I remember being in high school in Kenya and, on two separate occasions, having a male schoolmate walk up to me and either tell me he didn't like my hairstyle or it was not up too par. The key word in that sentence: male. Did I mention that the schoolmates in question were both black?
My sin: my hair was unrelaxed. Whether it was neat and tied back or in neat braids/lines, it was apparently a problem. Hair was not hair unless chemicals or extreme heat had been used to straighten it. There were "approved hairstyles" for the middle class. And they were so well-known that even the boys knew what was acceptable and what wasn't. I remember some others asking me if I was saved because, apparently, that was the only rational explanation for not relaxing one's hair: a religious injunction.
Imagine I was just okay with my hair as it was. In the same way that I was okay with my skin as it was. There was no compelling reason to change them radically, no conviction on my part that if I used relaxer (or bleach), a new Jerusalem would descend to earth. I also wondered why people felt that girls and women had to straighten their hair (or lighten their skin) when boys and men of the same species, with the same genetic heritage, didn't seem to have the same rule hanging over their heads.