November 19, 2021
Thanksgiving is coming up, and while we may be excited to spend time with long-lost family members and stuff our faces with all the food, you’re probably also dreading some of the nasty comments specific family members might (or will) be making about your natural hair. This is especially true if they’ve never seen you wear your natural hair before, and you’re transitioning, or you just did your big chop.
Related article: Transitioning to Natural Hair: Tips, Tools and Must-Have Products
How offensive these comments are ranges from “how did you think it was okay to say that” to “wait, should I take that as a compliment or not”.
For reference, some of the blatantly rude comments would be things like:
The “uurm, was that an insult” comments sound like:
Here’s my advice to handle these comments to keep your peace of mind and draw a boundary without necessarily severing the relationship- because you can disagree and still keep your loved one.
I know you might want to tell them how damaging the ingredients in their relaxers are, or explain to them how we idealize European beauty standards and look down on our own, but honestly, don’t- unless you feel that they just made a sincere, ignorant mistake.
Keep your answer, if any, brief and don’t go on and on explaining yourself- if you want to stop yourself from receiving any more questions from that family member or everyone else at the get-together.
Keep it classy, ladies.
If you just said, “Oh, hell naw”, let me explain why.
You ever been in a mood where you just wanted to argue with someone? You may or may not have argued with anyone after that, but because you were spoiling for a fight, you could have picked a fight over everything and anything.
Some of the people making these snide remarks are similar, and for whatever reason, they’re just trying to take a swipe at you so you can fight back and possibly, look bad in the process. Family members are no exception to this. So don’t give them the satisfaction of ruining your mood during the holidays.
Side note: Am I the only one whose appetite disappears when I’m mad? It's so frustrating!
Surprisingly, not every rude comment about your hair will stem from a malicious place. Some people are genuinely ignorant about your hair, what it can do, and why you’d think it’s beautiful.
More than that though, some people are projecting their own fear on you. For example, a lady online had an aunt who kept complaining about her hair after her big chop. She didn’t like the texture, the length, the fact that it looked coarse to her… she just hated it. One-and-a-half years later though, her aunt asked her to give her advice on how she could go natural too. At that point, she realized her aunt didn’t have a problem with her niece’s hair; she had a problem with her own hair, and it would take years for her to start seeing it as beautiful and desirable.
Obviously, you can’t tell this in the moment, but that’s why I’d advise you to just ignore a lot of these types of comments, and they’ll watch you being great and come around themselves.
Case in point: My mom. In my country, having been colonized until mid 20th century, British beauty standards are firmly entrenched in most of our parents and grandparents. I’ve technically been natural my whole life, but it wasn’t until 5 years ago that I actually started to wear my natural hair out in public. She hated it! But years later, guess who’s here telling me she needs some deep conditioner for her natural hair?
If you examine what their intentions could be, and it seems like they just wanted to put you down or embarrass you in front of everyone else, you may ignore or clap back. Here are my favorites.
My fave (lowkey passive aggressive) clap back is to look someone dead in the face, loudly sigh/scoff/chuckle and turn my back on them and start talking to someone else. Most people will get your message loud and clear. Only the extremely stubborn will keep going after this.
If you hate all forms of passive aggression and prefer to be direct, try this one: “Yes, I understand you feel that way, but I disagree with you. And this is not up for further discussion. If you have any other nasty that you want to say, [please] keep it to yourself.” You didn’t cuss them out, but I can assure you it hurt just as bad.
No. Simply just say no while looking at them square in their eyes. If they ask you if you’re going to straighten your hair anytime soon, say “No.” When are you going to relax your hair? “No, I’m not.” Do you want some more sweet potatoes? I mean, we probably should, but who’s going to say that to Big Mama after only one serving?
Two important details to note here: your facial expression and your tone. You know that look you have that can boil rocks? Yeah, tone that down a couple of notches, and that’s the face you want to have when you answer them. Then with your tone, you want to be dry/unexcited and firm. It’s the same "no" you’d tell your neighbor’s kid- not the one you use for your kids.
Ignore their comments until they adjust. Some people will just get the hint after being ignored four times in 2 minutes.
If the person who made the comment is impressionable and simply said something in a moment of sincere naivety, you may choose to briefly educate them (note: don’t start preaching). For example, a 6-year-old kid might ask you why you don’t comb your hair. It is offensive but chances are this poor kid has just internalized her parents’ opinions on the matter. You might ask her why she thinks you didn’t comb your hair. Brace yourself for her answer too because kids and drunk people… Once she tells you why, you can tell her that your hair is combed and that not all hair will look how she expects it to when combed. Hopefully, there’s a little light bulb that goes off in her head.
This probably won’t work in the long run, and you can still expect some backhanded compliments about how you finally chose to not show up in your usual do. But if you really don’t have the energy for the usual “war” for one reason or another, then this is the easiest way out for now.
However you choose to deal with it, I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving next Thursday, and don't forget our Biggest Sale of the Year is next Friday! Sign up here to make sure you get a reminder.
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