White Women Don’t Belong in Natural Hair Spaces

The title of this post sums up what I’m going to write about here. Twitter is abuzz about a post on Curly Nikki, featuring a Q&A with a white woman named Sarah talking about how she has learned to embrace her curls. This seemingly innocuous post features this woman musing about how she’s learned to accept her texture, and doing everything from co-washing, hoarding products to sleeping in a satin bonnet to protect her texture.

Sounds familiar?

So a site that was started by a black woman as a guide to help other black women with natural hair or those who were transitioning to natural hair decided to once again (I’m told it’s not the first time a white woman was interviewed) feature a white woman discussing her curly hair. What’s more offensive is they didn’t even alter the questions to account for the fact that Sarah never transitioned or “went natural.” However, Curly Nikki is a lot different than what it used to be. It’s now a brand owned by TextureMedia, a company that offers “dynamic social platform that empowers & engages a multicultural community of female influencers – the largest in the world of haircare.”


Anyway, I am beyond exhausted of seeing white women propped up in spaces traditionally reserved for black women as a way to add credibility to our issues. I’m tired of seeing the use of white women employed to appeal to the masses, as this does nothing but silence and eliminate the experiences and voices of black women. I’m sick of white women coming into black women’s spaces, with what they call an attempt to learn and create solidarity, only to use their privilege to take over and ignore our plight as they work to bolster their own brand.

White women and their hair stories do not belong in spaces that cater to black women with natural hair. The term ‘natural hair’ has always been connected to black women and our hair stories, not that of white women. White women, while they can have curly hair, can not refer to their hair as natural without engaging in some form of cultural appropriation. This white woman did not start wearing her hair natural nor did she transition. She simply wore one hairstyle while growing up, and later decided she would wear her hair down. That decision by this woman featured in this blog post can NEVER compare to what black women face when we decide to transition from chemically relaxed to natural hairstyles.

The faux struggles curly-haired white women face when they “embrace their texture” is nothing like the social, political, personal and economic fallout inflicted upon black women when we shun the relaxer. Curly-haired white women don’t know what it’s like to have your boyfriend (or girlfriend) flat out say he (or she) prefers your hair to be straight (because of that whole white Eurocentric beauty brainwashing thing); when you family asks you, “You going to keep your hair like that?” Or “What do you plan to do with it?”; when white women ask you all kinds of ridiculous questions about your hair routine (because we can’t possibly use the same shampoo and conditioner as them, right?); when people are so brazen and arrogant to believe they have the right to ignore your humanity and run their grimy fingers through your coils; when your boss comes up to you and tells you how unprofessional your Afro is and that it does not belong in the workplace; when fellow black women talk about how brave you are to go natural, to embrace your kinks and wish they can do the same; when you spend hours upon hours on YouTube watching self-appointed natural hair stars demonstrate their tips on how to get the perfect twist out (because having a frizzy twist-out is not cute, apparently).

I’m sure there are some who couldn’t care less about Curly Nikki featuring this white woman in her Q&A. I know there are some of y’all who believe appropriation by white folks is flattery; that this is a nonissue and black women will find anything to be upset about. This white woman’s appropriation of the natural hair community’s terminology and framing those experiences as comparable to what she went through in her “journey” is indicative of her and Curly Nikki’s disregard for black women and our humanity. It ignores the gritty and sobering issues black women who wear natural hair face — those issues white women can bypass and brush off because they are, well, white.

Furthermore, the use of this white woman and her hair story further perpetuates the trend in natural hair circles to center experiences around women who have a looser curl pattern or, for those who are obsessed with hair typing, the 3a, 3b, 3c, etc. Black women who have tighter coils, kinks and naps — 4a, 4b, 4c, etc. for those keeping score — are constantly told through marketing campaigns that our texture is not the kind of natural hair we should embrace. It’s not a coincidence that we see an abundance of curl enhancers/definers being peddled towards black women who aren’t yet comfortable with rocking their frizzy undefined afros. Obsessed with chasing the ever-elusive curl, black women spend countless hours on YouTube and blogs such as Curly Nikki looking for ways they can make their 4z texture appear more like a woman rocking 3c curls. Some of us spend hundreds of dollars each year on hair products that promise to give us curly, defined styles. We spend hours each week twisting and stretching our hair to make sure we don’t wake up the next day looking like Don King’s shrunken down Afro. But we are supposed to look at this Q&A featuring this white woman and feel inspired to embrace our naps because her curly hair experience is just like ours!

