Category Archives: Afros

A Proud Afro Sighting at the 75th Golden Globe Awards

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At the 2018 Golden Globe Awards, Viola Davis gave me LIFE with her amazing afro!! Who said Afros can’t be elegant? Come THROUGH Viola!!

Viola Wig

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Natural Hair In Review – 2017

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that's a wrap

Every year I learn something new. New techniques, new natural things to use on my hair such as herbs and oils. While I may not have tried them all, they’ve definitely been added to my “to-do” or “wish” lists.

Lessons Regarding My Hair

The first important thing I’ve learned is to let go of the bad ends. I neglected to clip my ends for quite some time, and I paid for it. My afros,while big, looked scraggly. When I finally got rid of those bad ends, my afro looked healthy. Let go of the dead weight people. Don’t hang on to bad ends for the sake of length. It will always hurt you more in the end with the amount of hair that you end up having to cut.

The second important thing I learned about my hair is that it grows better when it’s braided or in some type of protective style. For a good portion of 2017, I wore my hair in its natural state. I let my fro fly free. While I enjoyed rockin’ my big hair, it became a chore at times. I felt pressured to find and try new styles that weren’t always good for my hair.

For one, the temptation to twist my hair into two strand twists or plaits every night to have fresh curls in the morning was something I had to fight against. Also, the temptation to semi-straighten/stretch my hair more than I should (in the attempt to try new styles) was also there.  Both things can cause breakage when done in excess, and after finally clipping my bad ends, more breakage is the last thing I want. I also noticed that my hair growth seemed slower when not in a protective style. Having observed all of these things about my hair, it’s time to listen to what it needs. I will be more diligent about my protective styles to promote healthy hair growth.

Lessons From The Natural Hair Community 

We have a long way to go with education, acceptance, confidence, support towards one another, and respect. While I’m happy to see many women making the change from chemical relaxers to natural hair, many of them need to be educated on African American hair so they can better understand their own hair. They need to learn our history about hair braiding, head wraps, designs, and why certain negative terms and views that date back to slavery and beyond still have a vice grip on many of us today that prevent us from seeing the true beauty of our hair. Educating yourself is one of the most important steps in your natural hair journey.

It makes me happy to see that there are so many natural hair events all over the states that celebrate all types of African American hair, and I hope to attend a few of them that are close to my neck of the woods. I’ve heard nothing but good things regarding those events, and we need more like them.

I’m going to continue to do my part by encouraging hair-positive messages in the natural hair community through my blog. My focus will be on the positive stories in the natural hair community and less on the negative ones. And as usual, I will continue to strive to take better care of my natural hair.

Thank you all for supporting my blog, and here’s to healthier hair in 2018!

Celebrate

Sonya

 

 

How to Be Hair-Positive In The Natural Hair Community

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Positive

The emergence of the natural Afro in the late sixties and early seventies was not only meant to be a political statement because of the injustices of the times but to instill a sense of pride in African American’s natural hair. A returning to one’s natural roots if you will. Fast forward to the mid-2000’s and the natural hair movement is on the scene once again calling for natural hair pride. Today, many African American women have answered that call, denouncing chemical relaxers and fully embracing their natural hair while encouraging others to do the same. Never before have there been such an abundance of natural hair products available to us on store shelves or online. We’re also seeing natural hair in the mainstream (commercials, television, movies, etc.) now more than ever. These are all positive steps in the right direction, but there is still a lot of negativity within and outside of the natural hair community. How can we stop the negativity and be hair-positive?

It Starts With You.

Negative views of African American hair goes back to slavery. Terms like nappy, kinky, and wooly were used in derogatory and demeaning manners to describe our hair. It was also used to divide the slaves based on hair texture (and skin color). The mulatto slaves (or mixed race) were said to have “good hair, ” but the much darker African slaves had the bad or “nappy” hair. This caused division and resentment among the slaves and the negative distinction became ingrained in slaves and passed down from one generation to the next, and it’s still happening today. This thinking must stop. Here are a few things we can do to be hair-positive when it comes to natural hair:

