Unsupportive family members?

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  • 4 Post By proudcurlygirly
  • 1 Post By freeasmyhair12
  • 1 Post By melameter

I have very curly 3c hair. I come from a Caribbean family where we're all varying shades; I have very dark-skinned first cousins who look completely black to first cousins who are blond.

My grandmother has five grandchildren and I got the curliest hair, all of my brothers and cousins have hair a bit looser than mine. It took me so long to get comfortable with my hair especially going to almost all white schools where kids took no issue with commenting on it.

So on top of all this one day my grandmother (who has extremely kinky, but relaxed hair which makes this whole incident all the more sad) is bragging about how all her grandkids have such nice loose curls and shiny hair. Then she points at me and goes, "The only one who didn't come out with nice hair was that one." With this completely disgusted look on her face and WHILE I'M IN HEARING DISTANCE.

She takes no issue with telling me to relax my hair and since my cousins and some of her grandkids have gotten the message it's ok they eventually joined in teasing me and calling me "mushroom head".

Of course whenever I straighten my hair temporarily everyone wants to ooh and aah and ask me why I don't do it that way all the time.

I'm so effing sick of it especially since I absolutely adore my hair curly and have gotten so many compliments from my white friends now they're older and more mature. And yet why is it that my black friends and family members practically have a heart attack over it?!
Oh poor you, it's so sad that your family can't see that by leaving your hair in it's beautiful natural state, you are actually doing it a favour and it is far healthier than their relaxed styles. As long as you love your curly hair, that is all that matters and you shouldn't feel pressured to 'conform' to other people's ideals. At least attitudes are starting to change about curly hair especially with the help of websites like NC.com. I always smile when I read some of the newbie stories where they say 'I haven't really had a clue how to care for my curls for x amount of years and I'm looking forward to learning how to'. (We've all been there and it will always be and still is very much a learning curve, but an exciting one as there is always something we can learn from others.) Hold your curly head high and remember you are amongst like minded fellow curlies.

Best wishes.
UK Curly
Curl type : Boticelli, 3a, loose curls
Porosity : High
Texture : Fine/medium (I think!)
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CG since Feb 2011
Thanks so much. It just feels hard sometimes because it's almost like wearing an outfit everyone thinks is ugly, what's the point? But you know what, from now on they just have to get over it. *thumbsup*
BekkaPoo likes this.
My goodness, that is indeed shameful on your grandmother's part! Apparently, she has issues with her ethnicity and curly hair being a part of that.

I've experienced teasing and hurtful comments from family members also. Try to remember that it says much more about your relatives and their hangups than about you or your hair.

Be strong and proud of your curls! {{{Hugs}}} They are part of what makes you... YOU.
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I know! I think it's partly that her mom was white and used to treat her children poorly because they were half black (after she had sex with a black man, which doesn't make any sense >.>). So my grandmother vacillates between insisting she's proud of being black and wanting to me what her mom wanted. Which was a little white girl.
I'm half white half black but was raised by my white grandparents growing up in racist town, Kentucky. I was tormented as a kid because I wore my hair natural for the better part of 14 years (I would occasionally get a relaxer but they never set well with my sensitive scalp), some of my family would tease me about it but I never felt unloved or hurt by what they said. And now that I wear my hair curly all the time and its well defined and well taken care of they love it more than when I wear it straight ( from 14 to17 I kept it thermally/chemically straightened). Good luck and as long as you like your hair that's all that matters, everyone else will fall in line behind you, and if they don't then that is their fault. Besides, I've always thought that curlies have as much personality as their hair does.
abstractcurls likes this.
I have very curly 3c hair. I come from a Caribbean family where we're all varying shades; I have very dark-skinned first cousins who look completely black to first cousins who are blond.

My grandmother has five grandchildren and I got the curliest hair, all of my brothers and cousins have hair a bit looser than mine. It took me so long to get comfortable with my hair especially going to almost all white schools where kids took no issue with commenting on it.

