All Articles Tagged "natural hair"
By: Pamela E. Williams
“I can’t be black, fat, and bald-headed.”
This comment was part of a discussion that involved having natural hair and being plus-size. As the words came out of my coworker’s mouth, I had no judgment, but wondered just how many Black plus-size women who are natural feel this way. Even people I admire in the blogosphere who celebrate their own curves — and those of of others — struggle with having short natural hair on a full-figured body. CeCe Olisa of the Plus Size Princess blog once wrote “While, I’m super happy with how they (SistaLocks) turned out, I was surprised that having “short hair” made me feel more vulnerable about my weight. In the past I’ve always added the hair I wanted for my ideal length with braids, weaves, etc. but I never thought about hair as part of my body image until I started rocking my natural hair at its current length.”
And yet CeCe and my friend aren’t the only ones. Being plus-size with short natural hair was something I thought I had resolved, but if I’m truthful with myself it is still a struggle. The quest for bigger, longer hair is a constant for many. Short natural hair on a big girl is not often seen as the ideal of beauty. Look at any fashion/lifestyle magazine and I bet you’ll find at least one that contains an article detailing the aesthetic desires a man has in a woman and I’ll wager again that on said list there will be some reference to long flowing, straight (read: European) hair. I probably don’t need to remind you of the husband who hated his wife’s natural hair who appeared on the Steve Harvey Show. It is no secret that the African American culture has embraced the Westernized standard of beauty, including many of our men.
As a Breast Cancer survivor, I ditched the relaxer in favor of my health and embracing my natural hair as it grew back after chemotherapy. My only problem is that it is taking its own sweet time to grow. In the meantime, I watch as thinner black women rock the short natural styles with ease. Lupita Nyong’o can do no wrong with her hair. Things are not all hopeless, as I have examples of full-figured divas such as Chrisette Michele doing the big chop and Jill Scott as she rocked her TWA on the cover of Essence, but I am sometimes a little self-conscious when I wear my own kinky 4c TWA.
The thought that short natural hair can make a woman appear less than attractive and, dare I say it, less than feminine has presented itself on more than one occasion. I had a little over an inch of hair when I was hit on by a lady at the gas station when I went out with my sister to run some errands and didn’t put on any make-up or my signature statement earrings. After politely letting the lady know that I wasn’t available or interested, she finished pumping her gas said goodbye. My sister laughed until she cried and then questioned flatly if I would now “perm” my short kinky curls. It hurt my feelings at the time, but I realized that this is what many go through.
We are told, or have somehow gotten the impression, that TWAs and other short natural styles will not look good on our plus-size bodies; that they will make us look bigger, or, to some, like a lesbian. If the self-esteem plummets, one may consider grabbing a box of Dark and Lovely, a wig, or some weave, often times to cover those insecurities about our weight. So where did the myth that big girls can’t rock short natural hair styles come from? Felicia Leatherwood, Celebrity Natural Hair Stylist, Educator & Expert believes that this mindset is cultural. In my conversation with Felicia, she said a person can only know what they have been introduced to.
“In America, many in the African American culture are focused on outer beauty. When I travel to Africa all the young girls have short hair like mine. They cut it off there because in some parts of the continent, they don’t want the girls to be focused on beauty, but on education. Here in America we are constantly fed certain images and told that is healthy. I mean you can clearly see their bones and ribs coming through their skin. In Africa the focus is on the inside. When you know what is beautiful about your insides, it creates a confidence that is unmatched. If all the black women who were curvy and considered to be overweight by doctors standards were all confident and just doing themselves that would infiltrate everything else…including their hair and the world would see that. If it was taught at a young age and preached and confirmed, it would become a lifestyle for Black women and our girls of color would grow up differently. Their body imaging would be so different.”
Felicia noted she starts any consultation with her clients by addressing the conversations in their head, where they originate, and why they feel the need to still hold on to those negative conversations. When considering going natural at any size Felicia gives the following advice:
- Locate three photos online that you find attractive; that raise your vibration and take them to a stylist who sees your beauty, gets it, and can break it down. Meaning the hairstylist will say “yeah, this will work. This can definitely happen. I can hook this up, add a little color…” You want somebody that’s going to support your vision of yourself and someone who is going to be honest. So get your photos and get consultations with some of the best hair stylists you can find that you feel can basically execute that look.
