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In an interview with Elle magazine, Andre Walker, stylist to Ms. Oprah Winfrey herself for more than two decades, dropped this bomb: “I always recommend embracing your natural texture. Kinky hair can have limited styling options; that’s the only hair type I suggest altering with professional relaxing.”

It's hard enough if you're transitioning to natural hair without adding in the bias and opinions of your friends, family—or even your stylist.And with that, Mr. Walker just proved that logic does trump subconscious, because if Oprah’s hair guy is against kinked tresses, do we even want to know who else is?

As curly girls, all of us have ventured in to at-home product recipes and remedies now and again, but somewhere inside each of us there is that small voice (probably the remnants of some commercial that made an annoying impression on our subconscious) encouraging us that stylists know all and can help our limp, frizzy, dried out, over-styled, under-cared-for tresses.

For the unlucky ones in the group, albeit the majority, each salon trip ends in a myriad of wet cuts, blow-dried hair and fancy talk about how weird it is that your locks frizz up at the sight of heat, even with this super-special product that they are now pressuring you to buy.

For many of us, there is a realization that comes from being a curly girl in a straight-haired salon—I stand up for my hair, or no one does.

And if you have been one of the lucky ones, reluctant yet to see stylists for what they might be (glorified groomers) or you have been even luckier and found a stylist who sees you for who you are, it may be time for a reality check.

With professional, celebrity stylists like Andre Walker believing that kinky tresses are best treated with a straightening agent, it is no wonder that transitioning to natural hair is a scary journey to trek. Stylists aren’t even in it with us!

Andre Walker's recent comments haven't earned him many fans in the natural hair community.

One commenter points out, “Sad, this is why so many women feel they can’t go natural, when “professional hair stylists” shame their natural hair texture and suggest relaxers.”

Of course, we aren’t the only ones getting frazzled over his statement. One Elle reader states:

“Oh Andre. You can do better than that. Natural hair is so versatile. The styles we can choose from are diverse and stylish. Saying that kinky hair is the only hair that should have chemicals poured on it is pretty lame. I suspect the comment has more to do with your personal aesthetics or lack of skills to work with any kind of Afro hair."

Fortunately, Andre Walker did offer a rebuttal to his original statement:

“It is a fact that kinky hair (my Type 4 definition) is extremely fragile and breaks easily. Even when you are very careful, something as simple as combing can break this texture. It is very difficult to achieve a longer length when the hair breaks, even with simple combing. That being said, there is the style option of wearing braids, dreads, or twists, which allows the hair to grow longer because it is combed less often. Another style choice is to simply wear a shorter cut, which is very attractive on some women but just not right for others.

So when I say to embrace your natural texture, but consider relaxing kinky hair, am I contradicting myself? I don't think so! You see, even relaxed hair can still be worn naturally. If you want a natural look, but find that your kinky hair is difficult to manage, breaks too easily, lacks shine and luster, and limits your preferred styling options, I say feel free to consider a mild chemical relaxer, sometimes called a texturizer, that eases your hair to a more manageable texture and allows you to Make Peace With Your Hair.”

Commenters across the web, however, just aren’t taking kindly to Andre Walker’s words—rebutted or not—because, overall, Walker is just plain wrong.

Perhaps not all Type 4 women opt for transitioning to natural hair, but for all of us who choose natural and healthy over straightened and damaged, let it be known that offense has been taken and a note has been made—never let a stylist's opinion deter your transitioning trek.

0 Comments
Every hairstylist has their own "professional" view/opinon. But it is up to each woman to love their hair enough to take the time and learn what products or styles are healthy for them-no matter what hair type you are.
This is silly and precisely the reason why numerous ladies are afraid to embrace their true selves. You would think a "professional" would know more. "Limited styling options"? Please! There has never been more versatile hair. If I choose to flat iron my natural hair, then it can be straight for today and I can wear a twist out to a party tomorrow. I'd like to see him make an afro out of Caucasian hair.
i wish i could be offended my mr. walker's words, but in truth i've heard it all before and i'm not surprised. where these "stylists" get their info on natural black hair is beyond me. we've got to rewrite the book on what works on our hair and ditch this tendency to follow low info having "experts" around blindly. maybe once he knows better he'll do better? keep hope alive.
I don't think relaxed hair differs from Natural hair at all really. The upkeep for bot of them is basically the same, washing, deep conditioning, moisturizing and sealing. And if you don't look after your hair, whether it be relaxed or natural, it's GOING to show. And Andre walker has just confirmed what I already knew, hair dressers know NOTHING about hair!
If it weren't for sites like naturally curly and youtube, I would have lost my mind going natural - lol. My hairstylist claimed to specialize in kinky hair, but every time I went there, she blow dried and flat ironed it - doing more damage in that one session that I ever did to my own hair. Now I just use natural oils and try to limit the chemicals I put on my hair and scalp. It used to be thin and lifeless and now it's long and full of body and sass. Being natural isn't for everyone - but for those that are willing to do the work and learn what's best for them (as opposed to what other people think), then it's a life changing decision.
No one has the answer to this. It is an individual's preference of a relaxer or natural hair. Some goo back to relaxing because it is less work for them.
Let's face it, no matter how much we promote naturally curly hair, there will always be women who choose to have a relaxer. There will be women who agree with Andre that their hair is "difficult to manage, breaks too easily, lacks shine and luster." And that's ok. I'm not one of those naturals who thinks everybody should throw out their relaxer. Natural is not for everyone. I'm also not some curly-haired missionary going out trying to convert people. So let Andre Walker say what he wants. We are not the audience he is speaking to. Hopefully, if someone has made the choice to transition, they will not let Andre Walker, who obviously knows nothing about the care and potential of natural hair, change their plans.
Andre Walker is entitled to his own opinion based on his own experience. Twenty years ago his words may have been crippling, but today there is a plethora of information on natural hair. So much so, no one need pay Andre any mind if it pleases them to do so. Honestly, quit holding this man up as if he were some hair Messiah. He is a successful stylist. Period. He gives his clients what they want. Just because he supports relaxers as an alternative solution to those who find natural hair unmanageable does not mean he vilifies natural hair. If nothing else, he supports a woman's freedom to choose whatever she wants to do with her hair. Stop trying to lynch the man.
Whatever!!! This is why I haven't been to a stylist in the three years since I went natural and don't plan to because if I need a good cut I have friends to do it. I found out my hair HATES chemicals. That's why I had all those scabs on my scalp burning waitng for my hair take the relaxer. My hair has been growing and maintaining length better than it ever did with chemicals. And Andre Overrated, I don't keep in braids or twists. It pisses me off that all those years not ONE hairdresser ever told me what the problem was and suggest I go natural. I think it's was because it would be less money in their pocket. DEUCES!!
I had my last chemical relaxer (a curl) about 3 years ago. I have Type 4 hair. I love my naturally texture. I would perhaps feel differently about chemical relaxers if they didn't contain very harsh and very toxic chemicals. Why is it that when some women began to use products like Brazilian blowouts that there was outcry about the possible presence and dangers of formaldehyde and lye, and yet people still push women with type 4 hair to use those same chemicals. Is our safety and health not a concern even if some don't like the look? No one should 'push' the use of chemical relaxers. It isn't very healthy or safe. Or, for that matter, Green.

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