So on top of all this one day my grandmother (who has extremely kinky, but relaxed hair which makes this whole incident all the more sad) is bragging about how all her grandkids have such nice loose curls and shiny hair. Then she points at me and goes, "The only one who didn't come out with nice hair was that one." With this completely disgusted look on her face and WHILE I'M IN HEARING DISTANCE.

She takes no issue with telling me to relax my hair and since my cousins and some of her grandkids have gotten the message it's ok they eventually joined in teasing me and calling me "mushroom head".

Of course whenever I straighten my hair temporarily everyone wants to ooh and aah and ask me why I don't do it that way all the time.

I'm so effing sick of it especially since I absolutely adore my hair curly and have gotten so many compliments from my white friends now they're older and more mature. And yet why is it that my black friends and family members practically have a heart attack over it?!
Originally Posted by freeasmyhair12

OMG, I completely understand where you're coming from. I come from a west indian background too and my grandma gave me my 1st perm when I was about 5 or 6. I was living with her at the time and she had to do my hair. She couldn't manage it at all because it's sooo thick and curly! She permed it because she claimed my hair was "hard" (I will NEVER forget that!!)

but to get back on topic, my grandma's hair was very curly (4a'ish curly caesar) she has 3 kids, my mom and my 2 uncles all have her curly hair. My 1st cousin (for one of my uncles) asked my mom when we went to visit recentl, how comes she didn't get her father's curly hair and how comes MY hair is curly (like my moms) and my other uncle's wife (they have 3 girls) said to my mom back in the day, " I really thought the girls would of had his complexion and have his hair" (she's also west indian and my uncle is light skin with curly hair)

People back home really have issues. If you're not light skin with "nice" hair then something is wrong with you. They don't even take the time to understand different types of textures. They PRAISE a light skin child or a child with "soft hair. It's so sickening to me! UGH!!
OMG one of the men I love the most in my life, my dad, hates my hair. I always see him giving my head the side eye when I get in the car. And once he said u really need to do something with ur head (I have a 4c 'fro). That hurt me so bad. I guess he is used to seeing me with my permed hair that was halfway down my back. Everyone else in my family loves my natural fair on new than my permed. I don't think he likes it to this day.

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I am lucky to come from a family(also Caribbean) where natural hair is VERY accepted and most of us are natural. Your grandmother seems to be dealing with a lot of self-hate issues. Know that what she says has nothing to do with you. I imagine it's super frustrating to have to deal with such hurtful comments from a family member. Have you ever tried telling her how you feel?
3c Hair
Fine Strands, High Density, Low Porosity
CG since August 2011
Loving my hair!!!
My grandmother is the same way! It's really frustrating sometimes. She's absolutely convinced I don't comb my hair because of the clumps and any time she gets close to me, she tries to finger comb them out. It's really bad for my sister though. I have more 3c hair while she has 4a. So many times people in my family will call her hair nappy (derogatorily, of course). The other day I was helping her put together her Halloween costume; she's being Cleopatra. Well the costume has a really long, straight black wig, and my grandma went on and on about how it was so much better than her regular hair. Keep in mind this is a cheap party wig, it looked absolutely terrible! I can't imagine how she felt being told her hair was worse than something that looked awful to begin with.

It just really sucks, because your family is supposed to be your support system. It's hurtful when there are already so many people against you, and the people who care about you the most are against you too.
Wow...I'm sorry. Your grandmother is supposed to be supportive.. I bet your hair is gorgeous though.

