While Jones’ statement about the opposite having a different reaction may be true, she’s forgotten that all things aren’t considered equal when it comes to the unfortunate politics of Black hair. A lot of Black and biracial women straighten their hair as Jones does and for decades that has been considered the standard. Despite this pressure to straighten, multitudes of Black and biracial women have embraced their curly hair, wear it as they see fit and some are outright hostile to the notion of a hair relaxer. Especially if anyone “insists” they need one to be “complete” … even if it’s a by proxy suggestion via Lolo Jones in regards to a Lolo Jones costume. The comment is insensitive and it stings.
But a lot of the responses Jones received seemed to be overkill as they often involved passing judgment on Jones, accusing her of hating herself for straightening her hair. There’s no evidence that Jones vehemently dislikes natural hair, only that she’s kind of rude about people who don’t copy her look exactly when portraying her. But as soon as the offensive tweet went out the usual battle stations were drawn, and the primary insult that is usually flung around in the curly versus straight wars is that Black women who straighten their hair (or get long weaves) are full of self-loathing.
I, personally, have natural hair that I sometimes wear curly and other times wear straight. I don’t use a relaxer due to my own issues with the harsh chemicals in relaxers and how my hair responds to them, so I occasionally get my hair straightened with a blow dryer and a flat iron. But as someone who loves how their hair looks both when curly and when straight, I wonder if we’ll ever find a middle ground in this particular debate? Will women who primarily wear their hair straightened ever stop suggesting that I get a perm or gleefully wondering how long it looks if I did straighten it? Will I ever stop feeling like others at times pass judgment on me for wearing my hair straight because I like how it looks and enjoy changing my hair up? Can hair ever be just hair when every part of the Black body is constantly politicized?