Ask Afrobella — Teenage Love and Natural Hair

Can I just say – I love the natural hair community!! Online and in real life, all over the world — when women with natural hair see each other, we smile. We compliment each other. We show love. And that positive energy we generate is a self esteem booster for ourselves, and for younger generations as well!

I got an e mail from a young reader that inspired me to respond with an Ask Afrobella. Take it away, Megan!

Hey, I’m 16 and I have been wearing my hair natural since the 4th grade and am loving it! I am very happy that you have this blog to give young women like me the inspiration we need to keep going this way. But I have a question for you. . . see I don’t get too much attention from a lot of boys, do you think that they’re intimidated by my natural hair? But regardless, I will still rock my kinky curls!

Megan

Megan, you are SO far ahead of the game!

I wish I could take you in a time machine back to when I was your age. Back then I wore my hair relaxed and frequently streaked in some bizarre color, and I attended an all girls’ high school. And all I worried about was what other people — especially boys — thought of me. I could have used a friend like you in those days!

Back to your question: Are boys intimidated by your natural hair? It’s possible, but that depends on a variety of factors. In my experience, teenage boys aren’t exactly conditioned to think outside of the box. Back in my day, “the box” mostly included girls who were slender yet had feminine curves, were typically light complected, and had a certain texture of hair. The quote-unquote cute boys were checking for them. And because I was none of the above, I was put into Box #2. The friend-only box. And I wanted so very much to be in box number one.

But you know what? Hindsight is an amazing thing. And with hindsight, I’ve realized there was a third box I was oblivious to. Allow me to elaborate.


The third box includes girls who have that je ne sais quoi. That undefinable sparkle. Self possession. Confidence. Doesn’t even matter what they look like – they have it in spades, and it attracts people to them like a magnet. If you truly have it, confidence radiates from your inner being, and gives you an effortless glow. From your statement, “regardless, I will still rock my kinky curls!” I’m thinking you already have it!

Not all boys will find you attractive. This may be because of your hair or it may be because of other things. Doesn’t matter. I’m here to tell you, if a boy is intimidated by you, or doesn’t find you attractive because of your natural hair – he’s a fool. Forget him. I had to realize a long time ago — if a guy doesn’t like you because of your hair or your weight, or the shade of your skin, or the neighborhood you live in, or…name your factor here – you’re better off without him anyway. It’s his loss that he wasn’t able to appreciate your beauty. Trust and believe that someone else will – and keep it moving.

As it turned out for me, the boys I was most attracted to back then turned out to not be worth my time or energy. And now that I look back on photos of some of them now that 15 years have passed, all I can say is… WHAT WAS I THINKING?? Just wait, Megan – you’ll see. Some of the absolute hottest of the hot guys you may be crushing on now will not age so well. You may find yourself in that same position, of realizing that you’re better off without them and that your crush was in fact based on fleeting things. Looks. They really do fade.

Even when you’re in a relationship, you may find that some guys will try to tell you how you should wear your hair. If you express an interest in cutting your hair, or wearing it in a different style for a change, they may come at you with threats or negativity. It’s happened to me. Back in the day, one potential paramour wasn’t feeling my idea of doing a big chop. He referred to my close cropped hairstyle as “The Menopause.” Guess what? I cut him loose. For me, it took time and a relationship where I was 100% sure that my boo cared about me, my heart, my mind, and our future together, before I’d even discuss my hair choices with him. Now if my husband feels some kinda way, I think he’s within his right to express a little concern over my hair – only because he’s earned that right with time and love. However, I always will reserve the right to disagree with him and do what I wanna do anyway.

A natural haired woman’s desirability doubts don’t necessarily stop with high school. I know many women with natural hair who ask the same questions – are men intimidated by my hair? Does my hair make me less attractive to men?

To them I say – check out a site like Black Love Poster. If that doesn’t give you inspiration, I don’t know what will.

Or check out the Facebook groups Black Men Who Support Black Women Going Natural, or White Men Who Love Black Women With Natural Hair if you doubt that natural hair love exists. It’s out there, it’s beautiful and it’s real. Don’t stop believing.

So Megan – as it is right now, you already seem to be aware of your beauty, and blessed with a strong sense of self esteem. You’re in box number three! Not many girls at your age are there yet. Hold your head high, know that you are GORGEOUS and AMAZING. Enjoy high school, because it’ll be over in the blink of an eye. And please know that the right boy will man up eventually, and he’ll love you with your kinky curls just the way you wanna rock em!

That’s my two cents on that. Thanks for writing!

Bellas, fellas – any advice for Megan and other girls who may feel like she does?

