Ask Afrobella — Love Me, Love My Hair?

From painful experience, I’ve learned to avoid giving advice on matters of the heart. I’ve lost more than one girlfriend by opening my big mouth and telling her what I really thought about her man. Through those experiences I’ve learned, sometimes people might say that they want you to be honest with them, but it can be a mistake to be TOO honest. Being too honest can rip the scab off a wound that goes deeper than you realized.

Before you know it, poof, there goes your ya ya sisterhood, and the dude in question always manages to stay in the picture.

I’ve definitely experienced this enough to have learned my lesson. But here I go again. This Ask Afrobella is about matters of the hair and heart. Read on.

Dear Bella:

I’m a 32-year-old mom-to-be who started the transition to natural hair last summer. Unlike some other Bellas, I chose to have my hair blown out into a straight, more mainstream style while I transitioned. Well, I am within about an inch or so (yay!!!) of being totally natural and I’d like to wear my hair in more more natural styles. Having had a relaxer since I was about six, I had no idea what my texture was before. Even if it were the definition of what our people call nappy, I would like to wear it in its natural state, especially now that I am expecting. Between morning sickness and figuring out what looks good on my changing body, a girl just doesn’t have time to fuss with her ‘do!

The problem is my fiance. He has a severe allergic reaction to natural hair, to the point of calling it ugly and unattractive. He and his mother have gone so far as to tell me I need to “Go get a perm.” A few months into dating, I discovered that he himself would perm his hair to achieve the wave look. I was appalled, not because it was a perm so much but because he seems to dislike his own hair texture so much. He has since grown this mess out, but he still wears wave caps to achieve the wave pattern, which looks nice, but is a bit dated. It is 2008, after all!

In any case, while shopping a few days ago, I pointed to this beautiful woman who was wearing a curly afro and commented that I loved her hair and that as my pregnancy progressed, I’d like to wear my hair in a similar style, braided or in twists perhaps. He nearly lost his mind. Long story short, Bella, is there anything you might suggest in a situation like this? I haven’t read your blog long, but I absolutely LOVE it. Your vibe and advice are so refreshing – you feel like an old friend.

Shay in Atlanta.

Hey Shay, mmm mmm mmmmm. This is a tough one.

First of all, let me just say congratulations on your new addition to the family! This should be a beautiful time in your life, so I hate to hear that you’ve got any kind of stress. A new, beautiful baby is growing inside you, and you’re poised and ready to make the ultimate commitment to your fiance. But I wouldn’t be Afrobella if I didn’t voice some concerns about your husband to be, his mama, and their feelings about natural hair.

And seeing as you’re writing to me as opposed to, I dunno, straight-bella, perma-bella, or relax-a-bella, or some other blog where chemically changing the texture of your natural crown is encouraged, you already know my thoughts. I think your hair is your hair, you should be able to wear and style it however you want to. Especially now that your body is changing, your hormones are hopping, and you’re trying to take the best care of you and the life inside you.

Just so you’re completely informed, although many bellas avoid dye and relaxer during pregnancy, according to Ask A Doctor, “there is no evidence that I am aware of to suggest that dyes, straighteners or other treatments are dangerous when used in early pregnancy. Nor is there any good evidence that use of such treatments affects becoming pregnant. Little if any of these chemicals are absorbed into the mother’s circulation, and so the pregnancy should not receive a significant exposure.”

But this is only according to an online doctor. You should ask your real doctor what they think.

Enough about the physical effects of relaxer. Let’s talk about the mental.

Of course, not everyone feels as passionately as I do about embracing your hair’s natural texture, but in this case… I hate to say it, but — to paraphrase Bob Marley — your husband-to-be and mother-in-law-to-be sound like victims of mental slavery. None but themselves can free their minds. I see naturally kinky and curly hair as beautiful and so do you, but some people are just really closed-minded and conditioned to only see straight hair as beautiful. It makes me sad, especially for people who are not born with that texture, who will therefore spend their entire lives battling what their hair naturally wants to be.

It’s your husband’s right to style his hair as he sees fit. He can go ahead and get his Terence Howard on (if you don’t know, now you know), or rock a nouveau Soul Glo like Jennifer Hudson’s new fiance… my problem is not with his own styling choices. My problem is that he’s trying to impose his own ideas of beauty on you and devaluing your self-esteem in the process.

Does he love you as a person inside and out, or is he more concerned about your physical appearance? And if you guys aren’t even married yet and already he’s tripping about how you want to style your hair, how’s he going to act when you’ve got bigger concerns to worry about? Like, um, kids? If you have a girl, will he want to relax their hair at an unreasonably early age? So many questions.

This Ask Afrobella troubled me so much, I had to call my parents. They’ve been married for a lifetime, so I knew they’d have some light to shed.

My dad weighed in : “From my experience, you never give advice on somebody’s spouse, or spouse to be. However, I find it difficult to understand in this day and age how someone could go to such lengths to alter his appearance. If he wants to alter his appearance, then that’s up to him. But what is he going to marry? Is he going to marry the lady’s hair? Did he just fall in love with her hair, or did he fall in love with a person with all kinds of different attributes? This is how she has to approach him. As simple as this issue is, they need to resolve it before they get married. They’re already starting off with a conflict, and it isn’t going to get any better. You have to resolve this issue, he has to love you for who you are before you get married. I see your mother many times and I don’t like her hairstyle… but would I leave her for that, or make her life miserable? No. It is what she wants to do with her hair, and how she wants to present herself. I love her regardless.”

Cue frosty silence from Mama Bella on the other line. Don’t get yourself in trouble, Dad!

My mom also offered advice. “It’s better she’s independent now and says this is MY body, and MY hair, and don’t let his self esteem issues transfer on to you. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, not in the beheld. He should love you as you are. Punto finale.”

So that’s what I think, and what my parents think. But the REAL question is what you think is best for you and your baby. This man will be a part of your lives, and you love him, right? So you’ve got to consider the kind of family life you want, need, and deserve to have. Let’s consider your options with respect to your potentially transitioning into natural hairstyles.

Option 1 — You could take a stand and tell your husband and his mama, “love me, love my hair.” You have a sitdown and explain to him, honeybunny, I love you and I see a bright future for us… but I’m going to change my hairstyle during this pregnancy. I hope you can still see me as the same woman you asked to marry you, regardless of if my hair is straight or curly.

What’s the worst that could happen? I’d hate to think your man would break up with you over this. So maybe over time him, his mama, and his relatives come up with sassy put downs about your hair. If you’re strong in your desire to wear your hair as you see fit, you’ll learn how to deflect their hateration without letting it ruin your day. My mom and dad might not want to admit this now, but they weren’t exactly thrilled when I first laid down the creamy crack. I took some jokes at home from family and friends. But they’ve definitely come around now, though — the ones I care about, anyway. It takes time, but option 1 could be worth it.

Option 2 — you suck it up for the sake of family unity. As someone who’s been married for six years herself, I’ll tell ya — marriage takes compromise. You want to do one thing, he wants to do another, and in my experience it’s best to choose your battles wisely. This is the man you’re walking down the aisle with, and having a child with. It is just hair, right? Maybe working with him to overcome his issues, and letting him know that even his own natural hair looks good without an S-Curl or a wave cap, could be a good step towards his future acceptance.

Option 3 — don’t even talk to him about it, just do what you want to do anyway. Try this next weekend — give yourself a day of beauty and pampering. Deep condition your hair and style it the way you want to, put on your favorite outfit and make yourself feel beautiful. Let him see how you look and how it makes you feel, and see what he has to say then. It might not be as bad as you anticipate. And if he truly loves you, he’ll have to learn to love you as you want to be, eventually.

Which option will you go with?

I really, really hope this helps. Lots of love and encouragement to you, Shay.

Bellas and fellas, PLEASE chime in and tell Shay what you all think. What advice should I have given, here? What advice do you have to give? This is a tough one, right?

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Comments

  1. Your Mama has the bead on it Bella…

  2. im with MamaBella here…if it’s your hair, then what next. its one thing to have preferences and thats fine. natural hair might not be his cup of tea, but he’s not marrying her hair, hes marrying her. if hes that pressed (no pun intended) to have a woman with straight hair, as easy as it is for me to say this, then let him go. because it isnt YOU he loves, its this idea of you. and you definitely deserved to be loved for who you are, not what you look like.

