All Articles Tagged "afro"
Thirsting For Tracee Ellis Ross’s Curls Changed My Life: How My Hair Journey Turned Into A Holistic Health Journey
Though it is a bit embarrassing to admit now, my going natural was a very vain venture in the beginning. All I wanted was a bouncy, juicy ‘fro like Tracee Ellis Ross.
That was it.
That was my sole reason and goal. So I transitioned for about two and a half years with a series of semi-big chops, weaves, hundreds of dollars worth of product-junkism and perhaps a gold mine worth of psychotherapy behind seeking a head full of someone else’s hair with no luck in that direction.
What I didn’t fully understand until the past few months is that I educated myself immensely in the way of health and fitness and just total body care all while seeking that infamous “Joan Clayton ‘fro.”
I was beginning to love my hair and take my health more seriously in a way I had never given a second thought to, being that my metabolism has always been so high that at my heaviest I was 120 lbs. and at my smallest (yes, even in my adult life) I am 105 lbs. I was researching clean-eating regimens and which foods battle cancer the best. I was keeping journals of my goals both heath-related and faith-related. I was taking a more active approach to my holistic health than I ever deemed necessary before.
And it felt good. I felt good. I was no longer only concerned with the best ways to turn thin hair into thick luxurious locks. Or how to best attain length. My focus was shifting toward the overall HEALTH of my hair and body and mind. I started to accept that I inherently have thinner hair and embraced that fact, choosing styles that best accentuate what I love about myself. I embraced the fact that I am thin and began to work toward maintain healthy weight and eating habits.
I looked up one day and realized that from wanting Joan Clayton hair I was now a more socially conscious young woman, reading the labels of my hair products to make sure they were “Cruelty Free.” It’s even to the point that I take the time to research the different superstores where I purchase my hair and body products to ensure their employment practices are suitable. I recently decided to stop patronizing one superstore in particular when I found that they do no support unions for their employees.
I sat down one day and looked at all I had become, just from one vain moment of wanting to be like someone else and gave a laugh of joyful amazement. I loved who I was becoming. I LOVED her. It wasn’t just about a pretty ‘fro anymore – although once I stopped obsessing over it, my ‘fro decided to be the flyest chick in the game. No offense, Tracee, you’ll always be my inspiration!
This natural hair movement (and it IS a movement) morphed from the silliest of vanities to the most revelatory all-encompassing experiences of my life. And the deeper I choose to go, the more I’m consequently choosing to grow.
My hope for all who are embarking on the natural journey is that you find the same peace, sense of self, consciousness and zest for life that I found.
La Truly’s writing is powered by a lifetime of anecdotal proof that awkward can transform to awesome and fear can cast its crown before courage. La seeks to encourage thought, discussion and change among young women through her writing. Check her out on Twitter: @AshleyLaTruly and AboutMe www.about.me/latruly.
For Veronica Fletcher, natural hair isn’t a trend. It’s a choice to take ownership of who you are. It’s a mission she’s spent decades blazing a path for. Her fingertips are the ones that cultivated Lauryn Hill’s legendary locs in the early 90s. They went on to style the crowns of the likes of Toni Morrison, Angela Bassett, and DL Hughley, making Veronica a go-to specialist for celebrities embracing their natural beauty.
The Grenada, West Indies native is now the owner and founder of Sirca Designs, located near New York’s fashion district. Under her brand, she promotes positive self-image and a natural approach to hair care. Allergic to the chemicals used in hair school, Veronica decided early on to devote her styling career to taking the emphasis off chemicals and promoting healthy hair.
Veronica is authentic in every since of the word. She loves styles that accentuate natural features and regimens that allow women to accept who they are. “I tell the truth,” she says. “Sometimes I’m too honest. But I’m not going to take your money if it’s not going to work. If you come in and ask me to do something to your hair that is damaging or just doesn’t work with your texture, I’m not going to do it.”
It’s a steadfastness that comes with experience. Veronica denies setting out to make a statement with Lauryn’s signature dreadlocks. It was a personal journey that happened to be documented on magazine covers around the world.