- The next step is really up to you. You have to feel magnificent when you look in the mirror. Recite positive affirmations daily. Just like Mary Jane in “Being Mary Jane” — there were Post-it notes all over to keep her pumped –we have to do that.
There is too much chatter from the outside world about how a person looks and you have to go within. If you truly want to be natural, you have one life. You choose what you want, you be that, and be confident in it. I’ve decided to do just that.
I am sick of talking about Black hair because there is nothing you can say that I haven’t heard before. All the main topics for discussion have been analyzed, scrutinized and summarized in endless ways; and quite frankly, I am appalled at the idea that we need to be mercilessly reminded that “natural hair” is a problem that not only needs solving, but won’t ever go away. Or that relaxed hair is so damn fragile that any unnecessary procedure is a risk you don’t want to take. And of course now that we have embraced the era of keratin treatments, all bets are off.
Going to the gym for the week? Be sure to check in with your trusty hair blogger(s), so that you ensure that your relaxed mane won’t suffer the consequences that will surely stem from your arduous workout. How many times have you stumbled upon articles that repeatedly emulate ways to manage your unruly tresses or offer pages filled with products that they swear will end your dry spell? Aren’t you tired of being invited to Hair Blogger events, meetups and seminars? Every time you think you have mastered a regimen that converts your Z pattern hair to a C pattern (if that’s even possible), someone else demonstrates on YouTube, that they have a much better and faster alternative. We are going around in circles and wearing ourselves out in the process.
No matter how many times the debate surrounding natural vs. relaxed, texturizing vs. retexurizing, etc, are tackled, the level of interest never ceases to amaze me. Those pieces typically skyrocket in the comment section of every blog. The conversations are identical to the ones from the previous week and the week before that. But somehow, there is that possibility that someone may have found a cure to our never-ending nightmare. So we continue to indulge and give the growing number of hair bloggers something to do. We are desperately hoping that through extensive research and sheer determination, they will stumble upon the product that will in fact transform our stubborn accessory into the shiny, soft, easy to pamper version that unfortunately most of us were not genetically blessed with.
Believe me, I feel your pain. I am not sure what pattern I am currently sporting, but I can confidently say that it isn’t the most sought after category. I have never been told that I have “bad hair” but the sympathetic glances I received back in the day when I used to faithfully visit hair salons was all the proof I needed. And the stylists would jokingly vocalize how my hair needed special attention because of its coarse nature. I bought into that nonsense until I realized how much money I was spending on mandated conditioning treatments and steaming sessions. We are coerced into believing that our hair can’t survive or we can’t look like decent human beings unless we empty our bank account and get a loan. Or better yet, do a little extra work in the bedroom so that your boo can pay for the new look we have planned for the fall.
But just because I understand the complexity that comes with having Black hair doesn’t mean I need to be bombarded with the same tired solutions every freakin day. It also doesn’t mean that we need to hear the same testimonies that breed the exact same results and inspire identical reactions. ‘The Big Chop” was somewhat inspiring when the “natural hair movement” became this instant phenomenon, but aren’t we over it yet? How many times are we supposed to cheer for women who finally decide to be brave enough to sport their unaltered texture? The story about women who after disastrous hair appointments are forced to “go natural,” and then pleasantly discover how much they love embracing their roots is so played out it’s pathetic. Tell it someone who actually cares! Oh, but wait, that’s the problem. So many of you do care, and I don’t understand why.
I am aware that Black women are not the only ones who try find ways to battle the elements in order to ensure that our crowning glory is intact. But we are the only ones who have turned our battle into a global enterprise. All we talk about is hair. All we think about hair. We can’t get enough of it because we are obsessed. Click on any site that caters to Black women and the main page is almost always littered with hair topics – some of them new postings, some recycled or restructured. It’s a dizzying ride to nowhere. Nobody is going to do a better job caring for your hair than you. You have all the answers and only you can convince yourself that, despite all its shortcomings, your hair isn’t as intimidating as you have been made to believe. So give yourself a break and just deal with it, and give us all a break while you’re at it.
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.
“To Me, My Natural Hair Is Professional”: Navy Discharges Black Sailor Over Her Dreadlocks Despite Recent Changes In Hair Regulations
After 12 years of service in the Navy, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Jessica Sims was dismissed late last week because of her hair.
