This is why I RARELY compliment straight hair…

This is how I'm currently wearing my hair. Shoot, I thought I was looking pretty cute!


Yesterday, I’m in Dollar General when this young lady’s hair caught my eye. Walking past her, I turn around to get a better look. Yep, someone most definitely did a really good job on her two-strand flat twists, which aren’t normally done on permed hair. Usually, permies get “twisties” and they’re done with a single loc of hair that’s jelled to the max and twisted close to and secured near the scalp with a rubberband. Her rock hard two-strand twists were large, parted in a swirl that allowed them to converge in the back into a donut bun that was fashioned half way up and positioned slightly to one side. Then she had these flat ribbon-like tendrils that had been jelled  and flat ironed to cemented perfection coming out the middle of the donut.

When she notices that I’ve discovered her giving my hair the once over, she glances quickly away to make eye contact with me as if I’ve “caught” her doing something bad. Then in a typical permie fashion says, “And they can press your hair too.”

Despite being on her cell phone, I stopped her and complimented her hair. She pulled the phone away from her ear and said thanks. I took that as an opening to ask her if I could really see her hair. Now if people are receptive, I’m a touchy feely person, and I physically turned her head so I could see the back.   

 Yeah…most definitely well done.   

For my taste, the two-strand flat twists were really the best part of the style, which should have stopped with the donut. Add the tendrils (don’t know what else to call them), and there was just too much going on with the style on her head. Nevertheless, it was neatly done and not nearly as busy as some permed sculpted dos tend to be.   

So I asked her who had done her hair. She named the stylist…someone at Youngblood’s. Now Youngbloods is a very old and well established barbershop/beauty salon in the hood. Many men have most likely gotten their first childhood hair cuts at Youngbloods. Though I’ve never had my perms done or touched up at this shop, their beauticians also have an impeccable reputation when it comes to doing relaxers and styling chemically treated hair. But the one thing I’ve always liked about them is that they’re one of the few salons around the city that continued to do press n curls when everyone else frowned and refused to do anything with natural hair. This was always a good thing, to me, because parents who did not want their small children and young girls to have chemical services at such a young age continued to have traditional thermal styling options. And having pressed hair, in my opinion, is a much healthier alternative to getting a perm.   

So I ask her if the Youngblood beauticians can style natural hair. Now I mean style natural hair as in SANS heat. I mean as in flat twists, two strand twists and other natural hair styles.   

Girlfriend smiles and says “Oh yes, they do natural hair.” Then I take my eyes off her hair to look at her, and she’s staring intently at my hair. When she notices that I’ve discovered her giving my hair the once over, she glances quickly away to make eye contact with me as if I’ve “caught” her doing something bad. Then in a typical permie fashion says, “And they can press your hair too.”   

Hmmm…really now? I give her an internal side eye look.   

So I say, “Well, I rarely heat style these days.”   

That’s when I get that look. You’ve probably seen it if you’re natural, and the person you’re talking to isn’t natural and you’ve complimented them on their hair. It’s the one that assumes you really don’t know what to do with your hair so that’s why you have it in braids, twists or some other unacceptable natural style (without fake hair attached) that shows off your naps. It’s the one that says “Well you really need a perm or SOMETHING cause you couldn’t possibly be wearing your hair like THAT on purpose.   

She just stares at me. Well dang it, she’s speechless so I smile and tell her again her hair is cute as I walk away. Guess the nice person is still on the phone because she puts it back up to her ear and continues her conversation.   

As I go on my way, I think, “Now I know that wasn’t my imagination…”   

This encounter just reminds me why I DON’T go out of my way to compliment folks with straight hair styles. It’s not that I can’t and don’t appreciate a cute permed do when I see one, it’s that permies (used to be one so I do understand the mentality) can’t appreciate natural hair. They literally think that your hair is undone and you need to do SOMETHING with it. And to that, I just say oh well, shake it off and continue with my shopping.   

In the end, I’m just glad I love and appreciate my own natural beauty enough to just do me with the realization that people like that will never “get it” until and unless they decide to go natural themselves.   

17 Responses to “This is why I RARELY compliment straight hair…”
  1. Lovely says:

    I know exactly what you mean when you said “Well you really need a perm or SOMETHING cause you couldn’t possibly be wearing your hair like THAT on purpose.”

    I had a lady stop me and ask where I get my hair done (btw both her and her daughter were wearing long microbraids and their edges were very thin). I’m guessing that she braids hair, I told her that I just wear my hair natural and she gave me a snotty “oh” and walked away.

  2. Tashina says:

    Is it wrong that I laughed at the “on purpose” comment? I get that look all the time, especially from younger people (…bout 30 and under-ish). I just shake it off and keep it movin’. What else can you do?

  3. maria davis says:

    I totally understand how you feel, cause I am a natural that once permed my hair. However, I will compliment a cute cut or style but not often at all. Now, I do go out of my way to compliment natural as much as possible. One thing that don’t do or ask a permie if the salon that they attend does natural hair. Most of the stylist that do hair in the salons are permed themselves, so that in and of itself turns me off from those salons.

