Here at COCO, we’re all for open dialogue and the eradication of ignorance—but sometimes we’ve just had enough.

To Whom It May Concern: Stop coming at us (and our hair) like we’re some anomaly. “Hair is like religion and we each have our own rituals,” cultural critic Michaela Angela Davis once said. Respect our rituals. We aren’t obliged to justify them. Here are ten things we’ve had to explain about our hair (to our men, White peers/co-workers, even other Black women) . . . and ten reasons why we’re over it!

1. “No, you can’t touch it.” What gives other people the right to come and stroke our manes like we’re Chia Pets? And the request is usually rhetorical because before we can even respond we’ve got someone patting or running their hands through our kinks and curls. It’s just plain rude.

2. “No, it didn’t grow 10 inches, wavy and light brown overnight.” Seriously. Why is the concept of a weave still so foreign to so many people? Everyone from Britney to Beyoncé wears extensions. So if we decide to change up our look over the weekend, please don’t ask us how did our hair grow so fast.

3. “No, it’s not a weave.” Believe it folks, Black women can have long hair! Gasp. No extensions needed. And you don’t have to be “mixed” to have a lengthy mane. I’ve seen women with the tightest kinks and chocolatiest skin to the loosest curl and lightest hue all with bra-strap-grazing strands.

4. “I don’t need to wash it every day.” Caucasian and Asian hair get visibly oily after a few days, but Black hair receives little oil from the scalp and gets dry and brittle if it’s washed every day. There’s nothing unclean about us not washing our strands everyday. It’s just unnecessary.

5. “My locs aren’t dirty.” When starting locs, you may have to skip the shampoo and conditioner, but that doesn’t mean you can’t rigorously cleanse your scalp. Yes, locs are subject to buildup more so than loose strands, but there are ways to clarify them and rid of buildup like ACV (apple cider vinegar) rinses.

6. Yes, I need to wear a headscarf at night.” Women of all ethnicities would actually benefit from wearing one. Beyond keeping a “wrap” or “doobie” in place, a headscarf reduces follicle damage. And if your man is giving you a hard time about wearing one to bed, tell him the sofa has his name on it.

7. “But my locs aren’t permanent.” Locs aren’t any more permanent than a “perm” (hello?) is. If you get bored, change your mind, want to change up your look, you can grow them out first or instantly take the plunge and do a “Big Chop.”

8. “My fro is NOT a political statement.” Some women just love their natural texture or think it’s more convenient to wear. Not every one with an afro or natural hair is trying to make a proclamation of their Blackness or even wants to be labeled “Afrocentric.”

9. “My locs are versatile.” Just about anything you can do to loose strands, you can do to locs. You can make them curly, straight, cut them into cute bobs or color them.

10. “I don’t relax my hair because of self-hate.” Not every Black woman with a perm or a weave hates her natural texture. At the end of the day, it’s not about what’s on our heads but what’s in it. You want bowl bangs with blond streaks because you know you’ll rock the hell out of it? Then go for it. If you don’t think you “need” a perm or weave to feel attractive then it’s just hair.

What are you tired of explaining about your hair?

  • Stephanie

    I hope we get more comments on this post because it encompasses the very reason why women do what they do with their hair: it’s their choice.

    I confess I’m wary when I tell people I relax my hair because I’m not sure I get a casual response or launch myself into a debate/argument over my Blackness.

  • Anike

    OMG, YES!! With the exception of the statements about locs and the relaxer, I’ve had to say every one of these things and it gets on my nerves!!! I don’t even understand how people could be so ignorant about natural hair at this point. Not to mention, it’s my hair and I don’t owe you an explanation of why you can’t touch it or why I don’t wash it every day. It especially makes me mad when Black people ask me b.c I’m like…shouldn’t you know?

  • Tsaun

    I believe it’s just pure ignorance, because by now most people should be aware of the different textures of hair among different race groups. And the differences in care for each.

  • talaktochoba

    petroleum products belong in your gas tank, not your scalp;

    there is no style/rationale now nor will there ever be one that obviates common sense;

    no one with any common sense continually uses virulent poisons, unless there is something about themselves they don’t like, and that is the textbook definition of self-hate;

    so yes, Virginia, people who continue to apply/ingest such virulent poisons as petroleum derivatives DO hate themselves;

  • http://mavis-musings-music.blogspot.co.uk/ Mavis

    Thank you !!!!!
    I always get asked to explain my hair. Sometimes, it can get a bit tiresome, but i would rather that someone who is actually interested ask me politely. I understand that some people don’t have experience of black hair.
    But I get incredibly annoyed when people just come up and touch me without my permission (which has happened quite a few times), or refer to me as looking like Whoopi Goldberg because of my kinky twists. I’m still not convinced in the similarities

  • MissFrench

    As the Queen would say “Never explain, never complain”. Some things are better left unsaid . When someone asks me, I either divert the subject, smile, or I leave the room.

  • HDJ

    There is nothing wrong with making a political statement.

  • https://www.facebook.com/kiara.a.wright Ki Wiz

    I’ve let people touch my hair. I don’t mind when someone I know well asks me if they can touch my hair. My hair doesn’t feel like their hair.

  • Locs

    Great points, but please stop perpetuating this myth that starter locs cannot be washed. They can be. Washing your locs actually helps the matting process. Washing is good. Just be gentle and bi-monthly washing should be enough from the very start

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