I went on one of my very good friend’s tumblr to purchase some of his photography and saw that he posted an interview that I never posted because it had us in a bit of a beef. A while ago, I begged him to participate in our “Ask A Brotha Series”. After much hesitation, he finally agreed. When I received his answers I was disappointed and felt attacked. He dissed some of my questions, somewhat criticized natural hair bloggers and answered in a way that I had not expected.
In hindsight, I realize that not only did I force the interview on him, but that my questions weren’t the most informed, and that most of my disappointment had to do with my ego being bruised from not getting his stamp of approval because at the end of the day, that’s all I wanted… Below is his post prefacing his really dope interview and the interview it’s self. Check it out. *Keep in mind, I never said this blog was only for black women. (sigh)…
“An old friend recently began a natural hair blog for black women. Our relationship began with her as a mentee and later employee in a very rigorous activism network. We have both grown accustomed to a very tough-love, high expectation approach to our relationship over the years as I have watched her grow into a very successful and confident woman. She manages the blog with her best friend. They are both two beautiful biracial women with a mission to promote and celebrate Black hair in all it’s expressions.
While discussing the blog with her, I mentioned that she should be prepared to face some challenges. That not everyone would appreciate their mission in the same way, especially because of the writers’ background and coveted hair. Her approach is overwhelmingly positive and affirming not unlike many of the other popular sites within the same ilk. But the internet is full of opinions and politics- and black hair, in my opinion, was one of the biggest points of contention.
I have strong opinions on aesthetic issues- so when she asked me to interview for a new series interviewing men of color about their thoughts about natural hair- I told her I would pass. Before even receiving the questions, I had a feeling that she and her comrades would not like the answers. Plus the previous interviews had a very light hearted and polite approach. I knew my answers would sound harsh in comparison. But she insisted, and I sent her my responses. It didn’t go over well. She passed it around to her friends for judgement and yeah…. I guess I don’t play well with others.
Apparently I answered the questions way too seriously and they also took my responses personally and thought I was attacking their blog. So here’s the interview. *(I edited out some harsh comments on how I thought the a few questions were vague and repetitive. But that was common place in our relationship. I called one question dumb. In hindsight, I know that in particular was insensitive. ) “
How important is the hair of the woman you have interest in?
Hair is a part of what makes the person, so it’s important to me that she is comfortable with herself.
How do you feel about naturally kinky, coiled and curly hair? Is it attractive to you? Why or why not? I think it’s received too much negative and positive attention lately. I’m a firm believer that black is beautiful, but this is new emphasis on black hair culture has taken a beautiful and much needed sentiment, and fetishized it. Categories are now popping up everywhere, people are rushing to gain money and popularity off the new confusion through product placement and blogs. In some cases it seems that one anxiety was traded for another. Intelligence and confidence is attractive to me. If that’s reflected in their hair decisions, I love it.
If you see a woman with a weave or straight hair what is your initial perception of her?
(I assume you are referring to Black women. ) I try not to judge her or anyone, at least until I know them a better. For instance, she could be an actor and the weave is a part of her costume. She could have a high pressure job and her straight hairstyle makes it easier for her to get business done without distraction, until she gets in a better position. But if you’re asking me if I think she is brainwashed or self-hating, that’s not something you can tell simply by looking at a person’s hair. As far as straight hair goes, after you meet enough black people from all around the world, it’s not difficult to understand that our people naturally have all textures of hair. But if I see a weave and recognize it as a weave (and its very easy to fool me) and it looks raggedy or crazy, then I will assume that this sister needs to get it together.
When you see a woman with natural hair what is your perception of her?
This is a little different. I will usually assume that she is not afraid to be herself. It gives me a great feeling most of the time. It’s not as significant as when I see people who have naturally loose textures, because it’s very popular to have the bouncy, carefree curls (i.e. Corinne Bailey Rae). But when I see sisters with tight curls, shorter styles, and other things that are influenced by the African Aesthetic and not as mainstream- I get really inspired. I love to see that.
