Why It Bothers Me That People Assume I’m Mixed Because of My Hair

Portia Cole Natural Hair Twist Out.PNG
by Portia of huneybflyy.com (pictured above)

One of the things I love about my natural hair is its versatility. I can wear a kinky twist out one day and the next day I can be seen wearing shiny, smooth curls. Manipulating my hair has always been fun for me. On the rare occasion that I do wear a wash n’ go and people ask “Did you cut your hair?,” I just giggle silently at their lack of knowledge about shrinkage. Sometimes people just can’t wrap their brain around the fact that hair can be gigantic one day and short the next.
However, there is still one question that always seems to rub me the wrong way. “Are you mixed?” Before I say anything else, I’d like to make it crystal clear that I have nothing against my bi-racial natural haired sistas. They are very much a part of the natural hair movement and that makes me proud. I enjoy seeing women who are bi-racial and tri-racial embracing their natural curls and kinks. They have had to learn to love their unique hair, just as I have had to learn to love my own.  I have love for everyone and I don’t discriminate. With that said, allow me to explain why I’m not exactly thrilled when someone compliments my hair and then asks “Are you mixed?”

The beauty of black hair is that there are so many amazing different textures. No two natural ladies will ever have the same head of hair. Over the course of my natural hair journey, I’ve seen black women who have natural waves, tight coils, kinks, kinky coils, springy ringlets and everything in between. They’ve blown it out, worn it straight, curled it, crimped it and set it. They’ve done it all and worn it all. It’s beautiful seeing that there is such a variety of hair within my own race.

I am an African American woman. Of course I’m not sure if I am 100% African, but I know I’m not bi-racial as my parents are both African American and so are their families. I don’t look exotic and my features are not unique. Naturally, I have kinky curls that go every which way. Typically, I wear twist outs and it’s sort of become my signature look. I also wear roller sets and sometimes, I will let my hair kink up without a curl in sight. I consider my hair to be beautiful no matter what kind of curl or kink I may be sporting. I take pride in knowing that I am a black woman and my hair is beautiful in its own way.

So, when someone asks if I’m mixed, it doesn’t sit well with me. It’s almost as if they are asking me because they can’t believe that someone, who is black could have a beautiful head of hair. Surely, I must be mixed with something. A few months ago I was in the hallway at work speaking to a co-worker. Another fairly new co-worker walked by and said hello. We’ll just call her Jane. Later that day, the co-worker I had been speaking to told me that Jane asked her if I was mixed. When my co-worker told her I wasn’t, Jane was shocked. Meanwhile, I’ve seen and said hello to Jane several times before, but that day was her first time seeing my natural hair free. When I met her, I was wearing braids as a protective style and she never asked that question.
Someone once told me that I should take it as a compliment that I even get asked that question. I looked at them as if they had ten heads. Why should I accept it as a compliment? Why should I be proud that someone thinks I’m something other than what I am? I don’t feel proud, but rather annoyed. Black women can have beautiful heads of hair. Hair that bounces and moves. Hair that is shiny, thick and soft. Contrary to popular belief, our hair does not resemble a universal texture of “brillo” and I’ve never seen anyone with such a texture despite the naysayers. We have hair and it’s more than possible for it to be fabulous no matter the texture. The next time someone asks if I’m mixed, I’ll simply tell them no. I’m just a plain ole black woman who has luscious hair and there are millions of black women like me.

How do you feel when asked if you’re mixed?

Portia is a wife and mother who enjoys making things and people look pretty! As a graduate of Rowan University, Portia has an insatiable craving for natural hair, beauty, and fashion, but she also enjoys traveling and home decor. If you’d like to know more about her, visit her blog at huneybflyy.com

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