Ebony Clark America's Next Natural Model 2011

Relaxed versus Natural: A Man’s point of view

Americans love to fight. Will somebody please check our water and see what is in it? Think about it. There are battle lines drawn on every front; republicans versus democrats, capitalists versus socialists, conservative versus liberal, pro life versus pro-choice, the list goes on and on. We are prisoners of our own ideology. There can be no more debate because we will never come around to accept anything that represents the opposing position.

Thus, we sit… and wait… We have become ideologues and captives of our own dogma; inflexible, opinionated, and unyielding. We see the very existence of the opposing position as a threat to our own existence, and thus, battle lines are drawn. When it comes to the juxtaposition of natural hair versus relaxed hair, for many, the debate is deeply personal.

The follicular cold war
Pardon me while I digress, but if any man is honest, he will tell you that there are few things as sexy as watching women fight. Please understand that I am not advocating violence against women in any form, I make the statement with the equivalency of my affinity for Mixed Martial Arts, only with a hedonistic twist. Men enjoy any activity that can lead to the possibility of the removal of a woman’s clothing, plain and simple. We do not care who started the fight, or why, just hurry up and get it on. However, if we are sitting around the thanksgiving table, all the relatives gather, and the discussion turns to the preference of natural versus relaxed hair, we are out. There will be no winners. This is because proponents espousing their particular style have been engaged in a follicular cold war that goes back as far as the invention of lye.

Hair is emotional
Women celebrate their individuality. Compliments are abundant when it comes to shoes, dresses, accessories, weight, and a host of accoutrements. However, let a woman cross over from natural to relaxed, or relaxed to natural, and it is considered more a statement of embracing one and rejection of the other. Choice of color and length of hair is considered to be seeking individuality, but women have always had to explain their choice of choosing one natural or the relaxer. Load 10 women in a van and take them to a shoe store and they will come back with 10 different pairs of shoes. Take the same 10 women to a beauty shop, if six opt to get relaxed, the assumption is that there is some self-hatred, or assimilation going on. The four who went the natural route, are seen by some as less beautiful, or less concerned about their looks.

Where does it all come from?
The reality is that in every population, there are bad guys, but that does not mean that there are boogie-men in every closet. Somebody somewhere on Madison Avenue, spend hundreds of millions of dollars directing the traffic of our mind. They are tirelessly building superhighways to products and services, using every conceivable impression. For a minute, just forget about the vogue models and the Cosmo girls who are propped up to be the standards of beauty. Let us take just one example of marketing directly to our community. Ask yourself, what is behind the product line called Dark and lovely? Is the inference, you may be dark, but you can still be lovely if you straighten your hair? Why did Acura specify that the casting of an actor “not be too black”? After extensive, painstaking research, I counted only 2 of the 988 NFL Cheerleaders, wear a natural style, and none have locks. The bottom line is that we let those outside of our community, define the standards of beauty for our community.

I am reluctant to say that I PREFER the natural look, because I would never let a woman’s hairstyle be criteria of any significance in my choice of partner. However, I will say that I am attracted to the smell, texture, and look of natural hair. The ocean is beautiful and the mountains are beautiful, the ocean may be your preference… Just don’t let some Madison Avenue real estate huckster sell you that beachfront property in the everglades.

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