Dating, Relationships, & Sex, Race & Politics, Theory & Essay

Ask A VSB: He Hates My Natural Hair!

Cute Lioness style.

(Damon’s latest at Madame Noire advises a woman whose boyfriend isn’t a fan of her new hair)

Hey Damon,

I recently decided to cut my hair off and go natural. I made the decision on a whim and I felt empowered doing it and I love my new TWA. But my boyfriend absolutely cannot stand it. This is who I am so I’m wondering whether or not our relationship stands a chance? What do you think?

-Newly Natural

Dear Newly Natural,

That’s a tricky question, for many reasons.

It’s possible that he doesn’t dislike your natural hair, just the particular natural hairstyle you have. Just as there are dozens of different things women can do with weave or relaxed hair, there are dozens of different “natural” hair styles — twists, afros, short dreads, long dreads, braids, etc.

I bring this up because it’s often implied that if a Black man doesn’t like a Black woman’s natural hair style, he’s a self-hating slave to the euro-standard of beauty. And while that may be true in some cases, usually it just comes down to a man getting used to his woman with a particular hairstyle, and not immediately feeling the change.

Also, although men are the ones who get criticized for being upset about a woman’s hair change, many women actually would feel the same way if their bf/husband made certain hair-related changes. For all the women attracted to and/or dating men with dreads, I’m sure you’d feel a certain way if you came home one day and he cut all of his hair off. Same with the women who attracted to and/or dating men with full beards. And, I personally know that my fiancee would have an issue if I went all Pusha T on her.

You also have to consider the fact that maybe it’s not about the hair. Perhaps he’s upset you made that decision without discussing it with him first. Not asking permission, mind you. But discussing it. Perhaps the hair issue is a symptom of a deeper communication problem.

That said, a situation like this can say a lot about your relationship’s health. Basically, if he’s truly into you, he’ll eventually get over it and get used to your new hair. Maybe he won’t ever love it, but it won’t be a deal breaker either. And, if the hair continues to be an issue, he’s not the one for you.

Sincerely,

Damon Young

(Read the rest at Madame Noire)

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a contributing editor for EBONY.com. He resides in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes.

  • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com/ Tristan

    I don’t even wanna see what the Madame Noire comments look like

    • Epsilonicus

      Amen. I hate that place…

      • Val

        Lol. Why? It’s actually better than most of the women’s sites I’ve seen.

        • Epsilonicus

          The comments are horrid.

        • Vanity in Peril

          I un-liked their Facebook page earlier in the week. I detest their site.

          • Val

            Really? They aren’t perfect. But, like I said I haven’t found any sites for Black women that are better. Do you know of any?

    • The Champ

      it’s not that bad and sh*t

  • PivotTable

    People like what they like.

    That said… the one thing that grinds my gears is the black man who hates all things weave, relaxer, and heat related, and then only posts IG pics of women with the type of natural hair he deems appropriate. He’s the type to not let a 4C gal be great.

    Harriet Tubman ain’t risk her life for that bullshit.

    If you’re going to walk in hypocrisy, you’re better off being resolute in your preferences.

    • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

      I wrote a short blurb about black men wanting black women with Tracee Ellis Ross textured hair and nothing coarser than that lol

      • PivotTable

        LOL at nothing coarser than that.

    • The Champ

      what’s a 4C gal?

      • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

        Think Lupita Nyong’o

    • Hollywood Cole

      So if you dislike something fake you’re a hypocrite if you don’t like everything that isn’t fake?

      • PivotTable

        I was thinking of the ones who say things like “I love all natural women.”

        Perhaps hypocrisy was the wrong word. Also their preferences only reinforce the hetero women who care about their opinion to wear all the fake things. Vicious cycle.

        I more or less don’t care for men or women who make it their mission to dictate what other’s should do with their hair. Mind your own. While I don’t use relaxers or anything chemical (it’s by far the most damaging thing one can do to their hair… that goes for men and texturizers too) I do enjoy the following:

        -my au natural texture

        -utilizing knotting and braiding methods to try different textures in my hair

        -occasionally braids, but not too much because it pulls at the hair

        -an old fashioned blow out and rodding. Every now and then my inner diva just wants to let my hair rock out in its max length and an anchor woman coiffe

        -wigs! all of dem!

        -an impeccable sew in/cap. I think Skye Townsend is the best example of how a weave should look, if you need examples: http://vinebox.co/u/wivbDwl6UTt

        I have no qualms about liking all of these things. They’re all my hair. Either it grew out of my head or I paid for it.

    • Brandon Allen

      I think men just don’t want women to look like them…if you’re rocking the short fro or a fade you need to put some glitter or something in there…dye it…something…

      • http://trulytafakari.com/ dtafakari

        Does that mean that men with long hair look like women? (Not necessarily). Women with short hair don’t look like men 100% of the time, either; there’s more to femininity than hair, no?

