory". I never used to see my hair that way before, but I do now.

1969,Hugs! Thank you, lady!

Daniel,You got called Imus? Wow, that's rude. Why can't folks just say thank you and keep it moving? Trust me, the encouragment you give your girl means a lot because there are so many girls who don't get that. As she gets older and grows into herself, she'll remember all the positivity you gave her. Do you know any ladies with natural hair that your daughter looks up to that can maybe "mentor" her along this road?

So, the running thing is the reason my sister also decided to go natural. It's just impossible to work up a good sweat and keep your hair bone straight all the time, and flat ironing every day just kills it! It just goes to show you how strong the pressure is for straight hair that some women would rather not exercise if that's what they need to do to keep it.

The Joy,Thanks for saying it's gorgeous! :) You all probably do have more natural hair than out here in Unbeweavaville. Fingerwaves is one of those styles I have never ever liked. Too hard and crunchy for me. I think this hair definitely reflects my personality more. A whole lot more.

Nick,I can't believe time is flying by like this, either! Thanks for saying my 'fro is fab! As for Michelle Obama, I just read an article online where folks argued for days in the comments over whether she chemically straightens or not. It is ultimately a choice, and I guess she can deal with the upkeep of straight hair. But it does seem like if there's a negative cartoon of her, the artist gives her an afro.

Ellen,Thanks for saying I'm glorious! :) LOL, folks ask you if it's a perm! That's funny! I know folks say that hair is hair and everybody wants to change theirs, but why is curly hair so perceived as needing fixing or altering in our culture? Is it because it's associated with less "desirable" ethnicities?

Faith,Sing on, sister! Sing on! :)

Jessica,Why thank you! So nice of you to say so and glad you jumped right in and left a comment!

Kavisa,My husband had locs for a long time and it was crazy how happy some people were when he cut them off after like 10 years. I cried when he cut them. It breaks my heart to see both girls and boys growing up thinking natural hair isn't beautiful. My sons were one of my main motivations for ending the straight hair thing. I wanted them to see natural hair as beautiful and normal, and now they do.

LizRiz,I have a whole little family of grey hairs but I can't use chemical dyes at all. Even those rinses that go away after 6 weeks KILL my hair. So I've taken up using henna on my hair and it works really really well for me, and it's good for my hair. But I firmly believe that grey hair is lovely and doesn't really need to be colored.

Citizen,The world would be a seriously different place if that happened. I think historians will look back on our society with a mix of amazement over the things we accomplish and a sense of sadness over the obsession with the material, the body and appearance.

Heart,I often wonder what the long term consequences of those chemicals are gonna be. I worry about that. Maybe in the 2nd term Michelle will do that!
Mes Deux Cents said…

I saw a show on ION where they had this little Black girl on and everyone was going on about how bad her (natural) hair looked.

So of course at the end during the reveal segment they straightened her hair. And then everyone told her how beautiful she was. I was horrified.

Your hair looks amazing!
Nerd Girl said…
Both you and your hair are absolutely lovely. I can't believe it has been a year already - time is flying!

Freedom from the salon? Best.thing.ever!!!
Unknown said…
;-) You angry Black woman, you!!
I've been wearing my hair naturally for over ten years and my mom still asks me when am I going to straighten it again. ha

When I went to my sister's wedding in DC I was shocked to see so many natural sisters there compared to L.A., aka Land of the Weaves.

I think your hair looks beautiful and healthy.

It's sad that so many of us forgo physical activity because of HAIR! That is just crazy.
Ian Lidster said…
Your hair looks fabulous, dear. I've always loved it.
Shiona said…
I wonder why people feel the need to ask a question like that. I too am doing the natural look and everyone's worried about it being too big whatever that means. Bigger is better in many other aspects of life so why not here as well?
Lili said…
Your hair is beautiful. Please share the name of the color you put in?
Lili said…
Oops, just saw your response about using henna! I also use henna to cover my grays and for its conditioning and safe benefits to my natural hair. We're like....twins! LOL!
Liz Dwyer said…
Thanks for saying my hair looks amazing -- especially since today was one of my most jacked up hair days ever. So dry and hot here! Oh, that is EXACTLY the kind of stuff that just turns my stomach. That little girl will remember for the rest of her life that she is considered pretty when her hair is straight.

Nerd Girl,
Thank you for saying so! Every month I think about how I can do my OWN hair! I don't have to rely on someone else who barely knows how to take care of hair themselves, even though they are licensed to do so!

Oh yeah, I'm just enraged! ;)

Does this mean it's NEVER going to end? LOL! Yeah, I don't remember seeing very many black folks in Chicago with natural hair last summer. More in LA than there, but maybe that's just the neighborhoods I was in. And choosing straight hair over your health is a psychosis. You may have that straight hair, but what if you end up dead due to diabetes? Sigh.

