Saturday, March 23, 2013

HairTroversy: Derek J Goes in On Natural Hair

By Tenisha Mercer

You'd think that if you were a hair stylist, that you'd at least be open to embracing natural hair. Consider that Black women are abandoning chemical relaxers like a good sale on Black Friday, it would be a good business move. And  especially when you consider that a whole lot of those who get weaved up have natural kinks and coils under their weave.

But not Atlanta salon owner and reality TV star Derek J. He went in on natural hair on an installment of his new show, "Fashion Queens," on Bravo, featuring fellow Real Housewives of Atlanta stylist Miss Lawrence and style maven Bevy Smith.

Derek J Not A Natural Hair Fan
Derek J said he is, "not a fan of the natural hair movement” and said  “natural hair is not for everyone.” Miss Lawrence didn't help, advising women with natural hair to "check their density" before wearing a fro.

Let me say this: Both Derek J. and Miss Lawrence need to have several damn seats. Natural hair is for everyone, if they choose.

Hair stylist or not, you can't dismiss the fact that less women are getting relaxers, of which sales have declined double digits since the last few years. That's a fact. Another fact: The same women that you talk about their natural hair may just be clients of yours; many naturals weave it up to protect their natural tresses from wear and tear.

Natural Hair Stereotypes
I'm all for women wearing their hair they way THEY want to, whether it's relaxed or natural. There isn't a "wrong" choice in my book. But I get absolutely tired of all the scapegoating when it comes to natural hair.

No other race of people are told, no demanded, to wear their hair in other ways than Black women and women of color.

Yeah, white folks may straighten their hair or dye it blonde, but for the most part, they don't get the same message that we do -- that our hair is bad, needs fixing, and a $4.99 box of perm is the way to "fix it."

All Naturals Aren't Alike
Does our natural hair look good all the time? No, but neither does relaxed hair. When it comes to natural hair, the way it looks is often a styling, products or learning curve issue (sometimes all three)  as we adjust to an entirely different way of doing our hair. 

I've seen some jacked up natural hair (and been the "victim" of it myself.) But I've also seen plenty of ends chewed up, dry, jacked up, scalp-burned, edges missing relaxed hair, too. And I've seen countless ratty, dishwashing smelling weaves. Does that mean that all "relaxed" hair  or weaved hair looks bad? No, I'd never say that.

So why do folks seem to paint natural hair with such a wide brush? Sometimes natural hair is on point,  sometimes it's not, just like any other hair style. And J and Lawrence both seem to confuse a styling and maintenance issue with a texture issue.

For every jacked up natural hair, I can show you countless examples of beautiful, lush natural hair.

Don't Give Natural Haters The Attention They Seek
You know, stories like these make me hate to want to give their ridiculous comments attention. Sometimes, I think they do it on purpose, just to get a rise.

Derek J. didn't let the conversation end there; He took to Twitter, tweeting that 'Natural Nazis" werengoing to hive him "all type so havoc," going so far as sharing tweets of people that agreed with his viewpoint.

Cue the "Celie" comments:

Screen shot 2013-03-18 at 10.53.46 AM

And, somehow, Derek J. intertwines his dislike of natural hair to racism. Really, bruh? Stretching, much? Sure, you are going to get called out in the natural hair community, because so many of us have been spoon fed the lie that our natural hair isn't beautiful.

Screen shot 2013-03-18 at 10.54.01 AM

So, yes, we are going to give you or anyone else who criticizes it the side eye, ESPECIALLY when it comes to letting you step anywhere up near our natural curls. You just might take some of that dislike out on our natural hair.

What do you think of Derek J. and Miss Lawrence's comments?

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