Is there a type of natural hair texture that you prefer?
No, I dig all different styles. Afros are always cute and have always been a favorite. But healthy hair is the most attractive no matter what the style. Also it’s very attractive to see a woman whose hairstyle compliments her overall look and personality. If it makes her smile stand out, its a winner.
Why do you think women, mostly women of color fear that men will find them to be less attractive once they go natural? Do you think that fear is justified at all?
I think that many women and women find mainstream eurocentric hairstyles more appealing in general as dictated by popular media. I believe many of the women themselves think they will be less attractive even though they desire a more wholistic and natural life. I think this conflict requires them to continue to put a priority on being attractive to guys as a opposed to being attractive to themselves. Inevitably they notice the men who disapprove of the look far more times then the brothers who appreciate it. It’s a pity.
Women all over the world seem to benefit from a more carefree attitude about hair. When I was young I would always notice how a ponytail was simply the convenient way non-black women and girls arranged their hair when they were in a hurry or exercising, etc. But for the black girls, the ponytail was this long ridiculously dramatic extension that they paid lots of money for special occasions like the prom or weddings. The same with the little up-do joint with the hair clip in the back. We paid money to create a hairstyle that was the hairstyle that white women wore to the gym. This was confusing to me. That’s when I began loving natural hairstyles on women of color. There is a large battle against perception of worth, in my opinion. As a photographer, I study the way images affect people. Its easy to notice that straight, long flowing hair and light skin are always the standards of beauty even among the “natural” hair set. Even if straight blond hair isn’t the goal, it’s apparent that long, loose (or the option of being loose) “carefree” hair that a woman can brush over her shoulders and out of her eyes like the tv starlets is the coveted look- this idea still seems to find it’s way into world of natural hair even in the locs community (long hair, don’t care). The direction is still towards a white aesthetic.
Why do you think hair is such a touchy subject for women of color?
Is this a real question? I don’t think it affects all women of color. Just the ones most affected by social perceptions of what’s normal. I do meet some women who simply do what makes them happy. They dont seem to be affected by these incessant conversations about hair. But most of the WOC I meet are dealing a serious transition from years of mainstream standards into a new way of seeing themselves and hair is always the central point. I don’t think it’s easy for them and I don’t think self acceptance can be found in a bottle- whether its Euro-Brand X or Ms. Sophia’s kinky curl shea pecan almond butter cream.
How do you feel about women who spend a lot of time, money and energy on their hair? I find it unattractive. I prefer women who spend time, money, and energy helping others or pursuing their personal dreams. (assuming their personal dream isn’t to have the best hair on the internet)I know many people who work or attempt to work within the beauty industry. Half of them are extremely vain and narcissistic and I think that makes them ugly, in-spite of having carefree curls and flawless skin. The other half try to cultivate beauty through self acceptance and natural holistic approaches. I see true beauty in this lifestyle.
Do you think men should have a say in how their significant other wears their hair? If that’s what their significant other wants…yea, if not, then no. wtf?
With all that said, how would you prefer your daughter (if you have one or not) to wear her hair?
If I have a daughter- I want my wife and I to raise her loving her natural hair features as much as she should love her natural skin features, her natural body features, her natural facial features, her natural arms, legs, fingers and toes. I want us to teach her to cultivate all parts of herself in a healthy, holistic and self-affirming way. We will teach her that she is beautiful and she is black, so black is beautiful. One thing I think all children should be taught is that African people have a truly unique feature, even more unique than our skin. The curliest of hair-rarely seen in other peoples. Everyone else’s
hair is more similar and ours is so different. This along with all the other phenotypical expressions that exist among black people is truly a unique gift worth celebrating.
Lastly, do you have anything else you would like to share with the masses?
A self-possessed woman is a rare and special person. Hair is only a small part of the bigger picture.
We were trippin. Reading this now, I appreciate his point of view & agree with him in a lot of ways. What do yall think?