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The North More Hospitable to Natural Hair?

Over Thanksgiving, our family had the pleasure of hosting two Southern Belles, both residing from Tennessee. During one of our many conversations, we talked about our hair. I was curious to hear about what folks in their hometown thought about their natural hair. “They don’t like it”, they chorused, “especially the men”. I’m not surprised, but I was intrigued by their musings that it’s more acceptable to wear natural hair in the North than in the South.

Over Thanksgiving, our family had the pleasure of hosting two Southern Belles, both residing from Tennessee. They are beautiful, Black young women who’ve both decided to don their natural tresses. I love to spend time with young women, they are so fresh, full of life…wait, I am too! Still, they remind me of myself 20 years ago and I love the fact that my profession allows me to so readily connect with such wonderful people.
During one of our many conversations, we talked about our hair. The three of us silently acknowledged that we’ve all chosen a path that, though increasingly accepted nowadays, can lead to resistance. The three of us also share Southern roots. I grew up in Alexandria, VA. Technically that is the South but anyone who’s been there knows that it feels different than the Deep South. My Southern roots were gained from my parents, my Father grew up in Arkansas and Tennessee, my Mom in Georgia and Florida. This explains my penchant for hot sauce (yes, I’ve been known to carry a bottle of hot sauce in my purse in order to doctor up meals that salt and pepper cannot salvage).
Okay, back to my conversation with the young ladies. I was curious to hear about what folks in their hometown thought about their natural hair. “They don’t like it”, they chorused, “especially the men”. I’m not surprised, but I was intrigued by their musings that it’s more acceptable to wear natural hair in the North than in the South. This thought had flitted through my mind in the past but I’d never allowed it to nest. Could this be true? What do you all think? I realize that people all over the globe encounter issues of hair acceptance when it comes to natural hair. If you are not from the United States, I’d love to hear your perspective as well about your own hair experiences.

Image found at: http://www.tableof4please.com/2010_02_01_archive.html

  • Samara

    I just wrote a blog about this last month. I left NY and visited Florida only to get stares and finger pointing. These ladies are right, natural hair is easily accepted in the North.

  • topie

    Hi Samara! Are you serious?! Wow, I didn't know it was to that extent. I plan to visit my parents in Florida and I'll see how that goes. It's crazy how conditioned folks are to despise what naturally grows out of our heads.

  • Shakena.Renee

    Hmm I find that crazy!! Also a VA native (however from the central/southern area) I rarely know anyone that doesnt have natural hair anymore! With that said….it wasn't until I went to school in MD/DC (which is only about 2 hours away i know lol) that I saw the FLOOD of the natural movement. Ive been natural for about 3-4 years now, although I don't have the thicker hair texture. I personally find it annoying anywhere that I go that people refuse to believe that I'm black because my hair isnt as much kinky as it is curly and soft. Furthermore….I get the side eye regardless *shrug*

  • topie

    Hi Shakena.Renee, thanks for your comment! I know, isn't this crazy? Sorry to hear that you've encountered the, "You're not black if you…" attitude. Whether it's hair, skin tone, speech (proper English rendered me "not Black enough") there are so many things that folks use to categorize. Glad to see you standing up for who you are and not falling prey to others' definition of you. Bravo! Please keep coming back and commenting!

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