Of Coarse! … My Hair?

Many of our Sisters who fear most of going natural are those who believe that their hair is “coarse” and/or who grow insecure due to the Teeny Weenie Afro (TWA) stage. This post is specifically for these beautiful Sisters of ours; for the root of their issues has nothing to do with the texture of their hair, but the grade of their hearts and texture of their minds.

Coarse was meant to describe the health and condition of our hair, not its texture.

There is a lot of information that our elders have hidden from us because of their insecurities, ignorance, and their fear for our survival. This notion behind “good hair” is just one out of many social dysfunctions we are plagued with due to the lack of and/or the mis-education within our homes and communities. First of all, when the terms “good hair” and “bad hair” were initiated, it was not associated with attraction or beauty. These terms derived from slavery as a means for survival as a slave. Whether we were a slave in the master’s field, inside the master’s house, or within the master’s corporation, it was a way for us to get out of the fields and inside of the house where we could have access to better hygiene, food, and education. Hair within the Black community was a resource for survival in a White country.  Having straighter hair was considered having “good hair,” not because it was of better quality, but because there was a better chance of survival; it was good for our well-being. Slaves weren’t running around trying to look cute, they were focused on a better life, not beauty. It helped us to blend in with our interracial siblings so that we could be disguised as kinship to our slave masters, get inside of the slave master’s house, and make use of important resources. Those of us who did not have straighter hair were easily distinguished as having no kinship to a White man, resulting in the nat013lack of essential resources and the growing hatred that we have for each other, ourselves, and even our own hair; for our hair curtailed better food, education, and hygiene. We viewed our hair was bad because it didn’t help us “get in,” not because we were felt unattractive.

The past is a place for reference, not residence.

Sisters, no longer does our strong textured hair need to conform to that of our employers for us to get inside the house from the fields. There is no need to be afraid of showing our true colors; we will not be deprived of our wants and needs for survival because of our tight curls. But of course we all know this, right? Many of us already operate our own businesses, hold advanced degrees, and own real estate. Since we no longer have to worry about survival, if and when we reveal our natural beauty, then what is the hesitation? Is it because we associate our hair with attraction? Or maybe it is because our entire lives, we have been told our hair was “bad” hair? If straighter hair was “good” hair, in terms of survival, what does that say about our Hispanic brothers and sisters? Many of them have become workers in the fields while we continue to aim for the house; despite their “good” hair texture. All of our lives our elders have been passing their ignorance to us. We are in a cycle. It is up to us to break the cycles and chains that have us believing our natural images are wrong, bad, and unattractive. How will we ever know what gifts we have if we keep them wrapped and hidden?

Through our hand-me-down ignorance, we also believe that our hair is still coarse. If many of us knew what the word “coarse” meant, we would define our hair differently. But again, it is another term we employ without asking for its true meaning. Just in case you are unaware, I have provided the definition of the English word “coarse.”

1. Composed of relatively large parts or particles: The beach had rough, coarse sand.

2. Lacking in fineness or delicacy or texture, structure, etc.: The stiff, coarse fabric irritated her skin.

3. Harsh; grating.

4. Lacking delicacy, taste, or refinement; unpolished: He had coarse manners but an absolutely first-rate mind.

5. Of inferior or faulty quality; common; base.

Synonyms for coarse, include:

1. base, bawdy, blue, boorish, brutish, cheap, common, crass, crude, dirty, earthy, filthy, foul, foul-mouthed, gross, gruff, immodest, impolite, improper, impure, incult, indelicate, inelegant, loutish, low, lowbred, lowdown and dirty, mean, nasty, obscene, off-color, offensive, raffish, raunchy, raw, ribald, rough, roughneck, rude, scatological, smutty, tacky, uncivil, uncouth, uncultivated, uncultured, unrefined, vulgar, vulgarian

2. chapped, coarse-grained, crude, grainy, granular, harsh, homespun, impure, inferior, loose, lumpy, mediocre, particulate, poor quality, rough-hewn, rugged, unfinished, unpolished, unprocessed, unpurified

3. barbaric, barbarous, boorish, brutal, cruel, inhuman, lowbrow, merciless, philistine, primitive, rough, rude, uncivil, uncivilized, uncouth, uncultivated, uncultured, unsophisticated, untamed, vicious, vulgar, wild

Many of us believe that what is on top of our heads is something coarse, when really it is what’s inside of our heads that’s coarse.

The word “coarse” was meant to define the condition and state of our hair, not the texture and style of it. Any person of any ethnic background can have barbaric, dirty, and nasty hair if they lack the resources to groom themselves. The natural texture of Black hair is not uncivil, inferior, or unsophisticated. In fact, it is quite the opposite. When we do not groom our natural hair, neglecting it from the care it needs to be healthy and strong, it becomes uncultivated and unrefined over time. Today, our natural hair is coarse due to years and years of chemically treating our hair. Our sisters have been damaging their hair shafts for so long, that even their new growth lacks the natural resources it needs to grow refined and naturally; like a plant trying to grow in a desert that once was a rain forest. Through hardships and mis-education, anyone may have coarse hair.

Nothing about us is coarse. Lost? Maybe a few of us. But in our roots is where we can can be found.

