Andre Walker, Oprah’s longtime hair stylist has gone and done it now. In a recent interview with Elle magazine, Oprah’s affable stylist pissed off sisters with natural hair by saying kinky hair was the only kind he’d recommend altering because it has “limited styling options.”

When discussing the difficulty of keeping “kinky” and “curly” hair tamed in humid climates, Walker advises:

“I always recommend embracing your natural texture. Kinky hair can have limited styling options; that’s the only hair type that I suggest altering with professional relaxing.”

Oh word, Andre?

Almost immediately, many in the natural hair community took Walker to task for his insinuation that kinky hair should be relaxed. Walker, who’s motto is ironically “Make Peace With Your Hair,” took to his website to explain his comments.

Walker explains:

Let me first say that there is no such thing as “bad” hair, and I have long ago freed myself from being afraid to use the word “kinky” and also from being accused of not liking natural hair. We have become a multi-cultural society that embraces many different looks and styles when it comes to hair. It is my Mission to help you grow strong, healthy hair, and wear it in the style or styles that best suit your likes and particular hair type.

When it comes to curly and kinky hair (there is a difference), I leave the political correctness of “going straight” or staying natural to a woman’s personal preference. Once again, my advice is based on how to best achieve strong, healthy hair. So for those who would like to engage me in a debate about who has more racial pride and self esteem, based on hairstyle preference and use or non-use of chemical relaxers, know that I believe in personal freedom, and in the use of advanced technology when it yields positive results, which many of today’s (versus yesterday’s) chemical relaxers do deliver.

It is a fact that kinky hair (my Type 4 definition) is extremely fragile and breaks easily. Even when you are very careful, something as simple as combing can break this texture. It is very difficult to achieve a longer length when the hair breaks, even with simple combing. That being said, there is the style option of wearing braids, dreads, or twists, which allows the hair to grow longer because it is combed less often. Another style choice is to simply wear a shorter cut, which is very attractive on some women but just not right for others.

So when I say to embrace your natural texture, but consider relaxing kinky hair, am I contradicting myself? I don’t think so! You see, even relaxed hair can still be worn naturally. If you want a natural look, but find that your kinky hair is difficult to manage, breaks too easily, lacks shine and luster, and limits your preferred styling options, I say feel free to consider a mild chemical relaxer, sometimes called a texturizer, that eases your hair to a more manageable texture and allows you to Make Peace With Your Hair.

While I agree that rocking natural hair is not for everyone (nor does it have to be), Walker’s assertion that kinky hair can’t easily be “strong and healthy” is just false. Maybe he needs to spend a little time perusing sites like Le Coil, Black Girl With Long Hair, Curly Nikki, or Naturally Obsessed to see the wonderful, long, healthy, styles of many natural hair divas.

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  • hmm

    i think he is saying some people aren’t meant for natural hair and some are.. it just depends.. for example i know girls who had perms and had long hair so when they went natural they thought it would carry over and it didnt.. now they are trying everything under teh books for it to work out on them..and it usually never does. i have a friend who had perms and hre hair would never go against her cheek she went natural and now its big and curly and longer than it was… naturals aint for everybody and perms aren’t either.. you have to do whats feels right for YOUR HEAD, because all black heads weren’t created alike

    • dollface

      hhmm is right. perms/relaxers were invented so we could look white. bottom line honey. they are extremely harmful and fall into the category of skin bleaches and creams, products that tell us that we are too black and need a diff “option.” folks can do what they like;however, when people start talking about kinky hair doesnt do this or that it irks me. no heads are created alike period and God didnt give us our ntural coils for us to damn near kill ourselves to resemble are we not meant to live as a black woman with natural coils..thats like saying ii wasnt meant to be black..

  • I think that his comment was slightly insulting, but at the same time as someone with very frizzy/kinky hair I do understand where he’s coming from. I’m not in any way ashamed with my hair, I just wish it was more manageable so I do straighten it and I tried a Brazilian blowout and loved it. But it’s personal preference, wear your hair natural, get a weave, just do what feels right for you and whatever makes you feel best about yourself. :)


  • CeCee

    Didn’t bother to ready it, all but I am sure he would get hot under the collar, if someone said something about his white partner, or even the fact that he has an alternative life style. He is obviously uninformed and he is trying to stay gainfully employed pushing creamy crack, that is one of the leading cause for cancer in black women.

  • Christine

    i think he full of bs, at the end of the day, black hair, especially 4 hair is fragile regardless relaxed or natural, yeah being natural requires a lot more management, but at end of the day this is how people were born, and you’re encouraging relaxer??? Have you not seen black women with long, natural, kinky hair??? I have, i feel that kinky hair is the most versatile hair, yeah we may not be able to have loosely curled hair, and brush it straight, with ease, or wet it well straight and have loose curls, and if thats what he call versatile then something is wrong with him, at end of the day, every hair type has its management issues, and hair styling complexes, whether you have straight, wavy, curly, or kinky hair, why people always have something about kinky hair?????