My family was never really like that...idk. I had a relaxer from 3 til the age of 15 when I stopped wearing them. I have been natural for about 2 years and 7 months, but relaxer free for 3.5 years. I have mostly 4a hair. When I had it pulled back last Christmas my grandmother, mother, brother and boyfriend at the time, were all like "you have waves?" I'm like "yeah...?" Lmao. I thought was funny. But one time my grandmother asked if it was hard to comb...(she has a relaxer and thin hair). I told her not really. That was the one and only time she asked about it.
Self hate about natural hair runs deep. My mom always said "marry a man with good hair". I married a man I could spend my life with, his hair was quite irrelevant. My sons are 4a & 3c. Folks get mad we cut their hair low in the summer. "those curls won't come back" is the theory. Although they come back thicker every fall.
Anyway, be proud of your hair & let your family know you would like to have hair when your 85 and relaxers don't help that.
My great grandma is 84 and her hair is thick n beautiful as ever. She uses a hot comb on her edges, blue magic & sponge rollers (older than me). Thats her regimen along with trimming on each full moon. Real talk most women in my fam have been buried in wigs. I won't be going out like that. Only juices & berries for me.
Your grandma should respect that this is YOUR hair on YOUR head and love you, period.

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My mom is very supportive of me going natural but when I showed my sister my big chopped she was like why did I cut my hair so short and I told her because im going natural and I dont want to turn back. So she asked me when it grows out some more I should put a perm and not just wear natural styles and switch it up. Im not mad at my sister because I know its just shes very uneducated of the possibilities of natural hair and all the fly hair styles you can rock with it. And if I wanted to straighten sometimes I could do that to. She thinks natural hair just means afros, dread locks, 2 strand twist etc. Im like no I can also where curly hairstyles, buns etc. Anywayz I cant wait for my hair to get on track so she can see how beautiful it is and I also showed her some pics of my goal. But dont worrying about it girl, sometimes you are not going to have supportive people but there are times in life that you have to be your own support you know.
Just say politely and nicely as possible - 'grandmother, you may have issues with your own hair, but I personally love mine. My curls rock and I wouldn't have them any other way'. Then smile at her.
It must be cultural .. my family would tell me off whenever I straightened my hair.. they love love love curly hair.. my DD has 3b hair and they love it, completely love it.. we're Salvadorian btw and live in Australia..

Its so strange my grandma loves 3-4 type hair she even gets perms and stuff.. come join my family, my granny will adore you!!
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waist length hair & finding a sexual cheapo leave in conditioner for both me and my daughter
Just say politely and nicely as possible - 'grandmother, you may have issues with your own hair, but I personally love mine. My curls rock and I wouldn't have them any other way'. Then smile at her.
Originally Posted by kat180

That's great advice.

I don't have the same issue with being half white/black, but I have a little bit of insight/experience with critical grandparents.

I'm basically latina, btw. I have some native american, and some Italian, too. My hair is very "ethnic," LOL, but I have alot of cousins with very similiar hair, and one cousin with even curlier hair, so no real criticisms on my hair from the side of the family that has the curlies; the OTHER side is a different story for a different day...

Anyway, when I was a child through my teenage years, my grandfather used to always criticize me about random things about my appearance. Not my hair, just things about my face. Once it was a small mole I had on my eyelid. Once it was my facial hair (no joke; like most women, I wax my brows, chin and lip, but when your a kid, you don't really do those things); another time it was my facial pores (not kidding). He would point out if I had a pimple or a cold sore. It was infuriating, it was embarassing, and it was kind of demoralizing. I think I would've preferred if he criticized my hair, to be honest.
I'm 40 years old now, and I still remember how that felt. And you know, he still does it. He's 86 now and a bit senile. I can't get mad, but I don't like it.

The point I wanted to make is, sometimes its a generational thing. To be that way. They fixate on something to criticize. I don't think my grandfather was trying to be mean, it was (in a sad way) his way of trying to relate to a younger generation. It was the wrong way, but he didn't know how to talk to his grandkids. I watch him now, and he doesn't know how to talk to his great grandkids either.
With my grandfather, he fixated on facial features; with your grandmother, it is hair. I think they fixate on the things they're insecure about in themselves.

I know it doesn't help to know that; I was always insecure about my face - I don't think I'm especially pretty, and to have someone always picking it apart is not an enjoyable experience. I imagine its the same when your grandmother has a go at you over your hair.

