Growing up, bullying was present just like any other kid or teenager my age at the time, we all experienced it in some way, shape or form. This is normal during your pre-teen years where your body may be going through apparent changes that are noticeable to your peers around you. Sometimes bullying can be a good tool to use towards building your own character, but that is not me condoning the activity at all. No one should ever be made to feel less than someone else just because you do not look like the same.
The main thing I was bullied for growing up, would be my skin complexion and my hair texture and length. Now when most people think of the term “bullying” they automatically go towards that typical view of that kid that is two times bigger than you, placing you into a trash can in the hallway of your school, but that is not how things went for me. I was never subject to any physical bullying during school, most was verbal and emotional. I would always laugh it off though, of course trying to make it seem like it didn’t bother me out of fear I would be picked on even more and maybe even worse if I showed that this was in fact hurting me deep down.
I was never that girl with the long, bouncy hair. Nope, mine was your typical 4a hair type even back then, especially with me being a kid. My grandmother often placed those huge ribbons and bows in it to try and make my one inch braids look more appealing. Yes, I hated it and the kids at school never made it any better. I was often called “crunchy” simply because my skin color was so dark and my hair was not as moisturized as it should’ve been at the time. I was often told that I did not have any edges, or that my hair would never touch the back of neck or my shoulders. These hurtful words were often seen as jokes to others, but I made sure that I remembered everything that was said growing up and used it as ammunition towards bettering my hair care as I got older. Now what is surprising to me right now in this day and age, is that I am still seeing women…..women of color literally bullying others online for their hair practices to this day! Who knew we haven’t moved on from this ya know? It has mainly been those still relaxing their hair speaking poorly about those who choose to not place any relaxer in their hair at all and I often find myself questioning why this is?
Why are women who prefer to not straighten their hair seen as being below those who do? I mean lets face it, if it wasn’t for those chemicals straightening your own hair, if you do still relax, would your hair not look the exact same as someone who chooses to not straighten their hair? At the end of the day, we all have natural hair that comes out of our heads so why bash those who prefer not to straighten? When I first decided to go back to the natural world after many years of straightening my hair with heat and chemicals, I was met with SO much backlash for making a decision for my own hair. Again, it was either I did not have any edges, or my hair was not growing. Luckily for me, my hair has incredible shrinkage so what may look short to you, could be waist length hair in reality, never judge a book by its cover. Another thing that surprised me with this new trend of hair bullying coming out of the relaxed hair community is that these are African American women doing so to their own kind. Lets face it, we all have a hard enough time with other races and nationalities accepting how our hair is and how we want to wear it, so why add on to that? Is it that women with relaxed hair are seen above those with natural hair and feel as though they are more accepted? I mean again, without those chemicals your hair is the same as any female who grows their hair naturally.
The only conclusion I could come to after reading so many random posts about how the natural hair community is this and the natural hair trend is that, is that we are still stuck in the past and that crabs in a barrel effect is still going on among the African American community. Back in the day, we were all told that if you did not straighten your hair to look like the Caucasian lady’s hair on the front of these glamorous magazines, you would not get that dream job that you always wanted. We were told that if you did not straighten your hair, that you would not find that dream husband and start that dream family that you have always dreamed of. Basically that straight hair = success. This is the same notion that I am getting from those who bash women of color who do not wish to straighten their hair. When you tell a woman of color who is natural that her hair is ugly, and nappy, you’re basically telling her that she is not good enough by being herself. You’re basically telling her that she is in fact ugly and that she does not matter until she begins to straighten her hair again. Some use that argument that relaxed hair is healthier than natural hair which could be true…..to an extent. But NO hair is good if you do not take care of it. It doesn’t matter if you go every three weeks on time to all of your hair appointments and receive your perm or relaxer on time every single month, if you do not take care of your hair properly, it will be bad. It doesn’t matter if you do your twists outs every night, if you’re not washing and taking care of the hair, it will not be good, this is all just common sense though your own personal hair care routine will determine whether or not your hair is healthy or not.
I think it is time that we all think about the choices that we make when we decide to bash someone simply for their hair among the African American community. Your jokes and rants are not funny to anyone whether natural or relaxed. Bullying and belittling those around you is NEVER cool nor justifiable. There is no reason or purpose for it other than making you feel good about yourself at the expense of someone else. Instead of shaming those who do not practice what you practice, how about sharing tips of making things better? Why not embrace the fact that these ladies are trying to learn about taking care of themselves on their own without spending out hundreds of dollars on hair salon visits (trust me everyone can’t afford to go to the salon every two weeks, we got bills lol!)? We are all beautiful in our very own unique way and it is time we embrace each other and the versatility of black hair.