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