All Articles Tagged "natural hair"
In a recent interview, Oscar-nominated actress Viola Davis said the public’s reaction to her natural hair had been “huge.”
“I think people admire the boldness of it, and the courage of it,” she told interviewer Kam Williams. “For me, personally, it represents my coming into who I am, not apologizing for it and being comfortable with the way I look. I have been amazed by the testimonies … especially from women of color who have thanked me for it.”
While I too commend Davis for going natural in Hollywood, it struck me as incredibly sad that wearing hair in its natural God-given, or universe-given, or whatever you believe in-given state, would be considered an act of bravery in our day and age, while having long, flowing tresses that were purchased at the beauty shop is the new norm.
It’s true that going natural has become more embraced over the years, but it still represents a rejection of cultural messaging that tells us that silky, straight, and smooth is the standard we should all aspire to. The backlash against natural hair in the corporate world has been well-documented, and the resistance has come from some unlikely sources as well; in 2012, for example, historically black college Hampton University banned MBA students from wearing cornrows and dreadlocks.
The connotations associated with natural hair are often negative and involve terms like “militant,” “wild” and “untamed” – sometimes perpetuated by people wearing natural hair themselves.
Meanwhile, relatives in other cities tell me that weaves and wigs are so common that black hair in its natural state often draws looks of shock and surprise, and it seems that every black female on Reality TV sports a weave that grows longer, fuller and more ridiculous with each episode – think Shay from Love and Hip Hop Atlanta. While reality TV is admittedly exaggerated and sensational, its physical portrayal of black women is troubling because it implies a standard of beauty that requires us to purchase our hair rather than grow it.
While I respect everyone’s decision to wear their hair as they wish, it’s disturbing to see that European standards of beauty have become so deeply engrained in our collective psyche that going natural is considered daring while sporting weaves and wigs is, in many circles, expected.
True, natural hair does not necessarily represent self-love, and wearing a weave is not necessarily a sign of self-loathing. There is no right or wrong choice when it comes to a hairstyle; it’s up to each individual to decide what works for them.
But when so many black women – especially those in the limelight — opt for a hairstyle that is as far removed from their natural state as possible, I have to wonder if they are making conscious decisions based on personal preference, or succumbing to societal pressure and conforming to “white is right” standards that border on cultural brainwashing. As Gen. George S. Patton once said, “If everybody’s thinking alike, somebody isn’t thinking.”
Viola Davis, like so many other black women who choose to embrace their natural beauty, is proof that rocking a natural ‘do can be fierce, fabulous and fun. And if she later chooses to forego the natural look because another style better suits her mood, more power to her. As black women, we have many choices available to us when it comes to hairstyles, and we should feel comfortable exploring them all. The fact that so many of us covet what is not ours and reject what is, while accepting our true selves seemingly requires boldness and courage, suggests that we are clinging to a value system that does not value us.
Do you think wearing natural hair requires courage? Sound off in the comments.
Rihanna’s Hairstylist, Ursula Stephens, Talks Rise To Fame: ‘I’m Not Just The African American Expert; I’m A Great Hairstylist’
Ursula Stephen, the genius behind Rihanna’s hair transformations talked to NYMag about her experience to the top. From growing up in Flatbush, Brooklyn to traveling around the globe, in her own words she’s honest about the journey and the stereotypes. “It’s just my job to correct people, so they know that I’m not just the African-American expert; I’m a great hairstylist.”
Read more at StyleBlazer.com
Audrey Kelley, writer of I’d Never Say This in Public and Audrey & Dre, is watching her star rise. Not only has this Second City product’s webisode been picked up for distribution, but her play, Supernatural, is coming to NY after a successful run in LA. MN talked to Audrey about capturing the individual hair stories of seven women in her new project, and about knowing how to care for her own *4C (adjective: tightly coiled) hair.
Zahra: First, congratulations on being a part of such a culturally relevant play. You sound so gracious, so excited. That’s great to hear. Supernatural features seven women who “confront” their hair using a series of monologues. How did these personas emerge?
Audrey: In the process of writing the play, we tried several different characters to see which way the story works best. There were six, but another person was added, which helps set up the story for people who aren’t aware of the African-American experience in this country.
Zahra: Yes, certain demographics require a bit of history. Tell me about the seventh persona.
Audrey: Dr. Jenkins is a sociologist who lays out how we got to the point of so many people perming their hair. She talks about our history in this country, and how the institution of slavery influenced where many people are today, mentally. She gives a timeline from slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, civil rights, to desegregation. She’s setting up the atmosphere in that we are in a nation that took everything from the black community and dehumanized us so that they would be comfortable having slaves.
Zahra: Whoa! I’m glad to hear that the play has genuine dialogue, that’s special. Isn’t this a matter of beauty standards?
Audrey: Yes. A part of dehumanizing us was characterizing everything that was black as ugly: bigger lips, darker skin. When slavery was over and the black community tried to assimilate, millions of people were set free to go figure it out in an atmosphere that wasn’t for them.
Zahra: I would describe what you’re saying as political, but that’s me. What’s your word? By the way, I was going to save the tough questions for the end. No need to warm you up, though.
