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

 

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Am I in the Twilight Zone?

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My tired is tired

For real. I’m so tired of coming across these weird crazies on these here interwebs! All I want to do is encourage and help my fellow 4c naturalista’s in their natural hair journey and receive the same in return. I thought joining some natural hair groups on Facebook would be a great way to bond, get great tips, and just talk hair. Share our experiences with the good, the bad, and the ugly of having natural hair. And then the crazies come out and want to tell you what you should and should not say, how to say it, how you should and shouldn’t feel, and tell you that your opinion is wrong or doesn’t matter because they are the hair guru and you’re either their disciple or you get kicked out and blocked from the group.

You can’t have healthy conversations or even disagree without being chastised like a child. But here’s the problem: I’m a grown woman. I have my own opinions, and they can be strong opinions at times. I reject anything that smells like censorship of my opinions or ideas, especially when I’m presenting them in a respectful manner. With that being said, I’m seriously thinking about starting my own 4c hair group (not really) to show people how groups should be: Fun, respectful, insightful, encouraging. I don’t even care if it’s just a handful of people who join it. As long as those few and I are supportive and encouraging to one another, that’s all that matters. I know it seems like I’m a glutton for punishment, but I refuse to believe that there isn’t a group out there that is a pleasure to be a part of that discusses everything 4c hair and the moderator isn’t some lunatic that wants to control it’s members! Sheesh…

Showing and Accepting Love

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Sisterhood

This past weekend my husband and I were grocery shopping. While shopping, I noticed a beautiful woman shopping with her elderly mom. She was a tall, plus sized woman with no makeup on and just naturally beautiful to me. She walked with a quiet confidence. It was very regal to me. To top things off, she was natural and was rocking this huge, amazing puff with big hoop earrings. I had made a mental note to compliment her before I left the store. Sadly, I never did. This isn’t like me. Normally I would have been on top of that, but I was distracted more than the usual because we were at a store that we weren’t quite familiar with, so I was more focused on finding what I needed.

We eventually left that store and went to another one across from it to pick up other items we needed. While walking down an aisle, the same woman and her mom were at the end of the aisle. As we got closer to them I heard her say “Wait mom, I need to talk to this beautiful sista.” I look up and she said “I just had to stop you. I saw you in the other store and I told my mom that I thought you were so beautiful. You are a beautiful queen.” My heart melted, y’all. I was so humbled and taken back by her kindness, and amazed that we both had intentions of complimenting each other! We’re complete strangers, yet we both saw beauty in the other. I interrupted her because I had to tell her that I had intended to pay her a compliment as well. I told her “I felt the same about you! You, queen, are also beautiful! And your puff is AH-MAZING!” She rolled her eyes like “Oh my goodness, are you kidding me?” And I said “Stop it. Yes it is. It’s beautiful and you are rocking it girl! Accept it!” We both laughed and she said “Okay, I’ll accept that. But I had to stop you. I think you are a beautiful queen.” Again my heart melted and I said “Come here, I’m a hugger and I need to hug you. Thank you so much for that” and gave her a big, strong hug. My day was made after that. I felt good, I felt uplifted.

I appreciated this strangers love, it was so genuine and heartfelt. We talk about uplifting each other all the time, complimenting each other and building each other up as women, but how often do we actually do this? I know approaching strangers doesn’t come easy for everyone, and I’m not telling anyone to walk around and hug random strangers, but don’t pass up on an opportunity to compliment someone. As humans we need that love. As women we need that love. As natural haired women, we need that love and sisterhood. Giving and receiving love lifts the spirits in a way that nothing else can.

P.S.

After the stranger and I parted ways, my husband says “I mean, you aw-ight looking…I don’t know about all that beautiful stuff she was talking about!” I punched him in the arm as he laughed. He knows he married a beautiful queen. 😉

I Picked THE HOTTEST Weekend…

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Its Hot

…To take down my micro braids!! Good lord it’s HOT!!!! The take down process ended up being a day and a half. The detangling, washing, deep conditioning and styling took another five hours. When I say I’m exhausted, please know that I mean it!!

My hair is in small – medium sized plaits that I will take down in the morning for a curly fro style. I’m not posting any pictures of it’s current state because 1) It’s too darn hot 2) I’m sweaty 3) Sweaty on me = not cute in my book 4) I’m too lazy to put on decent clothes to take a picture.

I did watch some videos and read some blogs about how to detangle hair after taking down braids, and one very helpful tip was to use conditioner. I applied a liberal amount to my hair with a little water, and slowly and gently detangled sections of my hair. It was very time consuming but worth it. Had I tried to comb through the product build up, dead hair and tangles,  I would have lost a lot of unnecessary hair. My hair feels soft, my plaits are bouncy and juicy, and my scalp feels very clean.

