The Big Hair Debate: Natural Hair Versus Relaxed Hair

Which way to go? I guess this is a battle many young black women are facing these days. The recent surge of natural hair beauties has everyone scramming to obtain the look. Everywhere I turn on Facebook, I see another friend has done ‘the big chop’ and is crossing fingers that her hair will grow in its natural lustre.


I haven’t relaxed my hair in about six months; prior to this, I have only relaxed it once every four months, for a whole year. I figured I’ll make the transition slow after the natural hair bug bit me. I’ve told myself countless times, there is no way on earth I’m doing the big chop! Mainly because I look just like my father, and I can’t have anyone in doubt of my gender at this crucial point in my life.The irony of this whole transition for me is that I love weaves, I am the queen of weaves, I don’t fancy sitting in a salon for four hours while someone constantly tugs at my hair, trying to create those beautiful locks called braids, nor do I fancy the loss of my hairline after taking out my braids. I am not in any way an afro pop chic, so the entire time I’ve been trying to gently transition my hair, I’ve been covering it with weaves, feeding it with a mixture of castor oil, olive oil and argan oil, and occasionally, I throw some Amla oil into the mix.

I took out my weave last week Friday and decided I’d style my natural hair for a whole week. Hmmm. I washed my hair, did a mayonnaise treatment, dried it and it was ok to comb. I wrapped it, went to bed, woke up the next morning and it looked like someone had baked a cake on my head overnight. My hair strands stood straight like a battalion of soldiers, waiting to welcome the president. I wasn’t fazed. I put in some of my conditioning oils and proceeded to comb my hair. Like my buddy Seno used to say …..Oh my sack of Cheese! It felt like I was about to put my scalp off my head. It was painful, difficult and almost made me cry! You see, unlike many other natural hair beauties, my natural hair is not soft, curly and easy to de-tangle just by adding a conditioner. My hair is long, gets dry easily and is a thick mass of locks that does not have the curly feel to it.

Why then am I forcing myself to go natural? It’s obviously not for me, or my hair type. It got me thinking about why I’d proceeded to embark on this journey in the first place. Most women with natural black hair believe those who relax their hair are sell-outs, who can’t accept the way their hair grows naturally, and have succumbed to the westernized idea of how hair should look. I beg to differ…. Everyone’s hair journey is personal. Whether you choose to relax your hair or have it in tight kinky curls, it’s up to you. Nothing is wrong with relaxed hair and nothing is wrong with natural hair. It’s a personal choice, and should not be subjected to conformity or rebellion (depending on which angle you choose to look at it). If I have relaxed hair, so what? If it’s natural, so? How does that affect the price of bread at the supermarket or lower the inflation rate?

I was conforming to the natural hair movement which I must say, I am now ashamed of. For one, I’ve never been a conformer. I set my own trends in everything so I was really surprised at myself when I was sitting in front of the mirror, battling with my three-tier cake-like dry hair, fighting back the tears.Funny enough, I’d just sent my friend a message the day before, telling her I wouldn’t mind keeping my hair natural, Less than 24 hours later, I was sitting on the fence. My relaxed hair was fine, It grew healthily, was always well treated and did not bring me close to tears in the morning. Speaking about tears, this morning, I angrily packed up a new weave I got when I was in Nigeria and I’m on my way to the salon to fix it. I can’t deal anymore…. I like my long flowing, straightened hair that doesn’t make me cry, and is not a battle I have to fight every morning. I’m a black girl who loves her hair straight; it doesn’t make me less black, or in denial of my roots.

I’m still sitting on the fence, about relaxing my hair though….

Share your thoughts about the big hair debate.