Audrey: In the play, Dr. Jenkins does say that our image is tied up in politics when we wear our hair natural. Let me get the script. She says, “women who reject relaxers are really all political activists.” Unfortunately, our hair and our politics are intertwined. Historically, when women are trying to make a statement, they have done so with their hair.
Zahra: And today?
Audrey: Even though we are nowhere near where we should be in terms of being equal in America, we cannot deny that there has been progress. Women today who wear their natural hair are not seen as much as making a big statement. Women today probably won’t get fired from their jobs. So there is some progress in the American community on this topic, including whites and blacks.
Zahra: Thanks for saying that. I am thanking you for being a thinker, I suppose. I also think it’s cool that you have a background in comedy. Why did you want to direct a play that our modern-day vernacular might deem “conscious”?
Audrey: We are a writing and producing team, the three of us (including Candace Kelley and Gilda Rogers). I am the one bringing the theatrical background, the dramaturge. I’m collecting information from people, so this naturally falls in my lap. It’s my contribution.
Zahra: Kim Coles, a comedienne, is the lead. Are you trying to bring humor to a potentially sensitive topic?
Audrey: The character that Kim Coles plays is Keekee [sic], and she is our MC. Her character has her own hair company, and is based on Candace Kelley, whose natural hair products sell in Whole Foods. In the play, Keekee is doing a hair show in Brooklyn. Basically, she tells the story of women she meets at shows, and we are listening to these women testify.
Zahra: Testify, that’s a word I like better than “confront.” So is there are a thread to the black church?
Audrey: All of the characters tell their own story. One is a preacher’s wife. Through the Jewish woman’s story, you learn that she is a Black Jew. So many facets of the Diaspora are represented: mixed, lesbian, etc.
Kim Coles has had a successful career with various comedy tropes. In TV roles, she’s been sassy, aloof, and witty. At stand-up shows, her confidence in being herself and connecting with broad audiences is unparalleled. Since 2010, the Brooklyn native has worn her natural hair out, ditching the weaves we’ve seen her wear for years, and now she’s taking her talents off-broadway with a new project, Supernatural: The Play. In this interview with MN, Kim talked to us about the new venture, dubbed “The Vagina Monolouges about hair,” and explained why the black hair conversation is about unapologetic swag.
Zahra: I have to start by saying that you are the perfect choice to MC this play as KeeKee! A few years ago, I recall you on Dr. Drew’s show discussing natural hair. You were a model of poise and confidence. Describe the importance of being a part of this project and your role.
Kim: I met Candace (co-writer of the play) a while ago when I did a natural hair meetup. She told me about this play, and then I saw it when they brought it to LA. It is perfect for me. I play the narrator of a conversation with other women, giving them permission to explore. It’s not about telling someone they should be natural. It’s about exploring the conversation and the conversation around it.
Zahra: It’s a conversation within a conversation. You’re right.
Kim: It’s a good conversation that we’re having, accepting, embracing and celebrating what we have.
Zahra: We know you as a cast member on In Living Color and Living Single, and as a guest on Martin. Then, you had straight hair. Straight is pretty standard in terms of your business, show business.
Kim: It’s interesting. I didn’t think about that when I decided to make this change. I always marched to the beat of my own drum. You do have to look like what they want to cast, but I didn’t think about the ramifications because I wasn’t working that much. When you’re on a regular show there’s a look they want you to have and maintain. On a couple of casting calls, I had people look at me, and then my hair. They were thinking, “now, what are we going to do with this?” I sort of whispered, “don’t worry, I can wear a wig.” So I do me, and let them come to me.
Zahra: You have been very public about your natural hair love affair. Why? I mean your hair and face are all over your website, honey! Where does that confidence come from?
Kim: Maybe it’s the confidence of naïveté. I’m Kim Coles. I’m a personality. I shouldn’t have a website where I’m a shrinking violet. If you have the audacity to build a website, you should be living out loud. Right now, I’m shopping without makeup.
Zahra: Your candor is pretty hip. I believe that you were born in Brooklyn, and the play is set in Brooklyn where your character, KeeKee, is doing a hair show. Have you recently walked around Brooklyn to take in the vibe?
Kim: I haven’t done a hair meetup there yet, and I’m dying to do an event. You know people always ask me, “what’s so great about NY?” Here’s what’s so great about Brooklyn. You grow up around so many cultures and foods. I know how to say “hello” in three languages. It’s a real melting pot. Particularly, there’s such a strong Afro-Caribbean culture and they are very proud of their Africanness. I grew up around that. You can be unapologetically black and unapologetically whoever you are. There’s a swag, a natural, unapologetic swag there.
Zahra: Kim, Kim you’re awesome! I have lived in the area for five years now, and that’s the best way to describe why I’m sticking around. I mean some swag is manufactured, but when that’s the case, it’s not made in this part of the USA.
Kim: Yes, you can do you and no one blinks. You’re expected to be different.
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?