    ‘get the kinks out of your mind, not your hair’ – marcus garvey

  3. HeavenLeiBlu says:

    I honestly think that the dude and his family are a cluster of self hating morons, and perhaps and that things like this should come out before committing to a person, but you’re stuck with him now, whether you marry him or not. Mama Bella is on point. I’m upset that this guy’ll be impressing that ridiculous mindset onto the baby. I hope all goes well.

  4. In the words of India Arie: You are NOT you’re hair… If he cannot see through that and love YOU for you (curly hair, kinky hair, straight hair, NO hair), then you may need to reconsider.

  5. Shay needs to set him straight. The way a person wears their hair is a personal choice. I feel natural hair is a beautiful way to celebrate our beauty and radiance. Especially since she is having a girl. I wonder does the hair issue echo deeper issues. Because I feel your partner should accept you for who you are and not try to change or ridicule you. If they can’t accept you then maybe they are not the person for you.

  6. A man that perms his hair in 2008 I sense some serious character flaws going on there. Does he have self hate issues? Are you a light skin woman and is you self hating fiance just on his way to whitewomanville in a few years?

  7. You could take a stand and tell your husband and his mama, “love me, love my hair.” You have a sitdown and explain to him, honeybunny, I love you and I see a bright future for us… but I’m going to change my hairstyle during this pregnancy. I hope you can still see me as the same woman you asked to marry you, regardless of if my hair is straight or curly.

  8. Solution: Just do a twist-out, with some cute hair jewelry or headbands, throughout the pregnancy. Who cares what they think. Problem solved.

    Except that your situation is not really about your hair.

    Your man is insecure and does not have a healthy self-image. (Which is why you had to “discover” that he was perming his hair, and which is why he’s still doing foolishness to it, instead of getting some twists or dreads and calling it a day.) Because he is insecure within himself, he’s tearing you down. You are the mother of his child, and he should be treating you with more respect. How he treats you now, will intensify once you get married. Men who are insecure tend to be controlling, abusive and unfaithful…you should be very careful.

    PLUS his Mama is co-signing on ALL of this – from his comments to his issues. I can understand a couple of comments, but after a point she should support you as a female. Why not suggest the name of some natural stylists in your area, or tell you about a good natural product that she heard someone mention..something constructive like that? What are they going to suggest that you do to your child’s hair, pray tell? And what if you don’t agree?

    Call the wedding off and wait for the one that God has for you, who will love and affirm you, no matter what your hair looks like. It doesn’t sound like he’s the one.

  9. So Lisa — option one is your choice, then. I would go with option 1 as well.

    I’m trying to reserve my judgment on Shay’s fiance — this IS the father of her child and she’s in a relationship. I think she has a lot of considering to do, but at the end of the day, she really has to think about what’s best for her and her little one.

  10. Shay, I’m sorry that this issue is of such great importance to your fiance that it is causing you stress.

    You love your fiance but I hope you love yourself more. This is not an issue to answer right now. Put it on the back burner for now, through the duration of your pregnancy. Having a healthy baby with you being healthy too is most important right now.

    If he really needs to know what you are doing with your hair, let him know that for the time being and throughout your pregnancy, you choose not to stress about your hair and would rather following a natural regime. After the baby, you will review. But it is your choice in what you do.

    My ex wasn’t willing to accept my advice on cutting his hair but he felt it necessary to share his opinions with me about my hair. I made the decision after I was divorced that I would only allow someone in my life who can be complimentary or can share their criticisms in a non-judgemental way. Anything less, I will not accept.

    Don’t even allow his mother the opportunity. It’s not her business.

  11. After I finished laughing at the “cue frosty silence” because I SO was thinking the same thing, I have to say I think your dad is totally on point, bella. This needs to be resolved BEFORE they get married, and if they cannot reach a compromise that does not leave Shay feeling good, too, then guess what is in store for even bigger issues? And what you don’t like before you get married, you HATE HATE after you get married. Also, you set the pattern for your life together early on. And as has been stated, if this baby is a girl, will he want her to be one of the 3-year-olds getting relaxers and sporting ate-up edges? Like your dad said, it might not be what you like, really, but if your man/woman likes it, and it makes them feel good, then you need to say, well, I’m not really feelin’ that, but I love you, so do your thing. You love people BECAUSE OF and also IN SPITE OF various things, right? I think Shay should weigh carefully what your dad said, because he’s giving it from a guy perspective, risking frosty silences and all, and he has been married for a long time. And the momma on board thing. Why is she even in this??? Guess what — she is going to be in on a lot more things that should be just between the two of them, unless her fiancee can find the strength to respectfully tell his mom that some things are between him and his fiancee/wife, which can be hard to do, I know. But still. In my opinion, and it is just that, I realize, my opinion, but this whole thing is symptomatic of more than just hair.

    Whatever Shay decides to do, I hope that the end result is she is happy and healthy, whether the journey and outcome is different than planned, or not. This comment is too long, already, I know, but it’s the kind of thing that fires folks up, because marriage is a big deal, and self love is a big deal, etc. I have to say, my mom was not feeling my hair, either at first, and was always dropping “helpful hints” but they were never deliberately hurtful. I just ignored her and kept going. Now she thinks it’s cute. I think secretly she would still like me to straighten it, but guess what? She loves me, she sees I like it, so she has decided she’ll like it (as much as she can :-0) too.

  12. Haitianroots says:

    sigh…ladies, i’m not sure if i’m in agreement with how some of you have answered this young lady. i know that many of you want to encourage and empower Shay, but bad-mouthing her fiancer and father of her child, i’m not sure if that is the right way to go. who are we to tell her to call a wedding off and that her man is a moron? how would you feel if a perfect stranger said these things to you in the name of “advise”. i’m sorry as a married woman of faith, this just doesn’t sit well with me. i think we are all in agreement that this young lady should address this situation because it does seem to be more than just a “hair issue”. there are red flags here. but i just urge us to becareful we speak and refrain from giving what we think is good counsel but are actually negative remarks. sister shay, i will pray for you in this situation. that God will give you wisdom on not only how to handle the situation, but will bless you with the right words to speak, not only to your fiance, but to your possible mother-in-law. and i don’t know if you are a woman of faith, but if you are i have a wonderful prayer for pregnant mothers. this is a time when your spirit should be at peace, so handling this concern now before it manifests into something worse down the line is very important.

  13. If there is one lesson that I have learned in life that has stuck like glue and is my #1 guide rule that is – you cannot please any other human being.

    Today it’s the hair, tomorrow it’s how much her body changed since after the pregnancy. It almost sounds like Mr. Shay is in love with the idea of Shay (big ouch!) but dearest Shay, you’ve got to nip it in the bud or learn to let it roll of your back and not let the comments ruin your self esteem.

    If he’s so inclined with relaxed hair and you want to lay off the relaxers during your pregnancy you can consider getting sew-in weaves. Get some afro-curly ones too!

  14. Haitainroots: I feel what you are saying. I don’t think anyone is badmouthing homeboy, we are just telling our sister to watch out. If he’s giving her static on her hairstyle then what is next. While I was pregnant, I chose to not perm my hair. As the new growth threatened to take over, I had a girlfriend braid my hair. My hair is MINE. If you don’t like it, too bad. I would hope any man who is attracted to me likes me for more than just my hair. Shay, concentrate on the pregnancy and after the baby is born, sit homeboy down and let him know that the snide comments have to stop and now. Then have the same discussion with his mom.

    Bella: if your girl asks your opinion of her man and tells you to be honest, and then ends the friendship because she didnt like what you had to say, then she wasn’t your friend to begin with. Men come and go but good girlfriends are forever.

  15. I just read HaitianRoots comments and you’re right, sorry for saying he’s in love with the idea of you, that was rather hurtful.

