Are People Intimidated When Black Women Have Natural Hair?

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sportyAfrosHeadshot2By April Taylor

Toya Sharee recently published an article in Madame Noire about the stereotypes women face when they choose to wear their hair in natural styles.  Even though it has been years since India Arie’s song, “I Am Not My Hair,” hit the radio waves, the assumptions many men make about women with natural hair have not evolved as much as one might think.  Sharee writes the article based on both her own personal experience as well as that of her sister.  Based on their experiences, it seems as though women who choose natural hairstyles go through their own process of accepting their hairstyles as gender appropriate as well as politically acceptable.

The way men respond to women with natural hair seems to sum up some of the assumptions made by the larger population.  Sharee mentions a conversation she had with a male co-worker that shed some light on those assumptions.  The co-worker admitted that men are intimidated by women who wear natural hair were and confident in a way that implies empowerment and confidence. He went on to say that this strong sense of self esteem means that men must approach these women differently because there is an implication that these women do not need men and desire to be approached with more substance than just a simple compliment or platitude.  While Sharee admits that her co-worker made some valid points, she mentions that the way a women carries herself can imply the same sense of confidence and empowerment no matter what style she wears her hair in.

No woman should face prejudice and assumptions about who she is because of how she wears her hair anymore than a person should face prejudice and stereotypes based on the color of their skin, but the truth of the matter is that we live in a world where people do make assumptions based only on someone’s physical appearance without knowing anything else about them.  Despite this fact, hopefully women feel liberated enough within themselves and their communities to wear their hair however they choose and embrace who they are naturally.


  1. Sasha

    April 7, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    So glad that I don’t “allow” society to tell me how I’m supposed to live. I rock my “Fro whenever I want to and I’m the only Black in my office. It’s funny because my co-workers “say” that they love my natural hair, which is fine but they also know that I don’t seek validation from them. They never really know what Miss Sasha will show up in, hair or otherwise. FREE YOUR MINDS!!

    • sawitcoming

      April 7, 2014 at 1:45 pm

      Right, on Sasha. I am the only black female in my office and I rock my dreds. I have been free for over a year now. I don’t need to emulate the white woman to be or feel beautiful.

      • titanides

        April 7, 2014 at 2:11 pm

        For God’s sake! Who cares??? “No relaxer” = “freedom”? Then you are still in chains.

  2. meekah

    April 7, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    Contrary to the other responses I think that this article is right about some men.
    Not all men are as weak or lazy as men who view respectful behavior as a labor
    intensive activity but many do. I have heard them say that its easier to deal
    with the weave wearers because many of them are shallow and don’t expect
    much. This article isn’t sharing new info though. It would be nice to
    change the record.

    • redbone

      April 7, 2014 at 2:47 pm


      Your right on time sistah, and the article is true, there are men out there who are shallow thinkers concerning black-women wearing their hair natural, and its affecting our younger black males.
      I haven’t permed my hair in almost 5 yrs, its more healthier and beautiful then its been in 20 yrs.
      I’m all for getting back to natural in every way possible because my black is beautiful, my motherland is beautiful so I being a strong black-woman deserve to be free and not controlled by any man except my creator “GOD”… We gotta get back with the Laws that out creator wrote for us so we can begin to connect with our true “BALANCE”… Black-women are the strongest women on the planet, that’s why the attacks on us are so great. They reject us, they speak negative words about us, but they continue to mimick us…


  3. Yocheved

    April 7, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Ladies, you don’t want those weak @ss men anyway! Guys need to step up their game, and have more to offer a woman than a drink and a d!ck. If they had something substantial going on, they wouldn’t have any cause to feel intimidated. I am so sick of these baby-men and their delicate widdle egos!