We should not want or need white woman and their loose curl patterns in natural hair circles for black women. We should not promote white women picking and choosing which parts of blackness they can mold into their life experiences while simultaneously erasing and invalidating the lived experiences of black women who can’t leverage white privilege to make our journeys easier to navigate.

34 comments on “White Women Don’t Belong in Natural Hair Spaces

  1. While I understand where you’re coming from, I just can’t get on board with statements like this: “Curly-haired white women don’t know what it’s like to have your
    boyfriend (or girlfriend) flat out say he (or she) prefers your hair to
    be straight (because of that whole white Eurocentric beauty brainwashing
    thing)” Black women aren’t the only ones who feel pressured to wear their hair straight. And yes, there in fact are curly haired white women who hear that from their significant others and family members. However, I do think it’s important for Black women to have a space where they can share their stories and learn how to care for their hair in its natural state. I feel strongly about that because for years there was no such space. And yes, historically, Black women have been brainwashed to think their hair is ugly and unacceptable. And no, her journey isn’t the same, not at all, but I’m just looking at it from both sides. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t surprised to see her feature on there the other day, because I was, and I just knew there would be backlash for it. This is one of the reasons I have an issue with the term “natural hair.” Because its true definition can apply to anyone really. Now if we’re talking about unprocessed, afro-textured hair, then that’s getting a little more specific, but I think it’s a little silly to say that Black women have sole ownership of the term “natural hair.” I’m torn really, because I understand where the backlash is coming from, but at the same time, I feel like its doing more harm than good. I personally don’t need to read a story about a White woman to “add credibility to our issues.” I agree with you there. But I don’t need to read a story about a Black woman to add credibility to my issues either. I don’t feel comfortable giving anyone that type of power to be honest. But that’s just me…

    1. There is a difference between the daily struggles of having curly hair or not likeing your hair, and a systematic destruction of black women and their natural curl patterns. Black women are shunned for being black, that’s whats happening here.

      1. Yes – Cheri is right! I’m a white woman with crazy frizzy hair, BUT Cheri’s right. White women do not face the same hair-based discrimination in the workplace or in society. I come here looking for product and styling tips but I promise I’m not gonna try to “tell my story” about my hair!! 🙂

  2. Hi Dana,

    I am responding to your post directly, but not you as a person. I want to offer a critique of some of your assumptions. I think many people hold those assumptions that are damaging. I say this with tough love–but all love.

    Your response seems to pretend that this blog post lacks fairness towards white women with curly hair. I am thinking of you saying that you’re “looking at both sides.” I want to follow your logic with some evidence of about the material consequences for Black woman with non-chemically processed hair. If your “both sides” argument can withstand some pressure, then take me up on my challenge to find white women faces these SAME economic and emotional traumas because their hair is curly. Have white women with curly hair suffered from being fired from job, physically assaulted, publicly ridiculed and humiliation on international radio waves, face discrimination zoning and regulations? Below are just a quick Google search of headlines about Black women facing humiliating treatment because of their natural Kinky hair. My examples show not only individual discrimination against Black women with natural hair, but also systematic and legalized regulations against Black women.

    1. Black women are fired from their jobs because of their hair.
    A. Rhonda Lee http://newsone.com/2867261/rhonda-lee-weather-woman-fired-natural-hair/

    B. Farryn Johnson http://articles.latimes.com/2013/oct/24/local/la-me-ln-african-american-hooters-blond-hair-20131024

    2. Black girl’s hair are cut OFF in front of their class.
    A. Lamya Cannon http://www.wisn.com/Teacher-Cuts-Off-Girl-s-Braid-In-Front-Of-Class/8066492#!9ziDm

    3. Basketball Players attacked on international air waves
    B. Rutger’s Basketball Team attacked my Don Imus http://www.katu.com/entertainment/6911147.html

    4. Black Women serving in the Military must follow strict rules about how they wear their hair. http://www.katu.com/entertainment/6911147.html

