YOU go get a perm, Dick.

I met a young lady a few weeks ago who broke my heart. A little. Since my arms were full, she – let’s call her Angel – greeted me with a warm half hug and a loving cheek squish followed up with a shower of compliments to my freshly chopped low fade. Angel went on to say she’d been natural before, but her husband (let’s call him Dick) told her to “go back.”

*sings whatcha say to me??! in my Sampha voice*

Smoothing her gelled nape, she claimed to be a lil rebel who let it get a little nappy before scheduling a retouch. Somehow I maintained an engaged, non-wtf expression as my stomach sunk a bit. We ended the segment with Angel saying she’d again return natural… one day.

Now I am no relationship expert but I know enough to know that when you love and when you’re in love, looks do not matter as much as they might when you’re an outsider looking in. But I also understand that you don’t want to lose who you were initially attracted to, especially if it entails sacrificing your lover’s health, right Dick?! Like gaining an unhealthy amount of weight or going in for elective surgeries, suctions and injections. I’ve seen men watch their wives wither away from cancer and chemo treatments, holding on even after her last heartbeat. So I know for a fact, through the eyes of a good person, character (and love) trumps appearance E V E R Y time.

But a relaxer? Dammit Dick! C’mon! I’m not judging (I’m judging) because Angel let you take the undeserved W, but really, you both lost. And what if you have a son? OMG what if you two have a daughter?! Or twin girls?? What will your choices + ideals teach them? Angel and I didn’t get that deep, but I’m guessing your views hurt her enough to open up to a stranger about her husband’s negative opinion. It’s fair to say I met a real life Unhappy Wife.

crwnd

I think we, Black people in the year 2017, know that CHEMICALLY relaxing + perming, especially for a long period of time, has great risks. We have to. If you don’t, please come out from under that huge rock, step into the 21st century + educate yourself. Look at the photos of the sometimes irreversible damage to our hair, scalp and psyche. I’d be all #teamhubby if you’d met and fell for an all natural Angel and she was now sporting a relaxer. But that’s not the case. Even if she’s a natural mess (which is tragic, but workwithable), Dick, you as her friend and life partner should have been tirelessly hunting down the nearest natural hair stylist and/or helping Angel find a formula to ease her hair struggles! You know, putting good use to some of those vows you took. I promise you it’s not that difficult with Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, FaceBook, Google, Bing, yahoo! answers, the girl with the fro in the drugstore, phonebooks, aunties, nieces, mamas, neighbors, cousins, co-workers, working thumbs and a voice.

Instead, what Dick’s telling Angel is that he cares more about her looks than her health. And happiness. Those vows, Dick! Those vows! Dick is telling Angel that her positive life changes don’t matter. Dick rests easy knowing that his spouse’s scalp is continuously burned by a cocktail of chemicals that will flatten and strip all life + uniqueness from otherwise strong, thick kinks and coils. What kind of man …?

Dick, if you’re reading, please know that I do not appreciate you or your kind shutting down the permanent wave that is natural hair. Sure it is just hair, but you’re an African in America and you know that collectively, hair is much much more than just hair to us. Our manes and minds have been pillaged for centuries by e v e r y o n e, including us! And here you are, perpetuating our enslavement and stifling our new growth (pun intended). Dick, you should be applauding the Black woman who chooses the natural route; although it may appear so, thanks to you/society/slavery/lack of support/Black codes/non-African hair promotion + fetishization/whitewashing/hair care aisles/self-loathing negroes/lack of resources/european beauty standards, it’s not always easy to let our natural selves be.

You chose one of the brave ones as a wife, you lucky Dick! You are so fortunate to have a smart, loving Black woman at your side who actually prefers to embrace her natural beauty in a world that condemns + mocks her entire being. Our crowns are a beautiful spectrum of curl patterns and textures and expressions that no other people can claim and we should be celebrating that, Dick. I know how divisive some pro-natural naturalistas can be and that’s not why I’m here. We’re all at different stages with different ideals and I can only pray that all African men and women see the power, strength + beauty in our natural selves. It’s a struggle to dismiss what we’ve been indoctrinated to define as beautiful. No fault of ours, but if we see someone trying to make that shift, let’s just back them for being courageous.

natblack

P.S. Shout out to Josie who rocked her natural out for the first time! Whoop! That’s a small step to giant! Keep inspiring 😉

photo © rachelstewartjewelry.com

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55 thoughts on “YOU go get a perm, Dick.

