29tolife

Just another WordPress.com site

Archive for the tag “natural hair”

Wedding Guest-Turned Natural Bridal Hairstylist I’m Freaking Out, Here

For most women, our wedding day seems to be elevated in our mind’s eye as the happiest day of our lives, and the magical day where for 24 hours, we are our most beautiful in our entire lifetime. And it’s usually photographed. We slay. All day. This is non-negotiable.

A beautiful friend of mine is getting married in the coming months and while attending her bridal shower a few weeks ago, she approached me about discussing natural hairstyles for her destination wedding.

Originally, I thought this was a simple conversation and that she already had a stylist in mind, but just wanted other opinions from a fellow natural. So I pulled out my phone and pointed her to amazing sites like Munaluchi Bride. (Their site is gorge, I’m just browsing. No man, but just browsing.)

This is not a drill folks. Here's the style we are attempting.

This is not a drill folks. Here’s the style we are attempting. (Photo credit. My Natural Sistas)

What I didn’t realize was, I was getting set up. The bride’s mother-in-law to be complimented me on my hair and managed to tell the bride not to worry because she would be there to help and so would I. I as in me, the author.

Me the author who experiments on her own head, but rarely ever attempts to work on others because, well, I’m not a professional and I don’t want to be responsible for jacking up anyone’s hair on a regular day.

But in this case, I’m being drafted to work wonders on a nervous bride who wants to enjoy the sun, sand and watersports all week, doesn’t like weaves, and doesn’t want to wear braids (which is understandable, because it’s usually associated with vacation styles). I’ve seen elegant braids, but I get it.

So, I took a deep breath and told my friend that I would help. But we’d have to be strategic. There were a variety of unknowns: The humidity in Mexico, wedding nerves and a high pressure situation.

We needed to select a hairstyle that could be done that day, that was sleek and could hold up to the elements, but allow my friend to have the freedom to enjoy the resort like her guests, and not have to sleep in some awkward position during the night so her impeccable style would “keep.”

We scoured pinterest boards and swapped ideas for twists and buns and styles where faux kanankalon ponytails could easily be added and then removed.

Then I devised a plan where she’d come by my house and we run through the process to see how long it would take to work on her hair, what products we liked and if the ideas we saw on pinterest were completely unrealistic.

She stopped by last Saturday and we were all set to go. I was extremely nervous and I told her that I was and that she really had to be honest with me about whether or not she liked her hair and not to think about the work or the time involved. We want to be able to get it right and make the process smooth for the day of which will already be stressful. So she agreed. And she had a good laugh at my whiteboard that outlined our game plan and our challenges.

I work in project management. I think these things out.

So off to work we went, she shampooed and conditioned her hair and agreed that she could do that in the shower the day of.

Section by section, I took the blow dryer and pulled each section taught to perform the tension method to stretch her very coily hair, that’s quite similar to mine in texture. As we went along, I realized my friend had crazy shrinkage and soon her hair was reaching her shoulders as I worked.

To cut down on the inevitable frizzing I twisted each freshly dried section and added some oil.

We played old 90s music and talked about the wedding, my dating life and other things. It made me miss the old days of spending entire Saturday’s at the salon with my mother and my sister growing up. There is a kinship between women when we go through our lengthy beauty rituals and share them, especially around special moments like getting married, Easter Sunday, graduations and proms. There is an essence of black girl magic.

As I worked through each section, my confidence would build. I’d be less timid working around her head pulling her head closer to me so I can get a better look or angle or be able to part the hair just right.

I’d compliment how strong and healthy her hair is, and how incredible her shrinkage was hiding so much length and thickness. I think that made her feel better too.

We looked at the hair adornments she brought with her and ones she was interested in online.

And after two hours of blow drying and one hour of styling, slicking hairs down and adding some hair to the bun for high drama, I told the bride it was time to take a look.

During our first attempt, she found using two ponytails was too much hair and too much high drama. So we tweaked it.

Her face was very still.

I was very nervous.

We looked at the YouTube video two more times.

I put on the finishing touches and we went to the mirror. I advised her to stand with her back to the bathroom mirror and hold the hand mirror out in front of her to see our handiwork.

And finally, a slow smile. It felt super slow.

