Curly hair is curly hair, right? Well, that’s what some people think, yet there is a chunk of people who are curious about this subject.
They may not talk about it in public, but they wonder if there’s a difference between black curly hair and white curly hair.
This is a safe space to talk about white and black curly hair.
If you go online, you’ll see that many people have asked this question one way or another, so I’m going to fuse those discussions into this article.
Is there a difference in white curly hair and black curly hair?
The answer is a little complex. There are some differences yet there aren’t.
This question has so many layers that it is impossible to answer succinctly. Firstly, if the curly hair you are wondering about is the same type, then there’s no difference.
For example, if a white and black person both have 3a hair, then they have the same type of hair.
This question starts to get a little murky depending on one’s experience with curly hair. On top of your individual experience, you also have to consider the race of a person.
What Does Race Have To Do With It curly hair?
While there’s no difference between black and white curly hair, as long as you’re talking about the type of curly hair, there’s a difference if you take race into account.
The difference has a strange way of rearing its head. Sometimes, you don’t know it’s sneaking up on you until it does.
I’m going to do my best to cover those differences here.
The Black Experience
There’s no doubt that black curly hair has gone through a different experience than white curly hair.
I’ve talked to friends who feel they may not get promoted if they wear their natural black hair, which is sad.
Even within the black community, rocking your natural curls isn’t always welcomed, which I’ve personally experienced.
Somehow, rocking your natural curls can be judged, especially by older people who haven’t caught up to the movement. If this negativity doesn’t come from them, it may come from friends or family members who think natural curls make you look unkempt.
While the natural movement is giving people with this type of hair the freedom to wear their hair as they please, it has taken some time to get here. This is specific to folks with black curly hair.
The natural black hair movement may be doing some good, and it continues to pave the path forward.
Finding a solution and wearing your hair however you want without judgment gets challenging. In essence, you’re being tasked to change people’s minds after years of propaganda and conditioning.
The White Experience
No matter who you are, if you’ve got curly hair, you still must accept that the world of beauty doesn’t care about you. Was that too harsh?
I’m just speaking my mind, and the reality is that straight hair is prized. Yes, black people go through something slightly different, but you have to deal with the fact that your hair isn’t coveted by most people.
You might be told by your salon specialist or a friend that you need to tame your curls. They may say your coils are “too much” and that it’s better to straighten them rather than love them.
Given enough time, you might believe these things. You might become ashamed of your coils and might want to straighten them as often as possible rather than nourish them because they are an extension of you.
Sadly, if your coils don’t look uniform one day, then your hair is unkempt. The truth is that coils don’t have to be tamed. You can wear that messy curly look if you want to.
The Hair Product Issue
Curly hair products are something else I have to talk about because it connects to race in a few ways.
For a while, it was hard for people with curly hair to find products that were made especially for them. Of course, relaxers were always available to help us “fix” our hair.
At some point, that stopped being the case, but there’s still not a lot of quality products to help nourish our coils.
This isn’t to say you won’t find products for people with curls, but you have to search for a while. If you live near a big-box store, you’ll likely find something for your hair.
Those who live in a small town will probably have better luck finding something online. You could also figure out how to make curl-friendly hair products at home.
The shortage of curly-friendly products exists because the hair beauty industry likes straight hair a little more.
Now, I’m going to talk about another issue. The shortage of curly-friendly products affects many people, but this particular issue affects white people with curly hair.
The curly products shortage is being addressed, and it’s being addressed mostly by companies catering to African Americans. This is all part of the natural hair movement, and that’s great, but it hurts those who aren’t black.
When these products are only marketed to African Americans, other races with curly hair may not even know these sorts of products exist.
People could have been taking care of their hair sooner if they went to the ethnic hair care section.
People may find out at some point, but if there was enough inclusive marketing, they might have known sooner.
Inclusive marketing is missing from the small but growing curly-haired industry. While I’m glad products exist, things need to get better because it hurts customers.
If someone who isn’t black happens to purchase these products, a black person might feel strange seeing this. The person may feel that those products only belong to African Americans.
The marketing and owners of these companies have communicated this concept and convinced people that these products are only for them.
A lot of people have curls who would benefit greatly from these products, and they aren’t all African Americans.
differences between black and white curly hair cause tension unfortunately
The differences between black and white curly hair cause some tension, and that’s not good.
People on both sides sometimes belittle each other’s experiences, and that just hurts.
It’s true that both experience different things, but their experiences aren’t worse or better. Their experiences shouldn’t be ignored by people from either side, yet that is happening.
People who aren’t black can’t talk about personal struggles because their experiences aren’t worthy of discussion.
White curly-haired folks are sometimes told they can’t say their hair is curly, which is counterproductive for all involved.
Why does this even happen? I assume race and sometimes just plain ignorance is a factor. Someone white might say something a bit insensitive.
Perhaps an African American person can’t imagine that a white person could have a similar experience.
Trying to solve this issue is fruitless. As a society, we should just encourage openmindedness and listening to others.
Empathy is Needed
As just mentioned, one reason black people have trouble accepting that other people have curly hair problems is that black hair is usually very curly.
The curls are so tight that those loose curls they believe white people deal with are nothing in comparison.
All struggles are personal, even if other struggles don’t look as dire; they are still felt.
Empathy is needed when these sorts of differences are questioned.
It’s true that black people, for the most part, have the tightest curls but not entirely. This is something else that needs to be pointed out.
For one, some Jewish folks have curls as tight as any black person. Mixed people who might not look black might also have tight curls.
The fact is that the curl doesn’t belong to one group but all of us.
This is why I say that curly-friendly products need to be more inclusive.
Now, this doesn’t mean I want the black natural hair movement to get hijacked or whitewashed. This movement has done a lot of good.
We all know that black people have to go to a black hair salon because a regular hair salon probably won’t know how to deal with their hair.
This means you can become a certified hairstylist and never learn how to take care of a black person’s hair or anyone with tight curls. That’s a major problem.
It’s up to this movement to fight stereotypes, like the one that criticizes white people for wearing African American hairstyles, yet African Americans can wear their hair straight like white people, and it’s okay.
All I’m trying to say is that there has to be a path forward, a way to accept the racial differences without forgetting that all curls are the same.