According to USA Today, Sims told the Navy Times that she had been wearing her locs in a tightly wound bun since 2005 and didn’t receive any pushback until recently. Officials decided that Sims’ locs were against regulation, as they believed the style would be too bulky to be worn with a gas mask.
The spokesman for the Chief of Naval Personnel, Lt. Cmdr. Chris Servello, stated that Sims was being honorably discharged for disobeying a lawful order, and that she was ordered earlier in the year to fix her hair and get it within regulation soon after she reported to training command in Illinois in April.
The 32-year-old said that at previous camps that she worked at, including seven years of instruction at the Naval Medicine Training Support Center in Texas (and in Virginia and North Carolina), her hair wasn’t a problem. With that in mind, she decided to keep her hair as is. She said that because her hair was in a bun (and not the “widely spaced hanging locks” that are prohibited), and she didn’t have trouble wearing gas masks or helmets with her locs, she told the Navy Times that she didn’t think the regulations were reasonable.
“I don’t think I should be told that I have to straighten my hair in order to be within what they think the regulations are, and I don’t think I should have to cover it up with a wig.”
She claims the options she was given included shaving off her locs or covering them up with a wig.
“To me, my natural hair is professional. It’s all how you keep yourself up. I could just have a regular bun and not take care of that and it could look unprofessional.
I am happy that I took the stand that I did. I still stand by it. I would do it again if I had to.”
Sims isn’t letting her discharge get her down. In fact, she is set to start pre-med classes at Loyola University in Chicago this week, studying biology.
All this comes after the Department of Defense announced that locs, braids, cornrows and other natural hairstyles would be more accepted after a review or regulations.
However, the changes in the rules and regulations put in place by the Department of Defense in terms of the Navy didn’t really eliminate size and spacing requirements like the major overhaul done for the Army, aside from saying, “two-strand twist and multiple braids may hang freely if above the collar and must encompass the whole head.”
With all the regulations still put on natural hair in the armed forces, Sims said she isn’t the first, and won’t be the last to stand firmly against them:
“I won’t be the last one standing up fighting for this issue. I have faith in our junior sailors because they are the future of our Navy, and the majority of them were supporting the right thing. “
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.
You’re at peace with your natural hair—finally! You’ve got a few go-to styles and styling products that make your curls and coils swing and shine. But therein lies the problem: your curls AND coils. Though you’ve got a routine that works, you’re still not sure of how to handle the multiple textures and curl patterns you’ve got happening at any given moment atop your head. No worries. Here are five ideas to help marry your hair textures and make styling it less complicated.
Choose a Tool
Taming your hair’s split personality is as easy as choosing the proper tool. A Denman brush, when used properly, creates a smooth, uniform curl in areas that lack definition in the curl pattern, or with hair that has dueling textures. When using a Denman brush, thoroughly detangle the hair and use a conditioner with lots of slip. Brush sections of the hair instead of swiping through your hair in one pass in order to reduce breakage and prevent your newly perfect curls from looking like a shrunken helmet. Squeeze out excess water to avoid disturbing the curl. Another “tool” you can use to get a more uniform curl is your finger. Take small sections—about two inches or less in width—and twist the hair around your index finger to create a more seamless texture at the ends of your hair. Although it won’t be as uniform as using a Denman brush, this is a good option too
Parting your hair on your ‘best side’ is an easy solution for mismatched textures. A braided or twisted bang area is perfect for your bangs if they are more fine and straight and come off as droopy. And if you’re feeling vintage, victory rolls are perfect for when your problem area is above the ears. The secret here is to make sure you’ve got the basics with you when you’re on the go: a few hairpins, bobby pins, a ponytail holder and a small container filled with your favorite conditioner. Most if not all of these things can fit in an old breath mint tin.
Diffuse and Dry
Use your blow dryer with a diffuser to speed the drying time on areas that tend to droop. For areas on your head that tend to shrink, using the blow dryer with or without the diffuser to elongate hair at the root is a quick fix—especially if you’ve got differing hair textures on either side of your head. If you’re getting ready for a night out and have 15 minutes to spend under the a hooded dryer, do what I call a ‘soft braid out.’ Braid your hair while wet and sit under a hooded dryer for 15 minutes (or wrap in a T-shirt if you’re air drying while doing your makeup). Then, as a last step before leaving your house, undo the braids. Your hair will be damp, but the impression from the braids merges your textures together.