Still nervous, I reminded her she could say she didn’t like it if she really didn’t. And that I wouldn’t be offended and to speak now so we can make adjustments (like find another stylist, a professional. A non-me stylist. Lol). And she said that she did like it.

It appeared as if she was imagining the makeup and the dress. Then, we added one of the hair adornments, and her smile became broader.

She was seeing it come together.

And so was I.

Seeing her relax boosted my confidence and I exhaled.

We clocked in officially at 3 hours. And discussed her schedule on the wedding morning that involves her time for makeup with the resort salon and the best time for us to start her hair and get her to the altar on time. We made mental notes of all of our favorite hair tools and products. I warned that for the liquids, she go ahead and pack it with checked luggage.

And now we have a happy, natural bride with one less worry, thanks to the trial run.

But we still have a very frightened, wedding guest-turned amateur natural bridal hairstylist.

Wish me luck y’all.

And speaking of the beautiful connection between friends doing hairs. Check out this video of Lupita Nyong’o explaining how she used to braid her friends’ hair in college.

 

“Naturally” Supportive????

Hmmmm I feel stuck, blog family.

I really do.

My work rival/bully was in the office today, and I don’t speak to her much. But every now and then, I will pop in to check on her and ask how she’s doing.

She’s been attempting to go natural (and I’ve joked that once again she’s copied me). Some days have been more successful than others. Ok, most days haven’t been successful.

Because hair is a sticky subject for black women, especially those doing the natural thing, I haven’t commented on her hair. Because trust me, I’ve had my fair share of moments where I felt downright ugly.

The truth is I do think her natural look, while she is still trying to figure out what works for her, is probably an improvement from her relaxed hair that had no life, no movement and straw-like. But I was taught early on, if you don’t have nothing nice to say, or you don’t know what to say, shut up.

So I popped my head in the office, and I mentioned my latest product obsession. I really like it a lot. And I wanted to share it with her.

Then it happened. She said no one mentioned her hair save for a very kind, chatty, liberal white woman (who once lived in Africa with the Peace Corps). She said even me not giving her a compliment caused her to feel like her efforts were in vain. She even said she felt invisible. When she mentioned to our co-worker that no one complimented her hair, she did what most nice people try to do.

They were in the break room and two other co-workers came in. Kind, chatty, liberal oohed and awwed over homegirl’s hair and asked the other women, don’t you like it? Welp, as sister girl told me her story, she said she knew the other women didn’t like it and to avoid further embarrassment of seeing the looks on their faces, she purposely opened a cupboard to not look at them.

This broke my heart.

Keep in mind I was recently invigorated by watching an amazing discussion featuring Melissa Harris Perry and acclaimed pioneer in black feminism bell hooks. And they talked about black women, and our esteem and our bodies and shaming and fighting negative images and stereotypes of ourselves and I was cosigning and nearly in tears at how profound they were, and another sister was hoping I’d step in and lift her up.

We’ve had beef though. So more often than not, I don’t see her as a sister in the collective sense, because there have been times she’s stepped on me and seemed to take delight in my discomfort and set backs.

So this dysfunctional relationship that we have continues to challenge me spiritually.

She said she supported me, she complimented me, so it hurt that I said nothing.

I had no real response for her.

So I said, “well how do you feel about your hair?” “Do you like it?” “Is this journey worth it for you?”

Yup. I deflected.

I told her that there were plenty of times I woke up in the morning and thought I was ugly. I had my own parents look at me sideways with disapproval the first time I came home. But I had to keep working with and on my hair.

It became a new thing I had to study. I’m still learning what products will or won’t do.

She’s just started and she’s going through what thousands and thousands of black women are going through and in the earlier stages, after you’ve big chopped and your hair is really short, YOU GO THROUGH IT. Especially if you hadn’t worn your hair short before. It’s a shock to the system.

As for the other work people. There are only four black women in our office.

The white people at my job are smart people, and while they’ve had a number of cultural snafus in the past, they knew damn well to steer clear of our hair. They leave it alone. Honestly, the same sweet, kind, liberal lady was the one to compliment me on my hair when I changed it. No one else said anything to me either. But she understood the context, and she understood what it meant for me to do what I did, she’s quite aware.