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Comments

  1. Come On People says:

    nice and inspirational. we all needed that.

  2. I have to say that this is probably the best Ask Afrobella answer I’ve read yet. Kudos and co-sign!

  3. E-Fresh says:

    Nice post. Guy here. I agree. Confident women are SUPER sexy.

    Megan, not everyone is going to like you. Just think, do you like all the boys? So never sweat it over one particular guy. Keep rocking it with confidence and you’ll get plenty of attention.

  4. Love Megan’s attitude AND Bella’s response. Thanks for the positivity this morning!!!!

  5. felicia yvette says:

    Great post!

    Hang in there, Megan. My boyfriend isn’t a fan of my natural hair, either. I’ve spent all this time flat ironing and now I’m getting back to not using so much heat. He’ll be just fine since I’m the same person with or without straightened hair. Rock those kinky curls. :)

    • Make sure you keep the health of your hair in mind when using heat! And I am sure when your boyfriend sees how happy and free you are with your natural hair, he’ll come around =)

  6. Oh, I LOVE this! I used to have issues like this a few years ago, thinking no-one would like me if I cut all my hair off. More fool me – they didn’t like me anyway!

    Megan, just the fact that you’re unwilling to compromise yourself for some false attention makes me think you’re an incredibly strong person – I’m sure I’m right. Just keep doing you. It may get on your nerves and drive you mad and on the very bad days, you might think that no-one wants you (this is a lie). But I think you have to treat your life like your hair – with patience. Plus, if some boy isn’t feeling you because of your hair alone, it’s likely you’re fall out over something even bigger in the future.
    He ain’t worth it -__- Keep doing you, and you’ll eventually find the guys worth making an effort for :)
    x

  7. Awesome post. I am happy to see she has such a positive attitude to begin with. And great advice Patrice. Megan I am sure, will find someone that not only loves her personality and everything about her, but who will utterly adore her natural tresses. Thanks for sharing bella :)

  8. I LOVE THIS! I agree wholeheartedly. Everyone won’t like or love you for who you are, but those are the people you DON’T need in your life! Surround yourself with people who will support and uplift you and not try to change you to fit a mold you don’t fit! The people in your life should want to change you for the better – inspire positive change in your life. Don’t worry about the rest.
    my boyfriend loves my hair & the fact that I’m going natural. But I can’t say that I always get positive responses. the natural road isn’t always easy but ANY road when it comes to relationships isn’t!
    Afrobella – you gave great advice. This is a beautiful piece. I wish I had this a few years ago myself!

  9. i’m normally a quiet lurker on your site, but i just had to write and say this is such WONDERFUL advice. absolutely rock your natural hair with pride, megan – the right guy is the one who never asks you to compromise who you are for him.

    keep up the good work, bella!

  10. LaTonya says:

    You’re absolutely right,Bella – Megan is way ahead of the game. I’m much older than 16, lol, and at times I still feel I lack her kind of confidence. Right now I’m a little over four months into this natural hair journey and every day I feel self-conscious due to the fact that I’m still experimenting with styles and products and my hair doesn’t always turn out right. People in my workplace and the area where I live are overwhelmingly relaxed, and those who are natural and did the chop did so only because chemicals ruined their hair. I’ve caught some flack because my relaxed hair was long, thick, and healthy and they think I’m insane for making this choice. When I was Megan’s age I was natural and I miss that texture I had back then. If I knew then what I know now (there’s that HINDSIGHT, lol) I never, ever would have given in to peer pressure and slapped on those unnecessary and harmful chemicals. To her I’d just like to say, you’re on the right track, and don’t veer off, because you’ll soon discover that it ain’t worth it :-).

  11. This is a great post. I think at any age, women will find that it takes a certain class of men to get over the traditional notions of what “good hair” is.

  12. Marshafari says:

    Patrice,

    This was written with a lot of tenderness, and candour, and sincerity. I am thankful that Afrobella is something of a mentoring agent to many young women who feel like they don’t have an understanding ally in their corner. It resonates with experience, wisdom, and devoid of any condescension whatsoever. I remember our BAHS days *smile*, I remember the awkwardness of our teenage years, and the challenges posed by dealing with and accepting black hair. Those struggles ended when I too went natural. Continue to inspire, to appreci-love, and to motivate others. Your purpose in life is (to me), with this post, unmistakable. Love & Blessings, M

    • you gotta know this comment means a lot to me! Without the awkwardness of our teenage years, I wouldn’t be who I am today. So it was all a blessing – I just didn’t know it at the time. And going natural and embracing my beauty on my own terms made all the difference!
      Much love to you, Marshafari =)