  1. Change your thinking. Before we can move forward, changing our way of thinking is crucial. We must put out of our minds all the negative connotations and speech associated with natural hair that we’ve been taught by our parents, people in our community, television, or society as a whole. Kinky, coily or “nappy” hair is not bad hair. It’s not something we should be ashamed of or dread having. Our hair is not uncombable, untameable, or ugly in its natural state. Our hair does not need to be tamed, which is code for chemically relaxing or straightening it for it to look presentable. Straight hair is not the definition of beauty.
  2. Educate yourself. It is important to educate yourself so you can better understand African American hair and it’s many textures. With that knowledge, you’ll understand why our hair has different curl patterns, textures, why it requires moisture and certain oils, and why our hair can be styled in so many different and artistic ways – all of which makes our hair truly unique and beautiful. Your appreciation for our hair will deepen, and hopefully, it will motivate you to spread hair-positivity.
  3. Change your speech. Many times we knowingly or unknowingly say negative things about our hair to our friends and family, and even our children because that’s what we’re used to hearing from our family, media, etc. Starting with ourselves, we must stop speaking about natural hair in negative ways. How many times have you looked at yourself in the mirror and said: “Ugh, my hair is so nappy!” I’ve done it a million times myself, especially when I was getting chemical relaxers and had new growth! With your children, start at an early age speaking positively about their hair. Tell them their hair, and its texture is beautiful and unique. When they are old enough to understand, explain to them why.
  4. Make it a point to compliment others. Being natural is not always easy. Styling and maintenance can take a lot of time, depending on the length and thickness of your hair. However, we all know how good it makes us feel when someone compliments us on our hair. Hair that we put a lot of work into maintaining and caring for. When you see a woman rocking her natural hair, compliment her. Not only will it make her day, but you will feel good giving out that genuine, positive energy. And who knows, maybe that same person you compliment will compliment another natural too. Keep putting out positive energy!

The conversation needs to change in the natural hair community from negative to hair-positive. Let’s learn to love and understand our hair. Be more understanding toward those who may use different protective styles or care methods than you. It’s time we listen to one another instead of sitting in instant judgment. We can do this by making a concerted effort to have hair-positive conversations.

Hugs and Love.

Stretched & Straightened Hair

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This has been one of the most humid summers to date in my neck of the woods. I took down my micro braids in early June and it’s been a challenge finding ways to to style and protect my natural hair. The majority of the time I let my afro flow freely. However…I also found it more difficult to deal with my hair in it’s constant shrunken state. I would plait my hair, tie it up, and it would be stretched, but by the time I made it to work, some serious shrinkage have already taken place.

I’ve done heatless stretching on my hair by doing the banding method or braiding or plaiting my hair and it worked just fine…during the winter months without any humidity. It’s summer now and I wanted something that would take less time and last a little longer in this humid weather. As my family and I were preparing to go out of town a few weeks ago, I decided to straighten my hair with a straightening brush.

Straightening brush

Most straightening brushes look similar to this one pictured above, including mine. I only wanted to loosen my tight curls, not get it bone straight, so I only ran the brush through my hair twice at a 400 heat setting. I figured that after shrinkage took place, it still would be easier to deal with, and I was right. About two weeks later I used the brush again. At night I would plait up my hair in medium sized plaits and tie it up. In the morning I take them down and finger comb and go.

What also helps me in the stretching process is castor oil or Blue Magic hair grease. I have thick, coarse hair, so I need those heavier oils. The only thing is when using oil or grease, you need to be more diligent about washing your hair. Make sure you use a clarifying shampoo to help clear away any and all buildup.

In the photos below you see my hair after having used the brush, but significant shrinkage has also taken place. Despite the shrinkage, my hair has been more manageable. I know constant use of heat is not good for your hair, and I’m not going to use the straightening brush again for a while, but it’s a nice option to have when you want to do something different. Or when you’re simply trying to fight the heat and humidity. And since I hadn’t stretched or straightened my hair in quite some time, it was nice to see my growth progress.

stretched hair

Kinky, Coily Hair Love

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There are more of us with this hair type than not. Also, it goes without saying (at least for me), that kinky, coily hair, or type 4c hair, is beautiful. Once upon time as a young girl and even as an adult, I wanted hair that wasn’t uniquely my own. Having since embraced my natural hair, I don’t want anyone else’s hair but my own. Beautiful kinks and all.

 

Please Support Hair Love!

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Matthew Cherry is trying to get financial support for his animated short film called Hair Love. Please click on the link and donate if you can. This film is so needed, and the premise alone tugs at the heartstrings!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/matthewacherry/hair-love-animated-short-film?ref=71usia

The Forgotten Ones

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Curly red hair

The subject I’m about to discuss is a sensitive subject for many naturals, mainly because the natural hair movement started out being for and about black women. It was our movement celebrating our unique hair because it wasn’t being celebrated by society or mainstream media. But as time went on, we began to hear from other women who didn’t quite look like us, but had something in common with us: Curly hair that those in their own culture deemed unruly, unprofessional and ugly. They also have a hard time taming and finding the right products for their curly hair. These are women who are of Irish, Jewish, or other nationalities with naturally curly hair.