    5. Black Natural Hair stylist face discriminatory laws in several states.

    Considering the wage gap sets white women making about %78 percent of a white man’s wage whereas Black women make only %60 percent of a white man wage. Therefore white women STILL making close to 17% percent MORE than Black women. (Source: American Association of University Women’s “How Does Race Affect the Gender Wage Gap?” http://www.aauw.org/2014/04/03/race-and-the-gender-wage-gap/) The material effects of a Black women being fired from her job, privately owned hair shop being closed down or a Black girl being kicked out of school deals a serious blow to US. Sure anyone can think the Earth is flat. Due to the scientific evidence to the contrary, those claim are quite anti-intellectual and detached from reality. Female whiteness (a ideology also detached from reality) prefers to claim ownership to the universal experience of all women. In this case, white women claim their universal appeal as also having natural hair “just like” Black women. The Earth is not flat and White women’s curly hair is not Black women’s natural hair. White women don’t face the same material, emotional, and economic traumas as Black women. Someone making that claim lacks the evidence to make that claim. Your and other’s attempt at conflating a white woman’s hair experience ours (I’m a natural 4C) is devoid of logic and fact, and lacks emotional sophistication of the nuance of Black natural hair. If I am wrong, I am willing to learn about these phantom white women and their phantom tears.


    1. That was amazing. I’m so sorry for the amount of hate in this country. I think most of the problem is…. no. I think I have no right to an opinion on the sufferage of black women. I will never understand. No hardship I could ever face could come close to a fraction of what you have faced. And I’m sorry ignorance has allowed a divide between us.

  3. Black women, to a certain degree, do have ownership on the term “natural”. We coined that term to mean afro textured (or type) hair that is free from chemical processes. Now does that mean that other races can’t refer to their hair as natural? No, any race can be “natural” but other races of women usually refer to that type of hair as “virgin”. This movement was created for us, by us. Now people are trying to tell us we don’t have “ownership” of it. We put in the work, developed the natural hair blogs, spent hours filming the Youtube videos,the hair care forums, created the product lines, the hashtags, the T-shirts and whatever else was necessary to get the word out that our hair is BEAUTIFUL and now all of a sudden we don’t have “ownership” over it? Some of the comments I read on the Curly Nikki website literally made me shake my head. Some women were saying that by featuring and including white women in the movement, it will cause whites to begin to “accept” our hair. Another commenter said that hopefully this will cause whites to see our hair as “normal” as theirs is. Excuse me?! Hearing the words “acceptance” or “normal” as it pertains to whites and our hair makes me cringe a tad. I don’t CARE if whites think my hair is “normal” or “acceptable”. I thought that was the point of the natural hair movement. To give a big screw you to conventional beauty standards. I like that my hair isn’t viewed as “normal”. I don’t mind that some can’t “accept” my hair. I welcome the looks of intrigue and amazement that rocking my kinky hair garners. I don’t need to be accepted, simply respected for the uniqueness of who I am. I don’t need people to see my hair as “normal” so long as they don’t ostracize me for it.

    1. > Another commenter said that hopefully this will cause whites to see our hair as “normal” as theirs is. Excuse me?! Hearing the words “acceptance” or “normal” as it pertains to whites and our hair makes me cringe a tad. I don’t CARE if whites think my hair is “normal” or “acceptable”. I thought that was the point of the natural hair movement. To give a big screw you to conventional beauty standards. I like that my hair isn’t viewed as “normal”. I don’t mind that some can’t “accept” my hair. I welcome the looks of intrigue and amazement that rocking my kinky hair garners.<

      Okay, this says something about how you want to be perceived (by whites? Or by all other people except black people?).

      But: Normality in the sense of "all this is accepted and nothing to criticize" should be the goal in my opinion. And by that I do not only refer to hair.

      Hair can be beautiful, ugly or interesting (neither especially beautiful nor ugly, just different) but apart from extreme cases (no hair care for some moths or years etc.) every hair type and style should be regarded as normal. At least in people's spare time. There certainly are some jobs where extreme hair styles – non-natural colors etc.) can be restricted. Although this could also be open to discussion.

      Your statement reads to me as if you are looking to provoke people with your hairstyle. That certainly is a decision completely up to you and might be a fair reason to sport a hairstyle. But if you say you don't want black people's natural hair to be regarded as "normal", how would that affect (black) children? Should they not have regard their hair as normal, not as some exotic feature that draws stares or even resentment?

