When it comes to dating preferences, it’s no secret that some men consider hair to be an important factor when listing their preferences in a potential partner. Beyond having a “type,” it’s not uncommon to hear a man suggest that certain hairstyles on a woman are deal breakers for him. Which begs the question: For Black women who often seamlessly swap between styles and textures in their day-to-day lives, what types of effects, if any, do their hairstyles have on their dating lives?
“I think it doesn’t effect [dating] in a negative way,” said celebrity hair stylist Ursula Stephen during a recent panel discussion about hair on ESSENCE Live. “I get approached [by men] all the time, honey, but I definitely get approached by a different type of man depending on what hairstyle I decide to wear.” In Stephen’s case, the age of the men she meets is most affected by her choice of hairstyle that day. “You know when I take it down to the knee caps, I get the little young tenderonis, but when I have it short and sassy, I may get approached by, you know, by a working man.”
Panelists seemed to be in agreement that although certain men do pass judgment on a woman’s hairstyle, that doesn’t negatively impact their ability to find or keep love.
“All my girlfriends that are natural, they have no problem finding men and boyfriends,” added founder and editor in chief of popular blog Kinky Curly Coily Me, Jenell B. Stewart. “They’re dating. They married. But, just like you ladies said, it’s a different type of guy that’s approaching them and the names and the language they get….Like, ‘Nubian princess’ or ‘my queen’.” Stewart adds that although she wore straight hair when she met her husband, when she went natural, “he loved it.”
But, this isn’t just a topic of conversation for single ladies. Even the married panelists admitted that there could be correlations between Black hairstyles and types of men. Married Carol’s Daughter creator Lisa Price says even she can relate, though her husband is not the one to blame. “I’ve been married almost 24 years, and my husband loves my curly hair,” said Price. “Occasionally, and very rarely, like twice a year, I blow my hair out straight, and it’s a very different train ride and walk down the street. I get, ‘Oh, you look so nice today!’ or “Oh, good afternoon!,’ and I’m like, I have on flip flops, but my hair is straight.”
Actress and comedian Von Decarlo and hairstylist to the stars Gocha Hawkins also rounded out the panel, offering their own personal experiences with hair, image and relationships. Have your hairstyle choices shaped the type of men you meet? Watch a clip from their discussion and tell us about your own experiences below. Click here to watch the entire episode, featuring special guest Brandy.