Her Look, Her Business, My Opinion
This past weekend, I had the privilege of participating in a panel discussion hosted by the Curly Girl Collective, an organization that, in their words, “strives to create innovative experiences that foster acceptance and celebration of curls, kinks and everything in between.” The discussion, which took place in Brooklyn at Free Candy, was entitled, “Mane Attraction: His Voice, Her Hair.” For those scratching their heads wondering what that means, in simpler terms, I was one of three guys, along with three women, talking about women’s hair, giving my thoughts on what I like and don’t like, and reasons why.
In the days leading up to the event, I received questions from friends and colleagues skeptical about not only the discussion, but my participation in it. Anytime you invite a man to speak on a woman’s issue, especially one as personal and as cosmetic as hair, people will look at him like he walked into the ladies restroom. To be honest, I had no idea what I was going to be asked or what I was going to say. The only reason I agreed is because friends of mine were behind the event, and I always try to support my friends, and hey, if anyone thinks I’m articulate and smart enough to be on their panel, I have no problem saying yes (for more info on how to book me at your panel discussion email: firstname.lastname@example.org). So when people asked me what was my purpose on the panel, I said I didn’t quite know but if Chris Rock can make a whole documentary on women’s hair, I can participate in an hour-long discussion about it.
At the panel, I was given questions about about everything from why I like black women’s hair (my answer: I don’t like all black women’s hair, I like some black women’s hair.) to how I feel about hair pulling (my answer: If she likes it, I like it. If she doesn’t like it, I can’t do it). But the main point of contention was between one of my fellow male panelists and the women. The guy, who is married, said any woman who is in a serious relationship should consult with her man before making any drastic changes to her crown. Of course, every woman on the panel and in the audience scoffed. My other male panelist agreed with some trepidation, and I flat-out disagreed with him.
Though no one said such a thing after the discussion, I am sure a few people thought my contrarian opinion on this matter was my way of getting on the good side of the women. But this couldn’t be further from the truth for two reasons:
1) Those who know me know I never dole out an opinion for the sake of getting favor from the opposite sex.
2) I honestly do not have a strong opinion on how a woman wears her hair.
But no one should read the second reason and insinuate that I, or any other man, doesn’t have an opinion at all about a woman’s appearance, whether it’s hair or other surface-level things.
As I said on the panel, what I don’t like isn’t nearly as important as what I do like. In my relationships, I don’t criticize, I compliment. If you tell a woman what you like, she likes to hear that, and there’s a good chance she wants to hear it again, so she will repeat that look more often to get complimented more often.
That’s not game, that’s logic.
The much bigger issue I have with making her hair my problem is in a relationship, there are so many battles I can fight about the way she looks before I start feeling like her girlfriend. And even in saying that, I want it to be clear: Every man cares about the way his woman looks, and he always wants her to look her best.
Does that mean she always has to? Of course not. But when she doesn’t, and she asks him what he thinks, she can’t get upset if he says it’s not her best look. As a man, I don’t want to nitpick and analyze why the shoes aren’t working or why she should lose the belt. I’m not her personal Tim Gunn, and I’m not bringing her out on some runway for her outfit to be picked apart by Michael Kors. I don’t know much about women’s fashion, but I do notice women’s style and I definitely dig some styles more than others.
The idea that men don’t have opinions on the way a woman looks, and specific opinions at that, is antiquated. If I am in a relationship and I’ve seen my woman in various states of dress, it shouldn’t surprise her that I can distinguish her mom jeans from her club jeans. It shouldn’t surprise her that I’ve always thought she looked her best when she wore her hair up and not down. Yes, men can and should have an opinion on the way our women look, but make them thoughtful and helpful.
What a man shouldn’t do is overreact to any changes she makes in her look, no matter how dramatic they can be. Unless she comes home an amputee simply because she felt like it, but who does that? The thing about something like hair is it grows back, though some styles can cause permanent damage, it’s a flexible part of the human fabric.
She chooses one look, her man doesn’t like it, depending on whether or not she feels like caring about what he thinks that day, she can change it. There is something very uncomfortable about me adding more than two cents on a woman’s look. I just don’t know how masculine I can be when I tell my woman to lose the pencil skirt, opt for the Theory business suit, and if it’s not at the dry cleaner, wear the egg shell white silk shirt underneath.
A woman’s look is her business, and my opinion is just that. How much she values fluctuates as much as the dollar itself, but a woman should never make the mistake of thinking I don’t care because I’m a man. That’s why I appreciated being invited to speak on the panel. I don’t have strong, hard-lined opinions on how a woman chooses to wear her hair, but if she asks me what I think, and I don’t like it, there should be no argument. As I said, she has a right to do with her body what she wants, I have a right to not like it.
Real quick: My dear friend Leigh Davenport is writing and directing what is shaping up to be a very charming and unique romantic comedy entitled, “Situationships.” Obviously, from the title, you can tell Leigh is in sync with the way relationship dynamics between young, unmarried people work in 2012.
If this is a film you would like to see, then support it by going to her IndieGoGo page. You can help finance a movie for less than the cost of seeing a movie.
Allow Leigh to break down “Situatonships”