All Articles Tagged "black hair"

Black Congresswomen Chime In On Army’s New Hair Regulations

April 12th, 2014 - By Madame Noire
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Source: US Army

Source: US Army


This week, female members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, asking him to revise the recently released Army Regulation 670-1, which featured updated standards for female grooming. AR 670-1 went into effect on March 31, and included a ban on certain hairstyles, such as two-strand twists and dreadlocks. Other styles, like cornrows and braids are permitted if they’re under 1/4-inch in diameter.

In their letter, the 16 congresswomen say that the regulations are “discriminatory” and “[target] soldiers who are women of color with little regard to what is needed to maintain their natural hair.” The letter comes at the tail end of a wave of criticism by soldiers and civilians who’ve voiced concern about the new standards. A petition on the White House’s has garnered more than 15,000 signatures from people who want the regulations retracted. Sgt. Jasmine Jacobs, a Black woman who wears her hair in twists, created the petition on March 20 in order to protest the changes. She told the Army Times that she’s “kind of at a loss now with what to do with [her] hair.”

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Turn Down For What? 10 Ways To Keep Your Hair In Tact While Working Out

April 9th, 2014 - By LaKrishia Armour
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working out


It’s officially “get that body tight” season. With swimsuits and vacations quickly approaching, hitting the gym is a priority for many women. Straight styles, especially on unrelaxed hair, usually succumb to the power of going hard on the elliptical while rocking out to a workout playlist, and can also have a big impact and big curls. Here are ways to keep your hair as smooth and fabulous as possible while getting your workout on.

Have You Ever Let Your Self-Esteem Sabotage Your Natural Hair?

April 1st, 2014 - By Madame Noire
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Source: Shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock


From Hello Beautiful 

Hello Beautiful: When did you first fall in love with your hair?

Tamara of Natural Hair Rules: It was a Sunday afternoon…just joking! I don’t know the exact day and time. But I do remember feeling this sense of accomplishment because I had a natural hair breakthrough. I had just discovered the Denman Brush and Giovanni Direct Leave-In Conditioner. With that duo I had achieved my first perfect wash and go. “This is what I went natural for…”, I thought to myself. I probably even screamed it out loud.

HB: What’s some hair advice you’d give to your 14-year-old self?

Tamara: My 14-year-old self had a professional stylist that she called mom. So I don’t really have any hair advice for 14-year old me but I do have self-esteem advice. “It’s ok to be…” At that time I believe my ‘be’ was to be unique. I tried so hard to fit in but I still stood out. Tried to be what I thought everyone else wanted me to be. I was the girl with long, pretty hair. I put a lot of pressure on myself and began to identify with my hair. It wasn’t until I decide to go natural, did I shred everyone’s perception of me. I also found myself delivered from other people’s opinions. (Or so I thought. You know, it’s a daily battle I believe all women fight.)

Read more about natural hair at 

Removing The Layers: Tips For Getting Your Hair, Skin And Makeup Right For Spring

April 1st, 2014 - By LaKrishia Armour
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"Happy black woman - PF"


The sun has been peeking out and is soon to be in full effect. It’s time to crawl out from underneath the fur coats, literally and figuratively (because you know you haven’t shaved your legs in two months), embrace the rays of sunshine, and put your winter mentality in storage along with the sweaters. There is, however, some preparation that comes with the emergence of warmer temperatures. Here’s how to prep yourself for the beautiful spring season.

Prepping Your Hair
Get ready for your big hair reveal! After three or more months of almost daily protective styling and obsessive moisturizing to combat the effects of winter wear and weather, hair should be the one feature that should be fabulous from the moment the low bun gets loosened. As far as maintenance, take an inventory of the ends of the hair and trim if it’s time to in order to avoid split ends and to keep them from traveling from brushing against clothing and being manipulated more often. With spring, however, comes humidity and some level of frizz that you can either embrace, or spend the remainder of the season figuring out how to control. A lightweight mousse or conditioning gel that also smooths the hair is the best bet for the warmer months, especially when the threat of precipitation is more emotionally draining than the latest plot twist of Scandal.

