All Articles Tagged "nappy hair"
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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I must have retired under a rock after posting the photo of Beyonce holding Blue Ivy yesterday. I browsed the comments section later in the day and saw how nearly everyone remarked how much Blue looks like her daddy, Jay-Z, followed up with admiration for how adorable she is, but elsewhere on the net, folks were having a totally different discussion.
I wouldn’t have known had I not traveled over to Clutch and seen an article by Jessica C. Andrews questioning what the Blue Ivy backlash says about us. Her post subsequently took me over to Colorlines and a discussion on the same topic by Akiba Soloman, and between the two articles I came away with these startling reactions to the 7-month-old’s photo:
Beyoncé really screwed up, having a baby by Jay-Z. His nose and lips are never going to look right on a girl.
“Thats gonna be one ugly n****a baby with big A$$ lips and a dirty A$$ weave.”
Nappy-headed kid. Wish Beyoncé had married a nice-looking man instead of Jay-Z.
I’ll just be real about something for a minute. It’s a rare person that finds Jay-Z attractive outside of his money or status and I don’ think that has much to do with having so-called black features. A lot of people questioned how he could pull someone like Beyonce simply because she’s been painted as the most beautiful woman in the world, and him one of the most unattractive rappers on the scene. I’ve never taken the criticism against his physical appearance as some evidence of anti-black self-hatred, but more something to do with aesthetics; however the way in which people have criticized Blue Ivy because of the traits she shares with Jay-Z call that opinion into question.
Before anyone ever saw Blue Ivy, or even knew Beyonce would have a child one day, there were jokes about what their kid would look like because of Jay-Z’s strong masculine features but what there wasn’t at the time was derogatory comments about their child being a “n***a baby” because she might inherent his large lips, cheeks, and nose, or god-forbid his coarse, “nappy” hair. But that is where we sit today, criticizing a child because she doesn’t fit the same beauty ideal we criticize her mother of falsely living up to on a daily basis. How does that work?
Some commenters on Clutch felt a lot of the backlash is rooted in the general love-hate relationship people maintain with Beyonce. And I agree. On some level everyone is in awe of her success, her work ethic, and all that she has been able to attain but simultaneously we’re tired of having her accomplishments—including possibly her child—thrown in our face; and so, we lash out. But what’s telling here is that the comments aren’t of the usual “who cares,” “why should I care,” IDGAF variety. They are laced with remarks about her hair texture and characteristically black lips that insinuate some level of disappointment that after waiting for five months to get another glimpse of Blue since we first laid eyes on her button nose, soft wispy hair, and tiny lips, we were presented with a so-called nappy-headed baby who would no doubt be so ashamed of her hair texture one day she would have to wear weaves and who could never possibly be attractive because of her wide facial features. That’s just not a diss to Jay-Z or Beyonce’s choice in a father, that speaks volumes about our narrow ideals of beauty and how as much as we bash people whose style choices we think hint they don’t really want to be black, we don’t really want people—possibly ourselves included—to be black either. As Demetria Lucas wrote in her post on Essence:
“If some of us are very honest, we’ll acknowledge that there are only certain “Black” physical features that we as a collective find attractive. Curves? A blessing and curse. Full lips? Eh… depends on how full. Broad nose? On women, not at all. On men? Some get a pass, but not Jay-Z. Kinky hair? Not so much. There’s a reason most Black women “prefer” perms and even a lot of natural girls spend an inordinate amount of time and product trying to reconfigure their coils into curls.”
What’s unfortunate is that the parameters of what’s acceptably black are getting narrower and narrower and the age at which we start criticizing those outside of those boundaries younger and younger. I imagine there’s someone out there joking that Beyoncé should slap a perm on 7-month-old Blue Ivy’s curls to snatch that n***a texture out of it, though she’ll have to wait until she’s at least 16 or so to have that nose problem corrected. What a pity. And even then, the droves will be lined up to assert that she hates herself and her black features so she had them “whitened.” This from the same black people whose comments suggest they would likely do the same if they had the money, but for now they’ll just sit behind a computer screen taunting babies who hopefully won’t have access to this type of foolishness until they’ve come to a point in life where they’ve developed a healthy sense of self-esteem about their blackness in all its variety. No one says you have to think Blue Ivy is an adorable, cute, precious baby doll, but when you suggest that it’s her black features that keep her from attaining those titles, that’s when the problem goes way beyond hatred of Beyonce to hatred of self and possibly your own blackness.
