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The Curly Corner

Why Your Grandma Doesn't Like Your Natural Hair and Why That's Okay

Destiny Johnson | 1/10/2017, 6:20 p.m. | Updated on 1/10/2017, 6:20 p.m.
"When you gonna press your hair?", my Grandmother would inquire after touching my tightly wound coils. I always smile respectfully ...

"When you gonna press your hair?", my Grandmother would inquire after touching my tightly wound coils. I always smile respectfully but usually give no answer. We had been down this road before and I knew my grandmother wanted my hair to be sleek and straight as I had always worn it since I was 7. Around 22 years old, I began transitioning from heat damaged hair to healthy natural hair. I finally saw how much damage my hair developed after passing the flat iron through it one too many times in one sitting.

Every two weeks, I would sit on a pillow on the floor of my grandma's kitchen next to the stove. Despite the accidental burns and the melting Blue Magic grease on my forehead, I was always pleased with the look. I loved that my hair was long and that it was easy to comb through to style. I had been getting my hair pressed so long, that I was no longer aware of what my true curl pattern looked like.

During my transitioning period, my grandmother frequently expressed to me that she liked my straight hair more and that my natural hair looked "nappy". Although frustrated and upset at first, I had to realize where she was coming from. When she was young it was imperative that Black women wear their hair straight and curled to emulate the White beauty standard. At that time, natural African hair was still considered somewhat shameful and extreme. To be a beautiful wife and obtain a job, Black women like my grandmother straightened their hair for acceptance. My grandmother was probably just worried that the rest of society would respond to me negatively with all my natural kinks and curls.

Your Grandmother may never fully accept the natural kinks and coils that you’re characterize for but that doesn't mean you should be discouraged. Your hair will grow, your curls will bounce and Grandma will be happy that you're happy.