      I will tell you an anecdote:
      I live in Germany. I have read a lot about black hair and discussions about that recently (mostly discussions from the US). This fostered the idea that I am not allowed to ever comment on black hair. I am interested in hair in general, long hair, uptos, no-poo-hair-care etc. Recently, I was in a shopping mall with my mother who does not read this kind of articles on the internet and we watched a black mother with her young (maybe 5 yo) son sitting next to us. They drew attention because the son tried to climb over a glass wall in the second story of the mall and we were afraid he might fall down. Later, we met the two again and my mother complimented the son for his hair. And my heart stopped, because I had read so much and thought "oh, oh, they will think this racist, one mustn't ever comment on black people's hair!" But on the contrary, both did not mind at all, the son was proud of the compliment and had a short conversation with my mother. Because, to all three of them – the mother, the son, my mother – his hair was normal and could be complimented. To me, due to what I had read, his hair was and off-limits-topic.
      I thought this situation through afterwards and found that all that I had read about "don't ever say anything about black hair if you are not black" etc. I had come to think of black hair as "other" which, before my reading, was absolutely not the case. Before my reading, black hair had been "normal", one variation of hair (and styles) in a sea of all other possible variations (of different hair types and hair styles). That all had their own attraction and beauty (and might be complimented ;-)).

      We stare at people who are "other", who are different, so different that we are not used to them. In our local mall, a women used to be seen now and then with extremely thin legs in tights and very voluminous light blond "dreadlocks" kind of hair – to be fair: it did look like a mop! – down to her ankles. Probably that was a wig. On top of that she had a rather unnatural skin color, thickly drawn lipstick and was smoking all the time. So she drew attention. People looked at her. Wondered why she was leaving the house like that.
      All other people with not so extreme exterior and a wide range of, hm, "natural" hair styles and with all other hair types should be regarded as normal. Together with people who are slim, fat, short, tall, have skin acne, are disabled, are tatooted, wear religious clothing etc. pp. There certainly are a lot of black people around who sport natural hair styles. Should their hairstyles, for that reason, not be regarded as normal, simply because they ARE. Normal means "a lot of people do this and it is nothing strange". Natural hair styles in black people to me are nothing strange. Therefore: Normal.
      Even extreme hairstyles (extremely short, maybe not extremely long down to ankles, but long down to butt) should be and mostly are regarded as normal.

      Also, consider this: You might enjoy being looked at as someone different with extraordinary hair now, but how would you feel if some day you would just want to disappear in the masses (of people on the street, at work etc.) and could not because people had indeed accustomed to regarding your hair style as justifiable reason to stare at you? That might feel uncomfortable!

  4. The black woman’s definition of “Natural hair” is a Connotation, and there is nothing wrong with black people having sole claim to it. It’s called taking power, and we shouldn’t have to apologize for it. Nobody had a problem with us calling it that before. Now that this business is worth over $600 million dollars, people want to start putting stipulations and rules on it! Why do white women want a piece of the NHM now any? Money, plain and simple. Relaxer sales are only down 30%, but Natural hair products bring in more money than relaxers do. People have always capitalized off of things the black community coined, and this is no different. I see the integration of white women in the NHM as the precursor to non-black companies becoming the #1 retailers of Natural hair products.

    1. I think you’re right in the sense that many companies are trying to take advantage of black women’s hair. However, I don’t think it’s fair to say that white women just want in on the NHM because of money. I want in on having my hair natural because I’m tired of being told to straighten it or tame it. I like natural. Please don’t see this as me being rude or seeming blind to what you’re saying.

  5. CurlyNikki was a blog that was started for us, by us…but sadly, it has been sold to whites that now include other white women onto the site! They see nothing wrong with interviewing other white women about natural hair, and to my mind, it is quite hilarious. Here we go again! My question, why would whites want to embrace a natural hair site which is exclusively targeted to black women? Because the natural hair movement is a $600 million dollar market! So, they are hiding behind a black face on a previously black owned blog written exclusively for black women. Evil genius once again….Now, I am only hoping that black women see that the jig is up, and the real face of CurlyNikki is revealed….run from this blog.

  6. This is a wonderful article, and I hope white women who feel they have the right to invade black spaces get the chance to read this. I’m curious, though, on how you feel about the presence of
    indegenous or mixed race latina women in cross-racial spaces for curly hair. We also face racial discrimination for our hair and the threat of being fired from our jobs, as well as a lower pay than white women.

  7. While the term, “natural” can be applied to almost anyone, it has come to imply something very specific to Black women. Unfortunately, “kinkier” textured hair (4a, b, c,…) is still nowhere as widely accepted as curly hair on White women. The growing number of forums/blogs dedicated solely to discussing how to make “our” hair more manageable/acceptable is evidence of this . Including White women with looser curl patterns into the Natural hair in my opinion, dilutes the conversation.