  16. True Beauty
    by Chad A Booher

    Beauty is a thing seldom seen
    No one sees it because no one looks
    Or at least not in the right place
    Beauty is held by all
    Within the soul it lies
    Waiting to come out to the surface
    Only it can’t
    Beauty is suppressed by the evils of the world
    Only love can bring beauty out
    Once seen
    Beauty never hides again
    Not even hatred can deny beauty
    Of it’s true design
    Beauty although possessed by all
    Will only ever be truly seen by few
    And fewer yet will ever see
    One of the most beautiful sights
    The beauty held by you

    Ms Shay,
    My favorite quote is from William Shakespeare:’To Thine Own Self Be True’
    Beauty comes from within and if your man can not appreciate your Natural Beauty, he will not truly appreciate your Relaxed Beauty. Seeing that he can’t appreciate the natural what image will he then impose upon your child? Your man seems very insecure and obviously acquired that from his mother; who(if I may keep it real) needs to get up off you.
    You could try twist-out, braids, headbands, but your man seems too shallow to even find beauty in that. And to piggy back on Wes…. You are NOT your hair.

  17. For Shay:

    1. Going natural does not mean you won’t have to “fuss with” your ‘do. If you honestly think that, you may need to so some more research.

    2. I personally would do whatever I wanted to do with my hair (as I did when I went natural) and rock on. I’m sure my husband, inlaws and a whole host of other people would prefer that I were still permed. However I am the one that deals with my hair on a daily basis, so I did what I wanted to do with it.

    3. I think you and your fiance need to have a serious discussion about which things you all will decide as a family unit and which things are left up to each individual’s discretion. These are things you MUST work out prior to getting married. I can’t tell you what is right for you and yours, but I know that good communication is key to a good marriage.

  18. Haitainroots — I understand what you are saying, and I hope that it didn’t sound like I was saying to drop him, because I really believe what she does is her decision, and this is the only thing we know about regarding their relationship. Because they are going to have a child together, I hope that they can reach a compromise that they both can live with and be happy. But I still think she needs to give careful consideration to what this all really means. They are going to have a child together, but they are not married yet. It is because I have such strong faith myself and I believe totally in the sanctity of marriage that I think no one should go into marriage unless they truly believe that this will be the best thing for both parties. Because it’s after the “I do” that the hard part starts. And if they decide to get married, and she decides to stay natural and he still hates her hair, then like ceecee said, she’ll have to let it roll off her back and realize she is beautiful regardless of what he thinks about her hair, and hopefully all the other reasons she loves this man will balance it out.

  19. I agree with these ladies. You have to be happy with yourself and if you begin NOW with letting him talk you into or out of things that make you happy, then the worst is yet to come instead of the best.

    Then, there’s always Option 4- Kick him in the balls. A lot of things you thought were a big deal, aren’t quite as important when your genitals are making your stomach ache.

    Kidding…sort of.

  20. Hi Shay, when I got married I relaxed my hair had touch ups every 3 months…just the way my hair worked it I guess. Like you my hair was relaxed from a very young age about 5 yrs old when My mum moved us to LA for a few years. It was the done thing. Back in the uk it seemed the done thing to continue. Anyway I my scalp became over dry and I decided relaxers were the problem and stopped grew it out slowly and voila.

    Though I have my own hair hang ups its not because of my husband. Ya see for me he doesnt like it when I wear my hair pieces or extensions. He makes a point of letting me know that in his jamaican patois “your owna hair suit you betta”. As long as it styled and looking alright he is good. He rarely comments on my hair. The fact that he doesnt really like when I have pieces and extensions etc he doesnt say anything. He will only say something if he really hates a hairstyle and that is rare. I was surprised when he noticed I went overboard with blusher lol.

    Anyway I do not really care enough to be bothered if he didnt like what I did with my hair…I just tell him. I dont get my hair done for his benefit.

    I guess you just need to find out who will be compromising (sp) the most. if it is not 50/50 need to assess how far does his love go.talk to him without your soon to be in law.

    good luck. if you wanna be natural …. be natural

  21. Wow, that is deep! It would be so much easier if you weren’t pregnant to say, drop him and and do your own thing. But, that is not necessarily the right answer now. He has to have some overwhelming qualities that are worthy of your love, or else you wouldn’t be engaged, right? Those qualities have to overshadow this imperfection I assume.

    However, it sounds like he really does have some self-esteem issues going on. Is he religious (any religion that believes that we were created by GOD) by any chance? If so, maybe take that angle with him: that God didn’t make a mistake when making our hair kinky-coily/nappy/curly. And by being so offended and appalled at seeing people with natural crowns and glory is disrespectful to our Creator. I don’t know…that’s worth a shot.

    Otherwise, I pray that you come up with a decision that still honors yourself. I’m a newlywed, and yes, marriage is full of compromises, but I don’t know that I would compromise my feelings of self-worth. I got with my husband as a ntaural, so that’s pretty much how he has seen me. Occasionally, he asks me to straighten my hair b/c he likes to see it that way, too to switch it up. So, I get it pressed. That’s a hair compromise. Plus, he does the same with me. i love when he wears his hair long and curly, he tends to like it really close. Last year he grew it out and kept it curly for our wedding in April and then he cut it. So we both work with each other.

    On a positive tip, he may come around eventually. If he stopped relaxing his hair, maybe he’ll drop the wave cap next. Try some somewhat subtle hints like getting the book Textured Tresses (Diane DaCosta) and reading it in bed or leaving it a place where you know he’ll see it. You may end up being a good influence on him, if you can stand his comments in the meantime. You know it takes time to get to a place of “natural hair” acceptance from your personal growth into this decision.

    Best of luck!

  22. I agree 100% with everyone here; My husband did not like my hair during the transition period (especially since I did not know how to style it) and now, almost 3 years later, If I even mention the “P” word, he gets his “panties in bunch” …..You have to do what you think is best for you and let him know that he is marrying you for the wonderful person that you are, not for the hair on your head………….he’ll come around eventually.

  23. Haitianroots says:

    @ bebroma, i’m not to say that i’m not in agreement with what has been mentioned in these responses. like i said, there are red flags, Shay does have to be true to herself and make sure that she is aware of ALL things before heading into marriage. btw, Shay, i don’t know when you and your fiance are getting married, but i encourage engaged couples to seek pre-marital counseling. i think you are spot on when you say after the “i do” is when the hard part comes. we are eye to eye here. i just want us to be careful when choosing our words. life and death are in the tongue, and we could think that we are giving the best, honest, sound advice to someone, but we killed it in the delivery.

  24. I agree, haitianroots, we do need to be careful. It’s easy to throw out the words, but we don’t have to live with the decision. I think you added a nice balance, and I was thinking the same thing about the premarital counseling.

  25. @ Haitianroots:

    There are some things in life that need to be told ‘like it is’, and some actions that need to be taken, accordingly. We must let God show us the things in our lives that need to be kept, pruned or done away with.
    If she were married and we were advising her to leave her husband, that would be a different story. It would definitely be unscriptural to tell her to do so, in which case I would understand and support your pious approach.

    However…we must be careful not to appease or endorse unhealthy relationships. For whatever reason, this situation has struck a dissonant chord with most of us who responded, “women of faith” or not.

    Let’s keep her in our prayers.

  26. @ Shay– most times, when we are asking for advice, we already know what we want to do, we are just seeking someone’s approval or OK to do so. If you are going to need others approval for your hairstyle choice, maybe going natural isn’t for you, b/c believe me, people are going to have something to say! It may be something good or something not good, but I strongly advise you to truly listen to yourself and do what YOU know what is right for you. It’s been my experience that being honest about your needs is important, so try being natural! You don’t hafta be natural forever but it’s worth finding out if that’s really something your feelin. Free yourself from all this worry, b/c if he really loves you like you and your baby deserve, he will get over it.

  27. Shay, I’m with Nerd Girl, just wear your hair the way you want, & they’ll more than likely get used to it, or at the very least, get tired of their complaints falling on deaf ears & just shut up. Personally, I’d also make sure to FIRMLY TELL them to shut the hell up, just to reinforce that it’s not up for discussion, that’s it’s YOUR choice to wear your hair however you see fit, however, I’m not always known for my diplomacy, but just wanted to put that out there… ;-)

    Trust me, I’ve been in similar situations with brothas that are only used to dating straight haired girls, & most times, folks come around. And if your wearing your hair natural would honestly be a deal-breaker for your guy, then, there are probably bigger issues at play here anyways…

    Good luck to you.

