I just had a conversation with someone which I realize in retrospect that I have had and heard several times but have not really paid attention to.

A colleague just had her hair cropped short.  She looks several years younger – like she had undergone a facelift. We got into the question of why she hadn’t done it sooner and she shared her story.

Source

Her husband prefers long hair, so since they have been together, she has been keeping her hair long-ish to keep her man happy. A few years ago, she felt restless and wanted to cut her hair. This was her normal practice when she was single. She actually prefers to wear her hair short and free of extensions. Let’s just say that she met with a lot of resistance so she kept the peace by keeping her hair on her head and the extensions in.

Recently, the restlessness reared its head again and she pulled out all the tricks in the book (pleading, threatening, pouting e.t.c) before she finally wrangled very reluctant permission from her husband to get a hair cut. She says she finally feels liberated.

Now, this is a story which a lot of us (especially Africans), have heard time and time again and perhaps have come to view as normal.

The female cannot make major changes to her hairstyle at will.  It must always be done with the consent of her husband/boyfriend. Sure, you can part your hair to the left or to the right at will but if you want to

  • Go natural
  • Go from natural to relaxed
  • Stop wearing weaves/extensions altogether or even start wearing weaves/extensions
  • Loc your hair

Then you definitely need a nod from the man in your life.  In fact, some women need to be sure that their partner is on board with every step they take to change their appearance (e.g. deciding to have make-up free days or to begin wearing make-up).

However, the reverse is not the case. I have never heard of a man asking for permission from his wife to change his hairstyle. They may talk about it, but there is no question that consent is needed. One may, of course, argue that men rarely can’t do much with their hair so there is no need to gain consent. Even if this was the case, I personally do not believe that men would actually seek consent.  The liberal ones may discuss it, but it ends there. The choice is basically theirs what they want to do.

Do you find this normal? Do you find this to be right? 

17 Comments

Funke

I’m not married so I can’t speak to that aspect of things. I did however cut my hair when I was talking to a guy back in 2009. I went from having bra-strap length hair to a short asymmetrical Rihanna do. He lost it. The attraction went away. Lol. Like overnight. As in Abracadabra tinz a la “now you see it, now you don’t”. Yes! According to him, he wasn’t attracted to short hair. Need less to say, he was kicked to the curb.

For my marriage, I would like a scenario where we talked about everything. So not a “seeking permission” type deal but a “baby, I want to cut my hair, think it’ll suit my face” type deal. Women who ask for permission regarding hair, ask for permission in other things as well. The implied lack of self-esteem is pervasive to their relationship. If your relationship breaks up over your hair style then I wonder what nature of relationship you had in the first place.

Does this mean you should discount your partner’s wants? No, but ultimately do YOU! I would imagine that your partner would want you look HOT irrespective of long or short hair, natural or weave hair. We have all seen long hair women who look a stinking hot mess, and short women who are boxer-droppers. They get second, third, even fourth glances!

If you must change your look drastically, then be realistic to give your partner some time to adjust. Spice up your look. Don’t cut off your hair and then stop wearing ear rings or make your eyebrows bushy as the amazon forest.

Sex Appeal is more than hair. It is a way of being.

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Natural Nigerian

Loved your comment! Shows that it is clearly a multi-layered thing, this need to seek permission. I am all for the relationship where we talk through things and you are right one shouldn’t do an absolute shocking about turn, out of consideration for the other party.

Boxer-dropper? I guess I have learnt my new word for the day :)

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Funke

Lol! Thanks. You know how there’s a term called “panty-dropper”? just randomly coined “boxer-dropper” from that! Lol. I am random

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Yve Nimi (@yve_olution)

I know this happens. I don’t necessarily see it as seeking permission as such, I suppose in my case I would probably do what I really want but be aware whether it is to my partner’s taste or not. I do understand that for a slightly permanent hairstyle that is different from your partner’s preference it’s good to ‘consult’ with the partner. I never had to in my long term relationship so sometimes I imagine it’ll be irksome. I am currently contemplating doing locs & would prefer to start it off now I’m single than to try & start it when in a relationship with someone whose preference isn’t locs. As women we tend to do much of the compromising in relationships, this goes with it. However there are very few women I know that wouldn’t do a hairstyle simply because partner says no. I do know of a couple who had long talks when the husband wanted to cut his hair

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Natural Nigerian

Consultation is good, permission seeking is borderline abuse in my opinion. You are clearly marking yourself as someone that is comfortable with loc’ing her hair so that any guy that seeks you out after that knows what he is getting himself into.

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Funke

Yve! You need to see me giving you a cyber fist pump! I am in your shoes re locs now that I am single. I also feel you, sad to say women do more compromising than men. Funny thing is the said men don’t want us to compromise so much! Lol!

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lizzy orji

heeeeeeeeee, hair things! as a wife, i ‘ve made my hussy 2 understand dat we both co-exist n not one ruling d other, i tell him i want to do so-so-so to my hair n he says ok, cos we respect each other he believes dat am capable to make my own decisions n i ‘ve d right to look d way i want . n i feel every other woman deserves that too. Lol.

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Acharacha

Hmmmmm nice one, funny enough I’ve been thinking about this lately. I will speak from experience. I recently did a big chop in order to go natural. Before doing it, I had to be sure that hubby was on board every step of the way. I even had to let him do the cutting himself. For me, that was a way to make him feel like he is part of the journey. It was also one of those tricks you play on men to make them feel like their in charge, *wink* lol. Meanwhile, he does not like the SHORT DO on women, but I made him cut my hair, lol!

