For all those about to embark on their natural hair journey or those already on their natural hair journey, you might find that your biggest critics, naysayers and Debbie downers on your journey is your family. Their critical comments are also the hardest to just let slide off because it's personal and you actually do value their opinion to a certain extent. I find that I still get side eye from certain family members (especially the older generation) who still cling to notions of "good" hair, even when someone right next to them might gush about how much they love my hair. So when dealing with the familia here are some tips for dealing with unwanted and unwarranted criticism:
1. Remember that wise and true saying, 'opinions are like assholes, everyone has one'.
2. Head to the blogsophere or YouTube where you can engage in the natural world hair community, see images and videos that inspired you to go natural and take heart and be among like minded people.
3. This might be true for you too, but I find that my critics usually have really, really, really unhealthy hair so as they make their comments I focus on the irony of it all and have an inner giggle.
4. Stand up for yourself! Depending on who you are addressing there is a way to kindly and respectfully point out that not only are the comments hurtful but ignorant as well (I won't lie, this one take supreme diplomatic skills when dealing with elders).
4. Have compassion, it wasn't so long ago that I held a very narrow view of beauty, what constituted "good" hair and that my hair was something to be fixed and not celebrated. A lot of these comments come from years of discrimination, media bashing and internalized self loathing.
The upside I have found is that some original naysayers have now themselves become natural and look to me for advice (love that!). A few good things to remember is that for the generation coming up behind you, you serve as inspiration to un-apologetically embrace all of who they are and when your reach that state of mind (if you're not there already) when you are in love with every kink, coil and curl of your hair no one can tell you don't look good NO ONE!