    In the corporate American workplace, especially the more conservative ones, Black natural hair is still considered unprofessional or unkept.


    Black women in these companies, think twice about wearing their natural hair for fear of being prejudged.

    So while I understand that White women may have challenges with wearing their hair in its curly state, I do think there is and should be a clear distinction between this and the daily struggle faced by Black women who choose to embrace their hair in its “kinky”, natural glory.

  8. I’ve never heard white women refer to “virgin” curly hair. It’s called naturally curly (which means they are wearing their hair in it’s natural state). Whites don’t generally have textured hair such as the type 4 range, but many do have naturally curly hair.

    1. I am a white, Jewish woman with 4C hair. I was tortured for my hair texture until my early twenties, when I began straightening my hair, and I never hear a negative word about my appearance until two years ago, when I ditched the straightener and let my hair grow out. I don’t claim to know what it is like to be a black woman, but I do know what it is like to have kinky, “nappy” (as a black hairdresser once referred to my hair as) hair. I also know what it is like to be shunned for that natural hair. We may be in a severe minority, but white women with type 4 hair do exist.

      1. Michelle,

        I know that your comment is years old…but I am willing to bet all the money I possess that you do NOT really have 4c hair. Please look at actually pictures of women with 4c hair, not drawings on a chart.

  9. While I don’t pretend to know the the struggle of having to deal with the more serious repercussions of an ethnic woman deciding to “go natural”, I do have an idea of how mean children can be to other children for having anything different than that “beautiful wavy or straight” hair. I am white, I have naturally curly hair and very tight curls. My mom had No idea what to do with my hair since she had straight hair, and i spent hours having a brush raked through it, to de-tangle it. I hardly ever had “nice” looking hair in school.. I’ve been told my curly hair is “unprofessional”. I’ve spent hours as a kid trying to recreate the coveted spiral, or loose wave curl I’ve seen on all the models and wondering why I didn’t have “pretty” hair like them. My mom got so upset with how unruly my hair was, that she had it chopped off to above my ears so it was easier for it to do. I’ve had the unfortunate experience of having multiple boyfriends tell me my hair looks so much nicer when its straightened and ask me, “why don’t you just straighten it all the time”
    My hair is always natural because it’s what I was born with and I deal with it every day.
    Btw, A woman did FINALLY bring some sense into my world and encouraged me to love my hair the way it was. My friend Shania’s grandmother…and she regularly put PINK hair products in my hair and gave it oil treatments.

    So that’s my take on my naturally curly hair. It’s true, my medium/olive skin complexion affords me way less scrutiny but the teasing and bullying isn’t spare for any kid, black or white. It’s just ridiculous that most of it, in regards to this issue, is being perpetuated by full grown adults.

  10. I think we should all embrace our curls no matter our skin color or texture. Curly hair websites should welcome everyone, although this is just my opinion. 🙂

    1. You’re speaking over the right for safe-spaces for people of colour. White people can wake up in the morning and do nothing with their hair and go to work and not be told they look unprofessional and shabby. They don’t risk losing their jobs by wearing their hair how it naturally falls. White people can wear dreadlocks (can, not *should*) and look “hippy, edgy, cool, eco” whilst at the same time black people are told again they’re dirty, inappropriate etc.
      Clearly everyone should be comfortable to embrace how their hail naturally falls, but it doesn’t mean white people have to invade a domain and safe space that historically, and in contemporaneity, was created by them and belongs to them.

  11. I can see where you’re coming from and I agree with you somehow. As far as white women are concerned, I would rather that they support the natural hair movement in a different way i.e. through art just like what this white woman did: http://www.naturalhaircarenews.com/2013/10/24/white-women-with-black-hairstyles-pictorial-raises-the-consciousness-of-black-hairstyles-in-the-workplace/.. I just don’t see how imitating our hair makes them supportive of the NHM (unless that’s their natural hair too, like if they are bi-racial or something)

  12. Interesting article. I stumbled across it in a Google search for a new haircut idea, kind of funny. Being white with curly hair, I would never consider myself to go through the same struggle or have a voice in this issue. I read the book Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie recently, aside from being a compelling novel that I did not want to end, it made me more aware of what black women face in the workplace (regarding hair in particular). I would highly recommend it and the lessons will certainly go with me as I try to become aware of my own socially constructed notions and bias.