Generally there has to be a balance for anything to work out fine. Marriage is a very delicate thing and has to be managed properly. A husbands personality determines the way you communicate with him. If you have the authoritative type husband, then you should let him know, in love and respect, what you would like to do. If you have the liberal type (my husband), do not take him for granted. Talk it through with him as well. I for one believe that a woman’s desires and aspirations depends on what her man thinks. Now a lot of you might hate me for saying this, but it is the painful truth that the Bible (for Christians) recommends Gen. 3: 16 and Eph. 5:22.

I like what the woman in the story did. If it is a true story, I feel she did the right thing. I always say, anything that promotes MARITAL PEACE AND PROGRESS should be embraced 100%, it might be hard, but it will not kill you!!!! :)

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Josephine Odion

When I told my boyfriend at the time I was cutting my hair, he freaked out, but I explained why and he was reluctant @ 1st but trusted I knew what I was doing, besides he loved me regardless of what I had on my head. Of course every now & he brought up me putting on weaves, but I told him unless he intended to fix it in himself, comb it everyday, moisturize, shampoo, condition, deep condition and take it off himself, As well as catee to my real hair underneath it’ll never happen. Safe to say he backed of. Lol. Of course he loved my hair as it grew out and then I said I was gonna have it trimmed he nearly freaked out. But truth is, he really didn’t understand the mystery of hair, not to mention Black hair. I never felt I needed his permission, but he was my partner and it was important to share with him every decision I intended to take. And he had an afro so when I felt he needed to shape it better or make it look better he listened. I really can’t speak for anyone else, but I can’t be with someone who won’t take time to understand me and let me do what’s best for me just because he has control issues. Of course he may have preferences, but we’ll work something out, after all, I have preferences too. Lol.

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abbey

We shouldn’t forget parental influence.I like locs but my mother hates it.Since I am not married yet and stay under her roof,i have to obey her wishes.It took a while for her to get used to my natural looks.

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Jay

I’ve got an afro, and recently did a twist-out. I went to see my married sis, and she complimented me on my hair (very rare for her) and her hubby agreed with her. She then said her hubby didn’t like natural hair (he kept quiet then). My sister’s hair is breaking badly, she’s lost most of her hairline to ghana-weaving (she’s very trendy) yet her hubby loves her in brazilian weaves, the longer the better. It isn’t even an option for her to carry her hair for more than 2 weeks. So I wonder how she’s going to give her hair the help it needs. She just got som castor oil and is reading hair blogs. I think her case shows how people don’t really know each other before marriage, if they had, he would try and understand her need to change and grow.

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Natural Nigerian

Very sad about your sister’s husband. He does not realize that he is setting her up for failure. Even if he is to remain a Beyonce man (as a friend once called it), she needs to have hair that is healthy enough to attach the hair to.

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onyinyechi

I really hope I don’t need to ask my other half for consent to do what i want with ‘my hair’, the one thing that would probably be entirely mine when I am married. If I have to, it is really just for asking sake, just so he is aware. I have pretty much done what i want with my hair living with my parents, some they approved of, some they didn’t but had to live with (wildest thing I have done to my hair was copper and gold highlight on an Anita baker cut, which may nit be that wild to some of you).

Now I know when I would be crossing the line I really do, but to ask for permission to do what i please to my hair, not happening. Thank God I am natural and don’t plan to loc my hair and I am single, so the young man that wants to marry me won’t say he was not informed properly about the status of my hair. I am not hiding anything under weaves and i don’t use extensions that much, so the hair is pretty much there for all to see.

My take on this, there are a million and one things to bother about than hair. If he feels he wants to keep and afro, cornrow his hair,loc it whatever, it may take getting used to, eventually I will as long as it’s not affecting his duties as a man, husband and father as my own hair won’t affect my own duties.

Thank you for this post, Great job as usual.

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C'estmoi

RUBBISH. My folks have been married 30+ years and my mother has never ever take permission from my dad to change her appearance and she’s quite adventurous. I asked her about it when I was quite young because of a conversation with my cousins and her answer was that my dad knew what he was getting into when he married her.

With that as an example, I cannot imagine asking my husband for permission to change my appearance in anyway. Dude will just have to deal if he doesn’t like it, shrug.

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Tomilola Agboola

I have been married for almost two decades,and recently i chopped my hair,my husband liked it,though i did not ask for his permission to do that ‘cos i do not think it is necessary,on issues like this i think you should do things that bring pleasure to you first and foremost,it is my hair we are talking about not his,he does ask for my permission before having his hair cut,and i don’t complain. This does not mean i respect my hubby less,on the contrary i respect him a lot,i am a tradition woman, i do not even call him by his first name out of respect but i have to love me for me and not the other way round,i.e loving me for my hubby. Now i am blessed to have an understanding man,some are not so ,then for the sake of peace get his consent, it is not funny if trivial issue like hair style causes problem for you. Thanks

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Kemi

Hmmmmm this brings back some not very pleasant memories. When I first went natural and wanted to wear my hair out, my husband forbade me saying I could not step out of the house with my short hair – I was ‘permitted’ to wear it out at home but every time I left the house I had to wear a wig. Anyway, a lot of water has passed under the bridge and I wear my hair out proudly now and get tons of compliments too. As someone said, women tend to be the more compromising partner and it definitely takes a more open minded, understanding and mature partner who doesn’t want to control you to embrace a woman’s multifaceted nature.

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