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5 minutes reading time (914 words)

The Toxicity of Hair Shaming

Red Hot Napptural

You know, people have ALWAYS been up in Black women's business when it comes to our bodies, our hair. Too skinny, too fat, short, too nappy, too whatever. And you know what? Leave us alone.

There is a trend emerging in this *new* nappy hair movement. Yeah, another one. And it seems to be coming from OUTSIDE our regular women-space. It's coming from men. And like clusters of weeds, they set seed all over social media, making snide comments and backing each other up in their shaming of Black women's hair and bodies. I am not limiting my comments to Black men, it's men. But when Black men engage in this, it's especially hurtful.

In the early days of the Natural Hair movement, men tended to sit back and watch when they weren't encouraging us to embrace our hair. Sure, there have always been those who dislike our natural hair but that is not what I'm talking about here. I have seen a distinct trend -- and I say this with a caveat because I am limiting to what I have observed on social media -- of groups of self-proclaimed 'natural hair-loving' men (and women) – who have taken to shaming women who have suffered some form of alopecia, burns or disease from the use of relaxers, incorrect practices from hair weaving or extension-wearing. They post disturbing memes of women with damaged hair, burned scalps and in pain. And these are not posted in the vein of help, they are posted in the vein of mockery and shame.

Who is shaming and why?

"We have lived our hair struggles for generations, often ending up at the end of a judgmentally pointed finger and open mouth telling us what we must do to our natural hair in order to be acceptable to society."

These are men (and the occasional woman) who are not content that we have taken back our hair power and now decide what and when we will do what and what not with our own hair – be it going natural or not. Wearing a wig, weave, extensions or not. And their new playbook is to jump on OUR natural hair love and turn our mistakes and pain into something to be laughed at and pitied. That somehow we will come around to being African Queens if they mock us enough about hair loss, hair coloring, rod setting or whatever we do in a mean, snarky and downright nasty way.

These groups are popping up more frequently now. Men calling themselves 'woke' who have *newly* discovered how we Black women are taking back our power and challenging our own beauty standards on our own terms. The pseudo-intellectual who is all about praising the Black woman while denigrating and degrading us for past or present mistakes. Beating us down yet again, as we try to build our strength in a world that rejects us, fights us, mocks us and belittles us at every given opportunity.

Digging ourselves out of our generational hair image inferiority complex is hard for Black women. Believe that. We have lived our hair struggles for generations, often ending up at the end of a judgmentally pointed finger and open mouth telling us what we must do to ourselves to be acceptable.

Let me be clear: we don't need YOU to mock our mistakes. We do not need you to speak down to us. We do not need you to lift us up with one hand and slap us down with the other. We don't need you to dictate to us what we should or should not be doing with our own hair and what makes us acceptable in your eyes. When we look in the mirror, we should see US, not YOU.

Shaming is not encouragement.

If you truly love your Black woman wearing her natural hair and encourage others to do the same, stop posting the insulting memes about us. Shaming is not encouragement, it is shaming. Don't try to creep with your disdain of Black women due to your lack of being able to maintain control of us through public shaming of our hair, body and love choices. We see it and it's not appreciated. We WILL let you know. And it will sting.

Do we really need to do this? Can't we get some respect?

Support us in the decisions we make to feel good about ourselves and join us along the way in our journey, Love us through our mistakes and respect us through our decisions. Offer your honest advice when asked and respond with care and kindness. That's all I ask.

SIDE NOTE: We are Nappturality. We are here for natural afto hair and advocate strongly against chemical relaxing and other damaging hair practices, mentally and physically. Our reasons are all over this website and all over the web. BUT we will never shame a sister for ANY reason. We are a guide for women who want to learn about their hair, maybe move towards being natural and staying natural. We help women who have already made that leap and need support or recommendations on how to stay on the path. We are not here to be judgemental and scolding. Any behavior like that will get a member flagged or banned. It can be done. We can move in a positive direction without shaming each other. It's the only way we will learn better and healthier ways to survive and rise in this world intent on keeping us down.~Dee~


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