  4. NubianPrize says:

    Tashina,it’s a shame you get that look from the under 30’s. That just shows how people my age & older who went thru the Black is Beautiful,Afro Sheen, HUGE afro era of the 60’s & 70’s TOTALLY FAILED to pass on that hair pride to a lot of the young people. I had a BAA
    (Big A** Afro) back then sometimes had my natural hair braided ( no extensions,all mine) & then had 28 yrs of curly perms & now am working on growing out another BAA. I never lost respect & love for my natural hair & often had my curly perms tight enough to look like my old ‘fro. For me the curly perms were easier to care for because there weren’t all the black developed natural hair care products that there are now & you were limited to products with mineral oil,petrolatum & sulfate shampoos.I’m a teacher & one good sign is that I see more little girls with natural hair in braid styles or press & curl instead of perms. For awhile there was a surge in kiddie perms but at least at my school I see more natural hair. HOWEVER !! The high schools & young college kids are all weaved up & have lace front wigs. The funny thing is that there seems to be a cut off point among adults so that I see more OLDER adults…..over 30’s all the way up to seniors sporting locs,sister locs, TWAs, & other natural styles.

  5. Anna Renee says:

    Thank God you for, and for all the other naptural sites out there, or there would be many many less natural sisters out here! Lets take heart that the blogosphere is breaking down sisters to do the natural style everyday–Im always reading about this sister or that who have “finally” after “much research and soul searching” decided to go natural!! They’re all so cute and Im not knocking but hoping the revolution continues….

  6. deminapia says:

    I too rarely give compliment to straight hair, the other day a girl with straight hair whom I could not service in my office for lack of paper work, called me a Kunts Kente Hair *****, I smiled and said thank you

  7. Van says:

    I’m Latina (half Mexican, half Puerto Rican) with frizzy medium curly hair (not tight spirals, not loose waves). I adore this blog and truly relate. Even some of my close friends will say, “You look SO much better now that you FIXED your hair.” or “You look so much more slim and professional with straight hair!” when I get my hair blow dried straight at the Hispanic hair salon biannually.

    Why does naturally curly, frizzy, or nappy hair have to be considered “broken” and in need of fixing? I also have had friends, acquaintances, and strangers suggest fancy conditioners to me like I don’t take care of my hair, I take exceptional care of it, jerks! No conditioner will give my hair mirror shine and luster, it’s just not part of my hair type.

  8. Nikkele says:

    I have had someone goes as far as to say if I permed my hair I would find a husband. WOW! I couldn’t believe that someone who came from the generation that marched with King and saw the rise of the Black is Beautiful movement would set me back to the pre-Emancipation days. My hair is not just hair, it’s a part of me, my culture, and my right to embrace my own aesthetic.

  9. LBell says:

    I quit giving compliments to relaxed heads years ago for the exact reason you and others here have described. The last three times I did it, the responses were pretty much the same: “Girl, you can get your hair looking like this too! Here, let me give you my stylist’s phone number.” Ironically, when I WAS relaxed, sisters weren’t giving up any information at all…but once I go nappy all of a sudden they’re just FULL of advice. The only people who get hair compliments from me are relatives or people who I know won’t go all perm-Nazi on me (yeah, I said it).

  10. SundayKnight says:

    Girl I feel you. I don’t want the permed hair sista get things twisted, so I don’t compliment them at all. To me they are narrow minded, that is why they have a perm in the first place, lol.

  11. Bee says:

    Why is it that people assume that young people don’t have pride in their natural hair? To be honest, the majority of people I know with natural hair are under 30. I know some older people who would have experience the 60s and 70s movement but they have perms and are forever talking about good hair and bad hair. Of those older people who have gone natural, after having a perm for many years, it’s because their hair was severly damaged. I can remember when I was going to a family get together when I was 11 and all the older people kept telling me that I needed to perm my hair. I have a cousin who got bald patches in her hair but will she stop perming it….NO. My grandma’s hair is really thin nowadays but will she stop perming it…NO. Growing up, all the older people in my family and in my area had perms, weaves or straightened their hair. So if you find that the young people that you encounter are not proud of their hair, rather than assuming it’s because they haven’t been given the hair pride message, consider that it might actually be that the people who should have been teaching them missed the message too.

  12. beadgyrl says:

    This girls reaction, and feedback was most definitely dis-heartening. She is ignorant of natural hair obviously, and has the most typical reaction of both men and women alike who do not understand or accept natural hair……other than the fact when they want to wear it as a one time style or fad. But as for me and many other naturals….it’s our way of life, acceptance and love for our hair. I get those “you need to get your hair done” looks almost if not everyday from someone ignorant, male or female. You know what? I could give a damn, because I am going to be me, with my 3 inch afro, and then some when it starts to get longer and I can experiment with more styles. We as black people need to stop the madness and get over trying to fashion our hair like whites, damaging it, ripping it, blow-frying it, and watching it fall down the bathroom sink! I agree in short, I hardly ever, if NEVER compliment permies. Because my minds and thoughts have drastically changed. I don’t view straight hair as beautiful anymore, and as a matter of fact, it looks very typical and cookie cutter to me lately. All I can say is to all the naturals out there. Continue to be strong, and encouraged, and BE BLESSED!!!

  13. T nash says:

    why cant black ppl get over themselves.

  14. I wore a puff for so long that I actually had another natural ask me if I was ever going to do something with my hair! I don’t think I had the discipline to hide my side eye and I said “Yeah, let it grow.” NEXT!!!!

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