Solange Knowles and Tracee Ellis are two gorgeous women with one thing in common– Chuck Amos. The celebrity hairstylist is close to both ladies, having worked in the industry for years. Signed to Jump Management, he’s definitely the first person we thought about when looking for Coachella hair advice.
Let’s be honest, having natural curls is hard work and keeping them looking good during the summer months can be extra challenging. Amos has a few suggestions to maintain moisture, keep your color-treated hair bright and your weave tight.
Peep his advice below.
Avoid frizzing with cream and oils: “Cream to penetrate into the hair and give it its nutrients and moisture, and an oil that will lay on top and protect the hair from the harsh elements of the day.”
Check the other tips on StyleBlazer.com.
Mega beauty brand Carol’s Daughter is launching a “healthy hair” tour of HBCUs will kick off at Lincoln University on Monday, April 8. Hosted by Myleik Teele, the founder of CurlBOX, there will be a panel discussion and a “pledge” where attendees can swap their relaxer for Carol’s Daughter Transitioning 1-2-3 Kit. The tour will also visit the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Hampton University, Florida A&M University, and, ending on Friday, April 12, at Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University. Hair stylist Nikk Nelson and Ngozi from Heat Free Hair will be among the panelists.
According to the press release, the tour is focused on natural hair because black women have been increasingly focused on natural hair. “Despite the rapid decline of relaxer kit sales there is still no solution for women going through this incredibly stressful, frustrating and emotional time,” reads the press release. “Transitioning isn’t just a process of changing your hair, it’s a transformation that affects the way you see yourself and the way others see you.”
Details about the tour are available in the brochure below and on the Carol’s Daughter Facebook page. (Note, SixOne7Creative are the organizers for the event if you’d like to attend.)
Earlier this week, popular fashion commentator and Creative Ambassador for Barneys New York, Simon Doonan penned a rather interesting article for Slate.com, where he recounted the extensive research that he’d done on actress Pam Grier in preparation for an upcoming interview with the 63-year-old beauty. In the article titled, “Pam Grier’s Afro: Let’s Bring It Back,” Doonan goes on to praise the actress for the big, fluffy tresses she rocked back in the day. While Simon’s admiration of the ‘fro seems harmless, there’s something rather ironic about him urging people to “bring back the afro,” meanwhile the ‘fro never really went anywhere, not to mention the natural hair revolution that has been sweeping the nation for years now.
“The afro had it all: It was natural, symbolic, regal, unisex, and glamorous. Liberated from the costly and time-consuming burden of trying to make their hair resemble that of white folk, black chicks—and dudes—had found the perfect marriage of style and practicality. And yet … styles change, and fashion evolves, and the afro has—with the exception of occasional retro-hipster sighting on Broadway below Eighth Street—become as rare as a dodo,” Doonan wrote.
His commentary left many people with raised eyebrows, asking themselves, “Where the hell has this guy been?”
“It is impossible to imagine Beyoncé or Kerry Washington or Michelle Obama rocking a Pam Grier afro today (though Beyoncé paid a retro-camp tribute to the style in the 2002 Austin Powers movie). The alternatives—$2,000 weaves, time-consuming blowouts, and scalp-searing chemical processing—seem infinitely less desirable, and yet, African-Americans have largely turned their backs on the freaky ’fro. But what does this honky know?”
“Thanks to the current unpopularity of the afro, afro picks can be purchased at rock-bottom prices [...]The revolution is coming, and it will be YouTubed. So get your pick now and start practicing,” Doonan goes on to say.
I know what you’re probably thinking and others share your sentiments. Jezebel’s Dodai Stewart quickly pointed out that Doonan resides in New York City where there is a large population of people embracing their natural locs.
“Doonan lives in New York, where a veritable ton of people are embracing natural hair, be it a TWA (teeny weeny afro) or a larger, fluffy ‘fro. From Harlem to Clinton Hill and Fort Greene and beyond, natural hair is all over this town,” Stewart notes.
The Root’s Akoto Ofori-Atta also had a few words for Dooan and his commentary.
So far, Simon has yet to respond to the interesting reactions that his “bring back the afro” campaign stirred up.
Sistahs who rock naturals are just as easy, breezy, and beautiful as the models on CoverGirl commercials. Why, you may ask? It’s because they realized the beauty of the hair that sprouts from their scalp. Strands that for no reason have been persecuted by chemical relaxers, whipping them into straight submission. No more! Tresses are breaking the cycle of chains, free to be kinky, curly, plain-ol’-me coils. Listen in on some reasons to rock your natural and free yourself once and for all.
Are you a part of the naturalista club? It can sometimes be a frustrating journey to maintain the mane, but it yields a carefree life (once you get the hang of things) full of natural beauty. You will come to find out there are so many hairstyles to try that instantly turn you into a glam diva, rocker ,or the everyday girl. While some of these do’s are awesome for a night out, the question will soon arise, “What is appropriate for the office?” No one expects you to conform to the image of corporate America, BUT it’s still very important to maintain a well-groomed appearance.
Face it – there will more than likely be whispers about your hair – that’s a given. So silence the haters and the uneducated with these nine natural hairstyles perfect for the office. As a bonus, there are links to video tutorials for you to try out the look.