  13. I fully agree with you.
    Being of German (non-Jewish) and Moroccan Jewish descent, I grew up in Germany among Germans and East Europeans; some of the latter are Ashkenasi (north European) and Sephardi (south European) Jews. I am light-coloured, and my hair is probably a 3b/c. Most of my life, I didn’t know that I am of Moroccan descent, I was raised to believe that I was the biological daughter of a Bulgarian Jew. Only recently did I learn that my mother (who was German and non-Jewish) did a DNA test with my real biological father, and everyone knew about it except me. My mother passed away in 2010. I was 40 then.

    I have heard all about “Jewish hair”, and I saw and believed it. Not noticing any difference between my hair and theirs, I applied what they said to myself, too. Now when you say that you don’t want white women to talk their hair to you in a familiar way, I totally understand, because they only play familiar when they reach out to you. When you reach out to them, they shut down and denounce you as “wanting to be white” and much worse. I am light-coloured – many Ashkenasi Jews are darker than I -, but I got the entire arsenal of anti-Black stereotypes ascribed to me. And, if I may be honest, I know for sure that some white women – and men – wear artificial curls for decades and pass them off as natural. When I was young, I didn’t understand this, the effort was beyond my imagination.

    Since almost all European Jews were killed in the last century, the vast majority of East Europeans, including Germans, know contemporary Jews and what they look like only through American cinema. Israel is a very multiracial society, half its population is from the Middle East and Africa (the Maghreb and Ethiopia), but in Eastern Europe, including all of Germany, no one gets it. I was often asked by non-Jews of all nationalities and colours whether I was of African descent, but remembering my upbringing, I denied it. Although it felt right to me, I thought I had to be “reasonable” and “stick to the facts” as I knew them. Even though it meant that I was always talking to a wall and running into one brick wall after the other without understanding why, because neither the Czechs nor the Jews I grew up among had problems that were comparable with mine. Antisemitism in Germany is still bad, but somehow, even the children of Holocaust survivors wouldn’t relate to me (Holocaust survivors were different, however, they were always very kind to me). Meanwhile, white Jews and white non-Jews alike determined that I had a “personality disorder”, that I was “suffering from internalised racism” and was “desperately wanting to be white”. A psychologist who works with children of Holocaust survivors even suggested to me that I was attracted to white Jews because they are so intelligent. I have a high IQ, therefore it would be natural for me to feel a spiritual connection with European Jews… As I said, this was officially agreed on by white Jews and white non-Jews alike.

    So whenever whites claim to be in the same boat with you on the basis of physical characteristics, don’t buy it. Ever.They will push you out the minute you dare to assert that if they are in the same boat as you, you are also in the same boat with them and deserve their full solidarity.

  14. I agree with everything that the article is saying. I was researching my hair type (3a) and I found so many photos and videos of white women using black beauty products such as Shea moisture deep conditioners and oils. This confused and disgusted me, as I thought that the hair texture chart did not apply to white people. I don’t know if this is wrong or not, I’m wondering what everyone else thinks, but isn’t white hair thinner that black hair? I always thought that white hair didn’t require as much moisture as ours. I assumed that the hair texture chart was only for women of color. I googled it and found no results besides this article. Please let me know if this is wrong.

    1. Hey there, from what i’ve always heard, the hair texture chart refers to all types of curly hair. White hair tends to be in the 2-3 range but many can have tighter curls as well. It’s important to keep in mind also that white people are not all one race, they come from various backgrounds with all kinds of different hair textures so some do need different levels of moisture treatment. I actually found this article searching if black products would be better for my hair because everything else i’ve used up to this point has done me no good. Obviously I dont face any particular social struggles on the same level as many black women do with their curls, but I do empathize with the nuisances that all curly haired women face and I agree with the article on most of its points. Cheers from just another person trying to control her freaking hair. Hope I helped.

    2. Of course it can apply to white people. They can have curls too, but they need to look what works for their hair as often their hair is thinner than black hair. But it depends on a lot of other factors as well as to how much moisture any hair needs. Everyone has different hair and thus different products that work for it.

  15. Hey guys,
    I loved the article. I don’t want to offend or appropriate at all and this seems like an open-minded group of people to ask for advice. I am white and have loose, frizzy, dry curls from years of trying to straighten them with flat irons and straightening treatments. I have recently started using products containing shea butter which I know are traditionally marketed to black women. I don’t want to appropriate at all (if that’s what I’m doing) but my hair has not felt this healthy in years. Any opinions?