“Going natural or coming back into it has to be an individual decision. It’s a lot of work that goes into being natural,” she says. “You have to be ready for it. You have to be ready to embrace yourself at any length. Because even if someone tells you it looks beautiful, if you don’t believe it, it doesn’t matter.”
Veronica has made it her job to show women how they can make their natural hair work for them. She is currently working on her first book, The Sirca Of Life: Celebrating My Natural Self, chronicling the natural hair revolution from the 90s to now including resistance from corporate America and within black families. She is also working on a natural product line.
Hair follows the same trend cycle as fashion. It always repeats itself. Veronica knows that natural hair is nothing new, but she still believes society has a way to go before natural hair truly becomes mainstream. We won’t see celebrities rocking twists and locs on the red carpet in mass until we demand its representation and celebrities become more accepting of their natural hair.
“It’s not going to happen if a celebrity isn’t in tune with herself. But we have to force it through,” she says. “Natural hair has always been there, but it’s been hidden. It was appreciated but not the way it needed to be appreciated. We hid ourselves with wigs, we hid ourselves with relaxers, and we hid ourselves with Jherri curls because it wasn’t accepted. To this day there are people who still can’t accept it.”
Whether through her salon, books, or product line, Veronica’s message is always the same, embrace who you are. “This is your mother and father, and grandmother,” she says. “You have to own this. This is you.”
C. Cleveland covers professional development topics and entrepreneurial rebels who blaze their own career paths. She explores these stories and more on The Red Read, Twitter (@CleveInTheCity) and Facebook (/MyReadIsRed).
March is women’s month, and because it follows on the heels of Black History Month, there’s no better time to talk about a topic that is very important to Black Women — hair care. Here are our top eleven moments in Black Hair care History.
Self-Styled Entrepreneur Madam CJ Walker Makes Her Mark With Black Hair Care Products (1905)
Combining both beauty sensibility and business savvy, Madam CJ Walker (née Sarah Breedlove) built a wildly successful hair empire, around, among other things, the innovation of the pressing comb, which made it more user-friendly for Afro-textured hair (she had the teeth widened for her target market). Ambitious, driven, and dedicated to her company, Madam CJ Walker became the first female self-made millionaire in the United States.
Tags:African American hair, afro, angela davis, Aunt Jemima, black hair, Black Power Afro, carols daughter, Chris Rock, cicely tyson, Good Hair movie, history of black hair, janelle monae, Madam CJ Walker, moments in black hair history, natural hair, Natural Hair Revolution, Viola Davis, Viola Davis at 2012 Academy Awards
Rhonda Lee, the Louisiana based meteorologist, spoke with Roland Martin on the Tom Joyner Morning show yesterday about her termination from KTBS, a local ABC Affiliate, for responding to derogatory comments about her natural hair, among other things, made on the station’s Facebook page.
If you haven’t read the full details of the story, Veronica Wells does a great analysis of the situation; therefore it is no need to reiterate again. But listening to Lee explain the sequence of events to Martin, there are two things to note about this story: First, Lee’s termination doesn’t compare at all to the story of Jennifer Livingston, a Wisconsin reporter, who took to the airways and responded to a viewer, who reprimanded her via email for being overweight, thus not being “a suitable example for this community’s young people, girls in particular.” I have heard this comparison a lot since this story went viral. While both took a stand against bullying and harassment over the Internet, Livingston had the full support of her station (including her husband who works as an anchor for the station), who even carved out time in the news show’s broadcast for her to speak on the derogatory comment. Unfortunately for Lee, she did not have the same permission – although there is some disagreement over how this policy was or was not communicated.
Another thing to note is the difficulty in handling negative criticism, especially in this new digital age. In short, Facebook is getting more and more people fired and Lee is its latest casualty.
