What I Learned When I Let My Man Wash My Natural Hair

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by Lola Mitchell

My husband has seen my hair in various styles over the years. Some of them he has liked, some not so much. He has followed me to the beauty supply store and lamented the amount of time box-braids take to get done. I would calmly explain my reasoning for so many hair products and the necessity of a few hours to wash condition and re-braid my hair, just to put it under a wig. To be fair, I, too, was frustrated with the amount of time my hair took to wash, style, deep condition and more, until I learned the best methods to detangle my hair.

Many years ago, I saw an interview with Halle Berry. In this interview, Halle explained the reasons why she went with a new hairstyle, leaving behind her pixie cut for extensions. She explained that the hair style change was for work, but she liked it so she kept the look. She also explained that whenever she got the extensions installed by her hairstylist, who came to the house, she asked her boyfriend at the time, Gabriel Aubry, to leave. At the time I laughed as did the studio audience, but I was also perplexed. Halle’s boyfriend was a model. So, wasn’t he used to seeing women get extensions? Why was this something to hide? Not to mention that Halle had what the Black community used to call good hair so what did it matter if she chose to get extensions? I mean she still had beautiful hair. It upset me that as Black women we’ve always had to “do something” with our hair. And the something was supposed to be a mystery.
Eventually the “natural hair moment” took place, and our hair was no longer that mysterious. Girls were showing us how to lay edges, twist-out, braid-out, and pluck the heck out of a lace front. They were doing it openly, discussing hair issues that many Black women only discussed with our closest friends and our hairstylist.

Outside of the community, there were myriad responses to Black girls and their big chops. Whether positive or negative everywhere you look you can see naturals wearing beautiful variations of curly, coily, and kinky hair.

Many brothers were coming out in support of our beautiful tresses, but accepting the two hours of co-washing, loc method, braid-out, twist-out was much easier than understanding what actually happens when women goes from relaxed to natural. The language does not automatically change, and words like “nappy” and “good hair” don’t magically get dropped from our vocabulary.

I had my husband wash my hair not too long ago. After that process, we shared an openness about my hair that we had not previously had. He is bi-racial, and has curly, coily hair. Some of the comments he’s made about black woman and our hair over the years were “questionable.” He was never cruel and did not have malicious intent, but he perpetuated stereotypes early on in by referring to his hair as “nappy” whenever it was frizzy or unruly.

After washing my hair, my husband’s tone when discussing it or my regimen has completely changed. The questions themselves may be the same, but instead of frustration or puzzlement, which made me defensive at times, he is honestly interested in what, exactly, I’m doing with my hair and what I’m putting in it. He even asks, “Do I need him to watch the baby so you can finish?” (Yes!) His compassion has helped eliminate the barrier that’s often present between Black men and women when it comes to acceptance of our hair. When questions like “are you leaving your hair like that?” became “babe I saw a cool protective style on tumblr I think you would love,” (true story) It produces honesty and dialogue in a relationship where every girl should be allowed to be truly bare and at her best.
Over time his views on hair have changed because of the natural hair movement and the overall awareness he’s gained by dating and marrying a Black woman with kinky hair. Though he would still get frustrated with the amount of time it took to wash my hair or make comments like, “you should wear your hair like this or that” when it was clear that the hairstyle was for a different texture or length of hair.

I won’t say that he’s a YouTube hair guru now, but after washing and styling my hair, my husband has completely changed his tune. He understands more about texture and takes his time finger detangling our daughter’s hair with pride. For so long, not only have Black women not understood our hair, but neither have Black men, and it’s time for that to change. In our house, the only good hair is healthy hair.

Photo: Shutterstock

Lola Mitchell is a Youtuber who recently started a channel with her husband called Mitchandlo xo. She's also the author of Lola's Prayer Cocktail and the mother of a beautiful 1-year-old named Autumn.

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