When you are natural or transitioning, dealing with critics is just part of the journey.
If you learn nothing else, you will learn that your self esteem and inner strength will be tested over and over again.
So I thought I’d put together a post to help you deal with the negative people in your life who will try to discourage you on your journey.
1) Kill ‘Em With Kindness
While it’s tempting to snap at naysaysers with something equally as negative or nasty, the best way to approach these people is to kill them with kindness.
Seriously, they won’t know what hit them.
So if someone says something like, When are you going to do something to your hair?, you can reply with…
[laugh politely] It’s a good thing I know you better because if I didn’t, I could have sworn you were taking a jab at my hair. The most liberating thing about being natural is that I am very comfortable letting my hair run free. But anyway, I appreciate your concern.
2) The Irony of (Some) Black Men Hating Natural Hair
The one thing that really bothers me about men who do not like natural hair is they often have kinky hair just like us.
So the next time he criticizes your hair, be sure to ask him why it’s OK for his hair to be natural, but not OK for you.
I must’ve missed the memo that says women must straighten their hair to be “pretty” but men can remain natural and still look handsome.
Something’s just not right about that.
Having said that, I don’t fully blame men for their opinions and preferences. Men are very visual beings, and they unconsciously learn to define beauty by what society instills in them at a very young age.
Go to the grocery store and look at the magazine covers in the checkout aisle. Watch almost any beauty commercial. Turn on a music video. We are constantly bombarded with messages that straight, silky hair is beautiful.
That’s the standard in our society, unfortunately.
Plus, we as women play a role too, which is why we relax our hair at such a young age… reinforcing the idea that straight hair is more beautiful, and our hair is not acceptable.
Just remember, you cannot force someone to like your hair. Some men will never, ever like natural hair and that’s their right no matter the reason.
Just know there are plenty of men out here who will love you for you.
3) Dealing With Those Who Think Only Certain People Can Be Natural
This one burns me up. What people are really saying is if your hair is extra kinky or not wavy and defined, then you shouldn’t go natural.
Even though a lot has changed in recent years, there are many people who still believe this.
Simply respond by saying,
I believe everyone can go natural, it’s just that society has programmed many people to believe that only certain hair types are more acceptable. That’s OK. I’m going to learn to love whatever grows out of my head.
4) Dealing With Concerned Loved Ones
Sometimes loved ones can be the most hurtful. Not all of their comments are mean-spirited, but they can still hurt. Some of this stems from their own fears.
For example, if your mom has relaxed hair and doesn’t particularly like natural hair, she may try to discourage you from transitioning.
First, explain why this is important to you and take some time to watch some YouTube videos from naturals with heads of healthy, natural hair.
A lot of people aren’t even aware of the possibilities with natural hair — especially if they have had relaxed hair most of their lives.
Plus, hair products have come a long way and managing natural hair is not what it used to be.
And if you’re getting push-back from a significant other after you’ve explained what this journey means to you, pay attention here.
If they threaten to leave, you just learned a lot about your relationship right there.
5) Time to Look Inward
As I mentioned up top, your self esteem will be tested during this journey, and you will learn a lot about yourself.
It’s OK to admit you’re scared or that negative comments bother you.
This is no surprise given the fact we are taught at a very young age that our hair needs to be straight to be pretty.
You just have to unlearn some of the things you were unconsciously taught as a child.
Here are some tips to help you stay motivated…
- Subscribe to YouTube channels of people who have hair like yours.
- Join a community with other transitioners and naturals for support. This can be really helpful if you have no one in your personal life who supports you.
- Be patient and understand that it will take time for you to get used to your new look.
- Remind yourself that you will never make everyone in your life like your hair, but those who really care about you will support you even if they don’t like your decision.
- Remember that your hair texture may not be wavy and curly. The faster you learn to accept this, the easier the journey will be. Don’t waste energy trying to transform your hair into a texture you don’t have naturally. Learn to embrace your kinks. I know it’s often easier said than done, but you’ll get there.
- If you’re a teen, I wrote an article just for you. Teens often get double the criticism because of unsupportive parents and/or having to deal with teasing at school.