Nowadays, all you have to do is click-[Insert derogatory comment here]-click and boom! Instant gratification for them; instant bruised ego, hurt feelings and painful historical reminders for you. Nicci at FatFemPinUp recently listed a sampling all of the derogatory, vile and hateful comments she’d receive after posting a picture of herself via Twitter, with a caption, “450lbs *shrugs* and no, im not trying to lose or gain weight.” Most of the comments were so ugly and vicious that it would be hard to ignore them, if not take them to heart. And many of them could stand to get their feelings hurt from a verbal thrashing.
However, in order to survive in this new digital age, you need a new level of patience as well as tougher than leather skin to deal with the anti-social folks. But in those instances where the tomfoolery and shenanigans are too much and you lose patience, discernment is key. As Yvette Carnell, a writer friend of mine, bluntly said recently of this controversy, don’t engage crazy. Or in more universal terms, don’t feed the trolls. Reason being, you can’t change their minds and some folks really do thrive off of attention – no matter if it is negative or positive. And responding not only fuels their debauchery but tends to derail conversation on a thread. And if a couple of commenters manage to insult both black people and cancer patients in the same sentence as well as create an elaborate conspiracy theory involving little black kids winning a free shopping trip at Wal-Mart to the mayor of the town, I really don’t think that a response, no matter how well intentioned, is worth your time, effort and energy. Believe me, his/her stupidity is already duly noted.
In, The 4 Worst Things About Writing for the Internet, which is one of my favorite humorous articles about writing for online audiences, Cracked writer Daniel O’Brien speaks very fluently about how veteran professionals in this digital era end up dealing with some of the more colorful forms of feedback we see in comment sections:
“You can get over it. I’ve been doing this long enough that I’ve gotten plenty of comments from both ends of the spectrum of Internet Commentary, from the lows of “You’re the worst thing to ever happen to writing, I fucking hate you,” all the way to the highs of “This article wasn’t a piece of Isht like your others, I fucking hate you.” I’ve read both of those comments and everything in between them enough times that it’s all basically white noise at this point. So there’s a possibility that you’ll eventually become immune to all comments. Or you could just develop a thicker skin. Or just not read comments at all. Or you can read and intensely focus on every single comment, (though only a total lunatic would do that). Whatever. The point is, you can get to a place where comments don’t affect you at all.
With that said what a lame reason to lose your job, especially considering how innocuous her response was. When I first heard of this story, I thought she went in on this jerk, with some colorful and derogatory language of her own. Instead she delivered a very thoughtful reply, in my opinion, definitely not worthy of being fired over. Exactly why you should never try to save your haters.
Apparently, it’s pretty hard out here for a black woman trying to make it in this world as a meteorologist. Rhonda Lee has learned this lesson over and over again in her career as a journalist. Most recently she learned that in addition to her race, her hair was another point of contention from a Facebook user. Her response to the racially offensive statement eventually led to Lee being fired from KTBS, the ABC affiliate station in Shreveport, Louisiana.
It all started on October 1, when Emmit Vascocu commented on KTBS’ Facebook page, questioning the station’s choice to let Lee report the weather with a short afro. Here’s what he had to say:
“the black lady that does the news is a very nice lady.the only thing is she needs to wear a wig or grow some more hair. im not sure if she is a cancer patient. but still its not something myself that i think looks good on tv. what about letting someone a male have waist long hair do the news. what about that (cq).”
As someone who works for a black women’s website, I can say that these comments are not uncommon. When people are afforded anonymity through the internet, some very hateful, often racist things are stated. But just because you work for the media, doesn’t mean you have to just shut up and take the abuse. So in defense of herself and her hair, Rhonda Lee responded to Vascocu, very politely if you ask me.