        • Brandon Allen

          Of course. There are plenty of more important things about a woman that signal femininity…but I know plenty of women that don’t like men with long hair…and if a man decided to grow long dreads or something they wouldn’t like it. I’m speaking in generalizations but there’s truth in it. I was just playing around but there’s something to feminizing short hair to make it dissimilar to a man’s cut. I feel like that goes across racial lines as well.

        • Brother Mouzone

          “Does that mean that men with long hair look like women? (Not necessarily). Women with short hair don’t look like men 100% of the time, either; there’s more to femininity than hair, no?………………
          …………………………………………….
          Again, piggy backing on my earlier post, i think people tie masculinity and femininity to certain looks, right or wrong. I know several women who think guys with long hair or pony tails are soft and weak regardless of whether or not they’re muscular. Usually, a woman who has short hair but is still thought of as ultra-feminine, has a combination of pretty face, nice shape, etc.. that “make up” for the short hair in the minds of many men.

    • Jay

      Harriet Tubman ain’t risk her life for that bullshit. #LMBO #DEAD

  • Merri

    Ugh, I wish I would have followed Tristan and not looked. It comes down to how long you have been dating and how committed you are to one another. It is a big change to get used to for yourself, and I imagine the situation is not helped by an unsupportive partner, especially when you value their opinion. Examine if the relationship is worth working on. I would hate to see someone lose a real connection over a hairstyle. That’s the thing, it’s both “just hair” and then so much more. It’s a learning moment for both parties. I also find that men generally love long hair, no matter the texture, whether you grow it, buy it or borrow it, real talk.

    • The Champ

      LOL, the comments there weren’t that bad. i actually was pleasantly surprised.

  • Mr. SD

    I’ll never understand weaves. My moms and sisters have had it for years. Its looks like a lot of work to maintain and at the end of the day its not real. I’ll take any kind of hairstyle, short long dreds or natural or even permed..but that weave drives me crazy…

    • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

      Weaves serves various purposes for various women. Some women just enjoy the added length and volume that it gives them, thus, making styling options much easier for them. Some women enjoy weaves because they aid in helping to protect their natural hair. I like weaves for the latter reason. I’m at a point where I’m concerned about retaining length and doing so involves using protective styles for me. I can maintain my natural hair under the weave without destroying any new growth.

      Men are entitled to love or hate weaves though. There are plenty of women who don’t wear them :-)

      • Mr. SD

        That makes sense..But can I ask – Ya’ll do so much to protect and maintain your natural hair and then once its long and looks good (and I’m assuming manageable) ya’ll cut it off and start all over again. That’s confusing as hell. Why do ya’ll do that?

        • http://trulytafakari.com/ dtafakari

          Versatility. Sometimes our goal isn’t to have long flowing (or fro’ing) hair; we like different styles. I was natural six years, cut it all off. And 3 weeks ago, I cut it all off again on a whim. Don’t be confused…just know women like good changes in themselves.

    • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

      Why not? Why is having a woman with short hair such a negative trope for some men? Hair grows at a rate of about half an inch/month. It’s a conglomerate of dead cells pushing their way out of the body. Why are men so stressed about it? It’s hair lol So what if she grows it out to 24 inches and hacks it off. Did her personality change? Is she no longer the caring, loving woman that she was when you first met her?

      • Mr. SD

        Short hair is all good. But we are men. We keep the same haircut for 20+ years..lol We’re simple minded to a certain degree. If we get use to a physical aspect – specifically on our lady – we don’t really expect it to change drastically. We keep drawz with bullet-holes for 6+ years because of comfort. You can’t expect much from us..lol

        • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

          So because y’all do the same routine for umpteen years women have to follow suit? I’m not sure I’m understanding you.

          • Mr. SD

            No no you don’t have to follow what we do but we’re routine based for the most part. Change is all good, but physically (for lack of a better phrase) we want the cow how we brought it..

            • http://trulytafakari.com/ dtafakari

              “Change is all good, but physically (for lack of a better phrase) we want the cow how we brought it.”

              And this is largely an unreasonable expectation. Peoples’ bodies change, including men’s bodies. Hair is ESPECIALLY changeable. You are never going to keep any “cow” how you bought it.

      • h.h.h.

        Why is having a woman with short hair such a negative trope for some men?

        speaking for self, personal non-negotiable preference.

      • Val

        Aren’t we all taught from birth that long hair is to be admired and desired?

        • http://vagabondaesthetics.tumblr.com/ Ricky

          It’s culturally ingrained. Maasai women all have short hair because it’s considered beautiful in their culture.

        • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

          No.

          • Val

            Nice avi, AP. :-)

            • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

              I’m just here trying to thirst trap now.

              • Kinghenry2007

                …..you might get yourself “chose” on account of it.

    • Tia_Sunny

      I feel many types of ways about weaves, I feel like it is conforming to western ideology of hair, I feel like it is easier to manage, and I feel like a completely different person with one on.

      • Mr. SD

        How does having one make you feel?

        • Tia_Sunny

          Its make feel happy and more feminine, hope I did not sound a bit ignorant there :/

          • Mr. SD

            Not at all, its how you feel.

          • Brother Mouzone

            “Its make feel happy and more feminine”…
            …………………………………
            See, even a lot of WOMEN feel that way.

  • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

    Why do women have to consult with their significant other about a change in hair? I could see if women were out here going from brown/black/honey blonde to hot pink. But just cutting off length in favor of natural hair?

    Maybe it’s because I’m not used to the dynamics which govern being a partner within a relationship but I find it silly to think that a decision about hair needs to be discussed before myself or my partner decides to make a change in that area. A woman could lose 10lbs and not have to consult her man though. He’d have zero issues with that being done without talking about it first.

    • The Champ

      “Maybe it’s because I’m not used to the dynamics which govern being a partner within a relationship”

      Yeah, I think this is it. Your partner doesn’t govern you, but if you’re planning on changing a look you’ve had for years — or making a big purchase, or applying for a new job, or starting a new diet — a simple “Hey, I’m thinking about doing this.” goes much longer than no communication. I mean, this person isn’t your roommate. They’re your partner.

      Admittedly, this is something I struggled with when I was younger (and still struggle with at times now). My default was “So what if I’m thinking about buying a $800 TV? I can afford it and it’s not affecting her life, so why do I need to share?” But, I’ve learned (rather, I’m still learning) that, when it comes to communication, more is better than less.

      • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

        Still, I mentioned losing weight not being something that would garner contempt from men. Men place this high value on women possessing long hair and get offended when women deviate from this. Why? Do men just like long hair that much on a woman? Why do black men get so stressed out over this? I’m curious. Enlighten me.

        • The Champ

          You have to consider scale, as well. Just as a person changing from brown to dark brown, or 8 inch locs to 6 inch locs wouldn’t really be anything worth discussing, neither would someone losing 10 pounds. But, something that would affect the way you look (like going from long to short/bald or losing 60 pounds) warrants a conversation.

          Granted, sometimes people have health issues that cause their appearance to drastically change, and if you’re going through chemo, I doubt any man who truly loved you would be mad because you lost your hair and some weight. I’m talking voluntary changes, though.

          And, as far as hair-stress goes, it’s a socialization thing — we’re just used to seeing men and women with certain hairstyles — with some roots in science (a woman having long and healthy hair is usually an indicator that she’s young/healthy/fertile, etc). Also, it’s not just a Black man/Black woman thing either. In fact, considering stuff I’ve read/seen, Black men may actually be the least anal about women’s hair. A White/Hispanic/Asian woman cuts off her hair, and (generally speaking) it’s practically Armageddon to their men.

        • Brother Mouzone

          Do men just like long hair that much on a woman? Why do black men get so stressed out over this? I’m curious. Enlighten me……………………
          ………………………………………………..
          I don’t think the long hair thing is just relegated to Black men. Indian, hispanic, white, asian men generally prefer long hair…I said GENERALLY…this is a massive generalization on my part. Actually, out of all the groups I mentioned, I think Black men care the LEAST about it. You can’t go by what the media TELLS you we like. That being said, I think that men in this world, in general, tie femininity to hair length, just like women, in general, tie masculinity to things like muscles, deepness of voice, height, etc..Personally, I just like feminine women, regardless of hair length. That can mean her face, her shape, her voice, her style, etc..I think that MOST brothas feel this way, but those media images are hard to ignore and I can see why people would think we pray at the alter of the “long hair gods”.

          • Mr. SD

            Totally Agree

    • http://trulytafakari.com/ dtafakari

      This same thing happened to me. My then-bf was strongly against me going natural because he said Afros were ugly. I cut my hair within the month and broke up with him within six months.

  • Brandon Allen

    I just think that initial chop can be difficult surprise for some dudes especially if their relationship ain’t all that tight. I’m a fan of natural. If your wearing a weave you’re natural anyway you’re just wearing a hat.

    • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

      Awww “you’re just wearing a hat”

  • Tia_Sunny

    Its crazy how valuable hair is in our community.

  • kidvideo

    I’m surprised no one has posted up the “Good or Bad Hair” musical scene from School Daze…

    I guess that’s why i’m here…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HUUvQ3Yac8

  • Ohmygoodness

    I think this really may be a black people issue for obvious ‘good hair’ ‘bad hair’ reasons.

    I doubt when a white woman or non-black woman hacks off her hair and gets a pixie cut she consults with her husband or boyfriend, it may take him a little getting use to but I doubt he’s going to get all Homie Quan about it.
    White Man: “Oh wow you cut your hair”, Black Man: “Why didn’t you tell me you were gonna cut your hair.”
    I’m sure some black women may not take kindly to their men deciding to grow dreads or a fro, or deciding to cut off his dreads or his fro, but most women won’t care or will probably get over it very quickly. Not to mention I doubt most men would consult with their girlfriend/wife before making their decision to grow or cut their hair.

  • Ashley

    In my experiences, men really don’t care HOW you wear your hair as long as it looks NICE. Period. Relaxed, natural, weaved up, twisted, braided, short, long, blonde, black; they don’t care. Either of those styles can be beautiful or a hot azz mess. Regardless of the style, if you don’t take care of your hair it will look bad. Just look NICE.