  13. I don’t think there’s much else to add, Bella. You said it perfectly.

    • Thanks Nikia! I stalled out on Ask Afrobellas cause they’re hard to write sometimes. I am so glad that so many are feeling this post =)

  14. Wow! This is Megan here! I thank afrobella for giving me such great advice because I really needed it! And I would of loved being your friend lol. This advice was the most inspirational that I have ever received and I’m glad that it came from a black woman that I can look up too. And bella, we must keep in touch. And I can’t forget about all of you who commented because I almost cried reading through your comments because I feel so much love in every message. I would also like to shout out to the guy that commented because it was also nice to get the male perspective. But I’m glad that I could inspire all of you and I will promise to keep rocking my natural self despite what any boy may think. Like you all have said, “he isn’t worth my time”! Thank you all again!

  15. Another facebook page is Black Men who Love Black Women with Natural Hair (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2210639143).

  16. Hey Megan!

    My daughter is 15 years old and she’s been natural all her life. At times, it’s been heart-breaking to watch her go through the struggles associated with being a natural-haired girl. The women on here are right, though. Girls like you and her are wayyyy ahead of the curve. In elementary and part of middle school, she was the only one at her school with a relaxer. Now that she’s in high school, there are almost a dozen of them and she’s constantly coming home and telling me about girls who have told her about how they are in the process of transitioning to natural.

    My daughter has decided that since she’s going to stand out because of her hair, she might as well embrace her individuality. She loves to make her own jewelry and sew her own headbands. She has even sewn a few outfits. As a mom and a fellow natural haired woman, if I was going to give you advice, I’d say “Be fashion-forward! Take chances!” Of course, you’re already on your way to doing that, so I guess I really just want to say, “Keep doing ya’ thing, Mamita!”

    By the way, if you like, I can introduce you to her. She’s on Facebook. Just send me an e-mail and I’ll send you her info. Our young divas have to stick together! :)

  17. Megan,

    I’m not much older than you, and once I really started owning my natural hair and rocking it with confidence, I started getting a LOT more attention from guys. Just do you, chica, and the boys will come around.

  18. Wow, Bella. I love your blog and this is probably my favourite of your posts. You really are an inspiration, and dare I say – you are inspiring a revolution in this generation. Megan I salute you on your choice.

  19. It’s so sweet and inspirational to hear Megan’s story and the love the natural hair community is giving her and all girls who embrace what nature has given them. Kudos to Megan’s mom, too, because a lot of us grew up in an era when we didn’t have support from our female role models (to this day, I am one of only 2 women in my family who doesn’t process).

    “ahead of the curve” is the best phrase I’ve heard to describe a young woman as self-possessed and aware as Megan – kudos to everyone here!

  20. Great advice Afrobella- you are young but soooo wise!

  21. I know exactly how you feel, Megan. I am fifteen and have a similar problem–except I go to an all white school! In my mind, that made it worse, because I felt that I was so far from the “ideal” American beauty that I would have no chance at anyone liking me, ever. For a long time this was the case. Then finally, one of my guy friends who, as it turned out, liked me very much, said that one of the main reasons he had been attracted to me was because of my hair. This surprised me a lot! My point is that the people who are best for you will love you for the fact that you have natural hair, not in spite of it. I hope you keep being the wonderful person you are. And thanks, Afrobella, I needed this too!

  22. co-sign ALL of that. I wish I went natural YEARS ago!

  23. Imani Strong says:

    Thank you so much, both of you: Megan for your brave question, and AfroBella for your insightful response. After reading it, I almost had tears in my eyes.

    It has been such a struggle for me. I went natural my junior year of high school and was known as “the girl with the ‘fro.” I even got a section in the yearbook, but I felt boxed in. I wanted a “normal” senior year. I wanted to be accepted and blend in, so I relaxed my hair again before if was time to take my senior pictures.

    I went natural again in the middle of my freshman year of college and I have stayed natural. I will be starting my junior year in the fall. However, I have felt so much pain going to parties and clubs with my friends and not being “picked” or seen by guys. I think that very many ARE intimidated by my hair because natural hair means that you have learned to love yourself as God made you despite what societies beauty conventions say that a beautiful woman should look like. It says that you have courage enough to show your whole face and your true self and hide nothing behind weaves and chemicals and long, straight hair. It shows that you think outside the box.

    It’s still hard, however, to appreciate that when all you want is to find the right guy (or a right-now guy) only to feel that your hair is too much for all the guys you know.

