All Articles Tagged "black hair"
BET done messed up now. Watching their award show every year, it’s a bit clear that the big named stars are starting to show up increasingly less as they cross over and make it with the mainstream. It’s quite sad, actually. And while we might not have understood their absence before, these days Beyoncé has every reason not to show up…like ever again. Here’s why.
So… I promised myself that I was over the endless hair articles that clog up the Internet daily. But after witnessing the public thrashing of Blue Ivy’s locks after her unbearably cute appearance at last Sunday’s VMAs. I couldn’t resist chiming in on a topic that has been exhaustingly rehashed for no good reason.
First of all, Blue Ivy is an adorable girl who has super star parents. She is a celebrity by default and so she will always be judged based on her looks. It is pathetically sad that she has to endure the wrath of ignorance before she is even able to construct a complete sentence. But thanks to the luxury of social media, we are susceptible to the fiery nature of naysayers and inconceivably rude people who take pleasure in mocking or degrading innocent victims.
Blue Ivy can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to her appearance. The jokes about her looking more like Jay-Z than Beyonce erupted the same day her official photos were released. Who cares what she looks like? The girl is wealthier than a nation right now and she will not have to rely on her beauty in order to live a pretty fulfilling life. Be that as it may, I happen to think she is the cutest thing ever! And yes, I am aware that since North West entered the world, the comparisons have been relentless. Particularly since one of them has that “good hair” that we all salivate over, and the other has, well, something that looks like our worst nightmare.
It might be your nightmare but it’s my reality. Yes, my hair looks like Blue Ivy’s. It’s thick, natural, and gorgeously wild. No, I don’t like to pile on a plethora of products in order to achieve that “shine” because it does nothing but clog up pores and cause my scalp to itch, which unleashes itching sessions that I can quite frankly, do without. I also don’t believe in combing or brushing my hair needlessly, especially when all I have to do is pick apart my curls and fluff accordingly.
Everyone is griping about how “dry” and “unkempt” natural hair tends to be when it is left it’s own devices. I think I know what the real issue is and you are not going to like it. It is clear that we will never be completely accepting of the tresses that we blessed with. Our hair is unique and comes in various textures, which means that there is no regimen that will work for everyone. None of us has the right to project our insecurities on someone who doesn’t seem to live up to our standard of the “perfect mane”. Just because you wash your hair every other day doesn’t mean I need to do the same. And if you love the way Miss Jessie’s products bring out your curls, that’s awesome for you, but I don’t get those same results.
There is nothing wrong with Blue Ivy’s natural hair, but there is something wrong with the way black women react to it. You seem to be so convinced that you would do a better job. I am sure this is because she represents something that you are uncomfortable with. Almost like an embarrassing representation of our true selves. That’s why so many of you are determined to hide behind your weaves that cost more than your rent. You can’t bear to expose your that part of you that not only leaves you vulnerable but potentially makes life just a little more complicated.
For those of us, who don’t mind being natural, we embrace the complexities and revel in the freedom that it brings. I am not saying that natural is the only way to go, in fact, I am contemplating getting a weave in a couple of weeks. Hair is an accessory and I treat it as such. I also never tell anyone how to manage their mane, nor do I make mothers feel inadequate about the way they care for their daughter’s tresses.
Blue Ivy’s hair looks like mine, in fact it may even look and feel better than mine. I am offended for her and for myself, when I read and hear the nasty comments floating around. In case you are clueless, let me help you out – natural hair is hair that is devoid of chemical treatments. Aside from moisturizers and gels, your hair is basically riding the wave of it’s own God-given texture. Blue Ivy’s hair looks fits that description and so does mine. So get off her back, and pick a more appropriate topic to discuss. Like maybe how we can endeavor to send the right message to our little girls about self-esteem and self-acceptance.
First and foremost, this is not a post trying to divide us along the lines of #teamnatural or #teamrelaxed. I’m tired of all the hashtag teams anyway. It’s not even a post, trying to persuade women to “go natural.” This is just my personal story about my own hair transformation and the things I appreciate about my own hair–or appreciate more– now that I no longer have a perm.
Earlier this year, the Army came under fire for their new rules regarding tattoos, grooming, uniforms and particularly hairstyles. The hair regulations banned women from wearing twists, dreadlocks and multiple braids, and cornrows that are bigger than a quarter of an inch.
Black military members spoke out about the rules saying that they were racially insensitive and they also objected to language which described natural hairstyles as “matted” and “unkempt.” Sgt. Jasmine Jacobs of the Georgia National Guard started a petition on the White House’s website writing: “These new changes are racially biased and the lack of regard for ethnic hair is apparent.”