  28. When my husband and I were dating, he told me he really loved long hair and really wished I’d grow mine out (I wear it curly, but not past my shoulders). I replied, “sweetheart, if you like long hair so much, you should grow some.” He did not mention it again.

    This conversation was short because a) he learned that I have a mind and a style all my own, and I wasn’t going to change either just for his approval, and b) he loved me more than he loved long hair.

    We’ve been married now for 7 years. I think, especially with marriage, you have start out as you mean to go on- that is, if it’s important to you, fight for it now, not later.

    That said, I think marriage also means compromise. So I’d say you need to get him involved in your decision so that you both can accept it. There are lots of ways to be beautiful. I would say use the time now to experiment with different looks, and find one you both like. He is probably having a knee-jerk response to what he “thinks” natural hair is, and not to what you do or will look like personally. You can both learn a lot and get closer together if you ask him to be involved in this decision like any other. After all, if going natural is as big a decision for you as it was for me, it’s one that you would want your husband to be a part of anyway, as you would with all major life decisions.

    As for his mama, well, honey, you aren’t marrying her. And that’s all I have to say about that.

  29. Haitianroots says:

    @ J. Please don’t get it twisted. i’m not at all advocating unhealthy relationships/situations at all. and i would never want to appease or ask someone to appease something that was unhealthy in my life. my only point here is that i don’t think that when trying to give advice to someone that you should resort to name calling. like bebroma said, you give the advice, but you don’t live with the decision. if you read my comments over, i stated that i’m in agreement with what most everyone (including bella’s fam) on this. there are issues here that need to be addressed. do i think that this young man should have a fit because Shay wants to way her hair in a natural state. no. do i think that there are self-hate issues. yes. do i think that she needs to address this because this can open her eyes to something even deeper. yes. however, i will not call the man that she loves a moron, and to drop him, etc. i agree with you that we need God to show us the things in our lives that need to be kept, pruned or done away with. i’ll just leave it at that at the end of the day, we want what is best for Shay.

  30. I believe in drastic measures to make absolute stances on important issues.

    To stop what I see as potentially abusive behavior, (it starts with verbally abusive comments) I say you need to postpone your wedding until you’re and your fiance can come to terms with not only your appearance, but other important issues that are necessary for a happy marriage.

    If you haven’t done pre-marital counseling already, I would say make an appointment TODAY. If he’s not willing to go, don’t marry him.

    Afrobella has a good point about a future daughter, what are you going to do with her hair, what about a son? If the father perms his hair, he may want to do it to his son too.

    What also bothers me, is that he’s not even concerned about the possible safety factor of perming your hair while pregnant.

    Also, I’m really uncomfortable with you’re fiance’s response to the hairstyle that you pointed at. It appears that he is sooooooo focused on something sooooooooo superficial that it really bother’s me. It’s not like a hairstyle is permanent.

  31. Good luck Shay.

    I agree with the other comments. You need to resolve this before you get married.

  32. Mrs.Mckinzie says:

    I agree with your mom,and dad Bella.I feel that if Shay did’nt kinda feel something aint right in her relationship she would not be asking for advice.So therefore what ever advice she gets from us she can take what she needs ,and throw the rest away.My husband is not the biggest natural hair fan either,but he would not make me insecure about the way my hair looks just because he does’nt like it.He loves all of me ,and it feels good not bad.Shay your fiance is going to be the first man in your daughters life,and she does’nt need him messing with her self esteem if you choose to leave her hair natural.I think you should do what you feel is right for you,and your daughter first.

  33. I agree with hatianroots(sahk passe!) It is always easy to judge others and tell them what they “need” to do, but you never know how you will be. I used to be the same exact way, telling my friends they are stupid to put up with their man and shelling out advice that was never adhered to. Guess what? They still did what they wanted to do in the end and you go through all of that for nothing most times. I even ended up in the “stupid girl” role, sometimes you just can’t control who you fall for. I agree with her seeking marriage counseling-healthy advice from real professionals.

  34. i believe in romantic love, and then there is a situation like this and there is nothing wrong with being practical. he appears to have seriously deep psycho-sexual fixations/issues that its unlikely you can change especially since his crazy mama is backing him up. i say keep your eyes clear, your hands warm, your heart cold and and powder dry. If you make a lot more money than he does, dont marry him, if he makes the same or more, marry him. get legal and stay in it as long as you can for your child’s sake, but be ready to get out when he starts acting foolish. i would imagine however he is determined to have straight hair in his life, or what straight hair represents… and chances are good that will be a pretext for him to get what he wants outside the marriage eventually and he will either creep or leave. you prepared for that?

  35. CoilyFields says:

    Ladies, I agree with rosesm and a few others. It seems that we are coming down very hard on the man Shay is going to marry. We need to be fair-minded about this and realize that we have only heard one side of the issue and cannot advise such things as calling off the wedding. I wore a perm for 17 years and honestly did not go natural for reasons associated with pride in my natural hair. As I have grown more comfortable with my hair and done TONS of research on the web I have now developed an appreciation for it that was not at first there. With that said, we cannot condemn those that do not share our views. We must realize that most of US have been inundated with the “necessity” of a perm and the desire of “good hair” that the european american standard of beauty has proported all of our lives. If you had asked me two years ago about going natural, i probebly would have said absolutely not! That would not have made me a bad person.

    In referance to marriage. The sister was right, its about compromise. Pick your battles. Is this something that it’s your way or the highway? Not always a very promising tact. But if it’s super important to you, go for it! But its better to find a compromise since it is something that you will both have to live with. My husband has certain styles he hates. And because I love him, I try to accomodate him. He hates “phony pony’s” and so if I do feel the urge to indulge, I limit them to maybe once a year. Yes, it’s MY hair but lets be real, I would have a problem if my husband decided to grow his hair out and get a perm. And i would hope that he would take my wishes into consideration and not want to divorce me because i cannot appreciate his quest for straightness. As a matter of fact, I prefer low cuts on men and because of MY preferance my husband does not grow his hair out.

    Figure out how to make it work honey. Thats what will help your future marriage. Perhaps we could avoid the number of divorces in our country if we can learn that EVERYTHING is not a reason to split up. I’m sure he says he loves you, and he wants to marry you, and you all are having a child, those things trump hair anyday!

  36. CoilyFields………..Nicely put

  37. Good going, CoilyFields and Hatianroots…thanks. Just like Bella stated at the beginning and in the comments, coming down any old way on someone’s fiance and the father of their child isn’t wise. She’s asked for advice and she’s got more than plenty now, but that doesn’t rule out the need for respect toward someone else.

    That said, most of the comments here have been relatively tame. (I had to censor myself all day reading this story myself!) My first response, like many others, was like WTH?

    Yep, not everyone goes natural to express pride. And, nope, it’s not “easy” to take care of natural hair. ALL hair needs some type of maintenance. But the issue here is SO much deeper, or so it seems from the letter.

    I wondered, too, if the fiance’s fixation on straight hair indicative of a larger control issue and/or greater desire for what that aesthetic “stands for.” If he’s the type to take the straight hair thing into the territory of “light is right” and all that, then counseling is surely in order. But maybe, who knows, it’s a personal preference and not something that indicative of a larger issue. Either way, run, don’t walk, to premarital counseling. Because if he’s the sort to pick you apart and try to “change” you (with his mom’s unsolicited help) and control you, PLEASE FIND OUT NOW.

    I’m also married and my husband met me with straight hair. Fortunately, he begged me not to perm it once I went natural, but made certain that my hair is mine and he won’t dictate its look. In exchange and in all fairness, he hates cornrows (even designs) so I limit how often I wear them and try to find appealing looks when I get them. It works both way.

    Yes, hair is just hair but when it comes to a woman’s natural beauty and natural talent, sometimes the hatorade indicates a more serious issue. HOW he expresses his disdain (and the fact that his mother chimes in) says EVEN MORE.

    (Sorry for the length of the response and all the quote marks… :) )

    And as for sc: “If you make a lot more money than he does, dont marry him, if he makes the same or more, marry him. get legal and stay in it as long as you can for your child’s sake, but be ready to get out when he starts acting foolish.” Um, can you clarify that????