  16. I really appreciate the perspective of this article and the comments that followed it. I agree that a channel dedicated to African American beauty doesn’t really have a need for demonstrations on white women. Our hair is not that different, but the channel is like Black History month. We shouldn’t need a month for Black History or a channel just for Black women, but we do. Bringing a white woman on the show is kind of disrespectful to the exscusivity that we unfortunately do need.

    Im German and Irish, white. My hair is very thick, dry, wavy, and past my shoulders. At almost 34, my hair begs for oil. Luster’s Pink Sheen is really good for me, Olive oil, Vitamin E, Cholesterol… I found this article while searching for information on satin wraps for white hair. Id buy a food regardless of the ethnicity of the person eating it, so why shouldn’t I spend my money on a quality body product that has a black woman on the bottle? Ethnic products are almost always cheaper too. For example – When I went to Sally’s, the satin bonnets with a black woman on the cover were $2-$8 and the white women’s satin bonnets were $10+. Not only were the black women bonnets cheaper, but they were softer too. If that isn’t a good example of systematic racism…smh. Imo, the bars of what you can/can’t eat, wear, or apply because of how the box looks seem like ignorance to me. I mean, you’d have to be pretty ignorant to spend more money on a product with poorer ingredients just because the better choice is in the ethnic section. If it works, why not?!

    You know, TG for the Internet because very few people would speak so frankly in front of those of another race. It really is a blessing and a pleasure to be able to listen, learn, and share. The Internet offers me complete anonymity, but I still want to be clear that I am speaking with pure hearted intentions and do not inend to insult anyone.

  17. Hi, Thanks so much for this article. I’m a naturally wavy white woman who wants to start curling my hair into ringlets which are then separated with the fingers to stop them looking too china doll. My hair is blonde. Now, I’ve been agonising over whether to do this bcos I do not want to be appropriative, at all. I’m getting sick of white women in curling videos talk about how you can get an afro, or a semi-afro and things like that. Because they’re using this jargon and most are uncritical about the politics of their hair compared to black womens’ hair, I’m struggling to see where the line is. I don’t want to offend anyone, or to make any black people feel that I’m being able to exist freely with a hairstyle they would be criticised for. The sort of style I’m speaking about is a slightly more relaxed version of Leona Lewis’ hair, but less voluminous as I have thinner hair. P.s. I appreciate this is a space for black women, so I understand if you prioritise their responses over mine, or do not get to me at all.

  18. Hiei, to answer your question with one perspective, your thoughts on white hair are not necessarily true. Like many girls with curly hair, I struggled with the same sense of “hair envy” at white girl’s silky, straight hair. (I am white as well.) Wearing my hair without putting extensive stylers/relaxers or straightening it was a huge source of anxiety for me. People would touch it in school all the time without my permission. (always white people though… maybe the POC in my classes knew it is rude to touch others’ hair?) I’ve had my thick, curly hair referred to as a “rat’s nest.” It’s dry, thick, frizzy, and is a mix of fine blonde hair and kinky black hair. (I am not mixed-race.) It requires tons of moisturizers or oils, and if anyone has a problem with me using Shea or cantu or other products that are supposedly “reserved” for black women, that’s their problem. I use the products that work for my hair. When I was younger and I went camping, my mom would braid my hair in cornrows– not because it was cool (it definitely was not a good look on me), but because it was the only way to manage my hair when I didn’t have access to styling tools and a mirror. When I wore my hair without product or without straightening I referred to it as “natural” because that was the natural state of my hair– not because I was trying to compare my style to the black NHM. So in that sense I disagree that black women own the term “natural” but that is just semantics.

    What this article DOES get right– and it took me setting aside my hurt feelings long enough to read the comments– is that I am not jeopardized academically, economically, or physically because of my hair. I cannot claim to have those disadvantages, however deeply I feel that my hair has been a source of personal difficulty and embarrassment. POC have a much bigger stake in he history of how hair is perceived in this country, and I see now that the least I can do is support their right to have their own space online to talk, share, and learn in regards to the NHM. I will still be using products and styles that work for my hair, but I’m glad I came across this article to put it in perspective so I understand the distinctions a little better.

