Wedding Day Hair Drama: Natural versus Straight

Would you rock a curly style like this one on your wedding day? Few topics get Black women to go from 0 to 90 in a mili-second like the talk of hair. When I decided to address the issue of brides wearing their hair kinky, curly, wavy, twisted and in locs for their wedding day I knew I was signing myself up to receive very strong opinions. But reading this post from Tia Williams of Shake Your Beauty gave me the final push to post about this pink, striped, polka dot, plaid elephant in the room.

I have worn my hair in doobies that grace my shoulders, bobs, a cut that was barely longer than a Cesear, twist-outs, double-strand twists and cornrows. I’ve had my hair pressed, relaxed, blown straight by a Dominican woman who spoke a little less English than I do Spanish and I’ve gone without a relaxer touching my scalp for eight years. I’ve even sported an Erykah Badu-esque headwrap, a faux ponytail and a couple of weaves in my day. I’m currently quite happy with a short, relaxed cut but I’m pretty sure I’ll be natural again at some point. I don’t see my hair as a political statement but who knows what kind of pressure I might feel when it is time for my own strut down the aisle?

I know women who unapologetically rock brastrap length weaves but could teach a college course on the African Diaspora. I also know women who wear afros or locs and are as empty and superficial as they come. However, when I hear women who normally wear their hair kinky, curly or wavy proclaim that they have to get their strands straightened for their wedding day it saddens me. Really saddens me. It immediately makes me think about those mothers, grandmothers, aunties and neighbors – most with the best intentions – who teach little girls that for “special occasions” like school picture day, Easter and birthday parties when they are expected to look extra pretty, their hair should be straight and preferably long. Ay vey.

Of course there are a multitude of historical and cultural reasons for thinking that straight, long hair is most desirable and contrary to popular opinion this train of thought is not confined to women of color. While in college, a Jewish classmate with a mountain of thick curls atop her head burst into tears retelling a story about her hair going “back” after a fresh blowout when someone pushed her into the pool one summer. She was mortified and I was confused because prior to then I had no idea White girls had such hangups. But back to Black brides…Why in 2012, when we supposedly “know better” are women still feeling pressured to wear their hair in ways that they don’t really want to for arguably one of the most important days of their lives? And let’s not forget about those brides who demand that the women in their bridal party get straight –literally– before the big day lest they get cut from the lineup.

I’m proud that in Tie the Knot Tuesday, I’ve had the opportunity to feature a plethora of beautiful natural hair brides and engaged women. The most recent being Kahran and Starrene. And one of the first posts on the site was a Q&A with natural hair guru Arlette Pender. Former Road to Mrs. blogger Nadine shed light on her refusal to add false hair in any capacity to her short pixie cut on her wedding day. Yet, I’m still going to challenge myself to do more.

I’m definitely not the first person to address this subject and I sure won’t be the last but it has never been addressed to this degree on Triple B. So tell me, do you think a short kinky fro, locs or twists are inappropriate for a bride to wear on her wedding day? If you’ve already been a bride, did you feel pressure to straighten your hair before saying “I Do”?  What about pressure to have long (past your shoulders) strands? Please be as honest and candid as possible – we’re a community here at Triple B so all feedback, as long as it is respectful, is welcomed.

[Image courtesy of Beauloni.]

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  1. It is sad that women go out of their way to look like someone else for their wedding because of society’s standards of what is appropriate. But even more sad is a bride telling her bridesmaids they have to straighten their hair or get a weave to be in their wedding! That is just pathetic.

  2. Avatar ShellSmile says:

    I’ve been natural for nine years and when I got married in December 2011, there were questions from family and friends about how I would wear my hair. Without a doubt, I knew that I was going to be a natural bride. Before the wedding, I had difficulty finding pictures of natural hair brides for inspiration and that was discouraging. I rocked my afro with a few cornrows in the front and it was beautiful…it was me.

  3. I stopped relaxing my hair many years ago because of the damage it was doing to my hair.
    I still get strange looks from my hairdresser and other customers when I politely refuse extensions. Here in the UK it’s rare to see girls without weaves – very sad.

  4. Avatar Brittany Bell says:

    Contrary to what Wendy Williams and others have to say, natural hair CAN be worn in formal settings such as a bride’s wedding day. If you are natural and jumping the broom soon , keep it natural!!

  5. Great post Bridgette! I remember how frustrated I was when I did that post. I never felt any pressure though. I think that for many, long, straight hair is still looked at as the ideal. But things are changing. One the best ways to shift our thinking is by having conversations like this.

    I’ve been wrestling with going natural for a while & just started my transition. I recently blogged about it. The beauty of our hair is its versatility. Versatility=Freedom of Choice. It’s our freedom of choice that we should embrace. So no matter how we choose to rock it: relaxed, TWAs, afros, braids, twists or weaves, we need to be bold and wear it proudly./Nadine

  6. I got married not too long ago, and I was natural. There was no question that I was going to be a natural bride, I just didn’t know how I was going to do it. By the time I was engaged, I had already been natural about 12 years, so it made no sense for me to suddenly decide to straighten my hair for a wedding when I hadn’t straightened it for ANYTHING in about five years! My grandmother said as soon as she knew I was engaged that she was so excited to see my hair straight, but my fiance (now husband) said immediately, “She’s not straightening her hair.” My grandmother looked stunned.

    Now, because I’ve been natural so long, my hair does have a good amount of length, so I guess that made it more “acceptable” to some people. What I ultimately did was a half updo with some hair pulled through a hair piece and the rest hanging. I did use a little heat (a curling iron) to slightly stretch the back parts for more length, so you could argue that it wasn’t totally “natural.” However, it was certainly not straight… which was my goal. I was thrilled with how my hair turned out!

  7. I should clarify… I used a headpiece (a tiara), not a hair piece like a weave or anything. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I realize that I could have confused folks with the way I was describing my wedding day hairstyle.

    So yeah, I pulled the top of my hair through the crystal headpiece and left it completely natural, while I air dried the rest of my hair that hung on my neck and shoulders and went over it lightly with a curling iron to increase length, while still keeping it unstraightened.

  8. I believe the wedding being for the bride and groom and no one else. Sure, loved ones are there to share in the celebration that lovely couple is coming before God to bind together. But how things go, from the decor, to the dress and ESPECIALLY the hair should is the bride’s (and the groom’s too, I guess. Ha!) decision. With that said, the bride should wear what she loves and what will make her happy. If locs bring you joy, wear them. If you like an fro, go for it. You should wear what makes you feel beautiful.

    But I see a lot of people knocking women wearing their hair straight, or in extensions, but I don’t see the problem either style. Isn’t that the same as the girls with straight hair criticizing brides with natural twists? I say just wear what you like and don’t worry about what anyone thinks. Its on YOUR head. You have have to walk around looking that way all day and taking pictures. And that photo will likely be around longer that you will so you had better love it! So wear what makes you happy. Short, long, straight natural. Just do you, explore all options, and make sure you feel beautiful as are.

  9. I’m so thrilled that I found this blog! I’ve been natural for 4 years, and I’ll be getting married next year. Unfortunately, I have no idea what to do with my hair. My usual doo is a twist out, but as my hair has grown, this look has lost its luster. I’m currently enjoying Senagalese twists for the summer. Can anyone suggest a website that shows natural hair styles for weddings?? I need ideas!!

  10. This is such a great post Bridgette! I’m glad that I found your post impressive. Thanks a lot for sharing your innovative idea.

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