  1. Hmmmm?? I wrote about this awhile back. I’m all for natural but not for weaves. To me hair comes and goes but if a lady is constantly changing her doo, it’s hard to get an overall imagery of her. (Keep in mind I love head giving head massages and running my fingers through someone’s hair). You said it best that it might not be a big deal, but it’s still a deal to some people. What Dick said to his wife is a norm within our community. Does it make it right? No but let’s say if Dick (like myself) does not like weaves and relaxers and perms and his Wife decides to get them. I think this is case by case. What do you think?

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I’m all for naturals above everything, but I’m coming around on weaves. Some women may wear them due to illness or PERManent scalp damage, so I am trying to judge less. Even though some look a complete mess, who’s to say why one is wearing them in the first place? And I can no longer condone or promote relaxing knowing what I know now. There are other methods to straighten hair that don’t involve health risks.

      I think it is case by case and should be discussed within the relationship. I’m sure it’d be difficult for a man to accept the woman he fell in love with transforming into someone else. And a woman who is making such choices, switching is up all the time, clearly has some deeper issues. From my experience with friends who are constantly changing up their hair, there’s a lack of self love and they don’t know who they are. It’s also a distraction and a disguise.

      I’ve said before that hair isn’t everything but how you rock it says a lot about you. That’s to say a woman whose hair is halfway down her back with 50% split ends clearly cares about length over health. And a woman who you know has a healthy head of hair but is always covering it with someone else’s might just be lazy or not like the texture of her own.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Oh my goodness… I SO agree with Tareau in how perfect this response was Kelley. First off, let me say that I LOVE how you don’t immediately judge a woman for choosing to wear weaves. As you said, there are many reasons why a woman may be choosing to do so and we shouldn’t be so quick to judge without understanding.

        Condemning the health risks (both physical and mental) is completely understandable and I honestly find it beautiful that you even care for another woman enduring those risks.

        Watching your wife transform into someone different than the woman you fell in love with is not easy, I agree. But you hit it right on the head when you spoke to the man’s responsibility as her friend and life partner to not only accept but to involve himself in this journey as well. Life is about change and growth. When you marry someone, you should anticipate and revel in their evolution – as long as it falls in alignment with your principles and values. It may take time for you to adjust to the new look, but TOGETHER you will both do just that.

        As a woman who has worn weave for nearly 10 years, I can say that my reasoning for doing so was mostly related to my lack of self esteem. Just like you said – a deeper issue. BUT, switching the styles up was not for the same reason. There’s an excitement that comes with the versatility of trying new looks – like playing in my grandmama’s wigs when I was a little girl lol. For some (men and women), switching up their look is to keep things new and fresh. Even with this afro, I had to buy a few headbands because I was growing bored of the same look everyday. I love variety!

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Thanks so much for your testimony, Josie!

          We don’t always know why women do what they do; I’m notorious for chopping my hair down every few months just because I get tired of it. I see nothing wrong with a wig or straightening or a weave every once and a while either. But, like you said, it should be the individual’s choice to switch it up for fun or whatever.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. wtf! Why are you sharing this nonsense??! LOL I cannot compute! Cannot! The brainwashing has taken the soul of this young man! the results are ugly! There is nothing wrong with seeing beauty in other races, but you must FIRST recognize and appreciate that beauty in yourself and your people! I don’t like hearing white guys say they don’t date white women or anyone saying crap like that. Shit bugs me out yo! Just.. weird! Fetishy.