Prepping Your Nails, Hands and Feet
Putting your cell phone first and going glove-less during the winter will probably give you the hard hands and broken, jagged nails of a farmer. Replace the lost moisture to your skin and nails by using a generous amount of Shea butter lotion before bed and throughout the day. If you’re still shy about shaking hands, you may need to exfoliate to remove any roughness that came from exposing your hands to the cold, dry air over the last few months. The same goes for your feet. By the time it’s officially the spring season, your toes are crying out “Give us us free!” Please, let those toes out of the dark. For months, they’ve endured the shut-in, otherwise known as two pairs of thick socks inside of heavy winter boots. For your feet, which might be able to cut and polish diamonds, you need to prepare for that much-needed pedicure with a pumice stone and an extreme home remedy. There are several DIY pedicures and the most unconventional winner is one that involves Listerine. Don’t believe me? Ask Pinterest.

Prepping Your Skin
Before you get out there to start serving body, remember to increase your water intake. It’s easy to fall off the wagon in the winter, what with replacing all of the water you should be drinking with hot toddies made with a shot of Jack Daniel’s whiskey. Water brings your skin and your mind back to life, so commit to drinking an appropriate amount of water each day in order to see some changes. Additionally, slathering on obscene amounts of coconut oil or mixing a little extra virgin olive oil with your favorite lotion is a great way to get natural moisture into the skin without becoming too greasy. (By the way, a small amount of coconut oil makes a great nighttime facial moisturizer because it’s not too heavy and leaves your face feeling smooth.) Getting back into the habit of regular moisturizing also helps give you a closer shave, leaving your legs smooth instead of chopped and screwed like a Slim Thug mixtape because your knees were just THAT dry. Taking a few extra seconds in the shower to exfoliate your skin with a homemade sugar scrub, a loofah or gloves — or all at the same time if you’re gangster — will leave your skin feeling great. Such remedies are amazing when looking to polish the skin, sloughing away those extra layers.

Updating Your Makeup
Color! Color! Color! Take a trip to the drugstore or department store beauty counter to peep the newest color cosmetics. Get brave and try a juicy orange lip or an emerald green liner on the lower water line. And the availability of brown-girl bronzers means faking the vacation-glow funk easily and believably. Any burst of color on your face will change your look and brighten your skin.

The biggest change to prep for spring starts with your attitude and your outlook. Something about the winter finally breaking to reveal a stream of warm days makes the day feel a bit brighter and makes daily activities more enjoyable. Dreary days are gone! Embrace the sunshine and also embrace getting back into a regular beauty and body routine and regimen. Your positive attitude and your glowing skin will thank you.

PhD In Hairology: When People Become Way Too Obsessed With Black Hair

March 27th, 2014 - By LaKrishia Armour
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black hair

Source: Shutterstock

Learning about the wonders of the human body is great. Many people don’t know why or even how their bodies function, and the wonders of hair growth aren’t exempt. There is, however, a small sect of gurus who upon a sacred beauty awakening learned all they could absorb to the point of obsession about black hair care. These women aren’t dermatologists, estheticians or even cosmetology school graduates. They are regular, everyday women who have self-inducted themselves into the circle of the hair care elite.

When did hair care and the knowledge thereof get so serious for the everyday woman? I always thought most people didn’t care what happened to their hair chemically or biologically, as long as their wrap had that “swang n’ bang” and their follicles continued to sprout out fresh stands of hair on a regular schedule. Now, there are blogs and message board forums dedicated to product ingredient scrutiny, pH balance explanation and the dangers of formaldehyde, which I learned from a message board dedicated to home keratin treatments, is actually kind of dangerous. And yes, people care to know.

The information is all on the Internet, both factual and fabled. It’s all made possible by the hair care community on the web, via all social sites. In whatever social media you choose to participate in, there are the gurus commanding that space, and they’re giving out facts, figures and advice about hair. It’s amazing the info one can gain in a six-second video clip on a phone or tablet (or, you know, phablet). There are websites, blogs and forums dedicated to the explosion of cult-like knowledge of black hair care. But is it too much information? Perhaps knowing, or aspiring to know everything isn’t the best approach for certain subjects. This is especially true when the results are hours spent scrolling through information that probably won’t change a hair regimen at the least, and at the most, likely will either bore you or over complicate your current hair routine with hard-to-find products and expensive services, in both time and money.