It still broke my heart. My newly natural co-worker apparently needed my support and in my silence, I dropped the ball. There was no point in giving her a compliment now. So I didn’t.

I’m really not sure what to do at this point. She also mentioned that her boss told her she needed to be “nicer” and say “please” and “thank you” more.

The truth of the matter is, the boss was kind of on point with that. She has always had a smug kind of attitude, that didn’t sit well with most people.

So, there are self-esteem issues galore. Which I get as a fellow black woman. But at the same time, as a human being, an individual, you dish out funky you get funky. You funky on the inside, it radiates on the outside. People can’t see your true beauty if you don’t give up something and make yourself vulnerable.

I don’t agree with being fake either or overdoing it on the nice.

And sometimes I wonder what kind of vibe I put off at work and I try to be conscious about that. I do speak to people, say good morning, give compliments when it’s warranted and offer to help people out when I can. But, I know that my conversations only go so far because aside from the race, I’m a different age than most of these people, I’m single and I’m childless. I just don’t have the same interests.

So I’m stuck yall. Should I have bent over backwards to show my approval of my co-worker’s natural journey because I also went natural? Or am I right in the belief that choosing to go natural is a very personal and intimate thing, but it tends to affect the way others look at you and the way you look at yourself. It’s scary. It is raw.

But I’ve found, the more comfortable I got with my hair and the more confident, people started seeing other features of mine more clearly. I felt really, really honest and I noticed, that I felt other people and their reactions to me were really, really honest, positive or negative and I accepted those things.

I don’t suggest drastic changes to your hair if you don’t have a solid foundation of self-esteem anyway. Because it takes a long time for your hair to grow back or change color.

So, maybe my co-workers reactions and feelings of isolation reflect something deeper and reflect a truth about how she deals with the world and it doesn’t feel good. I sympathize with her. But basically saying I had a responsiblity to compliment her because she did it for me, ergo, because we are both black women in a workplace of so many white folks, it kind of had me stunned. But she said it.

He final words before heading to a meeting, she said she just didn’t even know if all the twisting and untwisting was worth it, and that she struggles because she’s raising two little girls and she wants them to feel that their hair is beautiful.

But if she’s walking around miserable, and expecting other people to say she’s pretty, hair isn’t the only thing her girls have to worry about learning from her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good Hair Days Make Me Feel Like…

I love GIFs.

When people use them properly, they bring massive joy to my life.

Today, I would like to attempt compiling a few GIFs to express how I feel when I successfully did a two-strand flat twist out on my hair. Two-strand flat twist out sounds like something Gabby Douglas would do at the Olympics in the women’s gymnastics all around and scare us all because of the difficulty and danger of the routine.

Gabby Douglas's All-Around Gymnastics Gold In GIFs

I feel especially wonderful that my hair came out great, because it was a technique I never tried, and won’t take insane amounts of time, especially once I’ve mastered it.

I’ve been at work like this most of the day, because I know I’m fine (sans shades).

When I walk, I feel like this…

I look in the mirror and say…

thats good thats damn good

Oh lawd, where is his hairline? Just noticed. I’ma go do his hair too.

Whoo hoo for happy hair days!!!! It’s really a big deal.

 

Monday Morning Confessions

It’s not a juicy as you think.

But here we go. There’s loads on my mind.

I’m still reeling from the reunion I had with my ex last weekend, and noticing his increasing reluctance to have the post weekend “talk” about our feelings and where we are with everything.

He’s dragging his feet.

Confession. So am I. I’m not sure how any of this is supposed to work out. No matter what road is taken, I feel like it’s going to be an emotional challenge that I’m not quite prepared for.

I still don’t regret the weekend or how it went or what happened. I feel like it was necessary for us to either move on with or without each other going forward.

The second thing I’m struggling with is I took out my fabulous braids. Well it was time. But I kind of realized that being a natural hair girl, having those long braids and minimal upkeep gave me a lot of time to sleep in longer and it gave me a real confidence boost. I really liked how I looked in them and now, I’m kind of having to readjust to my own hair.

I’m even thinking what used to be the unthinkable… getting a weave.

