Battling Natural Hair Blues: When A Naturalista Stops Liking Her Hair

The Teeny Weeny Afro (TWA) seems to be the stepchild, twice removed, in the natural hair family. When scrolling down my Pintrest and Tumblr feeds, and reading the latest natural hair articles, I see box braids, buzzed cuts, faux locs, twists, curly afros, and others, but rarely TWAs. When they do make an appearance, they are usually with loose curls—not the 4b/4c texture I’m working with.

Last week, when I took out my faux locs and saw my awkward, 2-inch TWA, I wasn’t exactly thrilled at the sight.

It was too long to leave the house without running a comb through it, but too short to pull back in a ponytail. I knew my hair wouldn’t be long, because I was growing it out from a five-year buzzed cut—but I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

Like a many naturalistas, I wanted the coveted Tracy Ellis-Ross hair, but got the Viola Davis, post-wig fro. Even in our self-loving natural hair community, not all textures and lengths receive equal praise.

I looked at my hair, which was neither long, nor loosely curled, and thought about how the Blue Ivy hair police might say I had that slave girl, chicken head, “is it a boy or a girl?” type look.

Except, no other person saying those things at the moment— just me.

Though I claim to be a black feminist culture critic and life-long naturalista who will hashtag #StayWoke until the day I die, even I have to admit I do not always love my naps.

When I wore a buzzed haircut, I would break out the clippers at the first site of a wayward curl. I liked the shaved look, not the nappy one.
It wasn’t the texture that bothered me. I loved the versatility of my hair. But it had to be manipulated and styled. I’ve worn twists, faux locs, and curly afros—but they had to be flexy-rod curly. I wasn’t okay with my not-styled, comb-and-go TWA.

So after taking down my faux locs, I immediately went wig shopping. But I think my natural hair genies were not pleased with the way I viewed my hair, so I didn’t find any wigs I liked.

I then thought about compensating to balance the awkwardness with what I deemed beautiful: I could wear makeup (even though it wasn’t a regular practice of mine), I could wear prettier clothing, I could wear my glasses that gave me a softer appearance.

Without much confidence in those ideas, I opened up my laptop and found this meme on my Facebook timeline:

That internet ignorance reminded me to cut the crap and wake up from the anti-black beauty standards I’d been trying to meet.
I responded to the post, “🚫. And still bombAF.”

I’d been natural my whole life and have been a buzzed cut diva for the last five years. I should know better than anyone that short nappy hair is beautiful.

My natural hair journey has taken me from a buzzed cut to faux locs, and now, to a TWA. And I’m learning to love it at every shape, length, and stage.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Shae Collins is a freelance writer and blogger at, a blog that aims a black feminist lens at all things involving race, gender, and pop culture. Follow her on Twitter @awomynsworth.

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