I Was a Soul Train Dancer: Robi Reed
Listen, nothing gets a single woman more riled up more than when you ask her about her dating life. Believe me, my group of girlfriends have shared enough horror stories with me to make swear off men. But the one thing I’ve never gotten to ask about was if they thought their hair was lessening their chance at love. I recently had a convo with a friend who shared her confidence dipped post-big chop because the guys she use to attract were no longer interested in her. Yikes!
It’s no secret that men adhere to the double standard admiring women with wigs/weaves, but at the same breath tell the world they like their girl “all-natural.” It’s confusing to say the least. Even female rapper Dreamdoll previously shared with BET.com about how she recovered when her wig fell off during sex, revealing that yes, even she was a little apprehensive how men would receive her natural hair.
To dig deeper, I reached out to 20 women to share their stories about #DatingWhileNatural to find out whether or not it has helped or hindered their quest for true love. Keep scrolling to see what they have to say—some answers might surprise you!
“I'm damn near married, but I do notice when I wear my hair straight I get a ton of flirts and guys looking my way. But when I wear it natural, nobody ever looks my way. Thank God my man likes it whether it's straight, natural, or in an old ass topknot." — Jacqueline, 29, New Jersey
“I once had a guy tell me ‘I needed to do my hair’ when I first started wearing it natural. Needless to say that didn’t last long.” — LaNiece, age withheld, New Jersey
“I actually receive a lot of love from men for my short, bald hairstyle, but I have been told it is intimidating. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard ‘You have such a great personality. I am so happy I came to talk to you, but your look is intimidating. It means you're confident, and I know I can't step to you with any line.’ Damn near verbatim every. single. time.”
“I did have a guy ask me to grow my hair back once. That was more about his insecurity than anything else. I also had a guy come up to me at a brunch in Brooklyn, of all places, and tell me ‘I bet you use to be pretty when you had hair.’” — Dana, 36, Los Angeles
“Since cutting my hair, my confidence has dropped a little because the type of guys I am typically attracted to pay me NO mind when I'm out anymore. I've had to do some self evaluation to remind myself that my confidence is not based on male interest in my looks! And those people who do approach me seem to be enamored with my facial features, which is definitely an ego boost!”
“[Recently] my best friend comforted me by saying ‘this is a grown woman hair cut. It can be intimidating to men, but at least you know you are weeding out the f*ck boys!’ I couldn't have said it better myself. I am much more than my looks. Being [basically] bald has forced me to pay even more attention to who I am on the inside—because that's what's most important anyway.” — Domonique, 33, Chicago
“I have been natural since my freshman year in college, but I started locs four months ago. I noticed that since I loc'd my hair, I got a lot more attention from white men. I definitely didn't expect that, but I suppose it's because locs may be a bit of a mystery to them. I also noticed that whenever I'm walking in the city, Black men will stop me and praise me for being natural."
“In the days when I obsessively straightened my hair, I also got attention—but so many people assumed I was mixed or a different ethnicity altogether. With locs, my compliments have become more along the lines of ‘You make our Black sisters proud,’ and much less of ‘What are you mixed with?’ I'm really loving that.” — Dayna, 33, Washington, D.C
“My mom taught me to not ask a man for his opinions of my hair and to just do what I want. If they're with you for hair, there's a larger issue to discuss. So, my boyfriend treads lightly when commenting on my hair. But [I do notice] whenever we're doing something extra ‘special’ he usually makes a comment about me straightening my hair, instead of the alternative curly or ponytail. When I see the women who men give the most attention online or otherwise, they usually wear weave, so I always take those comments with a grain of salt.” — Briana, 29, Brooklyn
“More men try to talk to me when they think I have big curly hair. I’m constantly thinking, ‘How will he react when it finds out it’s a sham?” But, I have also dated men who begged me to take out my weave and constantly celebrated my natural hair.” — Anonymous, 31, Los Angeles
“I’m in a relationship, but since I’ve gone natural I notice that the type of men that approach me are usually more mature and respectful. I hear a lot more ‘queen, sista, miss” and a lot less ‘ayo ma, shorty in the dress,’ etc.”
“Now, I feel more confident when my hair is natural, Simply because I don’t have to think about things like ‘is my hair getting frizzy?’ Or ‘does it still look as good as it did when I left the house?’ I can just focus on being myself instead of worrying about it.” — Tiffany, 27, New Jersey
“I feel like everyone has their preferences [about what hairstyles they like], and that’s fine! The only time I’m on the defensive end is when men make try to women who wear a weave feel ‘less than’ about it. I will say he [my man] hates my wigs though. Only because I come home and snatch mine off like a hat. He said he needs a warning so he’s prepared. LOL!” — Shenilla, 29, Atlanta
“Right before I did the big chop, I was talking to guy I met on a dating app. The conversation was flowing with great banterand he told me several times how pretty he thought I was. Then one day he ask for my IG name. I gave it to him and immediately after….crickets. I couldn't figure out why he ghosted me until it finally dawned on me. I had just cut off my hair and my most recent pics on Instagram showed my new look.