You can always tell those that have been covered in the golden light of the hair care elite. They’ve recently turned their hair routines upside down and none of their peers can relate. They’ve converted to the ritual of the day-long wash day in addition to sourcing hair care products from Whole Foods and local farmers’ markets. Beauty products that are safe to eat, and not just non-toxic, are the new name of the game. The information overload has some of these new inductees ordering products that are handmade in the depths of the rainforest and enhanced with the chlorophyll of freshly fallen leaves from Amazonian trees, and all at some outrageous price like $57 an ounce. These new converts are also shunning more fun things like eating hearty dinners, because there are certain foods, like potatoes (that they’ve learned from a blog), that will accelerate their hair growth. So, in addition to skipping happy hour in favor of paging through thick chemistry books until 3 a.m., they’re slathering their scalps in Monistat-7 (another scalp-care tip learned from a message board) while eating their way out of a pot full of boiled potatoes sans the Lawry’s seasoning salt.

Having loads of information available, especially for black hair care and a forum in which to express and share this knowledge is invaluable. Don’t think that fact is being downplayed here. But, what is troublesome is when something that probably shouldn’t be a big part of a person’s day takes over to the point of obsession, interrupting daily routines. Know about how to best care for your hair, and know what works, but if you’re not a trained cosmetologist, please do so without the obsession.

Cut. It. Out. – Short And Sleek Hair Ideas For Spring Inspired By The Celebs

March 26th, 2014 - By LaKrishia Armour
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Spring is here, and with new weather comes a chance to do something new with your hair. The winter hats can come off! Looking for a fun change? Take the shears to your hair and let it shine short. Here are 10 famous ladies with fabulous short cuts and the different ways they rock them can provide you with inspiration for your own hair for the season.



Mary J Blige

Forever a lover of blond hair, the iconic singer has managed to change up her length over the years, but this short blonde cut with its wispy bangs is a winner. Short layered cuts are your friend!

How To Style Your Hair Like Lupita’s

March 13th, 2014 - By LaKrishia Armour
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Lupita Nyong'o's Hair


Anyone who hasn’t fallen in love with Lupita Nyong’o has either been without TV or Internet for the last few months or has just flat out refused to acknowledge her awesomeness. The actress’ innocently beautiful face and runway-ready styling has us all stanning for her red carpet looks. This woman is the style icon of the moment, and will be for a while. To compliment her bold color choices, Lupita always dons a high-fashion hairstyle, adding a dash of whimsy and pop to complete the package.

All women, especially those proudly–or otherwise–rocking the teeny weeny afro, or TWA, can gain inspiration from Lupita’s red carpet looks. Adding a dash of Lupita is an easy way to jazz up your weekly hairstyle lineup if you’ve been feeling stuck.



Play your part.

Instead of letting your TWA sway where it may, try creating some structure with a deep part to the side or middle (if you’re feeling really bold). Using a little holding cream near the part to keep it clean and the hair separated will give your hair some extra character. Best of all, parting your hair takes all of two minutes.




Go for height.

Don’t be afraid to bring back that modified Gumby haircut that ruled the early ’90s, or the hi-top fade. You can go all out with a faux-hawk too. If you’re into more subtle looks, keep a close crop on the sides and push the back of your hair up for a barely-there height change. It may be only a few millimeters, or even an inch, but shaping up your fro will give a great style update that transforms a TWA into a hairstyle, and not just the remnants of a big chop.




Bedazzle it!

Light your hair up like a Christmas tree, or better, like fireworks on the Fourth of July. Lupita makes jeweled headbands, crystal hairpins and brooch-like barettes her signatures, and you can too. The best places to find rhinestone hair accessories are at the teen and tween shops like Claire’s (Bonus: you’ll also get a chance to relive those angsty teen years). You DIY-ers out there can go vintage shopping for costume jewelry perfect for re-imagining as hair accessories with a little vision, and a trip to the craft store (and a dab of hot glue). Oh, and if you weren’t already pairing your fierce TWA with an equally fierce pair of earrings, now would be the time to do that too.




