Venita Aspen: “Any Type of Hate I’ve Ever Received About My Hair Is Strictly Online”

A Brillo pad. Comparing my hair to a sponge that you use to wash the dishes is the number one piece of negativity I get when it comes to my hair. No one has the audacity to say it to my face. Any type of hate I’ve ever received about my hair is strictly online–in my comments, my DMs or some online forum.

I feel like as Black women, we’re one of the only demographics who are told that the way our hair naturally comes out of our head is the most incorrect thing you can ever do in your entire life. It’s going to make you not as pretty as the rest, you might not get that job, or people say that your hair looks unruly and you should straighten it or put on a wig.

It’s strange to then, as an adult, go through this process of thinking, wait, actually my natural hair is beautiful, and why was I told that the way I was born is not acceptable? It’s this whole downward spiral, and when you really think about it, it’s literally just hair.

I’ve been natural since my senior year of high school, so I was doing it back when it still wasn’t cool. Later, there was this kind of movement, a push where if you weren’t natural, you weren’t cool, but I did it a little bit before that. My best friend decided to stop perming [relaxing] her hair, and we were joined at the hip. So I was like, well, if she can do it, I can do it. And it just became a thing.

I went to a private school and that private school was predominantly white. I think I was one of seven kids in my graduating grade who was Black. There is this pressure that comes with wearing your hair straight and presenting yourself a certain way in that setting. When I think about what I was doing then, I’m just like, Wow, damn! I really can do anything, because that was scary. But I give credit to this girl in my homeroom class named Allyson Smith. I’ll forever give her credit for everything when it comes to my confidence in high school. She was just like, “Do it. I’ll find you some cute hair bows and headbands if you’re not comfortable.” And she was a white woman.

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