Good hair/Bad Hair

Good hair/Bad Hair

I recently watched an episode of The Tyra Show where the topic revolved around the notion of good hair and bad hair (the show originally aired in May in the US). The show was based around the perceptions of African/African-American hair; views on natural (unprocessed) hair and relaxed (chemically processed) hair. Natural hair is mostly wavy, dry and often described as ‘nappy’, while relaxed hair is hair processed using chemical relaxers to make it straight and soft.

As usual there were several guests on the show; the guests that interested me the most were the mums and their daughters.The ages of the girls ranged from 3 to 8 years old.

One mum was regularly relaxing her three year old daughter’s hair. That I found extreme, but the mum said her daughter wouldn’t let her touch her un-relaxed and always cried when it was being combed and styled. The girl also cried when the relaxer was in her hair, but the mum was apologetic, insisting she washed it out very quickly.

There was a five year old girl whose hair was in cute twists and still unprocessed, she said she preferred having straight hair and had a ‘Hannah Montana’ wig. She said she felt prettier wearing that wig.

The third girl had very long natural hair and she said she didn’t like her hair because she was always teased and picked on at school. She would like to have her hair cut.

The forth girl was from an African-American mum and a Latino dad; she felt ‘puffy’ hair indicated ‘lower class’ (incredible!). She had a natural hair which was more curly and soft because of her mixed race. This lady said she never dated an African-American man because she did not want to subject her daughter to the whole hair ordeal (is it a curse?). That explains her daughter’s views.


The last girl was from a Caucasian mum and African-American dad and she had relaxed hair and weave (extensions). Her mum said it was easier from her (the mum) to manage that but the daughter said she would feel better with her natural hair and without the weave.

It is alarming those young girls are already exposed to this good hair, bad hair saga. I don’t know if there is a correct or appropriate age to start using relaxers on hair; but three years old is way too early. Personally, I had mine processed for the first time when I was about 13 years old. I was one of the last in my year to have processed hair. I remember other girls who had theirs done much earlier had to cut their hair because of damage. I also cut my relaxed hair about six years ago but I couldn’t maintain the natural look.

From experience, I always felt African-American hair is not as coarse as African hair. For the regular African lady with natural hair once it has grown beyond a certain length the only other options are cornrows or dreadlocks or simply cut it and keep it short. Now I wonder, maybe we are limiting the natural hair styles and not trying new ways. Also, most of our hair dressers are apt in processed hair and extensions, but not natural hair.

I can recall my natural, virgin hair it was wild but still beautiful. I never felt ugly because of this; I always had it in beautiful cornrows and single plaits or twists. Even now I prefer my processed hair and admire ladies with well-groomed natural hair. I feel whichever state a lady has her hair in is beautiful and should be appreciated.


4 thoughts on “Good hair/Bad Hair

  1. In my opinion, relaxers and weaves should not be found on a kid’s hair (i.e. before they become teens)….these procedures destroy their tender hair/scalp and also elevate any insecurity that was there before.

    My 5-year old cousin attends a more white(caucasian) school and used to complain a lot about her hair……she wants her hair to be as long as theirs – but I had to explain – ‘we all have different skin colors and therefore different features’. I told her that weaves can be added for longer hair but they are only used on grown ups and she therefore needs to wait. I just don’t see why those parents can’t tell their kids that as well.

    I personally didn’t relax my hair until 15 (just before gettin into babcock)….and I think that was an ideal age as well….there are lots of colorful accesories made for beautifying a kid’s natural hair…I really love seeing kids looking all natural and innocent….with natural hair and age – appropriate clothes.

    1. yea, it’s real sad to see some mums using relaxers on such young kids when there are loads of ways to beautify to hair and make the kids self confident.

  2. Be forewarned that my website is not about African-American natural hair; however, I did want to leave a comment.

    I believe my hair was relaxed off and on, initially at the age of 13 years old. I have worn a relaxer most of my adult life. I enjoyed the end result, but hated the process. I have a very, very sensitive scalp. If I even look at relaxer, my scalp starts burning. (Which is also why I wore a Jheri Curl back in the day.)

    I am not a fan of relaxing our young girls hair, especially at the age of 3 or putting in weave. Although I can sympathize with the parent that want’s an easier way to maintain the natural hair, I feel we should not be putting that harsh of a chemical in our childrens heads. I am talking from experience. I had a niece who had EXTREMELY course and curly hair. On top of that, she was tender headed. Although I did relax her hair, as I think back, if I had to do it all over, I would have just fought with her.

    Over the past 1 1/2 years I have gone back to natural hair. While I had to get over my hair being bone straight, it can look the same after washing/blow drying and hot curling. If it’s winter, I can hold the style longer. I have yet to find products that will really help me maintain my style. If anyone is aware of any products I can use, please respond to this post.

    Lastly, I am interested in the documentary by Chris Rock on natural black hair. It’s not just about the hair, it’s about the industry and how we use to control it and let it get away. I had read about it in Essence over a year ago and assumed it would be a ‘special’ on our black networks.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s