I don't have any real advice about how to handle it; I think Kat's advice is great. I just thought I'd share a similar story hoping it helps shed some light on why your gran might be doing what she is. She may not be aware she's being as hurtful as she is; I don't think my grandfather ever was.

HTH
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Thanks so much. It just feels hard sometimes because it's almost like wearing an outfit everyone thinks is ugly, what's the point? But you know what, from now on they just have to get over it. *thumbsup*
Originally Posted by freeasmyhair12
The problem is it isn't an outfit. It's your a God-given, curly crown; indigenous to you and your being, and deserves acceptance and respect (But you already knew that, as you did say you adore your curly hair!)

I'm so effing sick of it especially since I absolutely adore my hair curly and have gotten so many compliments from my white friends now they're older and more mature. And yet why is it that my black friends and family members practically have a heart attack over it?!
When one group systematically abuses another over time, some of the abused people start believing the lies they were taught by their abusers - that their culture is less than that of the abuser's culture. This includes standards of beauty, whether it's spiraphobia (My made up name for fear/distain for coily hair, because "spira" in Latin means "coil"), or colorism. The fact that you refuse to take on all that baggage and instead choose to embrace your hair, speaks volumes about your character and sense of independence
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I can't believe that your grandmother actually said that about your hair! I wouldn't pay any attention to it though, as others have said it's just her own insecurity talking. (easier said than done though.)

No one in my family has ever made fun of my hair, in fact my mother has always told me that I have beautiful hair...but was always sure to add a negative comment about her own hair. For me it was more the fact that she hated her hair and never learnt to take care of it that effected me. It was the same with make-up, clothing and a whole bunch of things. I basically had to learn how to be a woman myself and always felt a little bit shy even trying! lol!

As for other people making fun of your hair, I have definately had that. It was called a "rat's nest" when I was 11-15 and other variations of the overall "rat" theme (lol! Kind of ridiculous when I think about it now because rats don't even have poofy hair!) But then again I have always prided myself on not changing the parts of me that others hated. (my teeth, my pale white skin and my big ears come to mind.) I will never fake bake, never whiten my teeth (which btw are not yellow but just a natural colour! lol!) or pin my ears back! I'm glad that i'm finally discovering a way to keep my natural hair as well!

I live in Italy now and all of those people who think that having blonde pin straight hair and fake breasts is the ideal are absolutely wrong. The women here are amazing. Young, old, curly, straight, thin or curvy these women accept their bodies and do everything that they can to get the most out of them. Interestingly enough they are regarded as among the most beautiful in the world! I think that all North American women can learn something from them and stop this obsession with trying to look like barbie blow up dolls! (sorry to all those women who look like Barbie blow up dolls naturally! LOL!)
A lot of you girls are way nicer than I would be! I haven't had a lot of bad comments about my hair (at least not to my face), but I don't play around with that stuff. I would just say:

"You have a problem with my hair, because you have a problem being black. I don't have the same problem, which is why I love my hair. But it hurts to be insulted by someone I care about. And if you care about me and my self-esteem you won't make these comments anymore. So if you keep trying to tear me down, then that just lets me know how much you really do or don't care about me."

People will rationalize all their bad behavior away because they have your 'best interest' in mind. Sometimes you have to straight up tell them that they are embarrassing themselves with their ignorance.
A few weeks ago my sister-in-law straightened her hair and was saying that her hair was better than mine because it was straight. I didn't say a thing.

Three days later I was on the phone (while she was around) and the person on the line kept saying over and over how healthy and great my hair looked. She didn't say a thing!

Because she doesn't feel good about herself she tried to make me feel the same way.


But you can learn how to rock your hair. You can set an example to your family on how to embrace your natural beauty and how accept yourself no matter what... because it doesn't sound like they feel good about themselves.
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Last edited by princesspie; 11-29-2011 at 01:38 AM.

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