“Hello Emmitt–I am the ‘black lady’ to which you are referring. I’m sorry you don’t like my ethnic hair. And no I don’t have cancer. I’m a non-smoking, 5’3, 121 lbs, 25 mile a week running, 37.5 year old woman, and I’m in perfectly healthy physical condition. “I am very proud of my African-American ancestry which includes my hair. For your edification: traditionally our hair doesn’t grow downward. It grows upward. Many Black women use strong straightening agents in order to achieve a more European grade of hair and that is their choice. However in my case I don’t find it necessary. I’m very proud of who I am and the standard of beauty I display. Women come in all shapes, sizes, nationalities, and levels of beauty. Showing little girls that being comfortable in the skin and HAIR God gave me is my contribution to society. Little girls (and boys for that matter) need to see that what you look like isn’t a reason to not achieve their goals. Conforming to one standard isn’t what being American is about and I hope you can embrace that. Thank you for your comment and have a great weekend and thank for watching.”
The conversation should have ended there; but Vascocu responded with this:
“. . . this world has . . . certain standerd (cq). if you’ve come from a world of being poor are you going to dress in rags?. . .”
Do I really have to break down everything that’s wrong with the logic above? Is accepting a classist, societal station the same as accepting and embracing the natural, genetic combinations that make us appear the way we do? I think not. Moving on. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the last time, a viewer used the station’s Facebook page to address what they felt was a racial “issue.”
“You know better than to be walking around with your head lookin’ like that.”
“Why do you want your hair to look all wild and wooly like that?”
“You can’t go up there with them White folks lookin’ like that.”
“You need to comb that mess.”
“Why don’t you straighten it and part in on the side and tuck it under?”
Nice little drive-by of insults, huh? Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, right?
This is what I came home to on summer breaks from college. Back then, I was a cowardly little thing, so, to avoid the ridicule I would either pull my afro back into a tight neat bun or just give the fight all the way up and straighten my hair until I got back to my safe haven of self-expression: college.
The comments didn’t bother me as much as the fact that this outright dislike for my natural hair was coming from the mother who expressly forbade my sister and me to get relaxers in our adolescence. Now, in my adult years, they were scolding my exploration of my God-given, naturally-grown kinks. Er? My mother had a huge afro in her twenties! Either way, my full head of curly hair wasn’t something she wanted to see out and about.
Let me back up to the 6th grade. I hated my hair. My mother kept my hair blown out in three or four braids and she stood by her decision to keep my hair chemical-free, citing complete baldness as a sure thing if I got a relaxer at that age. To an 11-year-old who is getting bullied every day by the other little black girls – all of whom HAVE relaxers – those lectures went in one ear and right out the other. I cried. A lot. I changed my hair at the bus stop. I developed a detrimentally frequent relationship with handfuls of thick, slick grease and any form of intense direct heat I could get my hands on: an old school, set-it-on-the-stove-till-it-smokes hot comb; a rusted, gold curling iron that left more burn marks on my ears and neck than it straightened my hair; a blow dryer with the standard fine-toothed comb attachment that when raked through my thick kinks, murdered my scalp, but left my hair LAID. At least until I’d sweat or take a bath. Then those little curly Qs would pop up all over in a frizzy mess. At one point with angry and frustrated tears in both eyes, I grabbed a severely rusted pair of industrial-sized seamstress’s scissors, sat behind the couch and cut off my wildly frizzy bangs, right down to the scalp. My mom freaked, but still no relaxer.
Granted, I know the ‘no-relaxers’ policy saved my hair and maybe it was easier for my mother to fire up a hot comb or plug in a blow dryer, but what was I learning in that process? Though she didn’t believe in putting a relaxer in my head, she felt that straight hair was and is the “right” way to wear my hair. I took this standard and internalized it. Yes, I was told by my mother that I had ‘good hair,’ but if my hair was ‘good’ then why wasn’t a pony puff or full ‘fro ever acceptable? Without realizing it, for years I believed that my freshly washed frizzy curls were “nappy,” ugly and in need of manipulation. Not because my mom TOLD me they were but because she SHOWED me they were by praising the “straighter” versions of my hair and shunning the curlier. Straighten it, part it on the side and curl it under. THAT’S the ticket.