Experiment with length.

Donning a TWA doesn’t mean that’s the only look that is available. Get creative with adding hair pieces in unique ways, aside from topping a not-so-stellar hair day off with a mermaid wig and hoping for the best. Think about cinnamon twists, pomps and puffs as hair add-ons using bulk hair or track hair in a texture similar to your own while leaving the sides closely cropped.




Have fun. Lots of it.

Short hair is spunky with lots of attitude. It takes a certain kind of woman to take it and really work it (and be confident while doing so). Lupita makes a whimsical fashion statement with her hair with unique styles. With her as your hair guide, don’t be afraid to try new things: a hairstyle that makes you laugh, or a style traditionally worn on straightened hair like bangs or highlights. Enjoy short hair while you have it, even if you do plan to grow out your ‘do. Don’t take your hair too seriously. Let it reflect your mood (or match your dress).

We can all take something from our awe over Lupita. She’s an example of how forgetting about traditional fashion ‘rules’ makes for an interesting, and lively statement on the red carpet, walking into work, or just for fun in the bathroom mirror.


Curly Confusion: How I Stopped Hating My Hair And Started Appreciating It The Way It Is

February 20th, 2014 - By LaKrishia Armour
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Source: Shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock

I have an embarrassing confession: As much as I love my hair, I didn’t always. When I was 12 years old, I prayed for “Good Hair.”

Girl, I know.

I was influenced to take action because of certain a girl two years older than me, and by default way cooler, who had her edges of legit, wispy baby hair always brushed back to perfection, with swooped edges that only seemed to happen when one has a less curly hair texture. I was so envious that in my despair, I asked Sweet Baby Jesus for the same finely-textured, perfectly wavy hair that flowed from the heads of girls like her.

As a kid in the awkward-looks phase, I thought she was pretty and cool and I wanted to be pretty and cool too, but unsure of how to accomplish it in my own way. Looking back on it, it’s sad that I even had the thought in my head to ask–in prayer no less–for such a thing. I remember after saying my nightly graces, adding in one last line: “Please give me pretty hair like __. I want to have good hair like hers.”

A significant amount of time has passed, and it’s pretty obvious Sweet Baby Jesus stubbornly has not delivered on that request. For good reasons, too. In addition to an old-fashioned dramatic soap opera slap, I needed to learn to be content with what I was given biologically.

There wasn’t a pivotal moment where the heavens opened up and a rumbling voice told me my frizzy ‘fro was a crown and thus, the mark of royalty. It was simple: As an older teen, I got tired of fighting with my hair. Plus, as a waitress at a greasy burger joint back in the day, washing my hair after each shift was a must. I refused to spend two hours straightening my puffy hair three times a week.

So I stopped.

I stopped fighting with my hair, I stopped trying to attain epic, Aaliyah-esque smoothness, and I stopped worrying about how the sphere of people in my life perceived my hair. There was no turning back after that, and I’ve been a fan of the wash-n-go ever since. I appreciate my hair for what it is: thick, frizzy and strong. And for the last few decades, I’ve been delighted with the hair and the looks that I have. Realizing and accepting that you’re going to be you every day, and embracing your physical characteristics is one of the best parts about growing up.

Now, my hair philosophy is this: Let your hair do what it wants–including warranting you being called Scary Spice, Sideshow Bob, Frizzy-Haired Black Girl, Diana Ross-gone-wrong, and many other creative names. Let your hair do what it wants, even if it means you have to start over with a Big Chop or a shaved head. At least you know you’re empowered and free being yourself.

Model & Entrepreneur Nene Marks Gives Us A Peek Inside Her Haircare Brand, Nene’s Secret

February 18th, 2014 - By Rana Campbell
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Nene Marks, the co-founder/owner of ethnic haircare line, Nene’s Secret (also here and here) has filled her line with secret recipes including natural ingredients from her homeland, Liberia, such as Baobab oil, Kalahari Melon oil, and Ghanian chocolate.

