Oh, me from 2010. So young, so inexperienced yet so full of optimism.
I remember three years ago I wrote a blog called “Asian guy speaks: I think Black Women have Sexy Hair!” which became an instant hit. Black women from all over the internet came flooding my way to thank me for speaking my mind and being so candid about my feelings towards their natural hair. So what do I think now, now that I actually am with a Black woman who has natural hair? Are my opinions still the same or do I have any hidden secrets woven in between?
My Natural Haired Goddess
This is my extraordinarily gorgeous girlfriend, Livi.
Livi has been all natural for most of her life and as her boyfriend I couldn’t be happier. I love the way her hair catches the light in the sun, the fruity smell from the products that she uses (well, most of the products at least) and I especially adore the variety of styles that she manages to pull off. You see, some guys don’t have the patience for the whole ‘girls spending hours and hours on their hair’ kind of thing. However, I’m an Asian guy who actually cares about not looking like William Hung so I devote my sweet minutes to curing and crafting my head of hair. I blow dry it, comb it, add product, style it more, add more product then top it off with hair spray. In many ways, Livi can actually be faster at doing her hair than me — which she teases me about.
Unlike me and my sacred hairdo ritual before school, Livi spends most of her time preparing her hair the night before. Jojoba oil this, argan oil that and a host of creams and butters that would make Paula Deen salivate. Sometimes it can get a bit messy with her products all over the counter but it’s not a big deal, I’m used to it. She truly does spend a good amount of time on her hair but I get it — natural hair is far more high maintenance than Asian hair and I actually respect the fact that she knows what she’s doing. Living with a natural haired woman might seem like it would eat up the time you share together but in reality, it’s no more than an hour each day.
Touching, Feeling And Playing With Her Hair
Prior to dating Livi I was under the impression that I would be put into a headlock had I touched or THOUGHT ABOUT TOUCHING a Black woman’s hair. Hey, that’s cool! Back when I had Asian spikes, if you so much as grazed a single spike by accident, LORD HELP YOU because I would have dragon punched your spleen out. But with Livi, she made it clear from the beginning that she didn’t mind me touching her hair. Hell, I could even play with it if I wanted.
I‘d like to think I’m not alone on this but honest to god, I LOVE playing with my girlfriend’s natural hair. I love how soft her hair feels, the way the curls slide through my fingers tugging softly at my fingertips and the sensation I get from it. When we’re watching T.V together on the couch I’ll occasionally turn her back towards me and massage her head with my fingers, making her neck tingle as her shoulders relax and drop. This, to me, is incredibly sexy and is even relaxing for myself.
Though, my favorite thing to do is play with her kitchens. Apparently, kitchens are the smaller hairs on the very back of a person’s natural head that tend to grow in random directions, much like a cowlick, and are often shorter or more curly than the rest. This is my playground. It’s like I’m a child again as I curl, uncurl and even smell the damn thing. Kitchens are damn cute and curse you if you ever try to make them go away! LEAVE THE KITCHENS ALONE, DAMMIT!
The Straightening Of The Hair
It’s an unfortunate reality that the American job market is biased against Black Women. Livi has been on a number of job interviews and although it isn’t scientifically tested, we’ve noticed that most of the interviews that went well were when her hair was straight while the not-so-stellar interviews happened when she wasn’t. Now, we can debate the validity of straight hair vs natural in a job interview but when you’re trying to find a new job to pay for the things you need, hell, you’ll do anything to give yourself that edge even if it means frying your hair under a flat iron (no, she doesn’t relax it — thank god.)
It makes me sad that she has to straighten those beautiful curls and when she does, I feel like a part of her physical identity is temporarily removed and a more “family friendly” and “socially accepted” version is replaced. I know it’s still my girlfriend but I just can’t help seeing it a bit differently. It saddens me even more knowing that deep down, she doesn’t want to do it either.
On the other hand, there are moments when stylistically, she wants to straighten her hair. Moments when she’s going for a certain look — maybe it’s 60’s themed or perhaps she wants to sweep it to the side — and in those cases we’re not so sad. I still prefer her natural hair but luckily, she actually styles her hair damn well so I’m always a fan.
My Love And Hate Relationship With “The Bonnet”
The Bonnet. Most call it a bonnet, I call it: a chef’s hat, an ice cream cone or a Princess Leia. The first time I saw her wear one I was like, “Waddahayl? Why do you have a shower cap on?” to which she replied, “It’s a bonnet! Black girls wear it to bed to protect their hair.” And when she says she wears it to bed I’m saying she wears it to bed EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. Some days I think it looks like a silly little hat, other days it looks like a cute cupcake head and other nights, as in, those nights I feel a bit more strongly.
My girlfriend has gorgeous hair and seeing it tussle and move is a turn-on. So when we’re getting intimate, the last thing I want on my mind is a damn ice cream cone let alone Princess Leia with an ice cream cone on her head. It’s too damn distracting! Worse yet, bonnets seem to come in only three colors: black, hot pink and some ugly ass butterscotch color. How can I focus on you when I’m starting to think about some damn sweets?! Although, the most important reason why I dislike bonnets during these moments is that to me, bonnets signify that you’re done for the day and that you’re sleepy. So there’s competing messages between the actions being made and the bonnets being worn — catch my drift?
So yea, tip of the day: bonnets are cool except during intimate times.
Natural Hair Is Beautiful Because?
Natural hair isn’t beautiful on Livi because of the style or the texture or the even color — even though they are. To me, natural hair is beautiful on Livi because natural hair is… (brace yourself)… NATURALLY HOW HER HAIR LOOKS! It appears exactly as it should and despite being hard to maintain and moisturize and style, she does it. She cares for her hair and it is a symbol of who she is, what she is and how she wants to be seen. And yes, her hair texture is very different from other black women but according to Livi, her hair used to be more fro-like when she was younger before it became color damaged. So her hair is part of her identity and history and if it means that much to her, if it means spending hours taking care of it and wearing bonnets and applying tons of product then HELL YES, it means that much to me too.
You see, I don’t have anything against Black women who relax their hair, straighten or dye it, wear wigs, weaves or braid it, I have no problem at all because I GET IT. I get that society has a fucked up expectation of beauty that has been developed over the years and unfortunately, natural Black hair isn’t always a part of that ‘blonde and beautiful’ story. So when I see a Black woman with relaxed hair or a Black woman with a weave on, it makes me sad. It makes me sad knowing that she has to do that to herself. She has to change part of WHO SHE IS and what is a part of her own genetics in order to feel beautiful, to feel accepted and to feel like herself. It truly does make me sad.
I see it no differently than Jewish people who try to remove the bump on their nose, Asians who pay for double eyelid surgery, pale White people that spend hours tanning or dark skinned brothers and sisters that try to bleach their skin. Sure, these are all things that can make you feel better and less insecure but the question isn’t about, “does it make them feel confident?” but rather, “why do they feel insecure to begin with?” And in my eyes, no one should have to feel like who they truly are and how they are born is anything less than perfect — especially Black women struggling with accepting their natural hair.
So to the 2010 version of myself, I congratulate you for writing that awesome blog and (hopefully) leading the way to more Asian guys falling MADLY IN LOVE with Black women and their natural hair. As for the 2013 version of myself, the one head-over-heels for a beautiful Black woman with luscious, delicious, beautiful, cute, sexy and perfect hair? What lesson should I give to myself? Well.. perhaps I’ll save my words of wisdom till Livi and I have cute little Blasian kids and I’m the one hunched over the couch combing my son or daughters hair as I cheerfully play with their kitchens.