Are Black people truly happy to be nappy? I once saw this phrase on the side of a tote bag carried by a Black female who wore her hair relaxed, so obviously she wasn’t as ‘happy to be nappy’ as declared by her fashion statement. Honestly, I don’t believe that anyone with hair of this texture loves it or they would not do the things they do to alter the texture.

‘Bad Hair’

It is without a doubt the worst hair texture of any race or ethnic group, and one reason that Blacks – and probably others – feel that the Black race has been cursed. Not just the dark skin which sets Blacks apart, as there are Indians and Pakistanis and Aborigines with skins just as dark, but that…hair! You rarely see other races and ethnic groups with such kinky, difficult-to-manage tresses.

From Common Dreams: Saartjie Baartman, a South African “bushwoman,” was exhibited like a circus freak in the Shows of London between 1810 and 1815. The leading French anatomist of the day, George Cuvier, speculated that Baartman might be the “missing link” between the human and animal worlds because of her “peculiar features” including her “enormous buttocks” and “short, curling hair.”

Urban Dictionary’s top definition: Nappy hair also known as Afro textured hair. Dry, waterproof, and hated by most. I have nappy hair and I can’t even comb.

Wikipedia’s definition: Afro-textured hair is the natural hair texture of certain populations in Africa, the African diaspora, Australia and Asia, when this hair has not been altered by hot combs, flat irons, or chemicals.

Afro-textured hair?!? That must be the politically correct term for ‘nappy’. 

When non-Blacks have a hard time dealing with their own curly locks, they tend to say that their hair is ‘nappy’ when in fact it isn’t and never will be. Caucasian-textured hair can and will knot up when not properly cared for, just as the kinky mane of Black people can get. My current beau, a White man, often gets his ends tangled and knotted up, then he wants me to gently remove the knots without taking out a lot of his hair, which he feels is thinning (though what he should expect past age 40 is beyond me). He has the nerve to call his wavy hair ‘nappy’ when he becomes frustrated with its care.

‘Good Hair’

Not all Blacks are on the Natural Hair bandwagon. My own mother calls Blacks who wear their hair without straightening it ‘happy headed’ and I have heard similar observations from others, mostly of the older generation. These are people who grew up during the Civil Rights & Black Power Movements, who probably even wore their hair in Afros (I know my mother and aunts all did as I was a child then and very interested in the ways of grown folks), Nappy hair doesn’t appear to bother Whites as much, maybe because they don’t have to live with it. Indeed, I have had more Whites to compliment me on my natural hair than Blacks. It’s as if Black people find the sight of our own hair in the state it was meant to be ‘offensive’.

Nappy hair has always been considered ‘bad hair’ whilst biracial hair is called ‘good hair’ among Black people. Why is that? As a child, the one thing I hated about myself was my hair and that hate continued all the way up until the year 2010, when I decided to wholly embrace my nappy roots. I wanted long, straight hair as a kid and I remember pulling my hair all the time in an effort to make it grow longer and faster, and also to ‘straighten’ out the kinks. I loved having my kinky locks relaxed with a hot iron even though I often got burns during the sessions. I was always complimented the next day at school by the girls which reinforced my longing for permanently straight, flowing tresses.

These days, while I have a devil of a time taking care of it and while it remains perpetually dry and brittle despite all the oils, creams, lotions, and other hair care crap I slather on it, my kinky hair is a badge of pride for me, a symbol of my African roots, and I will never again put chemical relaxers in it (though I will not hesitate to use a flat iron every now and then). Am I happy to be nappy? You bet and I will die nappy someday in 2040…!


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