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by Selam Aster
Clutch magazine recently asked its readers: Should we retire the word nappy once and for all or can we redefine it by embracing our roots and deciding that they’re beautiful?
It’s a question sparked by the unexpected and pleasantly honest tweet by Rihanna this week. The songstress responded to a fan’s tweet that questioned why Rihanna’s hair appeared “nappy” on the cover art of her new single. Rihanna tweeted back : “cuz I’m Black Itchbay!!!!”
The songstress’ reaction was strong, but very much needed. Why does Rihanna or any other black woman need to defend the texture of her hair? The “fan” certainly meant to deliver a hateful message with that tweet, since the cover art shows Rihanna looking as fabulous as usual. Rihanna was defending herself but she also stood up for many Black women when she reacted in the way that she did, much to the displeasure of her publicist I’m sure.
But back to Clutch’s original question on the matter. In terms of reclaiming the word, that’s going to be a hard feat. Essentially, there’s nothing wrong with being nappy but it’s hard to say the word, or write the word, and not communicate a tone of judgement. That’s the problem with connotation – altering the general spirit of a word is a long road.
So while there’s nothing wrong with being nappy, I propose using a different word to describe our unique grade of tresses. Course doesn’t have the same connotation – it’s more of a technical description that stylists use. But I’m not saying that’s the best description either. I think “natural” is a word we’re using often since it’s much more of a relevant term in the Black community when it comes to hair and folks know what you’re referring to when you say your hair is natural.
But let’s not stop there. Why don’t you weigh in – what do you think would be a better word to replace nappy?
Comment or tweet @atlantapost, #newnappy
I’m a big lover of music and natural hair. And I love artists like Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, and Jill Scott who proudly and confidently rock their natural beauty in the form of lovely locs and gorgeous afros. Not that I’m knocking other mainstream artists that don’t wear natural hair. But for me, it’s always refreshing to have something different and unique.
And speaking of mainstream artists and their hair, I recently read about an interesting exchange between Rihanna and one of her Twitter followers. Apparently Rihanna had just released the official cover art for her new single. And after seeing it, one of her fans asked this “interesting” question via twitter: “Why does her hair look so nappy?”
Now the fan didn’t verbally ask this question directly to Rihanna. She tagged her in a tweet. She ended up getting a very straightforward response. And here’s what Ms. Rihanna had to say: “Cuz I’m black Beyotch!”
Now honestly, I couldn’t help but chuckle. The moment took me back to the much missed days of Dave Chappelle and Rick James skits. But I don’t want to get sidetracked. So let’s get back to the original topic: “Nappy hair.”
I think this Twitter exchange (as funny as it was), was also a serious insight into how some black women, even in 2011, are still very much consumed with fitting a “standard” and not embracing their natural beauty. Personally, I’m glad that Rihanna responded so matter-of-factly. Because honestly, her hair is the way it is because she is black. And what’s wrong with that? I know so many black women that are so afraid of their hair being called or thought of as “nappy”. It’s really sad because it just clearly shows how some black women have an inferiority complex when it comes to how they think they “measure up” to other races of women.
Where did this come from? Well I speak from personal experience, when I say that “social conditioning is a hell of a drug.” I hid behind relaxed hair for years because I didn’t want “nappy hair”. Fortunately, through a lot of self-examination and self-love, I was able to shed those insecurities. Now I have “curly,” “kinky,” “coily,” “nappy,” whatever you want to call it hair. My hair is natural and I love it. It’s gorgeous, long, and most important of all, it’s healthy. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.
It always saddens me when I hear black women try to distance themselves from their “nappy” hair. I even know some black women who’ve been relaxing so long that they don’t even know what their own natural hair looks like.
The reality is that black people constantly feel a certain level of pressure to assimilate into mainstream culture. And I would imagine that the pressure is even more profound for artists like Rihanna who want mass appeal. The concept of “fitting in” is so deeply engrained in many of us. And we try so hard to be someone or something else- all at the expense of hating on ourselves. It’s truly a shame.
