Ask Demetria: "My Man Doesn't Like My Natural Hair"

Lupita has short hair that no one complains about.

Dear Demetria:

I did a big chop yesterday. I sent a picture to my live-in fiance, who is the father to my 2-year-old daughter. He responded that I looked crazy and that he doesn’t like short hair. When I got home, he asked me if I was going for the lesbian look. I asked him if I needed to ask him for permission to cut my hair. Now what? —Anonymous

Oh, dear.

Hopefully this can be fixed. And by “this” I mean the discord in your relationship, not your hair. For clarity, there’s nothing wrong with wearing your hair natural, and your hair doesn’t need fixing. There’s also nothing wrong with short hair.

Despite your mate’s ignorant comment, it’s not an outward sign to sensible people that you’re a lesbian, although it does seem to be a popular point of view somehow. I’ve been natural on and off since I was 16 and have done five big chops. I’ve heard commentary about being a lesbian each time. It’s profoundly ignorant. Don’t people know there are lesbians with long hair? Or better, don’t they realize how basic it is to intertwine hair and sexuality?

Anyway, it seems you’ve made a big mistake here, not in cutting off your perm, but in not discussing your decision with your mate. You didn’t have to get “permission” for your decision, but you should have had a discussion with him before drastically altering your appearance. He needed a heads-up, just as, if he had locks or facial hair, you probably would want to know before he cut them or shaved, since he would come home (or out of the bathroom) looking very different from the last time you saw him.

There should have been a chat that went something like, “Hey, babe. I’m thinking about getting rid of my perm and cutting my hair short. What do you think about that?” He could have filled you in on his thoughts. Even if he didn’t like the idea, you would have known what you were walking into beforehand, and both of you would have been better equipped to deal with it when you cut your hair short.

Perhaps you could have waited and grown your natural hair out a little longer before you did the big chop. Or you could have cut your hair in stages so that a short haircut wouldn’t have been so jarring to him. But that conversation didn’t happen, and you were both blindsided—him by your decision, and you by his reaction.

He’s not out of line to be shocked by a drastic change, but I’m concerned about how he handled his dismay. If he doesn’t like your hair, so be it. He’s entitled to have his own opinion. But insulting your appearance by saying you looked “crazy” and questioning your sexuality were way out of line. Does he frequently speak to you this way when he’s upset? That’s the real issue here, not your hair.

But back to what you asked: “Now what?” Explain to him why you cut your hair. Maybe it was for the health of your hair, maybe you were over the expense (and pain) of perming. Maybe you’re over buying into mainstream culture’s beauty standards. Or maybe you just think natural is on trend. Whatever the reason, offer it up. Perhaps understanding your rationale will help him come to terms with your choice. (I’m hoping if he’s your live-in fiance and father of your child, he’s a rationale man, even if in this instance he hasn’t demonstrated it thus far.)

After that, add that you understand he’s not onboard (perhaps yet?) with your hair, but it’s absolutely not OK to insult you or your hair, no matter how much he disapproves. He certainly wouldn’t be OK with you insulting his appearance, especially when he would probably be feeling vulnerable after a big change.

Depending on how much you value his attraction to you, you do have options for your natural hair. You can experiment with hair products and colors. You can grow your hair out. You can also wear protective styles such as wigs or weaves or braids. Or if your intent is “just” to wear your hair as it is currently, you can continue to maintain it as is, and he will have to get over it.


Confession: I Wash My Hair in the Bath Tub!

640_bath-victoria-albert-york-bathtub I wake up the other morning, and head to the bathroom, because I’m human and that’s what most of us do.

The night before, I stayed up til 2AM dyeing my hair “natural black”, which for anyone whose ever dyed their hair black at home knows that really means “jet black.” And then I twisted it. (I am obsessed with the Curl Souffle by Curls. It makes my hair soft and CBW likes to sniff it.)  And then I spent the next hour and half, wiping down everything, because while I’ve more or less mastered how to do damn near everything to my hair, I haven’t, in all these years, figured out how not to make a mess.

So I’m in bed by 4:30, up by 8 to write. And I walk into the bathroom to see CBW bent over the tub in his “work jeans”,  you know the ones that guys only wear to shovel snow, and paint, and move stuff in. The floor mats are discarded in a pile in a corner and there are dirty wet towels all over the bathroom floor. And a reconfigured hanger. This is not how I left things the night before.

Me: What are you doing?

I should have known the answer.

Him: The tub was clogged AGAIN!!!!

He doesn’t say it. He roars it.

Now, CBW is usually pretty mild tempered. Like he takes the Jamaican stereotype of “No Problem” to the next level most of the time. But today he is pissed, and I can’t blame him. This isn't the first time the tub has been clogged.

Oh, why the tub, you ask? Because that’s where I wash my hair.

I balance on my knees and bend my head under the faucet to wash my hair. I know this sounds crazy, but it’s the only water supply in the house with enough pressure to get-up-in all my fluff. I got hair. A lot of it. And that sink and that little spray-y thing that I can’t remember the name of will get water in my hair, but it won’t get the grime or the shampoo out. If I want clean hair, it’s to the tub I go.

I’ve been doing this for years, and never thought of it as remotely abnormal until CBW moved in. He comes home one day, sees me kneeling on the tub with my tush in the air and is like, “uhh… I like it. I don’t know what you’re doing, I’m confused by it, but I like it." What he doesn’t like is that it clogs the drain.

So. Before you think I’m an animal for leaving the tub clogged, I did not know it was clogged this time. I used The Method the last time I washed my hair in the tub. It should’ve been fine… ish.

Ok. So The Method is me getting that curved needle that folks use to highlight hair when you pull it through the plastic highlighting cap. The drain has a silver cap on it, with holes in it. So every other time, I wash my hair, afterward, I stick the needle in the drain, and pull the stuck hair out, so that it won’t get clogged. For excessive clogs, I pour Dran-O down there, which a guy friend told me to stop doing all the time because eventually it erodes your pipes. When I stopped using Dran-O, the tub backed up all the time, which is how we arrive at the current problem.

Anyway, maybe I had some massive shedding last night, or maybe I’m not getting all the hair out with the hook and it’s piled up. (Ding!)

CBW points to the drain. He’s removed the drain cap so I can see down into the drain. It’s gross in there. There’s gumps of hair, not like, cute little kinks, coils and spirals. Like it looks like it could crawl out and attack me.

Oh, dear.

So because it’s my hair and it’s super gross, I offer to get it out using The Method. He looks at me like I’m simple. I take that at my cue to pee and leave him to his own devices. (Secretly, men love to fix ish… just not, perhaps at 8AM when they need to take a shower and get to work on time.)

So because my normally mellow husband is pissed about the tub being clogged—again— I figured maybe I should take some preventive measure to avoid this problem in the future.

So I did what I always do when I’m clueless, I asked. And lo and behold this is a REALLY common problem, especially for natural girls. (And look at me, thinking I was alone on this one.)

How to unclog your drain—or keep it from being clogged in the first place, AND without ruining your pipes:

1. Before and after you wash your hair pour boiling hot water down the drain.  Another suggestion was to pour a mixture of backing soda and vinegar down there, let it sit overnight, then pour boiling water down.

2. Place a stocking or a knee high over the drain. Water passes but catches the hair, then just throw the hair away. (Simple enough, and yes, it works.)

3. Pour pre-mixed relaxers down the drain. FB friend 

‪Barhynn J.  swears by this. “ Iit eats the hair right up” she says. “Sorry ladies with relaxed hair.

4. Another “friend” 

‪Heather S. actually enjoys taking the drain apart and physically removes the hair once a month. “I snake the drain, and put everything back. It's annoying but it makes me feel like MacGuyver.” LOL.

5.And for the ladies that can’t be bothered with all of that, there are drain strainers. If you have a drain cap, remove it and put this one in its place.


Danco Hair Strainer, Home Depot

My real-world friend Nicole H. swears by this one. "It catches all my hair during and post wash...and it is easy to clean," she says.

And because aesthetics matter:  Another friend added, "It's very easy to install (simply replace the drain plate). The hair basket is made of plastic while the outer rim is metal. After ordering it, I regretted getting the white version instead of the metallic one, because I thought it might look cheap. But it doesn't look cheap at all."

Happy (co-) washing!

Humans Suck: Some People Bashed Solange Knowles's Wedding Day Hair

solange-alan-wedding-group-zoom Ugh. Because some humans are absolutely awful.

Yesterday, the Huffington Post ran an article, "Solange's Bridal Afro Upsets Beauty Standards" on the backlash about Solange Knowles's choice to wear he hair the way she always wears it and the way it grown from her head, on her wedding day. Apparently, this was bad. Writer  compiled a series of screen shots from commenters who called Knowles hair "ugly", "horrific",  and  "scary". And before you assume "white girls don't get it", half of those unfavorable comments were from  Black women.

I knew this was coming.

I recall when Wendy Williams knocked Viola Davis's natural hair on the red carpet for the Oscar's as not being "glamorous" or "formal" enough, and how enraged I was. Apparently, natural is tolerable for day-to-day, but when it comes to a Moment-- capital M--we're supposed to break out the pressing combs and flat irons like 80s kids on Easter Sunday.


I was SO PROUD to see Solange rock her beautiful big hair at her wedding. SO SO PROUD!! She looked beautiful, iconic. Just lovely. A walking statement of beauty and confidence.

The textured hair we were given, the CROWNS that we have been graciously bestowed with, is acceptable for any and every occasion. My (unofficial) motto is," the bigger the occasion,  the bigger the hair!" I never considered straightening my hair or flipping a straight weave, or even rocking a kinky one for my wedding day. I wanted my big, frizzy, kinky, curly, coily (because it's all of those things) hair to be my halo (and I needed something fancy going on up there because I  don't  do veils.)

People are mean. And stupid.

If you're a naturalista, would/did you straighten for your wedding day?