Diary of a Naturalista

Diary of a Naturalista

 (author not pictured)

I would like to share with you my dating life and the experiences I've had since going natural. Admittedly, when I first considered going natural I was very apprehensive about what it would do to my dating life as a single woman in her late twenties.

I was apprehensive to the point that after months of transitioning, I gave in and relaxed my hair around the time I was supposed to do my "big chop". I was newly single and hadn't considered the prospect of dating with my hair in its natural state. I envisioned myself with my short kinky hair at a complete loss as to how to style it and with my confidence level at an all time low. I imagined men would shun me and I would spend the rest of my foreseeable future hiding in a corner.

Well I immediately regretted relaxing my hair and proceeded to start the transitioning process again and this time I went through with it.

So my first experience with my cropped natural hair:

#1: There was a man at the hospital where I worked who had been crushing on me ever since I'd started working there a couple months before. It was his reaction that would be the moment of truth as to whether I felt like men would find me equally attractive with this new look. I told no one I was chopping my hair. I only appeared one Monday morning with my cropped kinky hair. I had gotten looks and compliments from my white female coworkers but I was apprehensive about how a black man would respond. I was ducking through the halls when I spotted him getting in the elevator. I tried to slip away unnoticed as his elevator door closed when suddenly the door reopened and he stuck his head through suddenly.
"Oh my gosh" he said as the door was closing again.
I kept on walking unsure of what that meant. Minutes later, I got a text, "You look SOOO sexy with short hair!"
*sigh of relief*

#2: The next moment of truth: there was a guy I had gone on a date with during the time I was transitioning. During my transition,I had managed to mask my new growth to where no one could really tell I was transitioning. I was just another girl with relaxed hair. He was clearly attracted to me then and wanted to see me again. Now, I was apprehensive because I looked a lot different. 
He was coming to pick me up at my place and I felt the need to warn him... more for my own good than his. You see, I feared he would have some unexpected knee-jerk reaction that would offend me and scar me for good, making me regret the day I decided to go natural. So I figured if i warned him ahead of time, he could prepare an appropriate response that would not offend me. I texted him, "btw, i cut off my hair and it's now cropped and natural, just so there are no surprises when you see me". His response "why did you do that???"
I didn't respond. He stared at me shamelessly the whole date over lunch which made me uneasy "What if I told you I was only thinking good things?" he he replied when I confronted him about it. I shrugged. He was still interested after that, but unfortunately the attraction was never there on my part. Life went on.

So far I had gotten two black men's responses to my natural hair. But what about other races?

The truth is white men didn't seem to notice any difference. The ones who were attracted to me continued to be attracted to me, the ones who never gave me the time of day still didn't. A few weeks after I had done my big chop, one of the ICU nurses, a white man, asked me out. It was my last day of work. To my knowledge he never called.

#3: My third experience was a date with another black man. His first reaction, "I'm so excited about your hair!!!" as he proceeds to stare. He later says, still staring at my hair, "I dont' know many black women who would leave their houses with their hair like that" ( I was wearing a wash and go). I felt like I should be offended but I was more amused. I knew he meant well. And he did call me after that first date and wanted to see me again. Another sigh of relief.

#4: Another moment of truth. I reunited with an old male friend with whom I had had a long history. Technically he had been my first boyfriend and I guess you could say there had always been something between us. We hadn't seen each other in a year but he texted me and asked before we met, "So... are you wearing your hair natural these days?" (he later admitted he had been cyber-stalking me).
When we did see each other, he told me how great I looked but who knows what he was really thinking? By this time, my hair had grown out some and I wore it in a puff.
Weeks later for the first time since going natural, I got braid extensions because I was going on vacation and didn't want to have to fuss my hair. This friend tells me weeks later "Don't take this the wrong way", I braced myself for it. "I think you look better with long hair. It frames your face beautifully. Besides, natural hair is so much harder to take care of. You have to put a lot of stuff in it to make it wearable"
I avoided getting defensive and gave an insincere thank you to the part about my face. I felt self conscious around him after I took the braids out. I was convinced that he was hating on my natural hair. One time, he proceeds to run his hands through it, seemingly more out of curiosity than adoration and I was very annoyed. Thank goodness my hair was freshly washed and conditioned and feeling soft and touchable. He never commented again on my hair but seems to have accepted it as part of me, as I've made it clar to him that I have no intention of going back.

Then there was another black guy at work who told me I would look good with dreads. Contrary to my childhood friend, this guy was disappointed when I put braids in and told me he likes my real hair better because"it looks more natural". (Well of course it does!)

To sum it up, my theory is this: natural black hair on a woman is so foreign to black men that their reactions range from rejection to curiosity to just plain confusion. But eventually they get it... The ones who are resistant at first come to accept and even admire natural black hair and confidence it takes for a woman to embrace it in a society that idealizes a different kind of hair. Some men never get there however. I've come to accept this and I blame society for hiding real black women behind relaxers and weaves for so long that it's become the norm. For many black men, relaxers and weaves are natural and natural hair is... not.


Cas said...

What a great post! Thank you for sharing your experiences.