  38. I read through the responses to Shay’s question. Reading through these I thought about a song with lyrics that say

    I am not my hair
    I am not this skin
    I am a soul that lives within

    Don’t lose the fact that no matter what your hair is, curly, straight, red, black, short or long, you are who you are. Your hair doesn’t change that.

    Just know, our experiences help to shape our response to our sister’s situation.

  39. Shay has a LOT to think about, and so many of you have given her wonderful advice. I hope to hear from her soon. Was just thinking about how I would feel if I was her and was reading all of these comments …. angry, sad, overwhelmed, and maybe finally, hopefully content in finding the right suggestion. Whoever first brought up professional counseling, THANK YOU. Can’t believe I didn’t say that in my post!!

  40. I almost never comment on these, but Shay, you moved me to write.

    I, like you, took the blow out/weekly salon visit route to growing out my relaxer, and almost a year later I am almost fully in the curly swing of things. So props! I found out the hard way that my ethnic pride isn’t exactly going to show up through my mane, but I love the increased style versatility I have. (And I no longer fear the pool!)

    But on a more serious note, your relationship. Your situation reminded me of one I was in a while ago. I can’t speak to your specific situation, but in my own, I found that it was trying, but easy to separate myself from what the guy and his family thought. They had negative attitudes about natural or cornrowed hair, broader features, and dark skin, and I caught a little mess from his grandmother about how I look. Now, he and his parents assured me that her attitudes were from the past – but I found out they manifested into the present, and they harbored a lot of the same feelings, just not openly.

    However, what made the decision for me was the thought of raising a child who would love themselves and their hair in that kind of environment. We had a pregnancy scare, and I remember thinking about how much of a nightmare it would be to raise a child who loved themselves if they had to be exposed to that side of the family. That put a huge crack in how I perceived the relationship from then on, and though we didn’t break up until two years after that, I never seriously entertained the idea of having children with my ex.

    It is your decision, and only you can make it – but I have found through experience that we ignore these little red flags, hoping things will work out, against our own best interest.

    Anyway, best of luck with the hair (have you found a stylist that can do relaxed and natural yet?) and good luck with your situation!

  41. HeavenLeiBlu says:

    Hey guys, particularly bella & HatianRoots…

    I hear what the two of you are saying ( tried to respond earlier by my ipod froze up and I couldn’t get to my desk), and I understand that Shay is in a delicate condition right now, but I don’t think she asked for advice in order to have poo covered in sugar.

    The hair issue on it’s face is a small one, but it shows a red flag about control issues, helf hate issues, and meddling/sniping mama in law issues in the future and long run. I highly doubt that shay will decide up up and leave this man based on what strangers on a website think. Even if she DOES make such a big decision based on the responses here, no matter how we honestly feel about the guy, Shay is stuck with this man in her life FOREVER, because of the beautiful baby girl she’s going to deliver.

    I agree with another responder that says she really shouldn’t even have this on her mind right now while she’s carrying this child. I say do what you darn well please with your hair so that you don’t tranfer the stress of trying do deal with this guy to the baby.

    I still wish you luck and love, whatever you decide.

  42. Dag on…you’d think I was in the 8th grade or something… ignore the typos …sorry, it’s been a long day.

  43. Your fiance is a moron. Are you honestly going to let someone (man or woman) tell you as a grown-ass woman how to wear your hair? I am not going to beat around the bush-your relationship sounds like it will go nowhere. Not only do you have this natural hatin’ man, but you also have to deal with his brain-washed mama? If this man does not want to receive education on why loving ourselves is crucial to our survival as a people, then it is time for you to leave this relationship. How you wear your hair will not be the only thing he finds wrong with you. I think you know in your heart this relationship is doomed, and that is why you wrote this message. Find a man to love you for you-be patient and he will come!

  44. One more thing-please pray to be delivered from this situation as well!

  45. Shay, one last point. I tried, in giving you my advice, not to put you or your relationship “on the therapist couch.” You got a lot of advice here today, but none of us can decide for you what’s worth it. If this relationship is worth it to you, then treat it with the level of compromise and respect that you need to sustain a marriage. If you decide it isn’t, make the decision to get out of it with the same care and thought, and respect for yourself and your fiance that you did when you made the decision to get into it. I read these comments with a great appreciation for everyone who wants to help you out, but even I am overwhelmed by the comments and the extremes in either direction and it’s not my decision. I just want you to know that we all hope things work out the best for you, and to let you know that none but you hold all the pieces that goes into solving this puzzle. View all of our advice, mine included, with that in mind.

  46. Hello Shay,

    When I decided to go natural 5 years ago my husband was instrumental in my decision. He had always encouraged me to stop relaxing my hair. He even showed me how to style it in a fro since he is a 70′s kid and I am an 80′s baby. The point being, he did not just accept my natural hair he embraced my natural hair. He loved my hair because he loves and accepts himself.

    “Natural Women, if you are concerned that a Negro man will not find you attractive and may stop loving you because you have liberated your hair from the straightjacket of cultural brain washing, stop worrying. Love yourself, wash your hair, and style it beautifully as you keep the faith and hold on to the vision. A natural Afrakan man who loves himself, one who is on higher ground, is working his way toward you beautiful Afrakan Queen”

    Queen Afua “Sacred Woman Guide to Healing The Feminine Body, Mind and Spirit”

    Wish You and Your Baby The Best

  47. I hate to be hard; but I have to tell you that this relationship doesn’t sound promising and I think you sent mixed messages to your boyfriend.

    The biggest issue right now is that you could potentially become a single mom(which is no picnic) because this man and his mother have issues with your hair.

    If he was a mature “man” he would have said: Honey you’re having our baby and I want you to be happy and what my mother thinks isn’t relevant.

    The other thing which bothers me is that you sent a confusing message: it was ok for him to have his hair “permed” with waves or to force his hair into a wave style because of self hatred and vanity issues.

    But the larger issue is that having a baby with a supportive family is the most important thing.One wonders What kind of self esteem messages do you think this man and his mother will send to your child? what if you have a child who has hair of a texture they don’t approve of?

    Your boyfriend sounds extremely immature and you’re sending confusing messages. Are you really embracing natural hair or is this “hairstyle” only going to be for convenience during the pregnancy? What would the outcome be if you decide after the pregnancy to continue wearing natural hair or if after the pregnancy, you don’t? Do you see the mixed messages you’re sending to him?

    I think you need to solidify what your “own opinion” is on this natural hair matter,and think about the potential consequences for your child’s self esteem.

    And most important: are you prepared, now ,to be a single mom,which is a huge responsibility?

  48. I read through this entire list of comments to see if anyone would try to offer the “submit to your husband” approach. I’m glad to see that this conversation has been measured and reasonable.

    The only thing I wanted to add is a piggyback on Sandra’s comment: If your little girl starts showing signs of having nappy hair I’d be VERY careful about leaving her alone with her paternal grandmother. I wish I was joking but…there are more than a few threads on NP describing how relatives permed a child’s hair behind the mother’s back.

    Seriously…when you talk to your fiance and future mother-in-law you need to let them know that you’re not going to raise your daughter with the same hair issues that generations of black women have had to endure in the past. I’m guessing they are not going to get it — you cannot mentally transition in a single conversation — but you will have to take a stand for the sake of your daughter.

    Good luck and let us know what happens. (Thanks, Bella, for sharing her e-mail.)

  49. I understand to a certain extent what you’re going through. I do not have a boyfriend or significant other and that makes me insecure about my hair. Does my hair make me unapproachable or ugly? Sometimes, I avoid social functions because I don’t think anyone will approach and/or they will reject me.
    I’m sure that this conflict will help you be stronger in your natural hair beliefs and in your relationship with your fiancee.
    I hope all goes well with you and your pregnancy.

    God bless.

  50. thfromthabay says:

    Wow this is my first time responding as I am a brand new bella, please excuse the length, that said, I would say Shay and her man’s disagreement is probably not that unique. I’ve worn my hair naturally, fried dyed and laid to the side, and I do take into consideration what my man thinks about my looks, he doesn’t like extensions or weaves with the exception of braids (he met me naturally with 2-strand twists), no biggie to me I just got over my love affair with my ponytail drawer and am presently transitioning back to natural for GOOD. It goes both ways, he knows I like his beard trimmed thin and he would love to sport the Barron Davis look, but thankfully comes to a compromised medium thickness. I believe to a point you should consider what you know is attractive to your mate when choosing your grooming and style. However after 8 years and 3 children our relationship has at a place where physical expectations are not on top of our importance list. A hairstyle is not guaranteed, my father had radiation therapy on his neck and throat & is unable to grow his signature “chest-length” beard & I don’t think my mother consulted a divorce lawyer because of it.

    SHAY, do what makes you happy. If you’re happy, your man should be too. That’s what keeps my household in harmony & I hope it works for you.

  51. Wow….I don’t even know what to say. I feel so blessed that my husband was WITH me on my journey to being natural but I know that a lot of women don’t have that support.

    The only advice I can give is this:

    1) Draw the line in the sand very early on with the grandmother. God forbid you have a beautiful nappy headed little girl. Let her know that it will be YOU and your husband making any and all decisions about how your child will wear their hair. Let her know NOW – not when it’s too late.

    2) Continue to work on your husband. Unfortunately a lot of men attach long, straight hair to sex appeal. Most black men are not used to seeing natural hairstyles and it’s going to take a lot of women wearing them and being CONFIDENT to shift that paradigm. Point out a beautiful bella every time you see her on the street. Clip magazine pics of women wearing natural styles and still being sexy. It may sound stupid but the more you can link your new hairdo to sex – the more likely it is he will come around.

    3) Like Bella said, marriage really is all about compromise. If your hair is where you want to draw the line and if you feel like it speaks more to who you are as a person than fight tooth and nail. If not, don’t. I’ve learned in my own marriage that more and more important things are going to come up, especially when you have children. At the end of the day you just want to be happy and in a healthy relationship.

    IDK, this is such a difficult topic. Good luck!

  52. I don’t know if I would go as far as to say that Shay’s fiance has self-hate issues because he relaxes his hair, or doesn’t like her natural hair because we all have preferences and that’s ok. What I will say is that you need to resolve this matter one way or another before you walk down the aisle because this has the potential to end a relationship. If he nags you this much about your hair then he might be pretty shallow when it comes to a woman’s appearance and he will use any flaw that he sees in you to tear you down and that’s a scary thought.

  53. CoilyFields says:

    I hope to offer more than my opinion. Here are some actions you could take.

    Pre-marital counseling is always encouraged because marriage is one of the biggest decisions that one can make.

    And in a tactful way let your fiance know that you would prefer that this issue remain between the two of you and to please ask his mother to refrain from commenting on your hair or possibly your babies hair in the future.

    Showing your fiance the various natural looks that you could achieve might help him (I also was not knowledgeable about how one could wear natural hair, accept of course for the afro). maybe even get a natural hair magazine and ask him what styles he likes the best.

    We must gradually change the worlds image of beautiful. I think we could do that more successfully by example and patiance than contempt. My own mother has said that I need to just press my hair. I don’t take offense, I know that she has not come to the understanding or acceptance that I have for my natural hair (she has natural hair but gets the good ole’ press and curl). I assume that you met him with straight hair and though we all change and mature we dont all do it at the same rate, nor concerning the same things.

    as for the control issue. We would need to be present in your relationship to determine if he’s a manicical control freak as some people seem to believe based off of the fact that he wants you to get a perm. Come on sisters, we KNOW that the same way we were cultered into perms, our men were told that long straight hair was beautiful. Look at most of the black women in the media…weaves (not to down my sisters who choose to do that). But very few mainstream sisters are in their natural glory. We are fighting an uphill battle and cannot become disgusted with those that have not taken up the cause with us. Lets face it, it took most of us a while to decide to go natural. Most did not just wake up one morning with no prior influence and say, I want to go natural. We saw other natural sisters, or got tired of the perms or a host of other catalysts that gradually altered our opinions. The journey took years for some, and for others it may have taken 5 mintues.
    Give him a chance to come around. And lets face it, he may never agree with it but hopefully he will come to accept it. And remember, a positive self-image is important, but there are more important things in life than hair and in MY opinion, that is not a reason to become a single mom. (Especially if you may decide in the future that you prefer the blowout that you had before).

    I hope I have imparted some wise counsel but the decison is yours and I pray that you make one that you can live and prosper with.
    Have a beautiful healthy baby!

  54. Bella here’s my 2nd question of the day. If you and your spouse decided to have a baby now that child would be born with “more manageable” hair than some of the “kinky” babybellas out there with “coarse” beautiful ‘fros. So if the father is supposed to have a say in the child’s upbringing is he wrong to want his child to be have “more manageable” hair? On a personal note I’d be scurred if my husband to be and father of my unborn child was that submissive to babylon’s ways but that something his mama taught him and at this stage a bit hard to change.

  55. I have a similar, but different experience with this situation, but the keyword here is CONFIDENCE. I am pretty much chiming in with Afrobella. Girl You got to work that fro. Once he sees that you have confidence in the beauty of your natural hair, he will appreciate it and encourage it (if he is truly a good man). My issue was with the creamy crack style though. I change my mind about my hair a lot and I went natural for a while and my husband (then fiance’) liked how soft it was, but I have since gone back on the crack and I am sporting a short hairdo. Hubby likes it, but there was a time when he complained about me cutting my hair (he wanted me to have long flowing beyonce hair which I have never been able to achieve with the crack, but have when I was natural), but since I change my mind a lot, I just did me. I let it grow out and on a whim I would cut it again. He was my boyfriend at the time, and after I was pregnant I let my perm grow out and when I permed it, it was really long, but when I went to weaves and was growing out my perm again he came to me and said why don’t you just wear your hair short, I like it now, you look good with it short, you don’t have to have it long for me. So the moral of the story is stay strong and be you, if you feel strongly about natural hair rock it proudly and anyway, the hair that grows naturally from your scalp is the most beautiful hair to rock.

  56. rmcandlelight says:

    My daughter had the same issue and she decided to go natural but to please her husband sometimes she puts on a staight ponytail or wear a wig but most of the time she wears her own natural. Her husband just had to get used to it.

  57. I agree with you and Mamabella. Shay should do what she wants to do with HER hair. If the man wants long and wavy, he can perm HIS hair (which apparently he is already doing so there shouldn’t be an issue.)

    When I decided to go natural my boyfriend at the time went on and on about how I looked like a little boy (my hair was about an inch long) and how he and I couldn’t go to the same barber. After about a week of teasing, I told him that if couldn’t deal with my fabulous natural hair, he wouldn’t be dealing with me. A few months later we broke up for other reasons and I am currently engaged to a man who loves my natural. To this day, I am so happy that I stood my ground about the hair. I would hate to have gone to the creamy crack to please someone who was gone less than a year later.

    Shay, stay strong and do you whether it is permed, blown out or rockin’ an Angela Davis afro!

  58. Shay…
    Your story is mine… I transitioned with a blow out press and have been natural for some time now. My father HATES my nappy hair. I LOVE it. Which is paramount after all.

    Anywho…
    Why dont you get some braids? Micro’s or Two strands to ease the look on to you husband? Or even some pretty up do braid styles. I do it all the time, for convience and to switch up my look. If you keep it really diverse, and well managed, you can slip you OWN hair looks and it won’t be to startling to your husband. His feelings count too, even if they are ones of racial and self insecurity.

  59. I feel that you need to do what makes you happy, keyword being YOU! I’ve been natural all my 29 years in this life; I have had to cut people(family, friends and a fiance.) off because I am comfortable in hershey special dark skin, my big lips, and waist length dreads. He needs to accept for who you are. mom-in-law has no sayso whatsoever. My ob-gyn doesn’t think hair relaxers are safe while you’re pregnant. He feels that the chemicals do affect your growing child .

    I HOPE YOU DO WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY AND SET YOU FREE!