Taking the braids out and having to face my own thick, tightly coiled hair again, reminded me of the daily work I had to do to affirm myself and my own beauty. Sometimes, I really dig the fluff. It makes me seem artsy and confident in my own skin, but I had no idea that taking the braids out was going to have such a psychological effect on me. As I stood in my bathroom mirror trying to decide if I felt like sitting under my dryer for an hour, or just slapping gel in it to make a bun, I suddenly felt overwhelmed, tired and unpretty.

I can’t go to work like this by Monday…

No, my hair wasn’t straight in the braids, but it was long. And easy.

I was getting more attention from men. And, super big confession, I was actually happy my ex got to see me in all of my Poetic Justice glory and not with my fro. He doesn’t like natural hair and has said so in the past and said it’s difficult to imagine me with it. So I felt like when he saw me, I was at my best. I had enough to worry about and thank God it wasn’t my hair.

So has this reunion made me shrink back into an insecure person wanting validation?

Has the ending of my braid hairstyle made me regress back to the days of wanting my hair to flow in the wind?

Not necessarily. But it all has been making me think about the way I see myself. First of all, some might say, if the braids make you feel good, then just keep redoing them. That was a thought that crossed my mind. I mean what is 7 hours every other month?

Then I thought about going to the Dominican salons and getting blow outs from time to time.

Then I thought about the weave.

Really not sure what to do next about all of these feelings surrounding my hair, or my ex.

A Tale of Two Photos

The formal season is in high gear in the D.C. area and it’s just about to heat up with the second inauguration of President Barack Obama is just around the corner.

Get your tickets while they are still around $100, because you are about to pay way out the butt if you wait any longer.

Anyway, the point of this post is to address something that was really bothering me.

In one week, I’ve been to two formal events and I posted a few quick pictures on Facebook to show off my fabulousness.

Well, in the first photo, from New Year’s eve, where my hair is slicked down and I’m wearing  an exaggerated bun, I got so many positive responses from all sorts of people.

It made me feel really great about myself.

Then, I posted a couple of pics with my hair in it’s kinky, curly state with a fab dress and great make up, and only a small handful of people responded with the lovely compliments and with such enthusiasm.

It hurt.

I had purposely posted the pics from this second formal to see people’s reactions to the “natural” hair style would be similar to the previous formal. I had a feeling folks wouldn’t be as into it, but I posted it in hopes that I would be wrong.

I wasn’t.

It upset me that people weren’t seeing what I had started seeing in myself. I really liked my hair that night, I really thought that I looked pretty. I thought I looked awesome in both photos. Soooo…

Why wasn’t everyone else jumping on board?

I was really bothered.

I talked to a friend about it and she reminded me that my going natural was still fairly new and so even after two more trips home, my family and friends were finally getting used to it, so expecting people on Facebook who never see me to accept it too, is a stretch. I didn’t think about it that way, but it still upset me. Like what is it about hair? What is it?

I mean, according to public opinion, it seems I am more attractive with less, big, poufy hair. Even when I’ve posted other photos with my new hair, I’ve been getting crickets in terms of responses.

I’m tempted to do a study or something where women wear wigs and weaves, post pics on Facebook, then the same women take off the wigs and weaves and wear their natural hair.

I’ve been wondering if I’ve been subliminally telling myself that natural hair is gorgeous because I’ve been watching videos like mad, and looking at pinterest, and I’ve been seeing women wear their hair all kinds of ways and I just think they are so beautiful.

So is it me? Am I crazy? Am I delusional? I think I look great. I’m proud of myself for accepting my new hair and seeing the beauty in it. Do I really have to wait for folks to catch up and see it too?

Bonus Post: Soul Sista Number X

Tina Phillips/freedigitalphotos.net

I’ve come to an interesting conclusion about myself.

For years, and years, I have been drawn to eclectic things, different kinds of music, poetry and art.

And if I went to things that were particularly Afro-centric, especially in the D.C. and Baltimore area, I would be among a handful of black women there with relaxed hair.

Sometimes, I felt like people would look at me like, “why is she here? She’s too mainstream, she’s too assimilated.”

And while all of these “cultural, artsy” things should not be exclusively owned by folks with natural hair, or locs, let’s face it. When I go to this stuff, that’s who’s up in there. Period. I took an old boyfriend to an N’Dambi concert and once again, we got the stares. I was a bit over dressed, with straight hair. He said, “Even though all of us are black up in here, um, I don’t think we are black enough.”