    I’m staying natural, this time too, Megan. You picked up on one of the aspects of going natural that they don’t always tell you about at the salon, that you can’t anticipate. We’re not gonna let it stop us, though, and the right guy will come and he will LOVE it!

    Stay beautiful.

  24. Why am I crying? This is such a beautiful connection of sisterhood! Thank you Bella for being such an inspiration to young women…and to those of us who still at times struggle with BEING in an image focused world. Thank you Sisters for loving one another. It truly takes a village to raise confident women. And, thank you Megan for having the courage to become the woman that the Creator designed you to BE–Authentically You!..Blessings to ALL

  25. One of my best friends has been rocking her natural locks for 4 years now, and it hasn’t gotten in the way of her dating! I think it truly takes a mature man to appreciate natural hair. I’m still not quite there yet but I think I’ll be ready in the next few years or so. I read a post on Urban Belle Magazine, an online magazine for women of color, that had a few good reasons to go natural (http://www.urbanbellemag.com/2010/03/reasons-to-go-natural.html). I say to Megan, don’t let these boys get in the way of what YOU’RE doing. There will come a man who will truly appreciate your natural style.

  26. Thanks again for all the advice! I will try to send Afrobella a picture soon, so she can see what I look like. And maybe she will share it with you guys! (O please be sure to check out my new blog! More posts are coming soon!)

  27. good post i just ran into this site and i find it rather interesting because i had natural hair all my life and everyone wonders if it’s a religious choice i often lol because its just a personal choice. I’m 18 and i live in the Caribbean and we are so scarred by western culture and often long to fit into the status-quo it is true that boys find natural hair intimidating it may be because we see no fear in being who we truly are but never the less my significant other would die if i did anything to my hair this just goes to show that different is not always bad it’s all about self acceptance loving you and not looking for acceptance and with that things should fall into place.

  28. DivaisQu33n says:

    Hello Afrobella & bloggers! All of your comments have resonated with me in some way. I’ll soon be 30 and I’ve decided to go natural in the next 2 months and I’m doing research which lead me to this page. I’m at work but I couldn’t help but read this entire artice and comments. Here I am so anxious about making this change, letting go of my ‘natural weave’ (silly me) & embracing my hair AS it grows out my head. I’ve told my freinds and family about my plans to get locks, and to my disapointment NO ONE has anything positive to say about it. Even my own gramdmother made a snarl at me! Im so saddened and discouraged at how we have literally been brainwashed to reject our natural selves. All of my friends are so ‘IMAGE CONSCIOUS’ and place way to much value on the outer person, I’m guilty of this as well, as I wanted to fit in and swing my pocahontas weave down to my butt! Sorry to ramble about this but Its really been weighing on me…
    anyhow, I’m going to need support through this transition (I’m afraid to even tell my man) & I always notice that sisters that are natural have a poisitive air about them and I welcome those sisters to contact me with advice, tips, or just to say hello. Stay blessed! PIN me 224D24E5

  29. Parisvision16 says:

    I am 16 as well and I have been natural for about a year. I have found that I get more compliments about my natural curly hair then when it was straight, and it really boosts my confidence. I wish had a friend like Megan because many girls my age (preferably Black girls) wear fake weaves and outrageous colors in their hair and it is just sad and pathetic. I do feel some times like Megan that boys don’t find me attractive because of my hair, but then a lot of times I just remember that I’m unique from other girls my age because my hair doesn’t follow the straight and fake quota, and that I should to embrace who I am . Great advice Bella it has really helped me, and I hope that it has helped Megan as well. :)

  30. Hi,
    I have very tightly,coiled,thick and dry hair and I’m not sure what product I should try. Should I try the Miss Jesse’s or Kinky Curly for best results? I have been growing out my perm and flat ironinon every couple of weeks, for about 3 months but want to give the heat up. Please help

    Thanks

  31. We happen to have a blog that we would like to share. We are 18 year old college students but we started It’s A Curls World when we were 17. It’s A Curls World is dedicated to promoting inner beauty and confidence for young women and girls of color. In a society where other people keep telling us what is beautiful we thought that we should put our foot down once and for all. We promote natural hair although we never make others feel as if that is their only choice. Besides natural hair, we also discuss health, fashion, beauty, our opinions on current events and life events such as our natural hair journey. We feel that as teens ourselves we see the world differently. We feel that we can connect with our readers as friends who are just hanging out. This is why we write the way we do. All of our blog posts are written in letter form. I hope that this gave you a glimpse of what we’re about; for the real deal here is a link to our website: http://www.itsacurlsworld.com/?m=0
    Thanks,
    Sarah Farma and Mandisa Shields, Co-Founders of It’s A Curls World

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