All Articles Tagged "good hair"
At the opening of comedian Chris Rock’s documentary, Good Hair, he revealed that one of his daughters came home questioning why she didn’t have “good hair.” Chris has gone on to say on several occasions that his daughter’s question caused him to think of the Bronner Bros. Hair Show and together they inspired him to put together the documentary.
“I started thinking about my daughter, and I started thinking about the Bronner Bros. Hair Show … and here we are with ‘Good Hair,’ ” Rock told MTV in a 2009 interview.
Rock’s documentary reignited a conversation that was way overdue. A conversation that Rogue actress Thandie Newton says changed her life. Hello Beautiful recently caught up with the London native for an interview where she shared that Chris Rock’s documentary inspired her to go natural.
“I watched Chris Rock’s documentary ‘Good Hair.’ I was appalled by the idea of putting that [relaxers] on my scalp. I just thought ‘I’ve been putting this on my scalp for forty years, it’s time to give it a break,” the 40-year-old actress revealed.
February of last year, in an interview with the Daily Mail, Newton also shared that her daughters have been a major inspiration in her transition.
“I always thought I would go back to curly, because I didn’t want my daughters to judge their beautiful curls. I assumed they’ want to be like their Mum, and they’ve only ever known me with straight hair. The stigma with some black women seems to be that ‘nappy hair’ is almost as bad as loo roll (aka toilet paper) trailing from your shoe,” she expressed.
Did you see Good Hair? Did it influence how you care for your hair?
Hair. It’s a four-letter word with so much “stuff” behind it you could barely scratch the surface in a two-hour documentary by the same name.
Or is it?
Just how deep is hair for Black women and who made it that way? Plus, do White women have some of the very same hangups we do when it comes to our manes? Check out this final episode of “I Always Wanted To Ask” as we peel back the layers on what hair means to women — Black and White alike.
KEEP THE DISCUSSION GOING WITH MORE EPISODES OF I ALWAYS WANTED TO ASK.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH!
During a recent trip to the hair salon, my new stylist, who happened to be white, asked about my ethnicity. When I told her I’m black and Italian, she said, “Your hair’s beautiful. You must get this from your Italian side.” Picture my face falling to the ground.
Last month, a white woman who shall remain nameless because I have to see her regularly commented that she liked my hair. That seemed innocent enough, until she said it was nice because it wasn’t “too kinky.” Excuse me?
A few weeks prior, a black man I met at a club said he knew I had “something besides black in me” because I’ve “got that good hair.” Black relatives and friends have proudly used the “good hair” phrase to describe their own hair as well as mine, apparently unaware they have bought into white supremacy in the process.
On the flip side, some people have suggested that I get a relaxer or a Keratin treatment, as if coiled hair is a disease that only harsh chemicals can cure. I stopped relaxing my hair when I was 16 and have no plans to relax it again. I like my hair in its natural state; I enjoy wearing it curly, blow-dried straight or twisted in rope-like strands depending on my mood and the occasion.
But just last week I spoke with a woman who, despite clear indications that I was happy sans chemicals, and despite the fact that I did not ask for her advice, insisted that relaxers have improved since I last used them and I could probably find a mild one that would work well on my hair. Work well to accomplish what? Help me conform to her warped standard of beauty?
Generally, I don’t think these people are trying to be malicious. I just think they’ve been mentally programmed to believe that whiteness – in all its manifestations — is superior, and these ideas are so deeply engrained in their psyche that they are no longer questioned or even acknowledged.
Many people don’t realize that when they use the term “good hair,” they’re essentially saying that black hair is bad. They don’t grasp that if beautiful hair “must come from my Italian side,” the implication is that my black ancestry could only produce ugliness. They don’t reflect on why they prefer hair that isn’t “too kinky” and why they can’t see coiled hair without suggesting some sort of chemical treatment to straighten it. They’ve simply become brainwashed by a society busy sending messages in both subtle and glaring terms that white is right.
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For centuries, and even today, you might catch black people talking about the notion of good hair. Stereotypically, the phrase “good hair” has been used to describe hair that is thinner, finer and curlier than the thick, coarse hair that is often associated with Africans and African Americans. Many in the black community have debunked the notion that one type of hair is better than other; but we took to the streets of Harlem, just to make sure everybody was on the same page. See what folks up on 125th street had to say.
“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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Before I go any further, I want to say that hair has been a very hard topic for me to grasp. Ever since I was a kid, I just wanted to take my hair and put it in a ponytail ALL of the time. Easier said than done.
But as we get older, we learn more about ourselves and how hair is in general. It’s funny sometimes. I often see moms with their biracial children, hair frizzy and in bows, beads that are clearly weighing down their possibly thinning hair, and gelled down curls. If they catch me looking at their child’s locks, they give the look, one seeking confirmation that says, “Hey, this doesn’t look bad does it?” No matter what I really think, the truth is, I can’t tell others what to do with their hair or what looks right, because guess what? I don’t even know what to do with my own hair. But if you read the comments on stories about biracial hair or listen to people every day on the streets, folks would think I had it so easy. Many people believe that because a person is “mixed,” they don’t have issues with their hair or that there aren’t different types within that spectrum. WRONG.