Marks first came to the United States at age 17 knowing very little English but filled with the hope of one day becoming successful enough to help her family. Modeling made that dream a reality, and for many years she represented major companies such as Captain Morgan, Monistat, Esprit, Molson, and more. She even starred in 90s music videos such as Jay Z’s “Who You Wit” and Naughty by Nature’s  “Feel Me Flow”.

She transitioned into the hair business when she became co-owner of Dr. Miracle’s, founded by her husband Brian Marks. They grew the brand into an international name with Nene responsible for product testing and even serving as the original face of the Dr. Miracle’s Relaxer kit packaging. Wanting to start her own haircare line, the couple worked on creating Nene’s Secret for close to two years before it launched in April 2013.

We had the chance to ask Nene Marks a few questions. Check out our interview below.

MadameNoire: What kind of business lessons did you learn as a model in the business?
Nene Marks: As a model I learned how to respect people, how to be kind, how to be humble and how to not take advantage of others.  It helped me because what I gave, I got back. Being nice goes a long way in the business.

MN: What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
NM: My husband helps me a lot. He is the day-to-day businessman… the one here in the office. I am here twice a week. My job is to create and test the products. I test all the products before they go to market myself. I do the same thing with Dr. Miracle’s.

MN: What are some challenges you face running a hair product business and how do you manage?
NM: The challenge is that there is so much competition in the market. The thing that helps us out is our secret recipe and having Brian running the business for all the experience he has out there. He has been around for two decades.

MN: What kind of trends in haircare do you forecast for the future?
NM: People are going to really start embracing their hair, however they choose to wear it. My hair is natural . You can wear your hair curly, or wavy or relaxed. People just want their hair to be healthy. That will be the most important thing.

MN: Is the “all natural ingredients” trend is here to stay?
NM: I’ll tell you one thing. Nothing is really 100 percent natural. That’s what I see. I just think some companies like to trick people out there. My products are not 100 percent all natural. We have natural ingredients, but the products have to be made a certain way, which our chemists work on. Also, 100 percent natural products have a shorter shelf life.

MN: What is your favorite product from Nene’s Secret?
NM: My favorite (and the one I carry around in my bag) is the BB Butter. I have baby who is a year old and I use the BB Butter on her skin. My children are mixed so there hair can be hard to manage. I have to use a lot of conditioner. I love that I can use that same beauty butter in their hair to also moisturize it. I also use our leave-in conditioner when needed.

MN: Tell us more about your work with the Birthing Project(Marks says the couple has donated over $1 million to the cause.)
NM: We have been working with the Birthing Project, an international organization for improving birth outcomes for women of color, for two decades. The project is about helping the sisters be healthy and making sure that they have healthy babies because there is a high infant mortality rate for babies born in Africa. It’s very sad but it’s amazing to give back.

For a free sample or $2.00 coupon to use towards a Nene’s Secret purchase at Sally’s or Walgreens, email your request to info@mybestforullc.comP.S.: Nene’s M.M My Mom’s Hair Masque is my pick for a must-try deep conditioner!

Rana Campbell is a branding expert and journalist that helps small businesses do branding better. Check out her website for more info or connect with her on TwitterInstagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn

“Hair Story” Authors Talk Our Obsession With Black Hair, Respectability & Natural Hair Nazis

January 24th, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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Source: Barnes and Noble

Source: Barnes and Noble

It’s with us from the day we’re born. For many of us it’s a source of pride, our crowning glory. My grandmother used to call it our “beauty” as she warned me never to cut it. It’s our hair, black hair. And as you know our hair is a very weighty topic. While some regard our hair as fleeting fashion choices, others have made it a lifestyle choice. And whether we want it to be or not, the way we wear our hair even makes political statements. And Ayana Byrd and Lori Tharps explore all of these topics, along with the history of black hair, going back to the 1400′s in West Africa, in their Hair Story: Untangling The Roots Of Black Hair In America. Released 13 years ago and re-released with a foreword by Melissa Harris Perry, Hair Story will have you nodding in agreement, shaking your head in annoyance or outrage and raising your eyebrows at the new information you learn. We had a chance to speak with the authors of the book about the re-release. Byrd and Tharps talked about everything from hair superstitions to Gabby Douglas to the way we use our hair maintenance to express love and friendship. See what they had to say.