            What a dumbass. i know he’s like 20 but dang. He was used as straight puppet to perpetuate this bs.. And other Black boys are looking at it like “yea, me too, bruh!” ugh. Breaks my heart.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. I know, I know. But how relevant was this based on what we’ve been discussing?! The last comment you made – about other black boys looking at this – is what made me think of you. It reminded me of the comment you made about what impression interracial dating will have on our kids. Because this is learned behavior. He’s too young to have developed thoughts such as these on his own. He is only following example from the men that he observes. Feeds right into what you were saying. Wow!

            Like

          3. This just makes me sad! Think of all the Black kids growing up lost without any positive Black influencers in their LIVES. They look at tv or the internet and see themselves in these lost kids and that leaves an impression.

            Dang it.. I’m going to get a meatball sub, some ice cream and a box of turtles to eat in my bed.

            Liked by 1 person

    2. Totally pulling the least important message out of this comment, but I can’t resist. I cuddled with someone since my natural hair journey began. As I laid my head on his shoulder, he ran his fingers through my thin little curly afro. He would grip bunches of my hair snugly before releasing them. It was such a new experience and I can’t tell you how awesome it felt lol. It was…warm and endearing. lol. That’s all…

      Liked by 3 people

  2. You gave that Dick a good talking to girl!
    Lol!
    I agree, if he loved her and respected her decision to be natural he should’ve worked with her to find someone to help her if she was struggling; not just because it’s “nappy.” Of course I put nappy in quotes because that’s some old BS
    And YAAASSSSS, she is an UNHAPPY WIFE on the low-low if she is overly compromising.
    Great post lady!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Haha thank you! I don’t know what the conversation was like or if Angel put up a fight, but I don’t understand how a man wouldn’t support such a healthy positive change. And it is so humid in summer and rains so much here, the upkeep seems like such a waste of time!

      And I have no strife with the term nappy, but I understand why some do.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Having rotated around the sun as many times as I have, I have concluded that some people, both men and women, have little to no desire to entertain or respect the choices of others -regardless to whether they are positive or not.
        The key is to really dig deep before getting married. Some of this selfish behavior is revealed in a myriad of ways–Early detection is the key. LOL!!!

        Liked by 3 people

  3. What a shame. My husband loves my natural and if he didn’t he would have to deal. The one thing I don’t get is why he is controlling her hair game when he doesn’t have to maintain it. SMH.

    Congrats to Josie for stepping out into her realness!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What in the world??? I know you were writing to Dick, but you know I’m worried about Angel. I would bet money that she’s compromising in other ways too; this is just the one she chose to share right quick. It was the one that was the latest compromise. I’m concerned because I see this all too often. I honestly cannot imagine anyone suggesting that I go back and get a relaxer, much less my husband. He would have to just be bothered, and if it bothered him that much, then he can be annoyed on the other side of the door. I have so much to say about this one, but I’ll end it here. Thanks for the shout out! So sad to hear about this woman and her hubby.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Awww thanks! But really and truly, even when I had a relaxer, I used to do what I wanted with my hair and dare ANYBODY to say anything. People would ask all the time, “What does Dwight think about you cutting/coloring your hair?” My response was always the same. It’s my hair! Who cares what he thinks? Okay. I’m done for real. As you can see this really bothered me lol

        Liked by 1 person

  5. When President Obama won his second term, I (and several of my friends) really wanted him to grow his hair out and freak out all those racists and bigots in congress, the senate and well, the nation! Sadly he didn’t. Obviously I can’t understand the full depth of what you talk about but even for me, I have comments all the time of people asking why don’t I color my hair, why don’t I change it like _____ or _____. I’ve shaved off most of my hair and the rest is a solid salt and pepper. Hey, that’s me, take it or leave it. No more chemicals, no more anything. Love this post! It relates to all people on some level, if people simply opened their minds, eyes and hearts and had a serious look at the stereotypical pressures of our current culture. Unfortunately people are blind to this reality. I dearly hope to see a change within my lifetime but I’m 52 so…. :/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Who knows? I never thought I’d see anyone that resembles the Obamas in the white house, proof that all things are possible! But, I know what you mean; we have a ton of reversing to do before we have a world of people happy with themselves and each other.