  19. As a white woman with curly hair, I feel the need to respond. I have never referred to my hair as natural, and I never will. Natural hair is a term for black women who choose to wear their hair as it grows. It’s such an accomplishment because of all of the social stigma surrounding it, and I applaud all who do. Plus, it’s freaking gorgeous. Although, curly haired white women do face some different challenges. Growing up, my family ridiculed my hair daily. Calling it knotty, nappy, asking if had brushed it. Styling products are always made for straight white hair or curly black hair. That leaves women with hair texture in between at a loss. I also have never gone to a job interview without straightening my hair. I’m in law school, and I’ve been told that my hair needs to be “polished” in a professional setting. I also have had a boyfriend tell me I look better with straight hair. I’ve struggled with straightening it so much that my curl pattern is a mess. I’ve tried to straighten it chemically. I’ve had it start to fall out from the damage. My point being: white women will never know the true struggle and commitment of natural hair, but, despite what other privilege we may have, white curly hair isn’t easy and the white world doesn’t embrace it either. White women, at least the ones like me, don’t come on these websites to overtake them. We come on them looking for the wisdom that is there in hopes of learning to manage and love our curls when others don’t.

  20. I am a white woman with curly hair and I totally appreciate what you are saying here. It is not the same at all. I can straighten my hair with a flat iron or a blow dryer and get it wet to make it curly again. I am sorry that the conversation gets high jacked by white women with frizzy hair. It is different what you face in terms of hair styling from society and at the salon.

  21. This is a perfect summary of why white women shouldn’t be in natural hair spaces. I wanted to add a bit of input for the comments I have seen saying this article is inaccurate.

    As a white woman with curly hair, I have faced some issues that you list here. My mother used to brush my hair to the point of me being in tears to get it to “lay flat”, and around the age of six, I had my brother cut it all off (it was down to my butt) because I hated it so much. I was bullied and called Sasquatch in my elementary school because of my hair, and eventually began straightening it almost daily in middle school, much to the appreciation of my father, who told me it was nice to see me “taking care of” myself finally. My mother took me to try and get it relaxed several times, none of the products worked thanks to the low porosity of my hair. I was never able to get a haircut in a salon without them washing, blow drying, and straightening my hair first. It wasn’t until I moved out that I found hair channels, mainly featuring black or mixed women, with my curl pattern and learned how to do twist outs and to sleep with a scarf, etc. Most of the only hair products that work for me are labeled “Natural Hair” (which most certainly applies specifically to black, afro hair), and videos on Youtube about how to care for natural hair have been amazingly helpful.

    But that’s where the similarities end. Yes, I might have faced some of the same issues, as have some other white women, but when we embrace our naturally curly hair, that’s the end of the story for us. Typically, we stop trying to make it mold to the straight or wavy hair ideal and care for it properly as curly hair, which eliminates a lot of the frizz and breakage, and then we have nice socially-accepted curls. Because they are on a white head.

    It wasn’t my curls that people hated, but the fact that they looked so close to natural hair and it reminded them of black hair, and inner prejudices came out because black hair was not considered beautiful to them. I wear my hair curly now, and while there are still some issues with it, I am not in danger of losing my job, or being seen as unkempt, or being called “nappy” or “ghetto”. I am not considered ugly because of my hair, my curls don’t keep me from education or employment or housing. The worst that might happen now is I get an insult from one person every now and then and have trouble finding a hairdresser that knows what they are doing.

    But a black woman’s natural hair isn’t seen as beautiful. The curls that grow on my head could be on a black woman’s head, and she would be discriminated against in ways I am not. I have the freedom to go curly, straighten my hair, wear black protective hairstyles (also called appropriation), and do whatever I like with it. The most I will get is an offhand remark, which could be insulting, but I could also be considered trendy if I wore cornrows or other protective styles. A black woman who goes curly has none of those freedoms. Her natural hair journey doesn’t end there, it just begins a new chapter of discrimination and hate. White women embracing our curls are “inspirational”. Black women embracing their natural hair have just signed up for a daily fight against societal standards and now carry a burden curly white women will never know. Curly hair is curly hair. Natural hair is a political statement, regardless of whether it should or shouldn’t be.

    In short, we just don’t live in the same worlds. I face beauty standards, black people face systemic erasure and racism. White women can relate to a story featuring a black woman, can learn from natural hair tutorials, can use natural hair products, all without ever needing to actually be featured in a natural hair space. At most, we are observers in the public spaces of your world, benefiting from your struggle as white people always do. There’s no need for another white face in a spot that could be filled by a black face.

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