MN: What do you say to people who say, “It’s just hair”? 

Ayana: It’s not just hair. If it were just hair, Gabby Douglas would have been able to win the Olympic Gold without people on Twitter exploding. And then the Twitter attacks, to Hollywood, to news papers to all over the place talking about what her hair looked like while she was making Olympic history. Or other children who are talked about online about their hair. Or people who are not hired for jobs or people who are told they have to change their hair if they already have a job if their hair’s natural. Or women who feel they’re not dateable if their hair’s a certain way because men won’t like the texture or length. Or men who won’t date someone whose hair is a certain length or texture.

There’s still all these other, very real–sometimes impacting not just your self esteem but sometimes your financial life– obstacles that come up with hair. And I think until those are removed, we’re going to keep talking about hair. On the flip side, on the positive side, I think there are a lot of really good conversations that come out about hair. When you read Hair Story, it’s not a book of doom and gloom. We also really highlight the positive cultural conversations that happen, cultural productions whether it’s art or photo exhibits, just different things that people create about black hair and the community that’s forged around black hair and I actually don’t see any reason for those conversations to ever stop because it brings a lot of joy to people having them and also it brings a lot of common ground.


Lori: Until American culture can catch up with hair equality, then we are going to still talk about it. Because there is still discrimination felt by black women and black men, in the workplace, in social circles based on their hair. We’re still seeing women being fired from their jobs because of their hair. That’s an economic issue that has to be discussed. Now all of this Twitter chatter etc that happens ‘what does her hair look like?’ That might be a little excessive. But that’s what social media has brought us to. Every topic gets over discussed.


MN: Why do you think the black community is so concerned about the upkeep of other people’s hair? Is it an issue with the politics of respectability?

Lori: As a community we are still judged. One black person does something and the whole community is condemned. We joke about it when a horrible crime happens, ‘oh, please don’t let it have been a black person.’ And that’s, of course, unfortunate and ridiculous but it’s a fact and it is the truth. If we perceive, and I say that as a collective we, one of our own, who is in the spotlight, is doing something we see as negative then we fall all over ourselves trying to make sure that that negative thing is fixed right away so that the white man doesn’t figure out that we have flaws. Because we’re still playing some sort of catch up. Make sure that there’s nothing that we can be criticized about. I mean look at Rachel Jeantel.

We have these public figures and we have to make sure that when they’re on the national stage that they show off the best of us. So when it comes to hair, because there’s still this group mentality that appropriate, proper and acceptable hair looks a certain way. And that hair is smooth edges, nothing too aggressive, nothing too natural, nothing too Afro-like. And unfortunately that is the kind of the collective, acceptable hairstyle. Now on the other hand we are seeing the natural hair movement broadening people’s ideas of acceptability but that’s still a fringe movement when you look at the numbers of black women who are still straightening and or relaxing their hair or wearing weaves that are straight. So this idea that the natural hair movement has completely revolutionized what people think is acceptable hair is not true. We’re definitely expanding.  So this attacking of young children or Pam Oliver’s wig, yes, I feel like black people still feel like we can attack one another with this idea that if we don’t call each other on it, then whitey will. And that’s really regressive thinking. I’m sure a lot of people aren’t making those thoughts consciously but I do believe that we still have that mentality left over from the past of policing each other’s behavior and physical appearance.


Ayana: Even though we see a lot of attacks on hair online, social media has also become this place where people really will build these supportive communities for people who are attacked. I think the one of the most obvious examples is the Locs of Love project that Yaba Blay did after the little girl was told that she had to cut off her locs or get expelled from school. But through social media, within 24 hours, Yaba was able to gather over a 100 women who sent in really encouraging letters and photos of themselves. I think in the past, pre social media, someone would have heard about the story, turned to their friend and said, ‘That’s a damn shame.” And that would have been the extent of it. But within two days, this little girl could see this outpouring of love and support for her. So I also think that’s a really positive side effect of what happens with black hair and social media, that we’ve never seen before. And I hope that continues to be the trend for what happens on Twitter when it comes to hair as opposed to cutting people down.

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