      Thanks for your honest feedback!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This is real. Dang, I feel bad for Angel – as what Dick has said is such a profound invalidation of who she is and who she wants to be. I see this with my sister and my niece all the time. The hair of black women is more than just hair, it is a political statement. I understand some women wear wigs and weaves for health reasons, but I think most of it is a consequence of enslavement and colonization.

    Great piece!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Darryl. It is rough because we’re told, from a very young age, that we aren’t naturally beautiful and we should alter our appearance just to make others comfortable or fit in while non-black women can just be, as you’ve stated before. And when we finally get the confidence to share a better version f ourselves, this happens. And it’s funny because even with straightened hair and other tweaks to our character and appearance, we’re still devalued + outcast.. but that’s a whole other post! Thanks for your feedback.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. ⭐ Very intriguing article, Kelley. ⭐
    I hated my straight hair. I permed it a lot, to make it very curly. I wanted a big beautiful afro, and managed to attain that with all the harmful chemicals you spoke of. Of course, one day my hair gave up. I had very few hairs left on my burnt scalp. It took years for my hair and scalp to be healthy again.
    I might sound like I’m from Mars, but in truth, I’m Canadian.
    You dove into many topics in this article: loving yourself, what is a healthy relationship between a man and a woman, the power, strength + beauty in their natural selves that African men and women should see, basic health sensibility and patience, understanding and growth.
    I think this is a very positive blog. I think you are a wise person.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I absolutley LOVE this. For me it all comes down to a woman’s CHOICE. if a woman is rocking a relaxer or weave etc am all for it as long as it’s something that she wants to do. As soon as it becomes a decision based on a man’s opinion then at that stage am leaning allllll the way back and rolling eyes to all of that. If hubby’s love for her is based on her exterior experience then I feel very sad.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly! That is all I ask, to do what I wanna do with my damn hair and still garner your love, protection and friendship! We’re policed all day, up + down, side to side; can I at least rock my hair how I want?

      Thanks so much for tuning in and your spot on comment. It’s sad that her husband’s love is conditional. Who know what else he’s hindering?

      Liked by 2 people

  9. I remember when relaxers were so in. None of us knew the damage it would cause to our hair…my mom let me get a relaxer in 5th grade, and oh how I wish we had the knowledge. I have been natural for about 7 years and my hair is still damaged from the relaxers. It’s thinner… it breaks my heart because we should be proud of our natural hair and refuse to damage it, but just to have straight hair, we are willing to destroy the thick, curly, wavy, kinky…hair we have…the standard of beauty is against African Americans. Please check out my post “Beauty Is…” on my blog aladyhoodjourney.wordpress.com Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right! It was just what was expected and the burning and discomfort was just a normal part of the process. I think we as a people are at a turning point, but there are still SO many that desire that straight + flat. I live for the day we realize that we are the standard of beauty and we are SO beautiful in our many shades and expressions.

      Thanks for your testimony and the link, sis. I’ll definitely check it out 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Thanks for the post.. I’ll never date/marry any man that doesn’t love my natural hair as much as I do.. This is really incredibly sad and close-minded.. A relaxer isn’t EVER going to be an option for me and I will really teach my daughters to love their hair as much as I do.. There is obviously a lot of work to be done in the natural community still.. Thanks for the post !!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Of course! We should all love our natural selves, right. Be our own unique standards of beauty.

      Thanks for tuning in! Your children and husband are/will be fortunate to learn from you.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Just found this. just read this. just loved this!
    The transition from perm to all natural is a true process and challenge within itself. to simply “go back” to perm….lawd. and yes, maintaining the all natural is in itself a challenge because finding the product that works for your hair is no easy task at times. but like you said, I’m not judging (maybe a little). everyone knows what sacrifice they’re willing to make for their hair….their marriages….themselves??? To each his own. I’m sticking with this afro-puff 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! Thanks for reading and your comment. I love when my sisters embrace their natural beauty! It’s sad that we have to say it, but it really is courageous in this society.

      Like

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