call me what you want, but i like to think that most women are very much alike, much more than we like to give ourselves credit for. many of us go through the process of being excited about having our periods and finally hot flashing our way thorough permanently not having them. we all worry about some of the same things like balancing family and career and getting our due pay equal to any males that share our job titles. we share many of the same struggles and life experiences among ourselves despite our race. except for our hair…maybe?
i’ve heard a lot of naturals, especially kinky haired naturals, say that their white or Hispanic or [enter race other than black here] girl friends and acquaintances don’t have their “hair problems.” they scoff at the idea that a white girl with black girl hair problems even exists. they go on to share how laughable it is to them when their friends complain about their tangles, mats and hair growth issues on their significantly longer and much silkier hair as they compare how much more their kinky hair tangles, how much more their hair mats, how much more their hair one ups everything their friend’s hair does. “Your hair mats?! Wait until you see this kinky stuff mat up!” “Your hair tangles?! Wait until you see this kinky stuff tangle up!”
instead of simply using this time to bond over being a woman who just wants great hair, this time is used to dissect how different they really are. said naturals then go on to feel some kind of way when they hear their friends lament about their hair problems because they feel very strongly that kinkier hair “problems” trump looser and straighter hair.
this sentiment seems to be much more common than i would have anticipated as i’ve gotten more than my share of messages from others asking if i feel this way also. as for my answer: no, i don’t.
it’s very obvious looking at my girlfriend Tiffany’s bone straight blonde hair and my kinky hair that our hair is different. it’s a given. there is no need for me to go around pointing this fact out to those who may not notice or may have somehow “forgotten”, nor does it have enough bearing on me to not be able to share a laugh with her when she says she’s having a bad hair day or that her hair just “wasn’t acting right.” i know exactly what that feels like. perhaps my version of a bad hair day and her versions are different but it still makes it no less of bad hair day – that frustration you feel when you look in the mirror and all you can see is ugly sitting on top of your head. when your hair is too greasy from too much product, when you get an annoying knot or tangle right before you have 15 minutes to be somewhere.
sharing these moments with my girlfriends, no matter their race, are always fun occasions that often take place over drinks and plates full of appetizers as we paint in vivid detail the stories of our week – what went well, what went wrong and what our hair was or was not doing. it does not matter to me at that moment when a friend is perhaps sharing her matted hair story as i’m thinking back to my own of how i woke up with unintentional locs that her hair with just a hint of a wave does not mat/shrink/tangle, whatever like my hair. what matters to me most during these moments is that we can sit down as women and share something fun and bond over something so trivial that in that sharing, at that moment, we are all just alike, much more so than we often give ourselves credit for.
[This article was originally published in December Two Thousand Eleven and has been edited for grammar and clarity as of November Two Thousand and Fourteen]