In the end, I was more comfortable in my natural hair at college than at home. I didn’t want to fight my hair anymore. I wanted to embrace it. I wanted to make it work–and I did. My ‘fro became my trademark so much so that my friends and the PROVOST OF THE UNIVERSITY called me “Puff Puff.” It was hilarious back then, but it speaks volumes now. Something I had feared and deemed ugly – others loved and embraced. The old slavery time stigma of ‘good’ hair versus ‘bad’ hair had reached into my family and I never even recognized its grasp until now. Just a few weeks ago my sister, mother and cousin made me relax their hair. I might have been less reluctant to do it if I was certain that they had no complex about their own hair and that they just didn’t have the time to dedicate to natural hair care, but each of them sees their natural hair as ugly in some sense. That saddens me, but I’ve accepted that not everything is for everybody. Straight hair is no longer my standard of beauty. Well-maintained hair is, no matter what that looks like. I see the beauty now in what my hair naturally is. However, I’m careful not force my new views of black hair on my family. All I can do is what fits me.
The straight, “side part under” may have been the safe thing to do back in the day, but today is a new day and I am bold. I’m redefining ‘beautiful,’ ‘acceptable,’ and ‘correct,’ for myself. Does my mother like it? Not always. Every now and then she’ll tell me to “Do something with that mess,” and I shrug it off. I’ll keep my twist outs. I got a taste of freedom and I’m not going back. No shade to the faithful creamy crack users – do you. But for me? I had to lose the hold my family’s warped perception of black hair had on me and interpret my hair and my image for myself. The feeling is unparalleled and so is the growth – both internally and atop my head.
La Truly is a Natural-haired, late-blooming Aries with lots to say. Her writing is powered by a lifetime of anecdotal proof that awkward can transform to awesome and fear can cast its crown before courage. Armed with the ability to purposefully poke fun at herself La seeks to encourage thought, discussion and positive change. Check out her thoughts/jokes/rants on Twitter: @AshleyLaTruly and her young women’s empowerment blog: www.hersoulinc.com.
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From bouncy ringlets to kinky curls, it seems that everyone has fallen in love with natural hair and is on a journey to achieve that look. Not only does it personify beauty in the most God-given form, simply put, it can be fab, fierce and fun. But before taking that step, there are 10 things that you should know:
There will be a string of days that your hair wants to do everything except cooperate and you wind up leaving the house looking like who shot John. Before you take a hacksaw to your locks out of sheer frustration or go back to chemicals, remember that everyone goes through this. Try tying it up with a cute turban, twisting into a quick bun or weaving it up to get your mind off of it for a bit.
Your hair will unfairly dictate how you’re perceived by others. Plenty of naturals I’ve spoken to have been on the receiving end of comments such as, “You’re so afrocentric,” “I bet you love thrifting,” even “I dig neo-soul too!” Although most of these judgment calls are positive, a lot of them can be far from who you actually are. The good news is that just by staying true to yourself, your presumed personality won’t even matter because the real you will always win out.
Some men will believe you’re keen on bedroom experimentation because clearly wild hair equals a wild woman. Ladies, if he mentions hair pulling, running his fingers through your mane or says you look like a Queen of the jungle, please kick him to the curb. Immediately.
People will eye your hair like they want to snatch it right off your scalp. The guy sitting across from you on the train. The couple at the next table. And did that woman just sneak a pic?! If it seems like everyone around you is stealing glances, no need to seek a shrink, you’re probably right. This can be for numerous reasons, but a lot of it boils down to plain ole curiosity and fascination. Our hair is unlike any other and though the natural hair movement has certainly taken off, your tresses are still a sight to see. Just carry on with your fabulous self and after awhile, it won’t even faze you.
You’ll make some great friends just because you have a head full of crazy gorgeous curls, waves and kinks. Random people will approach you in the supermarket, on the street, at work – anywhere that your hair is on display, to ask you a million and one questions. Every. Day. Revel in it and enjoy.
I like to call it the grab ‘n’ go. That moment when someone feels it necessary to grab your hair, comment and continue on as though nothing happened. When this occurs, resist the urge to slap, bite or karate chop their hand. Politely make it known that this is inappropriate, fluff your curls and walk away.
