Why Naturals Need to STOP Calling One Another's Hair Ugly | KlassyKinks.com

Why Naturals Need to STOP Calling One Another’s Hair Ugly

Last week, I decided to do an impromptu, non-sponsored, let me see if my hair is long enough to style Get Ready with Me YouTube video. As I posted some teaser images, proud of my little version of the roll, tuck, and pin style that I frequently did before I cut my hair in February, something became clear – not everyone was impressed with my hairstyle. When I compared the back of my hairstyle to some other photos that featured women with wavy or blown out hair, as evidence of texture discrimination, a number of people responded that it was not a texture issue, but simply that my hairstyle was ugly.

For the record, I personally don’t care that people called my hairstyle ugly. After all, having an online presence subjects you to public scrutiny, and I’ve fielded many comments about my hair, life plans, and brand, that at this point I’m pretty immune to fake constructive criticism shade. However, I’m a lot more resilient – and used to comments about my hair – than the average woman with kinky natural hair, especially if they are a recent convert.

Here’s why it’s dangerous to call another woman’s natural hair “ugly”:

[Tweet “You risk undoing someone’s entire natural hair journey when you call their hair ugly”]

Based on the number of emails I get each day, I can tell you for a fact that there are thousands of women around the world who do NOT think their natural hair is attractive. Many of these women have very kinky hair, like my own, which is undoubtedly the least desired hair texture (except that now white women want our hair more than we do, smh). By telling someone in person, online, under your breath, or even just in your mind, that their hair is ugly, you risk undoing the journey towards self-acceptance that often accompanies one’s natural hair journey.

Now you may be thinking, well I’m not saying that the person is ugly, but that their hairstyle is. It’s not neat, defined, shiny, polished, etc enough.

This language of neat/polish/maintained hair SCREAMS respectability politics. The desire to have polished hair in America originated centuries ago during and after slavery as African-Americans wanted to appear more equal to whites. That’s why we started relaxing our hair in the first place! It’s a shame that people within the natural hair community have co-opted prejudices and language that the natural hair movement was created to resist. Natural hair comes in all shapes and sizes, colors and patterns. Whether or not it is neatly parted, has slicked edges, or an untamed kitchen, natural hairstyles should never be criticized as ugly, especially by fellow naturals.

[Tweet “Everyone’s natural hair journey is a personal excursion towards learning and loving their hair”]

The next time you don’t like someone’s hairstyle, mine included, here are a few things you can say instead of calling it ugly:
  • That’s not my favorite hairstyle of yours.
  • I like your hair better when it’s xyz.
  • That’s an interesting look.
  • I would never be able to do that style with my hair.
  • Have you heard of (insert blogger/hair guru here)? You should check out her videos.

These are still pretty shady things to say, but at least they don’t compromise the fundamental personhood of someone who is probably trying, just like you, to understand, maintain, and embrace their natural hair. Next time you fix your mouth to tell someone that their natural hair or hairstyle is ugly, just

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  1. I totally support your article. The path on self-acceptance for black women is already hard enough without having to deal with this kind of rude comments.
    Some people may have been bullied for being dark skinned, been called ugly for their kinky hair. Some may have lost a boyfriend on going natural or not being supported by their mom (and that one is tough) etc.

    So for those who -anyway- dared to be natural. They truly need support, extra-support and extra-care especially if they are at the beginning of their journey.

    But on our side, we need to be more confident, achieve this self-esteem/acceptance we are looking for. Meaning accepting that some people don’t like natural hair (white, black etc), accepting jokes about the natural hair movement, having some sense of humor, be able to look at it with distance and…accept criticism.

    Nobody likes being criticised especially with such an insensitive word as “ugly”. Ugly hair in Africa and African diasporas traditionnaly means kinky hair so with this history I understand where you’re coming from.

    But you cannot ask for followers not to negatively comment or criticise because sometimes…well…your shoes may not fit your look or you look is not that stylish, your purse can look cheap, your hairstyle may not be nice. (These are false examples)That’s actually part of the journey. Makes you grow and makes you better. You have to sometimes suck it up and take it.

    But I agree with you, ugly was a very poor choice of words. I’m not english-speaking and I’m sure I can do better to express the fact that I don’t like your hairstyle. I actually didn’t even see the video. The article was enough for me to comment.

  2. Just watched the video and read the first post with this hairstyle. I really don’t understand how or why someone wanted to call your hair ugly. I got type 4 (a,b,c…) nigerian hair similar to yours. I don’t put nearly as much effort into styling my hair when it’s not in 2 strand twists beyond two french braids. I’m lazy and hair is not my thing when it comes to styling. You actually took the time to come up with a quick, easy, neat, decent style – that looks good with your color in the front by the way – and someone calls it ugly. Yeah, okay. -_- I wasn’t completely sold on Jouelzy’s post about texture discrimination, but this kinda solidifies it for me.

    I liked your style. Keep doing you. And, as for all the unnecessary negativity… you can treat that like that old gum stuck to sidewalk: tiptoe around it and move along.