The story caught the attention of several congress men and woman and even news sites and blogs, particularly Black women’s websites, like ours.
After all of the backlash, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Tuesday, of this week, that the military is revising the ban to include a wider range of hairstyles.
Hagel’s review comes after female members of the Congressional Black Caucus wrote to the defense secretary calling the guidelines discriminatory and targeting “soldiers who are women of color with little regard to what is needed to maintain their natural hair.”
In a later to the Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Marcia Fudge, Hagel wrote:
“At my direction, over the last three months, each Military Service reviewed its definitions of authorized and prohibited hairstyles, and eliminated offensive language, including the terms ‘matted and unkempt’ from both the Army and the Air Force grooming regulations. Additionally, each Service reviewed its hairstyle policies to ensure standards are fair and respectful while also meeting our military requirements.”
CBC member Barbara Lee praised Hagel’s announcement saying that while she was a daughter of a veteran and understands the need for uniformity in the military, they need to recognize that “natural hairstyles do not reflect or create a lack of professionalism or respect for the Armed Forces’ high standards.”
She said that she was pleased that words like “unkempt” and “matted” were being removed.
The hair regulations were actually keeping one military officer from being promoted. Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Jessica Sims, 32 said wearing her hair in locs, pulled in a bun, while on duty. Her superiors told her to cut her hair or wear a wig and when she refused, her commanders processed her for separation for “serious misconduct.”
Here are some of the changes being made to the regulations.
- Determined the terms “matted and unkempt” are offensive and will eliminate them
- Authorized temporary two-strand twists
- Increased size of authorized braids, cornrows and twists; removed spacing requirement
- Authorized a ponytail during physical training
- Determined the terms “matted and unkempt” are offensive and will eliminate them
- Changed the name “dreadlocks” to “locs”
- Authorized two-strand twists, French Twists and Dutch braids
- Determined no offensive language in the current policy governing hairstyles
- Removed some dated terms and descriptions on the Navy’s “Frequently Asked Questions” website, including “‘Twist’ hairstyles are not authorized because they fall within the guidelines of being faddish.”
- Authorized a two-strand twist and multiple braids may hang freely if above the collar and must encompass the whole head
- Determined no derogatory or discriminatory language in current uniform regulations
- Convening a special uniform board this summer to consider the expansion of authorized hairstyles
There is always an uneasiness I feel when I’m offered compliments about my hair.
It’s not just a matter of saying “thank you” and keeping it moving. Sometimes – I would say about half the time really – the compliment deviates from a simple courtesy of “your hair is really pretty” into a discussion about texture, thickness and length, which is usually loaded with so much that it makes responding with a simple “thank you” damn near impossible.
Compliments range from, “Your hair is really soft, I wish I had hair like that,” to “Your dreadlocks are really nice – my hair is too nappy for that.” There is no easy response that does not involve a history lesson as well as challenge to one’s entire core being – or even the possibility of losing a friend (or making a new friend), because someone could confuse my attempt to point out that there is nothing special or magical about hair with humble bragging.
Worse are the assumptions that come with the compliments. In particular, people like to think that my hair is more manageable (it is not) or that perils of fitting into the standard of beauty are less perilous because I have long hair (that too is a fallacy). Those who had to suffer through negative interactions with their own ethnically black hair don’t like to hear this, but I can’t help but feel maligned into a position of having to speak to a privilege (in this case: the privilege of “good hair”), which affords me no real benefit. Trust when I say there are more variables at stake than if I’m able to shake my hair around like a white girl.
With that said, I will not try to pretend to be obtuse. My personal awkwardness in how I respond to these “compliments” is a drop in the bucket of deep history, politics and even pain in our hair stories. Thick and tightly wound coils, aka the naps, are always viewed as problems to be fixed. There are perms and flat-irons offered as solutions to make one more aligned with the Westernized beauty standard. And even in natural hair spaces, which are supposedly free from the tyranny of “good hair” standards, we see an emphasis put on everything light and curly. I remember a time when women used to wear Bantu knots as an actual hairstyle (and expression of cultural ties), but now, if women are not knotting, stretching, pulling, defining, braiding and length testing, then we are applying a bunch of products that promise to help us achieve our curly “natural” look.
And oh, are there products!
Curl definers, creams, puddings, milks, smoothies…and those are just a few products. As noted by Christina Patrice on the blog Black Girls Long Hair, our obsession with the curl is often introduced to us at a young age through hair straightening products like the Just For Me Texture Softener, which Patrice writes, “walks like a relaxer, talks like a relaxer, and pretty much is a relaxer,” but is marketed as an option to loosen “hard to manage” hair. Patrice also points out that in the texture softener’s FAQ section (frequently asked questions), there is advice given to parents on teaching black girls to love their hair (I sh*t you not), which includes this little pearl:
“Proactively talk about loving your daughter’s hair. Your daughter’s hair is unmistakably linked to her self-image and self-esteem. If she feels her hair is a problem, she will also think there is a problem with her image. If she believes her hair is beautiful, she will believe that she is beautiful. Your little girl will take her cues from you, her mother. Be careful not to inadvertently pass along negative feelings through the frustrations of everyday grooming.”
I agree that hair and self-esteem for women does tend to go hand-in-hand (not always and not definitely, but it can), however, proactively talking to your daughter about why she should love her hair while simultaneously slapping a bunch of perm…er, excuse me, texture softener, into it doesn’t seem like a consistent message of self-love, which Just for Me is trying to pretend it’s about. It should be noted that while some of these curl achieving products are owned by mainstream companies, there are plenty of black owned hair companies in the business of helping black women hate their hair too. And while I would put them on blast, I also know that more times than not, those companies are only responding to the market trends. In short, there is a need and want for products like this. Why else would they make them?
This means that the onus to change the perceptions of what is “good hair,” which should simply be hair that is healthy, is on us. And that means that we need to reexamine all the things we find unmanageable about our hair and wonderful about everybody else’s. That includes how we choose to issue hair compliments. And if the only reason why you think my hair is pretty is because of its texture or perceived manageability, I don’t see that as much of a compliment, and in all honesty, you can keep that to yourself.
Jessica Williams of The Daily Show is no holds barred when it comes to her comedic style of news reporting, and last night’s sketch on the new military regulation that bans black women from wearing natural hairstyles was no different.
The new legislation bans everything from two-strand twists, dreadlocks, to pretty much any sort of natural style, in favor of relaxed hair, braids, wigs, and weaves. The main premise of the segment is that if the people who put this ban in place understood how black hair worked, and how time consuming the approved styles can be, they would not have enacted it in the first place.
Read more about Jessica Williams’ segment at StyleBlazer.com
With short hair comes great responsibility, and a great need for patience. Short bobs can’t always fit into neat ponytails when they’re messy, and untidy TWAs can’t always be perfected with a headband and a hair pick. However, they can look fabulous with a steady hand, a few techniques and essentials. So try not to be frustrated with your short ‘do. You, like everyone else, could just use a little help. We’ve got you covered!
When God made coco bread and vodka tonics (two of my favorite things), he also made bobby pins: the tiny hairpins that treat fly-away hairs and secure perfectly executed bangs. Yes, for both natural and straight hair, a full set of bobby pins can make a big difference.
Hair too short for French braids? Part your hair down the middle, and then twist your hair toward the rear as if you’re doing two French braids, and secure the “twists” on your way back with bobby pins. If that seems too basic, try arranging the bobby pins in some creative ways.
Been dying to give yourself Bantu knots since you saw Rihanna and Crazy Eyes from Orange is the New Black rocking them? Then, you may benefit from using bobby pins to keep your knots in place. And if you don’t want to wear them out of the house, they can help create an awesome curl. If your hair is too short for Bantu knots and you’d like a managed curl, then give yourself a collection of tiny braids at night, roll and secure them with bobby pins, and then unbraid them in the morning and hit the tips with a tiny bit of pomade to keep the curl lasting longer.
Short-haired babes, you should condition like you’ll never see moisture again. Kidding, don’t over condition. But seriously, moisture does away with breakage and it tends to make hair more manageable. Along with cream conditioners, the use of small amounts of 100% almond oil, grape seed oil, castor oil, olive oil, or jojoba oil can make a real difference – it will give you shine and soothe the texture. Also, abandon “grandma’s rules,” i.e., don’t over grease your scalp, as many oils including olive oil and coconut oil can cause dandruff. But be sure to give that scalp a little TLC.
And beyond all of that, conditioner is the key ingredient in the “wash-and-go” look, whereby you water your hair using a spray bottle that’s a combination of water and oil. Soften your hair with leave-in conditioner, tussle it and then hit the streets.
In my opinion, particularly for natural hair, it’s best not to use a comb with small teeth. It’s simply bad for business. It should be wide tooth or bust. Actually, if you can completely forgo using your comb and use your fingers to carefully undo knots, this is best, albeit a little time-consuming. Beyond the fact that it limits breakage because you aren’t scrapping at your hair with a glorified fork, depending on your texture and usual style, you’re untangling and styling your hair at the same time.
And as a styling reminder, know that different parting techniques create different looks, and if you’re ever unsure of how to create a natural looking part, place your comb against your inner brow above your left eye, and draw the comb backwards.
Go glamorous! With less hair comes a great opportunity to show off those stunning cheekbones, those dimples, that smile and that glimmer in your eyes that people rarely notice. Make earrings, eyeliner and fabulous clips your thing. And if you’re feeling as though you’re over the headscarves and headbands, perhaps you just need a few new tricks for them, including using your scarf to pull your too short hair into a faux updo.
How do you jazz up your short haircut?
In continuation of the conversation from last week about the financial independence black women have been able to carve out for themselves within the booming and increasingly diverse hair weave industry, let me introduce you to Demajali West, creator and founder of the Hookie Do.
What’s the Hookie Do? Glad you asked.
The Hookie Do is a patent-pending reusable hair extension cap, which allows weave wearers to install a head full of new hair in under a half an hour without harmful glueing or sewing anything onto the hair or scalp, and simply by hooking the weft of a track onto some hooks – hence the name. An instruction video of how it all works is available here, but the overall point is that a person using the Hookie Do can quick change a hairstyle without costly hair salon visits or wasting bundles of hair.
Sounds pretty cool, right? Well it kind of is.
And late last month, West officially introduced her cool concept to the public in a Kickstarter campaign in hopes of raising enough investment capital to complete her first purchase order of the Hookie Do. She is asking for $17,000 from potential funders and in exchange, is offering a pre-order of the prototype at the $45 level (she says that the Hookie Do is suggested to retail at $89.99).
West said that she wasn’t quite sure how folks would respond to her crowd-sourcing approach considering that those spaces appears to be more occupied by white males. But by the middle of this July, West has not only managed to reach her fundraising goals, she is a couple of thousand over $42,000 in donations. And she still has five days left in her campaign.
“People say that black women don’t support each other. I can tell you that we do. And I am so appreciative of all the women who donated – even those who donated at levels that meant they couldn’t get the cap like $5 or even a $1 – just because they thought it was a good idea,” she said.
The story has all the markers of a quirky novelty story but don’t count West as either an overnight success or some potato salad farce. The Hookie Do is a culmination of two years of sacrifice, struggle, lots of money and uncertainty. It was a couple of years ago, right before the birth of her first child, when the thought came to West. Money was tight and West, who has no professional cosmetology training and education, had taken to creating and installing her own hairstyles in hopes of saving her family money. But West said that the frequency in which she changed hairstyles proved to still be financially burdensome as well as time consuming. That’s when she started to seriously begin mulling over new ways to go about getting salon quality hair at affordable prices.
It was her father, who first introduced the idea of using hooks. “Like on a ship and on a bra strap is what he kept saying over and over again. I didn’t know what he was talking about,” she said, giggling. But eventually something clicked and West said that she would test out her dad’s theory, using one of her old bras. “What I noticed is that the weft of the hair extension fit perfectly inside of the hooks on a bra and that’s when I knew I had something here.”
I know! Another article about hair! But with the Blue Ivy petition fiasco and the debate about whether or not white women can claim #teamnatural, it’s clear that we are still not quite comfortable with the various textures that are uniquely assigned to our tresses.
A friend of mine recently decided to go for the “Big Chop” after years of perms and weaves. It took her a long time to finally go for it! She worried about whether or not she would readily adjust to such a drastically different look. She was used to having long hair, so the thought of not being able to wear a simple ponytail or a high bun, made her wary. But she was also tired of spending endless hours at the beauty salon, begging her boyfriend for money to get her expensive extensions installed. Her own hair was showing signs of wear and tear, which resulted in her relying on the security of hair weaves.
One afternoon while having brunch she announced to all of us that she was going to step outside her comfort zone by embracing the “natural hair movement”. We all applauded her and promised to give our unrelenting support. I never thought she would actually contemplate giving up her regimen, but a week later she greeted us with her new look. She looked incredible. Her eyes looked bigger, her skin glowed, and she even seemed taller. Her short Afro was everything! Finally we could see her gorgeous features without the aid of her trusted bangs and flowing mane. It was fresh, youthful and complimentary and I was so happy to see her enjoying her much-needed makeover.
She was relieved that her gamble had paid off, and even more excited that we loved it. But there was just one problem. Her boyfriend of six months was less than enthused with the prospect of his girlfriend being stripped of her long straight hair. She never really discussed it with him beforehand, which made the big reveal even more shocking and harder to digest. We tried to console her by explaining the fact that he probably needed time to get used to her shorter do. He was accustomed to her looking a certain way, and since he wasn’t privy to the fact that she was considering a major alteration, his reaction wasn’t necessarily unreasonable.