Thank you for saying so! :)

LOL, yeah, Miss California got boob implants paid for by pageant because bigger is better, so why not our hair? Besides, it's not like folks are intentionally picking their hair out so that it's 3 feet off the head or something! I mean, even for our white sisters, that stick straight Rachel look has BEEN out of style! You keep on keepin' on with your hair!

Thank you! Glad you saw the henna info. It works really well on my hair and makes my hair feel fabulous. -- I haven't hennaed in awhile actually. I need to do so soon!
DJ Black Adam said…
Keep rockin the natural sister, it and you are lovely!
Lola Gets said…
As I was driving to work yesterday, I saw a woman driving another car with such beautiful hair, I almost honked my horn and yelled out the window at her - she looked fabulous!

I am hoping to regain some of my past fabulousness once I cut off all this dyed hair and return to my, um, "natural" colors, lol. We'll see what happens!

Anonymous said…
Your hair ROCKS!!!
Bond said…
I agree with everything you said in this post. (Also, I think your hair looks wonderful.) I don't want to take away from what you said at all, but you are someone who has...what is it called in America? "Good" hair? And I think for someone with "good hair" it is much easier to go natural than someone with my hair which is....impossible to comb, impossibly coarse, and painfully thick. I don't think my hair would ever be considered "professional" or "beautiful" by any mainstream white culture, whereas your hair is unquestionably beautiful to anybody with eyes.
Liz Dwyer said…
Thank you! And BTW, I'm gonna be out that way in July. We should get together!:)

Yeah, I have been itching to throw some highlights in my hair, but I know if I go down that road, I will look like a brillo pad because the dyes just KILL my hair.

Thanks! I have a lot of fun with it these days and that's nice feeling to have, you know?

Oh, my dear sister... I believe all hair is good, but no, I don't have what's unfortunately called "good" hair. I have "4A" hair on my head, just like lots of other people. I've just found products and routines that work for me. I'm gonna write a post about this soon because it breaks my heart to know that folks feel this way. I FIRMLY believe your hair on your head IS beautiful, professional and gorgeous in its natural state. AND, I don't CARE whether mainstream white or black culture likes my hair. I'm honoring my inherent nobility by embracing and loving what God gave me.
Nicole said…
Your hair is ridiculously gorgeous, as are you.
Liz Dwyer said…
Thank you! :)
Anonymous said…
Hi, I've been reading your blog for a while and am just getting caught up on the recent posts.

Your hair is beautiful. If you wouldn't mind, I'd love to know what products you use. I am Black/Japanese and go through periods of relaxers and ponytails. My daughter is still in 2 pigtails at 12 years old because I just can't figure out how to go natural! I refuse to have her hair relaxed. It's very frustrating and any advice you can provide would be much appreciated.

Unknown said…
I totally agree with what everyone is saying!! People should start being more brave & comfortable with what they naturaly have on their head. I'm a boy, and I was suprised when my shiny waves turned a bit kinky. Some people gave me compliments on my hair, and others didn't. When people started to notice my hair growing in an afro, I had problems accepting it at first. I would argue about its real texture, but I'm over that stage. Now, people almost give me more compliments for letting my hair grow out. I'll almost be growing my hair for a year now, & I'll keep on going.

PS- I notice you said that you compliment a black girl when he has her "natural hair" I know it's not common, but there are such things as "black" ppl with naturally straight hair. So you shouldn't assume what is natural black hair all the time. Just saying...
Mandy said…
I just happened to stumble upon your blog and I must say I love you lol you're so spicy and I like that you speak your mind..I just wanted to comment on this particular post because I've had similar experiences...My last relaxer was a year ago and BC'd about 2months ago now (never been happier lol) but I remember when I was transitioning a friend of mine looked at my hair..turned up her nose and rudely said.."you need to perm that" My head did that slow turn around i was soo angry..but calmly replied.."No I don't..I'm going to stop perming completely..thank you very much."

Even my own mother asked if I'm going to perm my hair for graduation or when I go to look for a job (will hopefully be done with med school in four years yay) and I was like..umm do you think i made this decision to slap some perm on it in just a few years.. noo...I'm not going back....

I just wanted to share my experience because it is sooo frustrating when people think this is just a phase...well IT'S's a lifestyle..and a journey of self-discovery..So I commend you for always sticking up for yourself..Because you are your beautiful..and your hair does not define you....sorry this is soo long winded (I love to talk lol)... But i will definitely be reading more of your posts...they're quite entertaining and inspriring :)

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