Is Hair Important Enough to Break Up a Marriage?

She’d just undergone “the big chop” and her husband hated her short, blonde Afro. He told her he wasn’t attracted to her anymore, and wanted her to get another relaxer.
Publish date:
August 5, 2013
natural hair, Clutch, black hair, black women, married life, weaves

At what point are you just plain unqualified to give your opinion on a subject? That’s the question I’ve been asking myself for the past week, after coming across an Instagram post from a natural hair vlogger I follow named Diggamatic.

One of her newly natural followers was seeking marital advice. She’d just undergone “the big chop” and her husband hated her short, blonde Afro. He told her he wasn’t attracted to her anymore, and wanted her to get another relaxer. He also isn’t a fan of weaves, so that option was out.

The advice seeker, unsure of what to do, was desperate for guidance because she loved her hair and wasn’t ready to give up on it. Not knowing what to tell her, Diggamatic posted a screen shot of the question, asking her followers their opinions.

Most of the women who commented said that–though they’re single–they would either tell their husband to shut up and deal, or leave him. Some of the women advised her to compromise by straightening her hair every once in awhile. Others wondered why she was with such a man in the first place. While I read through the responses, most of their advice felt very irresponsible to me.

I understand that some of my fellow naturalistas take their hair very seriously. I get it. It’s hard work to build a hair care regimen and to embrace your natural looks when people are constantly trying to tell you your hair is innately unattractive. But is hair important enough to break up a marriage?

Maybe her husband’s real issue is that he wishes she gave her look a little variety. Maybe she hasn’t figured out a natural look that works best for her. (Heck, I look back at old pictures of my hair when I first started wearing it natural and actually cringe. My curly fro was desert-thirsty with no definition. No wonder my mother was practically running at me with a hot comb.) Maybe the reader’s husband really is being awful and shallow. There is no way any of us could draw a concrete conclusion about their marriage or his behavior from her question.

Should single women who have never been married be so quick to judge a married couple’s problems? There are some things about marriage my single self cannot begin to comprehend. For example, what do you do about money? If you’re both working full-time, do you split all of your expenses down the middle, regardless of whether one of you brings in way more money than the other? What about bank accounts? Are separate accounts or joint accounts better? Or splurging? Should one call up one’s spouse when deciding to blow a third of one’s check on shoes?

When you’re married, should you have a say when your spouse drastically changes their appearance? If you believe in forever and have decided to love this person, and only this person, for the rest of your life, shouldn’t you be allowed to gently tell them when their look isn't doing it for you anymore? Of course, it will hurt, regardless of how careful they are with your feelings, but shouldn’t they be allowed to say it?

Are knee-jerk reactions to questions like this helpful? Tone is everything, and some of the advice was so bullet-quick and harsh, it bothered me. Her question was barely a paragraph long, and these women were talking about her husband like he was Stevie J. She didn’t even specify how he told her what he was feeling. Was he sensitive or harsh? Did he blurt it out or mull it over, hoping to handle her feelings gingerly?

I will admit that I had misgivings about the “he doesn’t like weaves” part of her question. It annoys me to no end that some black men cannot understand that many black women wear weaves/keep their hair natural/wrap their hair at night in order to keep their hair healthy.

I want to ask these men if they think generations of black women diligently wrapped their hair each night before bed for fun? Do these men have any idea what it is like to be seconds away from sleep, only to have to hobble across your bedroom for a headscarf? Or worse, to wake up in the morning with said scarf on the floor and your hair matted on the pillow? I didn’t think so.

But on a more serious note: I think some of us forget that words on the screen do matter. That, no matter how anonymous we may feel, we are still accountable for the words things we post. If this real life woman was looking for good advice on her real life marriage, shouldn’t the faceless women who have decided to answer her question do so with care? Or are we all typing to quickly to think first?

Reprinted with permission from Clutch.