Co-Washed Out: The Hotep Hair Hierarchy


Black hair… full of exquisite coils and complexity (profit as well –I’m talking BANK–but that’s for another day).

I’m proceeding with extreme caution, because it’s also a touchy subject. I had a professor (Heyyyy Professor Lewis!) who mentioned once that she avoided the, “Natural Hair,” conversation. Without going further, I could sense that she’d seen a Coconut Oil bomb go off in her day.

Do I have an opinion natural hair vs. weave? Nope. Do I think that one is better or worse than the other? Nah. Do I ever question a woman’s morals & the like because of her hair? Not at all. If it looks good and she’s happy, it doesn’t matter, right?

 WELLLLL there are some who would be quick to correct me.

I don’t dispute relaxer arguments because there are legitimate reasons for avoiding them. Relaxers can damage your hair and heaven forbid your skin has a reaction to it. I know that women, and some considerate men, cite this and that’s fine. I’ve heard the same with hair glue, but there are enough alternatives  out there that should keep one from writing off all weave as the Devil’s hat.

There’s a specific man I typically hear the dispute from; The Hotep Hakeems of the “Fruits, Sticks and Berries” tribe. Nappy tresses are the epitome of Blackness to them. Anything else is chasing European beauty standards (like White women don’t wear wigs & extensions… I digress). That’d be fine, except for two things:

  • Natural hair is deeper than an Afro

Dudes who assume what’s natural based on how it looks vs. what led it to that state ought to think twice.

Natural hair, by definition, is hair that has not been altered by chemicals, like relaxers and texturizers. Heat is not a part of that equation. I’ll politely step over the fact that there are Black people in this world with loose curls, waves, and even straight hair (sans Indian in their family) to point out that the hot comb has been around F O R E V E R.

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Don’t sleep on shrinkage #inches

Ask any Black  American grandmother and they’ll tell you two things about the hot comb:

  1. You put it on the stove (you can be fancy and get an electric one).
  2. They’ve almost sweat it out from fear that the hot comb would burn their skin.
  3. They’ve been burnt at least once.

One press and the kinks are gone. One drop of humidity, they’re back. Still natural.

  • The mystical world of weave should never be underestimated

There’s gotta be a Hogwarts Beauty School somewhere out here. The stuff women can do with it is nothing short of magic.

At least that’s my opinion. But I frequently hear Hakeems saying:

“These sistas are hiding who they really are”

… I mean, talking to them helps you learn about them, too.

Let’s not forget my favorite response:

“It’s a lie”

I will admit, I’ve heard some hilarious reactions to what men have seen when the weave is removed. But if your hairline– in all of its Bigen glory— isn’t offering any disclaimers, you can’t expect a woman’s scalp to give an explanation.

I would think they’d appreciate the honest fact that there are some women who wear it while they grow out relaxers, possibly in an attempt to become that Ebony Goddess y’all pine over. It’s just easier to maintain for others. The rest wear it to try something different without damaging their hair.

Trying something different in the weave world doesn’t always mean silky straight. At first glance, I’m sure the Hotep Hakeems would gaze in awe of this Queen.

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Ain’t No fruits & berries, bihh

But is it hers? Nope. Kinks come in bundles, too.

I’m not saying weave is the superior choice or knocking natural hair. What I am knocking is acting as if Black women are less-than for, of all things, their hair choice. They can and have made their marks in the world–from portraying positive characters in movies to meeting world leaders– in a variety of hairstyles.

So ease up and don’t block blessings out here; your Assata or Angela could be donning locs or inches upon inches of Malaysian remy.


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