But overall, I’m glad Rihanna is accepting of her race and her hair texture. And I’m glad she confidently and unapologetically proclaimed it. It should be a lesson to many of us. Black women, and women in general, need to own who we are. Because we have to first be beautiful in our own eyes, before our natural beauty will ever be acknowledged by others.
What are you are thoughts on Rihanna’s response to the “nappy hair” comment?
Why do you think some black women have an issue with their hair texture?
Want to leave a question/comment for our writer Dr. Phoenyx Austin? Well head over to her Facebook page and follow her on Twitter. A phenomenal mix of brains and beauty, Dr. Phoenyx is a physician, writer and media personality who’s all about natural hair, health, and happiness. And she has been featured in Essence and has also appeared on popular shows like The Russ Parr Morning Show and The Warren Ballentine Show.
These days, many of us who live in big cities have diverse groups of friends. It’s not unusual to have a stack of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa cards at the ready during the holiday season. True friendships between people of different backgrounds can be a micro-lesson on the benefits of cultural exchange. But, things aren’t always so great. Sometimes cultural differences do matter and a seemingly small thing can turn into a major issue when a lack of knowledge or sensitivity is thrown into the mix.
For example, when Kim Zolciak told Kandi’s road manager to get his “nappy A$$” out of her bunk during an episode of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” a lot of viewers were none too pleased. Had it been NeNe who made that comment, there may have been a little teeth-sucking, but the word “nappy” (similar to that other n-word) definitely seems to have a little more sting to it when it comes from someone who is not black.
The “nappy” comment wasn’t an issue to Kandi or the road manager (at least not the way the scene was edited), but a lot of people would have probably had a different reaction to that situation.
Maybe you don’t mind when your friend from high school jokes about visiting a prison to find a black man to date, but coming from your white friend from an upper middle class family, that same joke just feels wrong.
Have any of your friends of different races/ethnicities/cultures ever unintentionally crossed the line with you? What did they say and how did you handle it?
Also, just out of curiosity, do you consider “nappy” to be a bad word?
by R. Asmerom
It’s no secret: the black hair care industry is big business. Very big business. According to marketing research company Mintel, sales of black hair care products in 2008 exceeded $165 million. Although a third of those sales went to corporate conglomerates like L’Oreal and Alberto Culver, who own many ethnic product lines from Soft-Sheen Carson to Mizani, there are still many independent African-American players in the hair product game. From old businesses like S-Curl manufacturer Luster Inc. to new product lines like Kimble Hair Care Systems, black entrepreneurs are thriving. Here, we included a list of 10 independently, black owned businesses that continue to fuel the ever-evolving market for black hair care products.
Miko and Titi Branch – Miss Jessie’s Original
Behind Miss Jessie’s hair products are founders Miko and Titi Branch. The sisters launched their company out of a Brooklyn brownstone and it’s been uphill ever since. Their unique blends of puddings and cremes are primarily targeted to those gals looking to enhance their curls and waves. These type of products were barely present on the market. The sisters realized this market opportunity by drawing from their challenges with their own hair and from their experiences with “hair recipes” learned from their paternal grandmother, Miss Jessie. The duo has wracked up many accolades for their savvy entrepreneurship and hair treatments. The sisters have also opened up a salon in New York city to cater to their curly haired fans.
Tags:Black Earth Products, black hair, Black hair entrepreneurs, black haircare, carols daughter, Deshawn Bullard, Dudley's, Dudley's Beauty, Fred Luster, jane carter, Jane Carter Solutions, Kim Ehteredge and Wendi Levy, Kimberly Kimble, Kimble Hair Care Systems, Lisa Price, Luster Products, Miko and Titi Branch, miss jessie's, mixed chicks, nappy hair, Nouritress, Smooth shine, Taliah Waajid, Tashni Ann-DuBroy, tea and honey blends, Tiffani Baily Lash, Ursula Dudley
Y’all remember the scene in School Daze. The Jiggaboos and the Wannabes run into each other in the hallway, which leads to a musical battle of wits. Dark vs. Light. Nappy vs. Straight. Assimilated vs. Rebellious. Strutting their stuff around the faux beauty salon, they called each other “pickaninny,” “Barbie Doll,” “high yella heffa,” “tar baby,” and “wannabe white.” Spike Lee not only grossed $14 million from the film, he enlightened a nation to the truth of colorism.
This moment happened 22 years ago…