But almost two months later, her boyfriend is still reeling from the fact that she is now a bona fide naturalista. At first he started off with innocent jokes, but it has since escalated to full fledged demands. He is actually trying to convince her to go back to her weaves because she was a lot sexier when she had longer hair. Now that she has an Afro, she had lost that level of appeal that drew him in when they first started dating. Yep! He went there. Hitting below the belt by intertwining her attractiveness with the style of hair she chooses to wear.
Things have gotten so bad that their relationship is currently in code red status. They fight all the time, and there is barely any intimacy left. My friend is ready to walk away any day now, even though she is trying to hold on for dear life because she loves him. But of course she is disappointed that the man in her life is not supportive of her grooming habits. He refuses to understand why she made the change, and more importantly he won’t respect her decision regardless of whether or not he gets it.
It got me thinking about how I would react if I were in a similar situation. Is it mandatory to find out what a guy’s preference is when it comes to hair before getting serious? It sounds ludicrous, but based on my friend’s current situation; it definitely is a legitimate concern. I have never dated a guy who seemed hung up on how I wore my hair, but then again, I never wore weaves. I suppose we attract certain types of guys based on the way we present ourselves.
Would you dump a guy if he forced you to wear your hair a certain way?
Actress Teyonah Parris’ star is ascending in Hollywood right now. While many of us know her from the hit show “Mad Men,” it’s not the only credit she has under her belt. She’s going to be starring in three movies including They Came Together, Dear White People and A Picture of You and also a new project, executive produced by LeBron James called “Survivor’s Remorse.”
And in addition to being exceptionally talented, Parris has also been a hair crush of ours since she stepped out on the red carpet at last year’s SAG Awards. And though she’s been shouted out by several women and black women’s websites for the beauty and versatility of her afro, Parris told Marc Lamont Hill, of Huffington Post Live , that the transition was anything but easy for her. In fact, it was such an emotional journey that she cried and had to have a friend help her show her newly natural hair to the world.
Read what she had to say about the experience in the transcript below and then watch the video at the very bottom of the page.
You know when I first started in film, and I don’t want this to sound the wrong way, I very much tried, and not consciously, but I tried to be what I saw because that’s what I saw growing up. And I wanted to be beautiful. Who doesn’t want to be beautiful? And so consciously or unconsciously you try to mimic what you see. And I just had this moment where, I was actually in Harlem, and I was walking with my girlfriend and I saw this girl and I was like ‘I wish my hair could do that.’ And my friend was like, ‘It can.’ And I was like no, no it can’t. And I was like ‘Girl when I wet my hair, it just gets so straight.’
And she really looked at me like ‘Are you serious?’ She said, ‘It’s because you perm it.’
And I guess it was like, as Oprah says, an aha moment and I realized ‘Oh, I have no clue what my hair does naturally.’
So going natural was just a challenge to myself because I wanted to see what it did what it looked like because I hadn’t seen it since I was a little girl and even then I didn’t do it.
So it started off as a challenge to myself and I transitioned by wearing weaves and then every few weeks, I would take it out and see how much was afro and how much was still straight and then put it back up and cut off some as we went along.
And then it came the time when it was time to wear it out because it was all transitioned, all the perm was off.
Marc Lamont Hill: Were you nervous?
I cried. I cried. I was not used to seeing myself like that. I did not want to walk outside. I literally…I had to have… *pauses* oh goodness. My girlfriend, the same one who’d said a year or so before ‘your hair can do that’ she had to literally come over to my house and walk me outside because it was such an emotional experience and it wasn’t just about hair. It was about what my perception of beauty was and had been for all of my life and then I look at myself in the mirror and I’m like ‘That doesn’t look like what I thought was beautiful.’ And we literally held hands walking down 135 and Park Ave. And so that was my first moment in the world with my natural hair. And I know it doesn’t matter but that day, I got so many compliments on my big afro and I was like ‘Are they talking to me? Oh, ok.’ And it was really that moment of ‘Ok, I can do this.’ That was just my beginning of my journey into being natural. And since that day, it’s still been hard at moments. It wasn’t like ‘Oh, I was fine after that.’ No. It takes time.
At this moment, it’s not like I’m standing on a soapbox like it’s a mission but I really am personally, beyond what anybody else thinks or cares about, am trying to live in my truth and change the way I view beauty. And if other people’s perceptions change while I’m trying to work on myself, then that’s great. And hopefully a few little brown girls out there will look and say, ‘Oh, look I want my hair like that.’ And hopefully sooner than me, the age I was when it happened to me.
You can watch Teyonah Parris’ entire interview with Huffington Post Live in the video below. The part where she speaks about her natural hair starts around the 18 minute and 15 second mark.