  3. I think I commented on the lady’s “ugly” comment. I mentioned it wasn’t nice but true. When I said that I meant the style itself. As a 4c’er our styles will never look the way we incision in our heads. Especially while its growing back after a cut. I hope the person that wrote the comment, sends you a message explaining her words and also reads this post.

    1. No, you didn’t type up anything, but you co-signed that it needed a deep condition and that it was ugly. As a fellow blogger, one who I’ve supported on and offline, and one who runs a page called Type 4 naturals, I was quite disappointed to see your negative stance on this issue. Even if you disliked the style – which is your opinion because other people liked the style – to support negative comments like that is very unsportsmanlike. I would NEVER come on your page and disrespect you like that by making disparaging comments about your hair health or style, but to each his own

  4. I saw that comment, and while I think it was rudely put, the style in question wasn’t my taste. That’s fine, and it actually had nothing to with the texture of your hair. It was the way it was styled. I really don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting to have your hair look a certain way if you style it. This whole notion that wanting neat and polished hair is linked to whiteness, or trying to reach an ideal is your opinion. Just like it’s my opinion to say that equating neat and polished with white and the opposite with ‘blackness” is BS. Black hair is kinky yes, it’s oily yes, but even kinky and oily hair can be styled beautifully all while maintaining and loving your blackness.

    Please excuse me because I’m generally just talking and not attacking. Any women of any race sleeps at night and wakes up to crazy hair, wanting to “clean” up isn’t living to some white ideal in my opinion. It’s simply wanting to style your hair. I wake up and my hair is super matted, doesn’t mean I’m gonna roll out of bed and go to my office job because I don’t want people to think i’m trying to attain some white ideals. No, I style it before I leave the house because regardless of my hair texture natural or permed, I want it to look nice because I was raised with a certain set of standards by two grandparents who were and are so pro black, they give your favorite activist a run for their money.

    I’ve heard all of those “codes” for my hair and trust me I can smell the fake comments from a mile away. I watched the comments on that thread, and I honestly think that it was just a bad hairstyle and the texture was NOT part of the problem. I even shared it on my own page and most of the comments were that this just was styled poorly, nothing to do with shine or texture.

    1. I support your comment but on “the equating neat and polished, shiny” part I do agree with Ijeoma. 4 hair texture and especially B and C cannot easily be shiny, neat and polished. It’s just not the nature of this hair. Unlike curly hair (3 type) who shines easily sometimes just with water and can easily be brushed neat. To do that on 4 hairtype you need a solid gel (and see how hard it is to find this kind of gel), you need to wrap your edges in a scarf…even with all those efforts it doesn’t last. Without mentionning, that this frequent sleek down look done with brushes, gel and scarf weakens your edges and put you at risk of having a thin hair line. I understand she meant kinky women can have sophisticated, glamorous, classy hairstyles but the shiny, neat, polished is a white standard that it is difficult to reach for certains and that our hair has its own beauty standards: well-moisturised, volume, lenght, nicely braided or twisted. The natural community talks a lot about “curl definition”. It’s the new straight. It’s an accurate term for 3 girls and even 4A. For me it doesn’t make sense for 4B and 4C girls…our hair is coily and not curly. So we cannot define curls. We can create curls with twists outs and braid outs but we don’t define pre-existent curls. And it’s fine. We still don’t appreciate our hair as it is without being blown out, stretched, conditioned, moisturised…the true self-acceptance is when you can rock your hair in its true self.

  5. Honestly I love your hair. I’m weary of the long, blond, bone straight wigs so many of us feel they need to look pretty.

  6. This is a very thoughtful post! I saw the FB post where you compared the textures. I got the point of the post, but many did not. I saw a comment that flat out said your hair was “ugly” & I was just like “WHOA!” (1) Everyone is certainly entitled to their opinions, but there are definitely ways to say things with a little couth! (2) I don’t have silky or wavy hair either. I see the love these hair types get all over social media. The love for this hair type doesn’t effect me, this isn’t shade, it’s just a fact. My hair is much like yours. I’ve gotten to the point where I try to follow women with hair more mine so when they’re showing their hairstyles, I know I can actually duplicate the style and what I can expect it to look like when I do. Every hairstyle any of us does isn’t going to be a hit (or a miss) but we’re all trying. Until you learn not to care about what people think about you or what you’re doing, it can knock you back a few steps when someone comes at you so harshly about your hair. For everyone returning to natural we should be uplifting because this journey is not always easy for everyone!
    This is what I will continue to stand by. My natural hair journey is just that…mine. Yes I’m sharing my hair journey with the world, with hopes to reach and inspire others. I see and hear everything that’s said. I will choose to use what comments and advice I can and not be swayed by the negativity! In life, you have to do you regardless of what people think. That just is what it is.
    Ijeoma, I love what you do, your hair is beautiful…color or not…and I enjoy seeing your styles!!
    (Sorry for such a long response!)