“I never realized my profile on the dating app only had pictures of me with straight hair until then! I immediately added pictures with my new short natural hair and amended my profile to say ‘Recently cut my hair, so if you're not a fan of natural hair swipe left. Peace and love.’ I eventually took that caption down after a while because my best friend said it made me sound bitter.” — Reneise, 34, Queens
“I think the weaves and the Rihanna body style is why I get slighted from men. I am not turning any heads with my slim body, no chest, and shorter natural hair. I feel the men in the states are chasing thicker bodies despite hair, no hair, natural hair or weaves. I don't think any man would ‘prefer’ weaves—I think they prefer when a women feels like a ‘baddie’ versus anything else. I'm just here with the Kelly Rowlands, and even she felt the need to add to the front of her body. We can't all be Beyoncé.” — Love, 32, New York City
“For me, dating while natural has always involved explaining to a man why I must wear a scarf to bed, sexy or not. Some don’t get it! But, it seems as more women wear their natural hair men are becoming more accustomed to it. It’s like you either go to bed with your twist and silk scarf or wake up looking like Gumby—and that’s not cute at all! Now, I’ve learned to tie my hair down in cute wrap styles to bed. Going to bed is an entire OOTD (night) these days. It’s fun...unless I’m just tired.” — Tahjai, 32, Atlanta
“When I cut my hair off, I actually did it for my aunt that had third stage cancer. She had hair down her back but it was falling out like crazy because of the chemo. [While I wanted to support her] I wasn’t too sure about wearing my hair so short, so I went and bought a wig. The guy I started dating met me with a wig, so after seeing each other for a month or so, I told him about my short natural cut and the meaning behind it. I still looked cute, but it was a different vibe.”
“He looked at the pic and said, ‘Never show a man that picture again’ because ‘they wouldn’t want to see me like that.’ He then went to suggest that I should wear ‘a wig, a weave, real hair with some lenght or a straight, Halle Berry cut’ because they would be good on me. I was so mad because I did it for a purpose, but it also made me more insure about wearing my short hair out until it was a bit longer.” — Amirh, 31, New Jersey
“If my hair is a topic of dating preference we just won't date. That happened once in my past and I said it would never be the case again. I have heard the 'I would definitely date you if you had straight hair' line more than I'd like to admit from random males in my life who I was never even interested in.”
“Men will always find a way to cut women down... when my Locs were starters I would get comments about the short length. Now I get comments that it's too much hair. I frequently get the question '...well, can you take them out?' Men have been conditioned to like a certain look just like we women have, so to see an outlier I think they just get curious. I don't think men really mean to be rude.” — Adrienne, 32, Austin
“My boyfriend loves my naturally curly hair. It could be a mess, an awful twist out, horrible wash and go, etc. and he still finds it beautiful. It is refreshing that someone that your with totally embraces the natural you. He actually encouraged me to go natural!” — Sabine, 31, Long Island
“I think there's an unspoken preference of natural beauty in general. With regards to hair, I love that my partner runs his hands threw my hair, and has even twisted my hair (laughs). These small acts show me that there's certainly a love that he has for my natural hair. Get chu a man who loves ya natural!” — Shanika, 28, Harlem
“I feel the type of men I am interested in—Black men—still have a slightly negative perception of natural hair. Or, if your hair is natural, it has to be 3A /3B long and wavy. Prior to cutting my hair and going fully natural, my boyfriend was hesitant about it. He didn't like the idea of me with short hair and hair that wasn't straight, because that's how he met me. But once I cut it he was completely fine and loves my look.” — Aisha, 29, New Jersey
“I started the transition from relaxed to natural and I went on a date with this new guy. We hit the town, drinks were flowing, hair was curling up. Fine with me, I didn’t even notice, but his hands were all up in my hair. The next day he texts me about how fun the date was and said, ‘Babe, I love that you got a little kitchen back there!’ I could not stop laughing. Gotta love the appreciation though!” — Cayla, age withheld, New York City + Los Angeles
On my dating profile, my photos are of me with longer hair, so I often hear remarks about my ‘different’ hair when I show up. It’s probably easier to update the photos. I do get more attention being natural, thought I’m an interesting case, I’m dark-skinned and have a curly platinum TWA. It’s also worth mentioning I live in Germany as well.” — India, age withheld, Munich, Germany
“I felt like with men who I've dated, and let's say there's a day I switch up my hair: If I decided to wear it curly one day, they would be pleasantly surprised. I never received negative or uncomfortable reactions about my hair, which is nice, and also should be the status quo. Sometimes I don't think I pay enough attention to what men think. And if they to act slighted, I automatically know that's a man I should not even be engaging with.” —Darian, 27, Los Angeles
(Photo: Peathegee Inc via Getty Images)