Mix and Match Styling Products
When dealing with multiple textures on one head, you’ve likely tried styling products that worked awesome on one area of your hair, yet were ‘meh’ when it came to the other parts. Pull out some of those product fails and try using the heavier ones on areas that are coiled tightly and that tend to shrink, while using the lighter products on areas that tend to droop or wave. If you’ve got a traditionally stubborn kitchen, try using a conditioning gel or edge control gel on those areas to keep them smooth and similarly textured.
The Tried and True Method
When in doubt, or if you just don’t have the patience to try something new on a Sunday night because you know you won’t have the energy (or the caffeine!) to deal with a mishap on Monday morning, go with a braid out or twist out using your favorite curling cream, setting lotion or frizz control product. You’ve heard this one over and over again. It’s always mentioned as a solution because it’s easy and it usually works well. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?
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
“Pick Up A Book, Educate Yourself”: Tia Mowry-Hardrict Slams People Talking Rudely About Her Son Cree And His Hair
Tia Mowry-Hardrict posted some beautiful images on her Instagram account the other day of herself and son Cree spending time together, and in the pictures, the boy is snapped with a topknot and a small bun at the back of his head. Cree has always had a big head full of curly hair, so to keep it tamed for their outing, she tried a new style. However, people who follow her page weren’t too fond of the hairstyle, saying that it wasn’t appropriate for a little boy, but instead, a girl. The debate went on for a while, and the Instant Mom star decided to respond with a whole new post:
This isn’t the first time that she has had to get with people for their comments about her son. She did so in 2012 when individuals online criticized the then-1-year-old’s looks:
“I really don’t understand why people feel the need to belittle a child, someone who doesn’t even have a voice yet to express themselves. I just think it’s disgusting—disgusting that we live in a society that focuses on looks.”
Angela Walker said her “Naturalista Hair Showcase and Competition” will return this year with the power to “influence the modern naturalista.”
Walker, owner of N Natural Hair Studio, in Maryland, will hold her second annual natural hair care show from Saturday, Aug. 2 to Sunday, Aug. 3, at the Double Tree Hotel in Silver Springs, MD.
The event will feature workshops and panels lead by Camille Robbins-Reed, Charmaine Ford and Shawne Morgan. Vendors like Keilove Botanica, San Jules, Black Crown and Bougie Babe Designs will also be on hand. With her 2013 show a success, the salon owner hopes to exceed expectations and provide a new platform for natural hair care education.
“This is the first and only hair show that I know of that will have hands-on classes that are filled with curly hair mannequins, where stylists are physically showing attendees how to do different styling techniques that attendees can then create right there on the mannequin,” Walker said. “We need to deliver quality education aside from product usage so that people understand they don’t need to be a product junkie to maintain and style their hair.”
Walker is expecting around 2,000 attendees for the two-day period and hopes to reach as many people as she can. One tool to broaden awareness about the natural hair movement will be a “Social Media Lounge,” where attendees can take pictures and live tweet about the event, as well as mix and mingle with instructors and panelists. She said the more people that learn about her hair show can learn about how to keep and maintain natural hair that works for them.
“Natural hair shows are so important in relaying the message that choosing to keep your hair natural is organic and beautiful. I want to perpetuate that, keep that thought process going,” Walker said. “So my thing is that people are walking around thinking that there is only one way to wear their natural hair but if they know how to style it, they won’t be so quick to quit or give up on natural hair care.”
Walker has high hopes for this year’s show and can see a bright future for the natural hair care industry.
“When you start to see the big name companies that have been selling and promoting relaxers switch over their marketing and language then you know you have power. It means that natural hair is becoming so popular that they have to take notice and can no longer ignore that industry,” Walker said. “We now see new product lines embracing natural texture – and it’s not a flippant decision. It means they are understanding the sustainability of our industry.”
But what is even more important to Walker is that wearing hair natural is connected to the well-being of overall mental and physical health.
“I don’t believe that Black women should be wearing our hair straight – I mean it’s cool if someone chooses that – but it just isn’t how our hair grows. Why should we alter the texture of hair that is so beautiful?” she said “With more people going natural, it is creating a community where children are seeing their mom wearing natural hair and they are growing up and wearing their hair natural and it is turning hair back into something it always should have been.”