Last year I was in our bathroom twisting up my hair for the night when my husband walked in and made the comment, “Why don’t you wear your hair like you used to?” At first I didn’t realize what he was talking about so I replied with the proverbial phrase when you haven’t been listening to closely to your spouse, “What did you say honey?” Unaware of the war he was about to start he repeated (and then added some more to) what he said. “I said why don’t you wear your hair how you used to? I don’t like that style. You look like Celie from The Color Purple.” Astonished, I turned around (comb still in hand) and asked him to repeat himself again.
Sensing that maybe he had said something he wasn’t supposed to he began to stumble over his words. “Hmmm..I was just saying that I like it when you wear your hair straight — you know like you used to…” He stopped when he saw me walking toward him with the comb in my hand. At that moment, I almost threw that comb at my husband. How DARE he tell me he didn’t like my hair? This is my hair — I wear it like I want. After arguing back and forth for a while, we both realized we were arguing about hair and that we could continue this conversation in the morning. All night I thought about the NERVE he had to tell me he didn’t like my hair in its natural state! Didn’t he know that natural hair was beautiful? Well, if he didn’t know he was about to find out.
When I woke up the next morning, I was still mad so while I was making breakfast, I decided to confront his insensitivity to my natural hair. Exhausted by the previous argument, my husband simply said, “I thought we were supposed to tell each other what we liked/disliked about one another. Didn’t you just laugh at me when the barber messed up my line last week?” His naivety on the subject of natural hair floored me. This wasn’t just about my hair — if he didn’t like my hair did he not think I was beautiful?
For some, their hair is a trivial matter but for me it’s taken me four years to grow my hair out strong and healthy — without a relaxer. I used to be addicted to going to the beauty salon and spending hours in my beautician’s chair, laughing and gossiping with her. I literally used to spend hours in her chair every week, spending countless dollars just so my ‘do’ would be right. When I decided to go natural, my husband was surprised (yet happy) because he hoped that my costs on hair care would go significantly down. He was wrong. Instead, within a year I had started a natural hair blog and had started to hoard countless hair products that consumed our bathroom.
During this natural hair journey, he would ask me why I cared so much if my hair was growing or if a product would give me the curl definition I needed. I can admit sometimes during my ‘growing out’ stage my hair looked a mess and my husband would just shake his head when I refused to go out because my hair was frizzy. He just didn’t get it. He grew up in a family where NO ONE would DARE wear their natural hair so to him when his wife woke up one morning and announced no more relaxers he was confused. As he sat at breakfast and explained why he didn’t like my hair (I take too long doing it, my products are invading our bathroom, etc) I could honestly agree with him. I had become obsessed with my hair.
While I was at work, I thought about my husband’s honest confession to me. Of course, he said it with no tact but he didn’t understand how negatively making a remark about a woman of color’s hair means war. But he was right when he said I would make remarks if I didn’t like his haircut and he generally listened. Did that mean that in order to be a good wife I would need to change my hair to a style my husband approved of? Of course not, but it did mean I needed to get a hand on my obsession with natural hair.
Later in the day, I got a surprise text at work that read, ” I’m sorry I seemed mean last night. What I really meant to say was change up how you wear your hair and stop obsessing with it.” I agreed. Maybe I needed to venture out from my usual hairstyle ( I had been wearing two strand twists for quite a bit) and do something different. But before I could let him know he was (somewhat) right, I replied back that he needed to be careful how he responded to something (my hair) that is different than what he’s used to. He agreed.
Ever since we’ve had that massive argument, I’ve noticed my husband asks more questions about my hair. He makes sure to tell me when he likes a style and just a couple of weeks ago, he made it a point to let me know he was totally wrong about natural hair — it was cute — and that he didn’t know any better a year ago. He even (at times) does our daughter’s hair (under my direct supervision) when I’m busy doing something. For me, I’ve stopped hoarding hundreds of hair products and make it a point to change up my styles every couple of months just so I don’t wear the same style for years at a time.
Now my BMWK family, does your husband like your natural hair?