The fact that these women felt that they didn’t have a voice or platform to discuss their hair issues, which ultimately led them to the natural hair movement of African American women where we discuss every hair issue under the sun, intrigued me. Who would have thought that white women with curly hair would have hair issues? Who could possibly call their hair ugly? Okay, I can see their hair possibly being hard to manage because of the long length and curls, but still! The younger me would have loved to have their hair! It wasn’t until I started to read different articles about their hair struggles and how far back the hair shaming and hate goes that I developed a better understanding and empathy for these women, or as I call them, the forgotten ones. I was also fortunate enough to have conversations with a workmate who began to relate to me her own personal struggles with being a redheaded, curly haired Irish woman. From dealing with bullying as a child, perverted stereotypes of redheaded women as an adult, and being constantly reminded that her naturally curly hair wasn’t acceptable during her twelve year career as a television news reporter. Aside from being a television reporter, those are all things that I know I, as a black woman can relate to.

Our conversations started because she follows my natural  blog and she would tell me how much she loves that I blog about my natural hair journey and how I’m constantly reaffirming that our natural hair is beautiful. Her hair is thick, long and naturally curly. Like African American hair, any amount of heat or humidity makes her hair big, curly and hard to maintain. When she became a reporter, it was put into her contract that she had to chemically straighten her naturally curly hair. Curly hair was not allowed on television. Imagine having to do this every three months and pay $300 each time – for 12 years! During the summer months it didn’t matter if her hair was chemically straightened or not, the heat and humidity would poof up her hair and it would curl up anyway – and she’d get reprimanded for it.  It wasn’t just her who got talked to, it was all female reporters with naturally curly hair who were constantly chastised and reminded that if their hair wasn’t bone straight, it was unacceptable and a violation of rules. Talk about a blow to your self-esteem!

Then there’s the myth that red hair is tied to witch craft and the devil. So being a redhead was like a curse. In certain parts of Europe, having red hair could get you killed. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around that one. But nothing much has changed because today, having red curly hair still makes you a walking target for ridicule and shunning. My heart went out to her as she related different stories to me about her hair struggles, and how self conscience it’s made her over the years. Finding a beautician who knew how to care for and maintain her curly mane was a nightmare in itself.

What I find to be particularly disturbing and frankly disgusting, is the lack of knowledge, awareness or education within the news industry when it comes to female reporters of different races, backgrounds and hair types. This lack of awareness exists because the powers that be don’t care. What matters to them is ratings and viewer opinion. The viewers want to see female reporters with bone straight hair, therefore that is what the news outlets provide. For black female reporters, this means wearing weaves, wigs, or having to chemically relax their hair in order to be in front of the camera. No Afros or curly hair. To the viewing public, textured or ethnic hair of any kind is unkempt and unprofessional. I’ll let you take a wild guess as to who mostly make up this viewer demographic. Yup, you guessed it, white viewers. Unfortunately, in 2017 we are still dealing with this kind of close-minded thinking, hair shaming, and discrimination.

I make it a point to tell my workmate that her naturally curly hair is beautiful. I love that it’s red. It makes her unique. I love her freckles. They add character and enhance her beauty. In my eyes she is beautiful. Period. Women and girls who have naturally curly hair, regardless of race, need to hear that their hair is beautiful. No one should grow up hearing that their hair is ugly or be teased and called demeaning names. As women, we should uplift one another every chance we get. So while the natural hair movement started out being about us, African American women, it needs to branch out to the women who are also discriminated against, ridiculed, and looked upon as less than because of how their hair grows out of their scalp. Telling a female that her natural hair is ugly isn’t just about her hair. Those hurtful words get internalized to the point that when she looks at herself in the mirror, she starts to view her entire being as ugly. This is where low self-esteem and self worth come into play, and it can stay with you well into  adulthood. These women and girls will no longer be “the forgotten ones” to me. I welcome and celebrate all natural redheads and/or curly haired females. We all should.

And please, don’t say that these women should start their own movement or why can’t we ever have our own stuff to ourselves. It’s not about that. African American hair is unique. It’s beautiful. Our hair is not appreciated for it’s natural beauty still in mainstream media or in general, but we’re also not the only ones with textured, curly hair or who have hair struggles. I’m glad to see bloggers like Curly Nikki embrace curly haired women of all ethnic backgrounds and provide them with helpful tips and suggestions. That kind of welcoming, helpful spirit is what leads to better understanding and communication among women of all backgrounds. Isn’t that what we need anyway?

I found this great article below that speaks about redhead bullying. Check it out and tell me what you think!

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/ama-yawson/red-ginger-hair-rare-and-_b_6071202.html