I told him to shrug it off because the artist was going to be awesome and it would have been well worth looking a little out of place.

Sure enough, the concert was great. But it did seem as if we were outsiders.

If this was Spike Lee’s classic, “School Daze” it would be like one of the Gamma Rays (Wannabes) deciding to become natural. Then the Jiggaboos, throwing lots of  cynical side eyes about the change of heart.

I wonder if I can be a Gammaboo or a JiggaRay?

I’m glad that the world, especially among black folks, and the media, are opening up to the idea of natural hair.

Up until this year, I was dead against it.

I said, hell naw, will I let my hair revert back to its defiant, thick coils that caused weekend-long washing and straightening sessions with my mom. I wasn’t going to feel the pain of watching my freshly straightened hair shrivel within moments of stepping outside on a humid school picture day in adult hood.

But there’s something wonderful happening, I think our mothers and aunts did what they could and went with the program. There are more and more resources out there about how to better care for our hair than ever before, whether we wear it straight or relaxed.

But back to the original thought.

I went to National Geographic Live the other night at the National Geographic Headquarters in D.C. to see a hip hop afro-beat artist Blitz the Ambassador. (NPR did a great story on him. And there’s links to the music. If NPR was checking for him, he’s culturally relevant among our nation’s elite brains.)

This guy was amazing. His band was amazing and composed of musicians from a variety of cultural backgrounds.

He really made it an experience, and found a way to weave the music of his native Ghana, with the influences of his immigration to Brooklyn with hip hop classics.

The band was on point. The horn section was out of this world, the bassist, lead guitar and drummer were phenomenal. I thought of The Roots, Mos Def, Common, Fela, all in a gumbo of awesome.

Blitz spit lyrics in English and his native tongue going back and forth so naturally, the music baselines would drive from funk to hip hop and the horns and guitars would make you feel like you were partying in Africa.

I was highly impressed.

The folks gathered were just as diverse. A lot of the folks raised their hands, saying they’ve visited or lived in Africa. (Nat Geo visitors, I’m not surprised. It’s going to be an open-minded, worldy group.) A number of folks either knew him personally or were already familiar with his music.

I saw people of all ages and backgrounds grooving to the music. It was pretty fantastic. Even though, I went solo, I managed to let go a little bit and dance to the music with everyone else.

I looked around saw a number of black women rocking natural hair.

Just out of reflex, I was expecting the naturalistas to stare me down, and have a puzzled look on their face suggesting, I was in the wrong place.

Instead, I was simply met with a smile.

Huh? Really?

Then I remembered, Ah, my hair.

They see me as one of them now.

I mentioned in another blog post, how I don’t want to be team natural or team relaxed. I want to be me trying something different and allowed to wear it which ever way pleases me at the time.

And this phase in my life, I’m enjoying the experimentation that I’m having with my hair. I’m enjoying being bold enough not to think it’s some big deal, and just rocking it with confidence.

I also think turning 30 and just going through things have really taught me to love myself, trust myself and believe in myself.

I would have never even tried in the last five years. It was not even an option. And I wasn’t secure enough in myself to try it. I would have been miserable and I wouldn’t have been able to find the beauty in it even if it did look good. I would have convinced myself that it didn’t look good and anytime a guy went over to talk to a girl with straight hair instead of me, I’d probably assume it was my hair. So no, it was not the time for me to try it in my 20s. My ego would have been too fragile, and the men in my dating pool would still hold on to the video vixen standard of beauty too tightly.

Even when I was starting to get slightly curious about it, I was in a relationship with a man who thought natural hair was ugly. So, I made sure my hair was always bone straight. Because it seemed like even when I wore it curly around him, he was waiting for me to straighten  it again. I’m not going to bash my ex, but when a person desires you, you want to be what that person wants. You just do. I didn’t wear red lipstick because he hated that too.

I’m starting to understand the powerful feeling a lot of women have when they’ve gone natural. As for the men, and natural hair, I’m finding men are doing a bit better with accepting it and some even see it as a sign of confidence and the ability to be comfortable with standing out.