I’m a happy biracial butterfly: African American and Puerto Rican. Although I have four older sisters, my younger brother and I are the only mixed kids in my family. Growing up, I was constantly frustrated with my hair. It would take my sisters about an hour or so to finish their hair, but it literally took forever for me, and whatever style I chose would only last for a minimal amount of time. However, they used to tell me that I had nothing to complain about, and they had these delusions of versatility about how it was easy for me because my hair could be worn wet or blown out. (Fortunately my grandmother never really let that happen-if they had cornrows or box braids so did I–a funny but weird sight.) Easy wouldn’t have been my word of choice.
It wasn’t until I was in high school and college that I noticed the many types of hair textures that make up biracial strands. I met girls who were in the same ballpark as me. Either they couldn’t control their hair, or damaged it from experimenting too much. I knew that it wasn’t just me who had a problem with the politics of hair either. There’s the hair that never curls, curls that can’t be controlled, and hair that is either too dry or too oily. The combinations are endless and I can go on forever about it…but I won’t. In that time I learned from my friends and other women what I was doing wrong and how I could keep my hair nourished and healthy.
A lot of that nourishment and good heath starts with the products we use for our hair. Sometimes “mixed” products are too weak for the hair and you could just be harming it rather than helping it. Some of the best products are the ones you may be ignoring, like Aussie’s Deeeep Conditioner or Miss Jessie’s products (that is one investment I wouldn’t mind making because it really works!). It took a while after dabbling with different products, but with time comes growth.
I’m not ashamed, or feel bad about my hair anymore. I used a little gift that works for ALL types of hair in the end–patience! You’re going to run into a couple of dead ends, but those mistakes just show you how to improve. Yet and still, while I do appreciate my hair more these days, I don’t have this over-the-top sense of pride that my sisters thought I would have. You know, the mindset that because my hair is wavy it’s better than anyone else’s hair. In fact, I hate the term “good hair” with a passion, especially since no one’s hair is “bad.” In this day and age, if you still believe in good and bad hair, form your own opinions and don’t take definitions like “good hair” for face value because if it’s healthy and beautiful to you, then baby, it’s indeed good.
All in all, I share my story of struggling with my strands to say the following to those like me:
1.) Hair isn’t your identity: Many people who aren’t mixed are often targeted for saying things like my sisters did, but sometimes you are to blame too. Just because you’re mixed or you believe that your hair is “good” doesn’t mean it is. Step down from the high hair pedestal that society has given you and look around. You’ll see that everyone has awesome hair.
2.) Embrace your curls: If you’re a mom out there reading this, just know that you don’t have to kill the curls (flatten or press them to death) so your children don’t look different from other people. Different can be good, but just remember to mix it up!
3.) Don’t give up on your hair: At one point I did, and I realized I caused more damage (physically and emotionally) to myself and my locks by ignoring them. There are tons of tutorials online, and you can also request samples for products before you make a serious investment. While it’s a struggle, with patience and effort, your hair will surely be your crowning glory.
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When Isaiah Mustafa rode onto our television screens on his white horse some of us were truly smitten.
For me? Eh… not so much.
Now, don’t get me wrong the brotha was funny. Those commercials had me dying laughing. But the sistas weren’t laughing so hard after Isaiah made comments about “good hair” last week on E! News.
Mustafa was talking to anchor, Giuliana Rancic about his show “Charlie’s Angels” when Rancic started asking him about his personal love life. Eventually she asked Mustafa what type of woman he was looking for. Mustafa said that he wanted a woman who was athletic, honest and someone who had “good hair”.
No, no Isaiah!
I don’t know Mustafa personally- so I don’t know how in touch he is with black culture, but by now, (thanks to Chris Rock) even white people know that when it comes to black women, hair is a very sensitive subject.
Let me first start by saying I’m not mad at Mr. “I’m On a Horse”. Maybe he was joking, maybe he really does have a preference for a particular hair type. Whatever the case, I don’t have the time or energy to get mad at every person, black or white, who expresses a negative opinion about black women. If I chose to live that life I’d never be happy again.
Plus I don’t need to get angry. There were plenty of media outlets who had some words of their own for Mustafa. Chief among them was ESSENCE, who provided a platform for Isaiah’s apology, but not without expressing their severe disappointment first. And he did seem sincerely apologetic, ya’ll.
But I really don’t need an apology. From all of this I just hope Mustafa has learned that for black women hair, for better or worse, is more than just another physical feature. And I know India said we are not our hair. But the fact that she had to remind us of this fact, lets you know just how deep it can be for us.
A majority of black men, like Mustafa, have never felt the pressure from mainstream media, their jobs or their family to wear their hair a certain way for fear they’d be labeled unattractive or unemployable. And that’s why we’re so sensitive about it. For centuries, and even today, our hair and the way others perceive it has the ability to affect the way we feel about ourselves.
Is this right? No. Is it so? Definitely.
Whether you were feeling Mustafa or not, comments like his force black women to look at ourselves again and wonder if trivial choices such as the way we wear our hair make us desirable and appealing.
Again, I’m not mad at Mustafa. I accept my hair and myself. But this wasn’t always the case; and as a woman who had to work for this self-acceptance, I can understand why other women would be just a tad bit offended.
While walking down Madison Avenue in Manhattan we noticed a sad trend. There are a lot of women with lethal looking weaves! There’s nothing wrong with adding a little length to your head, but when not blended or the wrong shade or the wrong texture it’s liable to hurt a lot of feelings and possibly combs.
We dedicate this list to all the Madames attempting to fool the masses with a fabulous sew-in. The following women are the best examples of seamless weaves: