Reader, I have a deep, dark secret I must confess. I’ve concealed it for years, and now I feel I have to tell someone…
… I have a fetish for natural hair.
You’re stunned, I know. This seemingly normal black man, tall, dark, devilishly handsome – he likes his women nappy. I’ve always had a problem with that term, “nappy.” It has such a negative connotation in our culture, used to insult anyone from one of the richest and most popular toddlers in America to an entire women’s college basketball team. But it’s true, I love natural hair in just about any conceivable style – Caesar, Afro, African twists, dreadlocks, you name it.
I think I can pinpoint the exact moment when curly hair became my ideal. In the summer of 1998, the musical world was thrown for a loop when Lauryn Hill, one-third of the Fugees, released her solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. This highly successful debut would go on to sell over eight million copies and win Ms. Hill five Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year. I was familiar with L-boogie’s work with the Fugees (name me a person over the age of twenty-five who hasn’t heard “Killing Me Softly.” Can’t do it!), but other than the cover of the album The Score, I didn’t know what she looked like.
At the time I was spending my summer vacation at my father’s house in Sicklerville, New Jersey, watching BET because, let’s face it, I had nothing better to do. Suddenly a music video came on – it was for her single “Doo Wop (That Thing).” The scenario was some sort of time-warp block party. On one side was a 1960s motif while the other side was modern-day, each side being entertained by a corresponding Lauryn, wearing a bob cut and her signature dreadlocks respectively. All I could look at was the latter. This fourteen-year-old kid was hooked. Those eyes, those lips, that skin, those breasts… that hair! I was now and forevermore a natural hair fiend, getting my rocks off to Lauryn’s locks.
Don’t get me wrong, dear reader, I don’t discriminate. I like women of all shapes, sizes, colors and hair textures, and my dating history reflects that. Physically, a beautiful woman is a beautiful woman. But, to paraphrase Idris Elba, sisters with natural hair make my d**k hard.
Now that we’re firmly in TMI territory, I gotta say that I’ve never known why curly, kinky hair makes me go “Giggity.” Maybe it’s because Lauryn Hill, who was my first celebrity crush (followed swiftly by Aaliyah – I was fickle, sue me), was the total package; brains, beauty and undeniable talent. To me, she was the perfect woman – the kind who could surprise you with the depth of her knowledge and insight, yet had some tricks up her sleeve in the bedroom that could render a man speechless. I don’t know Ms. Hill personally, so I don’t know if this is true. All I know is she has a gang of kids. Draw your own conclusions.
It’s no surprise, then, that three of my last four girlfriends have been natural. Again, I don’t know why that is (though an ex-girlfriend throwing her wig off during an argument might have been a factor), but that’s what it is. Even now, I encourage my girlfriend to stay natural. Not that she wouldn’t be beautiful with relaxed hair; she has many other, ahem, assets that make her appealing. I just think she’s at her most beautiful when she wears her hair the way it grows.
I think, beginning with Lauryn Hill, I began to associate natural hair with refinement, artistry, and intelligence. Lauryn never had to shake her butt or talk about getting her coochie licked to sell records. The natural women I dated tended to be in the same mold – a lover of the theater, a writer, and now a teacher. Let’s be honest, reader; it takes a great deal of bravery and confidence for a woman to undergo the Big Chop and let her curly freak flag fly. A woman who is willing to do that tends to have a certain self-assurance that many men can’t help but be attracted to. In my experience, she also has a certain amount of class. There have been notable exceptions, however…
You can’t fail to notice an upswing in the popularity of natural hair. There have always been famous women of color who have gone the natural route, such as Tracee Ellis Ross, Solange Knowles, and India.Arie, but lately all sorts of kinky hair gurus have come out of the woodwork, giving tips and step-by-step tutorials via YouTube. Bloggers such as Curly Nikki and Yolanda Renee have found their audience, guiding and identifying with a nation of women embarking on their natural hair journey. Entire support groups have even formed, helped along by the advent of social media. As an NHE (natural hair enthusiast), I applaud it all. I would like to see more of it, and I’m not alone, either. Just as there are women who are natural, there are men who love them and support them on their journey, cheering them on in their triumphs (mastering a Wash-N-Go), and sympathizing with their setbacks (being defeated by shrinkage). We NHEs love you all. Keep it curly.