All that said,

I’m a little nervous about going home to see my parents. They have yet to see me and my new hair. They’ve seen it curly, but they haven’t seen it since I chopped a lot off.

They are old school, so I have a feeling they won’t be as accepting.

But even still, I’m grown and I like it. And that’s what matters.

I actually can’t believe that I like it as much as I do. I figured by now I’d be regretting it, and feeling really self-conscious and running to get a weave (something else I said I’d never do). Which, according to some hardcore naturalistas must be really sad. But it’s the truth.

To top off my total transformation into Soul Sista X, I put together the cutest outfit the other night.

It was my black nerds unite t-shirt with a tribal print skirt, a big black belt.

I had on my new glasses and my curly fro. I pranced around, and said wow, I will totally fit in at some of these neo-soul shows now.

The funny part about it was, it didn’t seem like I was looking at someone else. I didn’t see someone new or radically different or even radical.

It was just me.

The Four Agreements, Me and My Hair

I often talk about timing. Things happen in certain sequences not only for dramatic effect, but for some kind of reason. Usually when you really pay attention to a sequence of events, you find that reason over time and you get why things lined up exactly the way they did when they did.

I’m currently reading “The Four Agreements” and yes, it is one of those self-help enlightenment books that folks like Oprah thought were all life-changing and amazing.

But I have a few opinions on this book. I’m not done yet, but I’d like to share what I’ve taken from it thus far.

First, I think reading this book while I’m attempting to go natural with my hair helps really clarify a lot of my original fears of wearing my natural hair.

*Meaning I’m growing out my chemical relaxer which straightens my hair.

The premise of the book is that there are things society, our family, friends, enemies and we agree and believe them. Because of what we are trained to believe, we can even tell ourselves positive or negative things and we’ll agree with them and believe them to be proper and correct also.

As far as black women and hair, we had society telling us we were not attractive if we were not as close to looking European as possible. So even if we couldn’t alter our skin color, we for damn sure straightened our hair. In turn, society responded to us more positively and particularly men.

But we can change what we believe and what we agree to and I think by reading about going natural and hearing stories about how liberating it was for women and just the celebration of natural hair on pinterest and seeing women in a lot of television commercials with kinky, wavy, curly or super short hair, reconditioned me.

I wore my hair in a fro in public for the first time, and I actually felt good about it. Those other women were letting me know it was ok, and in turn, I believed it, agreed, and now I think I can wear my hair almost anyway I want.

I also believe and agree that I can wear my hair straight from time to time too and I won’t be turning on my culture or hating myself. LOL.

It made me think of relationships. It made me think of what the men in my life found as beautiful. I could either agree or disagree with them and keep it moving. Same thing about my weight.

At one point, it did seem like the Four Agreements was promoting narcissistic behavior and dismissing the thoughts of others and becoming disconnected and diluted.

But when you put all four agreements together, and practice them intently, it’s completely far from that. You are more cognizant of yourself and what you say and how you treat others.

The other agreements are not to make assumptions and to always do your best.

So when you think about it, if you use your words wisely and in positive ways, if you don’t tear down others, or gossip, or set out to hurt people, if you don’t make assumptions, if you seek clarity from people and you always do your best, then that isn’t being selfish or narcissistic. You are just being a great citizen the not taking things personally or believing everything people say to you and taking it as gospel is not being delusional or dismissive.

I think the book asks us to come from a place of honesty in all that we do and seek positivity. Negative things will happen and you will be misunderstood, but you have to shake it off and not let it as one guy I knew would always tell me, “not shape your ball of clay.”

It’s made me think of what people have said about me and how I let what they said shape what I think of myself and what a huge effect that has on everything. How do I use my words? Am I putting out poison because of my own problems, hang ups and insecurities?

Sometimes the wordage can be repetitive or even seem way out there, but with an open mind, as you read, you can pick out things that resonate.

I have a feeling I’ll be rereading this from time to time.

 

Straight Vs.’Natural’: I’m Neutral

*When I say natural hair, I use that term in quotes, because all black women do not have naturally coarse hair. It ranges. Natural to me is what grows out of your head. But I generally mean coarse, non-chemically straightened hair. I have friends who get their hair blown out and pressed straight and they are still considered natural, because they didn’t use chemicals to straighten it.

