Home » That Not-So-Fresh Feeling, What the Eff?, White People Is Funny.

The Curse of The Curly Perm

21 June 2009 8 Comments

Do you know what a contronym is? It’s one of my favorite grammar terms and means “a word with two meanings that are opposites.” One such example is the word “perm,” which means two totally different things depending on cultural context and can create a “Who’s On First,” type of situation when our hair is the topic of conversation in the workplace. Where does one even begin when an innocent white person asks if you got a perm because your hair is suddenly curly? Do we explain that we use the word perm to mean a curl relaxer or just let it go?

I won’t bother getting started on all of that because the real kicker is the fear that white people have of a BAD PERM. You start off looking for a little bit of body and end up looking like a Jew…or worse yet, a little black boy! Just watch.

Being black = having the chicken pox. Oh. I see.

Am I the only one finding irony in the fact that if she really were a little black boy what she’s working with would be considered “good hair”?


  • ASmith said:

    Being black = having the chicken pox. Oh. I see. (<<<— Dead)

    I typically just try to remember to use the word “relaxer” when I explain it.

    I also typically try to avoid this and other “hip me to black culture” conversations because after 22 yrs of doing it, I need a year off.

  • Treina said:

    How in the world to you find this stuff? Please tell me that YouTube clip was not for real.

  • KJH said:

    I was just having the “Black perm is really a relaxer” conversation with a White coworker. Today I asked her if her mom ever put Vaseline on her face before she went to school. I think you know the answer.

  • ill Mami said:

    The little white blond girl’s face said it best at the end of the video. Like, “you don’t look like a little Black boy so STFU.”

    Very surreal and quasi racist video. Was this for an after-school special? LOL

  • Phi Sister said:

    As long as I don’t look like that blonde girl, I’ma be okay.

  • Ginneh said:

    I still find myself in the middle of these “explain yourself” conversations quite often…like the other day when I was saying how I got sunburned and I was met with blank stares and questioning heads tilted subtly to the side. YES I can get sunburned, I have SKIN don’t I??? Sheesh. Its all ridiculous and pathetic.

  • Janet said:

    This was funny. Quite an analogy. I’m Hispanic with hair that has an identity crisis. It doesn’t want to be curly or wavy so it naturally stays as a poof like I got electrocuted. I didn’t know black people called relaxers perms till I was in high school. I explained to my black and white friends what happened when one day I showed up with a head full of curls instead of my usual straight coif that I go to my Dominican salons, have my hair put up in rollers, sit in a machine with my ears burning for an hour, then get it blow-dried to achieve sleek hair. After it’s all done, I can’t help but feel a little guilty at the lengths one goes to change the way one would normally look.

  • Oliver Jones said:

    i really hate chicken pox coz it can mess your skin’.’

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