23 May 2014

Relaxed Hair Vs. Natural Hair? #BlackFriday

We live in a world where looks are important, people are constantly judged by others, and first impressions last longest- but where do we draw the line? When asked what people look for in partners, most people say a combination of the two factors: personality and physical attractiveness play important roles.  For some people, hair is part of that choice. I’ve heard some people say they prefer blondes to brunettes and vice versa, but how about hair textures, should that be a contributing factor too? Is “nappy” or kinky hair a turn-on or a turn-off?
Recently in the black hair community, there has been a big wave of women moving from chemically treated hair to hair that’s natural. This has created a division in the community, as some people believe that by embracing their natural hair they are more “black” than their fellow black sisters who choose to chemically straighten their hair or wear weaves. I took to the streets of London to find out what you ladies think about your manes.

Today's panel consists of 4 members Demi, Kunmi-Paris, Nicole and Eugenie. 

Eugenie, Student

Q) Who made the decision for your hair to be relaxed?

Nicole) The first time my hair was relaxed I was about six or seven. My big sister decided to relax my hair because my hair was very thick and no one was able to manage it. The second time I relaxed my hair, I was about 15/16 and it was my own choice. 

Eugenie) I first relaxed my hair when I was about 7 or 8 years old, which was my mother's decision. When my hair started to fall out; I went completely natural. I then relaxed it again, when I was about 13/14 years old, which was my decision.

Q) Some guys have said they would never date a girl with relaxed hair- what is your opinion on this?

N) I find this hilarious! The condition of a woman’s hair shouldn’t determine their adequacy as a partner. I suppose people do have their preferences but this doesn't affect me in the slightest.
E)  Wow really? What if a girl was beautiful, smart, successful with an amazing personality? So because she has relaxed hair they're not gonna date her...

Q) Can relaxed hair be healthy?
N) So many people say there’s no way relaxed hair can be healthy due to the chemicals, I suppose to an extent this is true. However if you’ve taken the steps to care for your hair through frequent treatments, trims and the right products then I wouldn’t class the hair as unhealthy. If it looks healthy, feels healthy and isn’t breaking out then what more do you need? 

E) Yes it can. But I think only to a certain extent because the hair is being chemically processed which can be harmful to the scalp (even though the relaxer shouldn't touch it) and this can be very dangerous. However, with the right aftercare it can definitely be healthy.


Q) Do you think relaxed hair is considered more socially acceptable than other hair states?

N) Personally I don't think relaxed hair is considered to be more socially acceptable than other hair states. 

E)  I  don't think so. I've seen a lot of women with beautiful natural hair and other types of hair who are successful. Just because a woman has relaxed hair doesn't mean they will get further than another woman who doesn't.
Nicole, Student

Kunmi-Paris, Corporate Receptionist
Q: How has your hair been received by loved ones and/or career-wise?
Kunmi-Paris: My mum hates it because I had such lovely long mid-back length hair, and she watched it get progressively shorter since college: bob, crop, pixie, nada. My family generally like it, although they can’t hide their shock every time I shave it anew. My colleagues surprised me the most. I told them I was going to shave my hair off and immediately started tripping over myself to reassure them that I had bought a wig and wouldn’t be bringing the company (a law firm) into disrepute. On the day I had it done, I sent one of my colleagues a picture and she showed it to the CEO who told her to let me know that the wig would be unnecessary as he thought I looked better!
Demi: Going to interviews within the fashion industry with a grown out afro is what scared me the most. Image is everything, you are analysed and judged in less than 5 seconds the moment you step into a room. 
 
Q) What made you want to transition?
D) There are many reasons. I’d spend hours trying to get my hair bone straight so I could mimic the “wind in the hair” movement you’d see from women in the L’Oreal hair commercials. Having a partner of European descent made me realise the faults within my perception of self-beauty. Why am I, as a black woman, chemically straightening my hair permanently to copy the texture of those from another race? Lastly, my younger sister has beautiful bouncy kinky natural hair. From the age of 7 she kept going on about how badly she wanted her hair to be like mine (straight). She’d talk about the other girls in her school who had relaxed their hair and how she hates her own. It suddenly dawned on me, how could I teach her to love herself when secretly I couldn’t accept the hair genetics I’d been blessed with? 

Q) Some people with relaxed hair don't want to exercise as they fear they'll sweat out their relaxer- what's your opinion on this?

K) I was so reluctant to join that bandwagon. I used to be such a gym bunny, but my hair was a state. I was working out four times a week, and I couldn’t wash my hair every time, so… pretty hair won. I’ve recently started exercising again :) 

Q) Would you consider relaxing your hair again?
K) I just want to keep it shaved for now. The first time I stepped under the shower, I was so emotional. Imagine, something as simple as water on your scalp, the feeling was indescribable. I’m not yet on a natural hair journey.
D) Never! No. I love my hair now more than I ever did. I enjoy it and love the fact that it symbolises who I am.

Final Words:

D) My hair is my crown; it’s an outward expression of me. It’s an accessory, a statement piece that changes as I do. Hair grows, have fun with it.

E) My hair is a part of me and who I am. I relax my hair because that's what I prefer, not because I hate my natural hair. I love my natural hair. I have experienced both natural and relaxed hair types, and know how to take care of both hair types, why not have the choice?

K) My hair never meant much to me, which is why I went from mid-back to jaw bob a day before my mother’s wedding. Societal and cultural beliefs about what a woman’s hair (and the rest) should be like never influenced me, I have always been the judge, jury and executioner about what would make me look and feel good. I was beautiful with hair, and I’m beautiful without it.

N) I love my hair, but my hair is not me. I’m so impulsive when it comes to my hair I change it all the time thus I don't feel as though I should be defined by it whether its permed, blonde, natural, long, short etc. 

Demi, Student & Footwear Designer

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What are your opinions on the questions raised? Should hair type be a contributing factor to one's perceived beauty? How do you feel your hair is received by society? All opinions are welcome. Do let me know what you think in the comments section below :)

If you'd like to know more about our panel then check out their networks:

Eugenie can be found on Blogger, Twitter and Tumblr
Kunmi-Paris can be found on Tumblr and Twitter


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