One of my favorite singer/songwriters India. Arie has a popular and lovely song called, “I Am Not My Hair.”

It was an anthem for black women encouraging them to stop obsessing over our hair, although the connection to our hair and what it means in terms of beauty and self-esteem is very real and it’s serious.

*I don’t even feel like going into the history of black women their hair and their psyche. Chris Rock did a decent job in the movie “Good Hair.” Just know it’s deep. It’s not just hair. It is beauty, it’s how others see us and how we see ourselves. We are affected and we are working on it.

Since the age of 12, I have been putting a chemical relaxer in my hair. My mother fought against it for as long as possible. I could see why.

Because since then, there’s been battles with breakage, regrowth, dramatic cuts, and a little color, more breakage, ruined in the rain, comb-breaking, burnt… I could go on for days.

But fortunately times have changed. Somehow in recent times, “natural” hair (not chemically straightened) has finally been more widely accepted as beautiful. I think this is great for younger black girls because it is way more visible in the media than when I was a kid. Basically it was straight is great, and natural hair and fros and such needed to stay in the 70s.

So now, I want both passionate factions to declare peace. We all have choices, and grown women especially have figured out what works best for their lifestyle and what’s most flattering to them, so let’s let each other be.

If you are “natural”, don’t look down on your chemically straight-haired sister, assuming she wants to look European (a “wannabe” as Spike Lee nailed it in his classic “School Daze”) or is trying to fit into a certain culture or attract “shallow” men who prefer that look.

Straight-haired sister, please, stop calling your more kinky-coiffed sister nappy headed, mother Africa and all of that other stuff.

I feel like as women we need to lift one another up. Whether it’s straight or kinky, if you have gorgeous hair, I compliment it. I think women with natural hair are almost shocked if another black woman with straight hair gives them an honest compliment. It often seems like you can’t cross that line and give one another props. How you wear your hair seems like an unspoken declaration that you clearly approve one choice over the other. It’s terribly wrong.

Even if I go to a poetry event or something where it is stereotypical for people with “natural” hair to go to, I get looks sometimes like I don’t belong there. Get real. What does poetry or positive hip hop have to do with the texture of my hair?? I like what I like.

We are now in an era of choice. I do not think women with “natural” hair these days face the same amount of hostility they did 20 years ago. So I’m glad we’ve all evolved.

A number of artists and celebrities that I love go back and forth and they look amazing whether weaved out, with a fro or damn near bald (shout out to the lovely Chrisette Michele who did rock a near baldy).

Right now, I’m someplace in the middle. I don’t really like wearing my hair completely bone straight anymore. I like more body and fluff. I’ve been spacing out my chemical relaxers longer and longer because I hate how straight it is the first week or so now.

I do think with the success of hair care brands like Miss Jessie’s and others, women of color have become way more comfortable wearing their hair all kinds of ways.

I used to hate on women who wore weaves and called them fake. I don’t any more.

I have friends who love them, who may have difficulty maintaining their own hair and they feel good about how their weave makes them look. So it’s silly and stupid for me to look at another woman on the street and take her choice so personally. Now if it’s a bad weave, that’s another story!

Men were another problem. The men I liked and loved (including my father), liked seeing my straight, long hair blowing in the wind. It was the ultimate sign of beauty.

Occasionally to give my hair a break, I would wear it in tight curls a few times a year. My ex wasn’t a fan. Before we went out for a major occasion, I’d calm him down and say, “I’m getting my relaxer this week, don’t worry, it will be straight.” And then his face would relax.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I may want to only relax my hair twice a year and then get a really good blow out and press in between.

I’ve been on a big hair kick lately and I have a few inspirations. I love the new artist Elle Varner and I’ve already said I think my natural hair texture twin is probably Leela James.

I tried out my “Leela James” when I went on vacation alone, because no one knew me there and I loved it. After being on the beach and in the water, I didn’t feel like straightening my hair after I washed and blow dried it. So I didn’t. My hair was huge, and I thought I looked quite exotic. My father and my ex would have probably said I looked like I had my finger in a socket, but I was on vacation and I didn’t care. It was cute. I may have the courage to do it again in my own back yard.

I won’t abandon straight styles altogether, but I won’t wear it that way all the time anymore either.

Post Navigation