    • redbone

      April 7, 2014 at 2:49 pm


  4. Read and think !

    April 7, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    Like, love and respect self. Accept self, know self and be self. No more self “HATESELF”

  5. t_99

    April 7, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    This subject is SO tired. I am wearing my natural hair now at work, and have been relaxer free for years. I typically straighten it when it’s cold, but rock, my natural curls when it gets warmer because I usually leave home with damp hair when I do. I work in IT, very diverse in terms of nationality and ethnicity, but still mostly with men. No one takes issue with my hair. In fact, people give me compliments on my natural curls, with most preferring it curly. But, it has been Black women who have said things like, “I have naps from Africa and can’t wear my hair natural…..How long are you going to wear your hair like that? When are you going to get a perm?” I have even asked Black men what they think about our hair. Most don’t care how we wear it as long as it is looks good, and is neat and clean, so I am not buying this intimation mess. If you are intimidated by my hair, then you’ve got bigger issues. IJS.

  6. sonia

    April 7, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    HaHa! That guy sounds like a jackass. Over 40 years ago, I would pick out my wild afro one day, and pack it down the next day to wear a blonde shag wig that I bought after seeing Judy Pace wear one in a movie. I went to a predominantly white Catholic high school in the south and had a blast! i wouldn’t think of wearing fake hair now and just basically wear it natural because the humidity and I’d looked ridiculous wearing a bunch a fake hair. I think he’s using this as an excuse because other problems. I recommend he visit one of those clinics for “performance issues.”

  7. SweetTweet

    April 7, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    Natural hair is the way to go. I rock “locks”.

  8. ormash

    April 7, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    After the demise of the Afro my spirit dropped when I saw the S curl, Gerri curl, red hair, blue hair, green hair, but when I saw the sisters going natural I said, something is going on here and sure enough the beautiful Afrikan Queens reposition themselves on the world stage. I love it, any natural style does it for me, as wild as you want, be yourself and walk with great dignity my Queens. The Afrikan woman is best when she set the precedents for all other women, sisters make poor followers and imitators. Walk good.

  9. BlackSupaman

    April 7, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    I absolutely l

  10. BlackSupaman

    April 7, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    I’m a conscious strong Black brotha and I absolutely love Sistas that rock their hair naturally. I’m so sick of seeing these chics with all this ole fake weave on top of their heads. I just want to go up to them and tell “hey love yourself our Creator didn’t make any mistakes”.

  11. mmdccbslm

    April 7, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    nah! they are just racist!

  12. Maji

    April 8, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    I’m almost fifty and so glad this this article has created a discussion about black women and natural hair. This is an issue that has plagued us for decades and directly affects how we view ourselves. I have worn my hair natural for over twenty-five years, mostly in twist. When I first started, it was amazing the reactions I received from not just black men but black women also. Actually, I received more negative reactions from black women. They seemed angry that I was wearing natural hair. Most often than not, whenever I was in a conversation with a group of black women with straight hair, they would continuously touch their hair and slightly glance at me as we were conversing. I didn’t take it personally because I was aware enough to recognize low self-esteem. Why? Because I had been there. Once I begin to love myself and not be concerned by others negativity, I was much happier and mentally free of society’s stereotypes of how I should look. Oh, by the way, from white people, 90% more positive statements. There’s only one you. Feel blessed with what you were given. Free your mind.

  13. Haile Selassie

    April 8, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    When I see African Women with natural hair styles I want to tell them how nice they look and I am so proud to see their hair like that but many times I donot say anything because I donot want them to feel that I am looking for some thing. All African women should start wearing thier Natural Beautiful God Given Hair for all that other nonsense came all the way from Slavery and the European nonsense to demean us, thought it was ok for them devils to rape our beautiful women.If we all statted wearing and appreciating our Beautiful African Selves the European Devils and their children and their negro friends would take notice and straighten up and fly right.All of Gods children are beautiful but if any are better we are.Let Satan take a long walk on a short bridge.Cocknocker.We donot need straight hair to be beautiful.

  14. Thea Dowl

    April 13, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    I don’t usually respond, but I had to add my ‘2cents’. I am a professionally employed woman, with locks. About 20 years ago, during the Thanksgiving holiday season, my brother took me and a sista friend of mines out to dance.My brother danced with both of us. No other men approached us, My hair was up in a bun, my friend was sporting a braided ponytail. Someone who knew my brother told him ‘we looked too deep to dance with”. Fast forward, not much has changed. I’m not dating, I’m an asset to my community & employer, but no significant other…

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