The idea that our hair is coarse is only because our mind is coarse, with respect to how much we really love and value ourselves. Our elders passed this term to us due of the ignorance and conditioning that was passed on to them by their elders. How can you expect a nation full of conformers to teach you how to really love and value your true self? How vulgar and obscene can our hair be if so many people, black and white, at one point were all wearing afros. We have been groomed and conditioned to meet the standards of Whites, instead of appreciating ourselves as Black people and ourselves as individuals. We have yet to liberate ourselves and show our true selves. Afraid of being ugly, according to another breed of people, so in return we become ugly. If we take the time to learn how to manage, groom, and style our natural textured hair, it will never be coarse, we will always be beautiful. But if we continue to strip our hair from its protein and damage our hair shafts by applying relaxers, it is scientifically proven that we will continue to have coarse hair over-time. It’s also quite funny how our natural textured hair is appreciated more by people who aren’t Black, than Black people ourselves.

nat046

Optimism is for lovers, pessimism is for haters.

I encourage every Sister who has a head full of chemicals and wants to be natural to head to the barber shop and get the Big Chop. This is the extreme approach, but to me it is the best. Cut it all off and begin nurturing your hair from the very beginning; start over from scrath. Let’s not be afraid of what people will think of us with our short hair or our TWA, especially the thoughts from those who are false themselves. Optimism is for lovers and pessimism is for haters. Being real is a hard thing to do. If we do not believe this, let’s ask all of the fake people around us how hard it is to be themselves; we can even start with ourselves. In fact, how “good” has our relaxed hair been to us thus far? We have been a slave to it; not being able to exercise, swim, walk in the rain, wash our hair frequently, make passionate love with our partners on a work night, and during humid days we have to wait until the sun sets to leave the house. Some people believe that if they Big Chop their hair they will become less attractive to their partners and less likely to gain a partner. However, despite our relaxed hair, these things have already been happening–people have not been loving us genuinely, staying with us through thick and thin, or protecting our hearts no matter how many times we relaxed our hair. Are we really that afraid of not being attractive? What has our relaxed hair gotten us from our partners so far? Broken hearts, baby daddies, and a pile of wasted time? I’m not throwing those examples out to be so negative, but only to say that we have nothing to lose that we haven’t lost already; besides the cloaks our associates wear and the cloaks we wear ourselves.

Speaking as a Black man, a woman with a buzz cut or a TWA is not unattractive; it is how we ultimately expresses ourselves that helps to retain our sex appeal. We are not less attractive because our hair is not a certain length or height. We are not our hair, our hair is us. If we ever run into a person who judges us by the length of our hair, then we must realize that such a person is not a mature individual. We have to admit, there are a lot of us who lack style to begin with, making natural textured hair coarse in appearance. But if some divas would show up to class, we would be able to educate a hand full of our Sisters on how to wear natural with style. The Big Chop is not only attractive but it displays courage and strength that not many people, not even men, have themselves. A confident woman, with a tea spoon of style, will always reign supreme. Some sisters believe that Big Chopping their hair will make them look like a boy. From a loving man’s perspective, as long as you do not think like a man, or attempt to act like one, you will always be viewed as a woman; no matter what Steve says. A real man will never look at a woman and see a boy; that is a woman’s insecurity that she needs to throw in the trash. That is a Sister with a coarse mind.

How can you expect a Nation full of conformers to teach you how to really value and appreciate your true self?

The hair that we ignorantly call coarse, has in fact been “good hair.” It was the Black men and women with afros who gave America its soul, rhythm, and blues. It is a symbol of Black Power; not power employed to destroy a nation, but the power to build and protect one. When we learn how to manage our natural hair, we will begin to refine ourselves as a whole. To feel that we will be unattractive, unloved, and discarded because of our hair texture is nothing but the voices of Uncle Tom and/or a field slave speaking to our conscious. Your natural beauty is tailor made to fit. Be strong, be real, be natural, and discover you. There is no better love than self love.

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4 Comments on “Of Coarse! … My Hair?”

  1. NaturallyTee
    August 9, 2011 at 9:42 pm #

    I really LOVED this. I do notice the stigma attached to being a black woman with natural hair (and even had a few people try to say I look “more refined” the one time I had a blow out) but (I am an eternal optimist), I also have started to notice a turn in the tide regarding us as well. While I have only been on #teamnatural for 2 years, it has truly been a mental and spiritual journey I am so happy to have embarked on. Before my BC (big chop) I had been getting relaxers since age 4. I had no idea what my hair even looked like unprocessed! But I found myself fascinated by the few women I saw in their natural state and how their hair was so BEAUTIFUL and UNIQUE-not ONE blended in with the crowd!
    Now,i can honestly say I started a love affair with my hair 2 years ago, and have only grown to love it more everyday (even on the days it has a mind of its own). I feel like I am just discovering who I really am after peeling back the layers I was hiding under. I could say so much more but I’ll stop this novel now. Again, love the site-definitely will be coming back.

    • August 10, 2011 at 12:14 am #

      Say what! Say what! lets go #teamnatural! 🙂
      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on this post. You have been getting relaxers since you were four…. wow! I just did some research and posted an article on relaxers; my future children will not have them applied at all!!

  2. August 8, 2011 at 11:01 pm #

    Beautiful. I thank you so much for this lesson on the beauty of our hair. One thing I’d like to point out, if you don’t mind, is that a “big chop” isn’t always necessary in order to transition hair back to the natural state. If a lady so chooses, she can simply stop relaxing her hair, make use of protective styles (buns, twists, bantu knots, etc.) and cut off the relaxed hair gradually as the new growth comes in. I wear my hair relaxed but refuse to relax my daughter’s hair, instilling in her that her ringlets and corkscrews are beautiful (and they are). Besides that, she knows that it’s not what’s on your head that counts, it’s what’s in it. Thank you again for your encouraging words and I can’t wait to let my baby read this.

    • August 10, 2011 at 12:09 am #

      Thank you for taking the time to read and on comment on this post. I am not an advocate for relaxers, but I am down for whatever makes a woman happy. Check out my post on relaxers… if and when you get a chance. Thank you again for the support.

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