You’ll probably lose weight. Exercise may become a steady part of your routine since you’re not worried about sweating out your hair. A lot of naturals also tend to start chowing down on healthier foods and taking vitamins because eating right can help hair grow to its full potential. You might not completely cut the fat, but you will want to start paying closer attention to what goes in your body.
You’ll become a chemist. In the quest for that holy grail product that will leave you with luscious, enviable locks, you’ll start to understand every ingredient, know the pronunciations and even make your own concoctions. Flax seed gel anyone?
Speaking of which, you may find that your hair actually likes “bad” ingredients. A lot of women are quick to jump on the organic only bandwagon, but many naturals claim that they can’t live without sulfates and cones. Some of the products that use these ingredients might just leave you with the best ringlets of your life. Don’t be afraid to try what others have shunned.
You’ve heard the stories. Once you chop your hair, you’ll feel like a brand new woman. You’ll be empowered, bold and ready to take on the world. In all honesty, this may not happen. Some women may feel their hair, take a look at themselves and say, “what the %$*@# did I just do?!” This is entirely normal after years of the same style, but trust me, you’ll start to love your kinks and coils as they grow out.
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Mizani Design Team Member Maria Thompson shows us how to do the best two-strand twist and twist out combo. Using everything from Mizani’s pure style gel and supreme oil, Thompson shows Noirettes the best way to prevent frizz, moisturize hair, evenly part it and prevent shrinkage in the process. Get some tips from Thompson and enjoy episode 1 of Noire Naturals! We’ve got more natural hair care tips coming your way in our new series.
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My journey to the promised land of natural hair has been a path paved with many trials and errors, shampoos, conditioners, creams and oils. As I am learning to embrace and celebrate my natural hair in all its coil-y glory, I still like to wear my hair in a sleek, straight bob every now and then.
Enter my two BFFs: Hot Comb and Flat Iron.
I wasn’t always on good terms with the hot comb, having suffered scalp burns and trauma caused by many a styling ordeal during my childhood. Over the years, as hair styling techniques advanced and electric hot combs with heat settings became available, I let the hot comb back into my life, albeit slowly. Not knowing the tricks of the trade, I’ve singed myself and my hair more times than I care to remember.
Since I began my hair transition three years ago, I found myself relying more and more on my flat iron. Not knowing what to look for or the best way to use it to get my roots super-straight made styling my hair difficult. Still, I gave it a good ol’ college try and ended up watching my hair break, strand by strand. I assumed the breakage was caused by the heat on my hair.
What I didn’t know was that the kind of flat iron I was using was making matters worse. Over the years, I’ve amassed quite the collection of ceramic, “high-low” two-setting flat irons. I have black ones, blue ones, broken ones…you name it, I probably have it. According to Johnny Wright, SoftSheen-Carson artistic style director and celebrity stylist, the best flat irons are titanium-plated with variable heat settings. Wright recommends the Corioliss Baby SXE. It’s a smaller flat iron, because “it’s small enough to allow you to get as close to the hairline as possible without burning the scalp.”
Ceramic irons were once thought to be good. But if you look at the surface of a ceramic iron under a microscope, the surface was ridged like an orange peel. And that surface would cause friction on the air. The titanium-plated flat irons have a much smoother surface, and can straighten the hair in one pass, rather than the two or three passes it would take with a ceramic flat iron.
Don’t throw away that hot comb just yet. It still has its purpose. The hot comb is good for straightening hair around the perimeter of the head “to give the hair a straighter finish,” says Wright.
All this time I had it wrong. I would use the hot comb to straighten my roots, and then comb it through the hair for good measure (and torture). Then I would go over my hair with the flat iron over and over again until my hair was relatively straightened, or I got tired, whichever came first.
Wright recommends when you wash and blow-dry your hair, go ahead and set the iron on the highest setting your hair can handle. For those, like me, who flat iron their hair every day, turn down that flat iron!
Follow Kimberly Shorter on Twitter at @KimberlyWriter.
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