"Don't touch my hair — the avocado is setting." Those are words that I've actually had to say to man upon insertion. No joke, being natural can be pretty unsexy sometimes. One of the main reasons I kept my strands relaxed for so long was largely due to the nightly hair routines. They can be both extreme and time-consuming. I can't tell you how many times I said to myself "I'm just going to twist it" — fast-forward two hours later, and I'm on my 7th Ghana Braid Tutorial. Those protective styles that are vital to healthy, kinky hair are just not cute when I'm snuggling up to a long-term boo or a fresh new shorty, trying to get some action.
Also, there is no way I am laying this mane of kinky spirals on anything but satin. Even if I do it just once, I'm paying for it the next day. My hair is completely matted to my skull, the shrinkage and knots threaten to dread, and the moisture I knew the night before has been completely absorbed in the pillow, along with about 50 tiny curls. If I thought I was going to look cuter going to bed with my 'fro out, I am certainly not cute when I wake up the next morning. Let him make one Don King joke though...
RNB Magazine stated that the number two reason black women are less likely to date outside their race is due to our hair. Black women's hair has forever been a sensitive subject, and the assumption in this article is that whether it's a perm, weave, or natural, it's still weird hair. What's interesting to me is that I find it much easier to feel sexy in bed now than I did when I had relaxed hair. Let me take you on a stroll down memory lane:
Heavy sigh from a ten month mistake in 2009: I guess we aren't going to have sex tonight.
Me: What do you mean? Why wouldn't we have sex? I was smoothing my freshly relaxed hair around my head and ready to put my do-rag on. Clearly, I was ready for bed.
2009 Mistake: It's hard to have sex with that thing on your head, I can't run my fingers through your hair.
Me: No, you couldn't run your fingers through my hair last week. Now it's relaxed. Do you want me to wait until you're done playing Grand Theft Auto? Will you be ready for sex then? Always compromising.
2009 Mistake: No, the moment is ruined now.
Actually, the moment was ruined when he threw flame throwers at several sex workers and got a little too proud of himself over it. But, in hindsight, having sex with a do-rag on is def not cute, and instead of finding a way to make our intimacy more, well, intimate, I found myself incredibly self-conscious about my hair, yet again. This was when my hair was still thick and healthy, but the only way it could stay like that was by wrapping it up at night with 12 bobby pins and the same rag that Bizzy-Bone from Bone Thugs-n-Harmony wore in the "Crossroads" video.
When Chris Rock came out with the movie Good Hair, I was seething. I didn't want him to let out the black hair secret, and I, like many women of color, was insecure about the amount of time and money I spent just to have mediocre hair. I didn't want people to know that I only washed my hair once a week because I had a perm. If I didn't have 3 hours to wash and set my hair (shampoo, leave-in conditioner, regular conditioner, plus an hour or so under a hair dryer), then some weeks were skipped. Plus, all those creams that went into my straight hair left a slight oily scent that I hated. So, there were also times where I didn't even want my hair to be touched or sniffed by anyone, let alone someone who I wanted inside me.
With natural hair, the woes are different, but they can be easily overcome. I'll tell you one thing, I got 99 problems and I don't need my afro being one.
Problem: When Someone Wants to Run Their Fingers Through Your Hair
Solution: Eh, I get that it's a thing, but it's just not going to happen. Here's what will happen if s/he were to try: They will literally just insert their fingers into your hair and they will immediately get stuck, and then you'll have to help him get them out. That ruins the moment more than my 'fro. Just say this: "Be a pal and just fluff my hair". If the thought of being petted doesn't make you cringe, offer to give him/her free range to pet away during the deed. Don't get caught up in the "Can I Touch Your Hair" thing — it doesn't exist when you're already naked.
Problem: It's Not a Shampoo Day
Solution: Whether you're natural or relaxed, shampooing constantly isn't ideal — but that doesn't mean you should ditch cleanliness. Antiseptic oils applied to the scalp and hair after wetting should add some added fragrance and cleanse your hair follicles. On the plus side, if you're natural, this should already be part of your hair regimen. The chemical, weird scent of a hair relaxer is definitely not as pleasing as the smell of coconut and lavender oil.
Problem: The Unattractive Do-Rag
Solution: Sleeping on satin sheets is a great alternative to sleeping in a satin bonnet at night and it creates an additional sultry ambiance. You can even purchase a satin pillow-case to keep at your partner's house at most beauty supply stores. Put your hair in a classy crown braid or some chunky two-strand twists: Your ends will be protected throughout the night and you'll look elegant while you snooze, instead of having one side of your hair matted to your face.
Problem: Not Lookin' Sexy in a Protective Style
Solution: Protective styles are important, but even the most elegant braid is no comparison to a large, fluffy afro. Jazz up the rest of your sleepwear to counteract that slightly messy plait you've created. Last year, I tossed all my random boxer shorts, sweat pants, and over-sized tee shirts, and replaced them with inexpensive nightgowns. Curly Nikki suggests that if you're wrapping your locks up for the night, try to wear something aesthetically pleasing to your partner to keep the romance alive.
Problem: Not Reaping Fun Afro Benefits
Solution: I did make a very serious compromise recently where I waited until after sex to put my hair in a braid. It dawned on me that what fun is an afro if we aren't going to incorporate it into our foreplay? Sure, this can't be done every night — mama's got to work and can't be sneaking out of bed to put in a crown braid. But, it's definitely a break from being in a braid every night, for both of us!
Image: Giphy; Kristin Collins Jackson