  60. this is some good feedback ladies, i hope Shay is able to find some kind of peace of mind.

    another tip Shay is to explain just what perming ones hair can do to your hair’s health. did you know that frequent and prolonged perming can make one go bald in spots? that the chemicals used in perms are the same as those used in Draino? that in perming ones hair you are actually harming your hair as you are stripping off layers of your hair that are there to protect and make your hair stronger? so essentially, perming your hair is doing more harm to your hair than good, all for the sake of maintaining an unnatural standard of beauty.

    if, even after breaking it down to your man like this he is STILL adamantly against natural hairstyles and wishes you to get a perm, then to you i say ‘be very careful’. for a man who would rather you cause potential harm to yourself in any fashion for the sole superficial purpose of aesthetics is not a man who truly loves you and has your best interests (or those of your child) at heart.

    i, personally, shirk at the idea of changing who i am, especially when i love myself as much as i do.

    i know that you are in a sticky situation because he is your fiance, the father of your child, and someone you love very much. so its a lot easier for folks to give you such clear cut advice because we’re not in your shoes. in the end i know you will do whats best for you and your child.

  61. Shanessence says:

    Shay, a good friend of mine is also facing this situation with her husband. They have been married for one year now. She likes wearing her hair natural and then eventually started straightening and then perming her hair. This is a big issue for a lot of black women (I am fortunate to have a husband who loves natural hair). A lot of commentary from various people have been suggestions that you give your fiance something just short of an ultimatum. That is not the way to go in most relationships, and as Bella says, there are compromises to make in every relationship. If there is some way that you two can meet at a middle group (i.e., maybe he likes some natural styles more than others) then I think that would be best. But ultimately that decision is up to you to make, in the best interest of your relationship, yourself, and your little one on the way. I wish you well.

  62. Wow, due to Hurricane Ike I missed this discussion. All I have to add is that I really hope she follows up with you and the blog, Bella. I am very interested to see what comes of this.

  63. Some of these responses seem a bit harsh to me with calls for Shay to dump her fiance. Shay is pregnant afterall and we don’t know the financial and emotional obligations present. My perspective is that sure you could tell him to ‘step off’ but how does that actually resolve the conflict?

    When people are being difficult that is the time to love them even more. We are not perfect. I’m certainly not suggesting being a doormat by any means but this is an opportunity for you and he to grow closer and work through this. Yes his attitudes can be indicative of other issues but so can many things.

    I’d be far more concerned about finances that how a person dresses/chooses to style their hair. It is one aspect not the only aspect. Of you and your relationship. If other aspects are equally out of sync then I’d be concerned.

    But before so much emphasis be put on your fiance I’d question myself about my own standards and my own perspectives I’m bringing into the relationship as well. Do you consider your fiance fully formed in his opinions or will you give him time to grow more into his ‘manhood’?

    It sounds like he has a domineering mother who thought it was best to be ‘tough’ and may not have had a father present. Sometimes we Black women are so distrusting of Black men we can’t possibly imagine they’d be functioning in a relationship. We can push them away or leave no room for them to breathe.

    You chose to be with him for a reason and have to own complete responsibility for that. There are no victims here. You either negotiate from a position of power or you decide to abdicate it.

  64. queen useless says:

    Focus on your healthy baby, stress based on foolishness is not necessary. My husband and I still struggle with the straight vs. afro debate, and in the fall once the humidity dies down I get a dominican blow out for him to see. I love my afro, I love myself. I love my husband, and he loves me regardless what the do of the day may be. Love is complicated, but your appearance should be the last problem you have.

  65. Shay in Atlanta says:

    Dear Bella and Afrobella readers:

    I wanted to thank you all for your comments regarding my original question regarding wearing my hair in more natural styles. I’d initially let Bella know that it was okay to share an email I’d sent to her in private thanking all of you, but I thought I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a minute or two to say the same to all of you myself. THANK YOU. Bella’s blog post touched my heart. If you haven’t figured it out yet, she is a gift from God and I hope that everything she strives towards becomes a reality. Not only did she deal with my issue, she lent it the compassion only she can. So, please continue to support her and give her love so that she can continue to bless the world with her wit, wisdom and humor. Oh yeah, and her hair knowledge!

    Having said that, your comments made me laugh and cry, but all in a good way! The advice all of you dispensed here was invaluable, even if some of the comments were a little snippy. But I understand that those of you who bothered to comment were motivated by love and not a desire to tear me down. I’ve made up my mind about what I’d like to do with my hair, which is to wear it more naturally, whether it’s in braids or twists or something else. I’d actually decided that when I began my transition. Of course, since I’ve been wearing my hair in blow outs, I could also continue to go back to that when the mood strikes me.

    Regardless, I wanted to let you all know how much I appreciate all of you for your care and concern. It takes a lot of guts to blindly post to a blog knowing that you might be attacked or even belittled for your opinion. It took me days to actually move my email to Bella from the drafts folder, but I did it and I’m glad. Again, you all made me laugh so hard at times, cry and even scratch my head. You have helped me and some other woman out there who isn’t quite as brave as I am to put it all out there. But there are a few of you that I wanted to address directly. Hatianroots, thanks for your positivity. Latoya Peterson, you spoke directly to some of the things that have come up within my own relationship. My hairdresser has been with me from the start of my transition, which began in May 2007, quite some time after my fiance and I got together. Ironic, huh? Poster Sandra thought I may have been sending mixed messages, but I was never confused – I take people as they are, even when I can’t say I agree with a personal choice they may have made. In this case, I love my fiance for who he is; we’re just having a difference of opinion on this one. Marriage counseling and parenting classes are on the horizon too. I think we’ll need them :)

    I don’t know the baby’s sex just yet, ya’ll, but if it’s a girl, I’ll teach her to be happy to be nappy, and as I expressed to Bella in my email, if wooly hair is good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me!

    Be blessed Bellas. And again, I can’t thank you all enough for your wisdom.

    Shay

  66. I’m sorry to say this, actually I am not. I would leave this man. Simple. I could not bear to be with someone with such a slave mentality. The hair is only the beginning.

  67. HeavenLeiBlu says:

    Shay, thank you so much for chiming in and following up, and also for being brave enough to put your situation out there as you already know, and have said, you’re definitely not the only person dealing with this dilemma. Many blessings to you and your family, in whatever are led to do.

  68. Good for you! I love different styles and hate cookie cutter looks!

  69. Hey Shay!!! Hey Bella’s!!! I had to speak on this as a natural hairstylist(in ATL) who has seen many-a-client sit in my chair and stress over the same exact situation…guess what???? It gets better!!! All the ladies who have transitioned to natural and their husbands didn’t like it at first, have grown to like it and some really start to love it!!!

    Most of my clients transition for health reasons like yourself and stick with it after their pregnancy, scalps have healed, spirits have healed, etc…So i say stick with it and check out message boards like nappturality and afrobella for great tips on how to keep your hair (and baby) healthy and beautiful. If you need help, call me Shana 404-399-4348 at Honeecomb Natural Hair (lil shameless plug). I would be happy to help and give you tips on how to look sexy for your man and how to show your mama-in-law how us natural girls are elegant, sophisticated, fierce and fabulous!!!

  70. Shay — thank YOU for putting yourself out there, I’m sure that many others will face this situation. I wish the very best for you and yours. And yes, girl, a little counseling can be a good thing! We are all growing and learning. One thing, if you’re having “natural” childbirth or not, braid that hair up for the whole labor/delivery thing. Trust. Been there and done that, honey, and it’s a WHOLE lot easier!

  71. Jackie Hale says:

    Dear Ms. Afrobella,
    I found your blog while doing some searches for tips on bi-racial hair. I’m Puerto Rican and my husband is African-American. We have two beautiful little girls, Gabrielle and Alexandra. Anyway, Gabi’s hair is very tightly curled and a little more coarser and Lexi’s hair is also tightly curled and less coarse. Anyway, reading your blogs have helped me to manage both of my girls hair types with great and natural tips. I make sure my girls feel like princesses every single day and to love themselves and what God has given them. That is all I wanted to say. Thank you for your great and natural hair advise.
    Best regards,
    Jackie Hale
    Warwick, NY

  72. notjustfoxybrown says:

    Wow! I guess I’m just floored by the fact that in 2008 …2008!!!!! …there is a black man telling the woman who is carrying his child and who is about to become his life partner that he doesn’t like the hair that she came into the world with.

    I’m going to be honest here, and I’m sure I’ll here from the bellas on this one, but it was that kind of self-hatred that made me open myself to the possibilities of dating non-black men.

    The last black man I dated seriously (eight years ago now) was at my home one evening. I had spent the day preparing a wonderful meal and then dressed up nicely so we would have sort of a special ocassion. Sometime during the evening, he said this: “You look so nice tonight. You know, I’m surprised how attracted I am to you since I’m usually only attracted to light-skinned women.”

    Yep. Those words came out of the mouth of a highly educated, well-travelled, seemingly versed in his own history black man. Needless to say, he never got another meal (or anything else for that matter) out of me again.

    Shortly afterward, I noticed that the men complimenting my extremely short hair were Cuban men (I lived in Miami at the time), French men, German men, white boys from north Florida and north Philly.

    But if I went to a black club or other black event with friends, I never got any attention. Never. That’s not to say that there aren’t black men who love us no matter what. I know there are. I just don’t meet them.

    To to the bella who sent the email: I’m not married but I know when I decide to make that level of commitment to someone, I hope he accepts that I am of African descent. My hair is nappy. My skin dark. My lips full. And I hope he loves it.
    Good luck to you.

  73. Thanks Shay for responding! I was wondering what your thoughts were. I agree with the hairdresser – it DOES get better. Many of us have grown up with and around straight hair so long, it’s not surprising to me that our significant others, family members and friends don’t understand why in the world we’d want to walk around with “nappy” hair. The first time I wore my natural hair out in public, my husband was NOT happy. My mom and sister used my pics for comic relief. When they finally all saw my hair in real life, all I heard was how cute it was. My husband isn’t in love with all my styles, but what he does like is that I’m finally letting my hair grow and am less stressed out about my hair than I was with a perm. Good luck with the baby, and on your upcoming marriage, and thanks for sharing your story with Afrobella.

  74. My biggest worry is not for you but your child. Especially if that child is a girl. If Daddy hates his natural hair and Mommy’s natural hair, how can she or he love themselves and the reflection they see in the mirror.

  75. I totally agree with family bella!! I’ve been there, done that. I went 7 mths without a relaxer and then I cut my hair. My boyfriend and his family had all the jokes in the world about my hair, but I made the decision to do what I wanted to do. He acted like a fool and even went as far to say that he wasn’t attracted to me anymore. Needless to say it has been 23 mths now and everyone wants to run their hands through my hair!! Go figure!!

    I made a decision to do what I wanted and I was satisfied, but moreso happy with it. I told him and his family that they would accept me or they wouldn’t. I do believe that this is an issue that you definitely need to handle before any “I do’s” take place. Handle it for yourself first, but also realize that you are the voice of your “new addition”. What will the two of you say to the world?

  76. I grew up hating my hair in APARTHEID SOUTH AFRICA where the “whiter” you looked the more chance you had of getting somewhere in life.

    It has taken me lots of encouragement from my husband to grow my natural, unrelaxed hair out and sport an Afro to scream out loud about who I really am.

    It is hard enough dealing with the emotional issues and stereotypical issues you face when going NATURAL, let alone someone who makes you feel ugly about it.

    Anyone who literally `denies their roots´ is undoing what Nelson Mandela did for not only South Africans, but everyone else.

    Mzansi Madame

  77. Shay,

    speaking from experience, I was with someone who was fixated on the look of long straight hair. It went from him complimenting me when I’d decide to wear my hair down (perm) to him almost insisting that I keep it blown straight. My hair is wavy when wet, so I used to wear a ponytail alot. It got to the point where I’d get quick weaves to keep him happy. I was pretty young when this occurred, and his mom who was a constant witness to this never told him to accept me for who I was, she always seemed to silently agree and support him.

    In the end Shay it didn’t work out. He became more controlling, more posessive, obsessively unfaithful, and verbally and physically abusive.

    I think anyone inconsiderate enough to not value your opinions or your personal sense of self with your hair needs some serious counseling. I suggest that you both get some marriage counseling before you take the big leap. I’m doing just fine with my 2 girls and I’m so happy that he isn’t apart of our lives. He’s a horrible father as well.

    In conclusion, I followed my heart, trusted my gut and God, and made it out ok.

    His mom is with a man who isn’t faithful, and she looks unhappy whenever I happen to see her around the way. He’s in Las Vegas hiding from child support for the many kids that he’s had here in AZ. Trust your gut Shay, you know something isn’t right about this.

  78. I decided to go natural last summer. I told my husband I was going to cut my hair off. His reply was “the clippers are in the closet”. He even tightened up my little ceasar. He was really supportive, he would even buy me new hair products to try. Months later he told me that he didn’t like my hair when it was short. That let me know he would support me no matter if he liked my decision or not. I hope your fiance learns to me more understanding & supportive of you & your decisions.

    I have also learned that there is no marriage without compromise. You have to ask yourself is the issue really worth fighting for. If it is you still have to be prepared to compromise chances are if he feels strongly he may only give a little.

    I don’t know what your going to do about his mama though. But I do know 3′s a crowd in a marriage.

    I hope they let you breathe at least until your baby is born. You don’t need the stress right now.

    Take care of yourself

    GA Girl

  79. Is it me or do the lot of Black men have hang ups about natural hair….I personally believe its in part due to misguided beauty ideals. They all want us to have that long flowing straight hair from that damn Pantene Pro V commercial, lol! I personally have had to defend my natural hair to my family, boyfriends, and people I don’t even know on the street. I have had guys fall over me when my hair is pressed out and not even recognize me when it is natural. My last boyfriend actually said to me ..”you need to stop not trying to be white and just go get a perm”…”it’s amazing how you look when your hair is straight” implying that my pressed hair trumps my natural dos. I guess what I’m trying to say (hope I don’t sound too bitter) but finding a black man who actually embraces women with natural hair is kind of hard. They are out there…but rare. They don’t seem to understand the importance of acknowledging our (black women’s) natural beauty. I don’t know how we can get them on board, but I hope more brothers come around. I just feel like they should be the main ones backing us. It’s disappointing to continuously encounter guys that do otherwise.

    As for advice..he could come around and support you. And yeah, he should like you for who you are not your hair, but the real tip changing a persons mindset doesn’t happen overnight and it may not happen at all. You have to make sure going natural is really want YOU desire and wear your hair PROUDLY! Cuz, the comments may not stop. When you have the glow of confidence and happiness, you know once you make your decision, he may love you for finding a piece of yourself. And God willing you may help him see the beauty in his own self. Best of Luck and many Blessings!

  80. I think that her hubby needs to calm down. I’m on the India.Arie plan: I AM NOT MY HAIR.

  81. After 6 years natural, my husband still prefers my hair straight, but that is his preference, not mine. Everyone is not going to agree with your decision to be natural, but over time, you’ll care less and less about what they think. I say do what “YOU” feel.

  82. Bert Daniel says:

    Congratulations to Mama and Papa Bella on your fortieth wedding anniversary.

    Bert Daniel (Orlando USA)

  83. My daughter, Heather is bi-racial (hispanic/black) & has very coarse hair. Her hair has a relaxer, so it is straight. It has been 4 months sincer her last relaxer treatment. One of her friend’s (also bi-racial) has done the Japanese hair straightner treatment instead of the relaxer and her hair texture is just like the relaxer. Well Heather would like to try the Japanese hair straightner treatment. My question is: would you recommend this treatment? Does it matter since she has done the relaxer in the past? Is 4 months long enough to do a different treatment and will not affect her hair texture. Do not want her hair to fall off because of not knowing much about black hair. Have asked white stylists and they do not know. Have asked ethnic stylists and they do not recommend it. My daughter can not stand the scalp burn of the chemicals relaxer and wants to do the Japanese treatment. What do you recommend?

  84. Stringerbell says:

    Please Help Me. I am wearing my hair locked for five years. Now within the past 6 months, my hairline has thinned and rapidly the rest of my scalp. I am talking hormones for surgical menapause for the past 5 yrs. I take B6 vitamins and use good moisturizing products. What should I do. I don’t want to lose any more hair. What more can I do?

  85. I need help!!!!!! I have been natural now for 5 1\2 years. I did my cut on impuse did’nt even think twice. I ma happy with it. I need to know what to do with it now that my AFRO has gotten so big. I did a two strand twist out and frizzed up in a day. I get the stares from males and females. I have heard the commets both sides, some are good some are bad. I have done the AFRO puff ponytail. Do’nt want to keep pulling it back. pls help like I know you can.

    Thanks in advance!!!

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