I had my micro braids in for three months and didn’t have a lot of product build up. The hair shedding I experienced was normal and I haven’t noticed any bald spots. 😉 My hair grew A LOT, especially in the back which is where it typically grows the fastest.  I gave my hair (the ends in particular) and scalp a lot of TLC this weekend and will continue to do so going forward. Scalp massages are the BEST!

The one thing I didn’t get a chance to do because I didn’t have any on hand was a protein treatment. I need to purchase some product ASAP. Otherwise, this was a long, hot weekend dealing with nothing but my hair. But, it was a labor of love. Show your hair some love and it’ll love you right back! 🙂

Be Encouraged

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Be encouraged

I don’t have all the answers. I’m still learning and I’m over four plus years into my natural hair journey. Lately I’ve been hearing a lot about protective styling – those who are against braids/weaves/wigs, and those who are for them. I’m very pro-braids and protective styling, as I sit here with micro braids in my hair now. But I do agree that overuse of braids/weaves/wigs can be very detrimental to your hair and should be used sparingly. What I don’t like is the negative bashing toward those who do like to use protective styles.

There have been many conversations about wash and go’s and how they can be done on 4c hair. I’m not disputing that at all. I did wash and go’s when I big chopped and barely had an inch of hair on my head. That was super easy to do! My hair isn’t what I’d consider to be long right now, but it’s long enough to become time consuming. Wash and go’s also entail the use the several products for them to work such as leave in conditioners, moisturizers, and some type of gel. All of those things cause flaking and white residue in my thick, coarse, 4c hair. From what everyone says, you have to find the right combination of products for a wash and go to work. There’s my red flag. I don’t want to have to buy a bunch of products to have a style that will only last a day and a half for me, or at the worst, leave a flaky residue in my hair. I’m not a product junkie, but trying to achieve the perfect wash and go will definitely turn me into one.

I’ve set a personal goal for myself to stop being lazy and to do a better job at keeping my hair moisturized and well conditioned. I think if I start there, the rest (healthiness and growth) will follow. The thought of doing another big chop have crossed my mind, but we’ll see. I’m not quite ready to give up on my hair. I’m saying all of this to say that I read a lot about natural hair because I love reading other women’s experiences, struggles and triumphs. But we all have to remember that what works for one person may not work for you. Many of us wear protective styles out of necessity or convenience. Not everyone have time in the morning to do a wash and go, and quite frankly, not everyone wants to – and that’s okay.

Reading some of these blogs will have you feeling like the world’s laziest, loser, slacker natural. No one should feel that way. Recognize where you need to make improvements and then make them. My laziness towards my hair resulted in bald spots and breakage, and it’s been well documented in this blog. Now I’m investing more time in my hair. I’m paying closer attention to leave in conditioners, good deep conditioners, and protein treatments. And I’m still looking for good DIY ideas so I can keep my coins in my pockets.  😉 Be encouraged and keep learning. Give your hair the TLC it needs so it can thrive and grow.

Here We Go Again…

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eye roll

Lately there’s been this uproar in the natural hair community over Shea Moisture’s new online ad that in the short clip, seemed to only feature white women who claim to have “difficult hair” and have been “hair shamed” for whatever reason. The only woman of color in the ad was a young lady who looks to be of mixed race heritage with long curly hair. You can watch the video here:

http://www.thefader.com/2017/04/24/shea-moisture-video-hair-backlash

Before I go on, if you’re unfamiliar with the brand Shea Moisture, it’s a brand that made natural hair products for African American hair. The CEO of Shea Moisture said the ad was an oversight and that they didn’t mean to alienate black women. Mind you, Shea Moisture was created for black women, was supported by black women, and became successful because of black women. So I understand the uproar expressed on social media regarding the message Shea Moisture sent with this new ad campaign. The execution of the ad was horribly done. In that short clip it didn’t show black women, but in the full clip, it shows black women. What’s that saying a bout first impressions?

Here’s the thing: Companies and brands expand all the time. They try to reach broader audiences because they want money from everybody’s pockets. In Shea Moisture’s case, it’s the way they went about trying to target the other dollars that left a bitter taste in many mouths. Me personally, I haven’t bought Shea Moisture products in quite some time. If I don’t catch it on sale, I don’t buy it, and that’s with all products.  I find that most products on store shelves that are made for African American hair teeter on the expensive side. That in itself is a huge issue for me. Yes, I want to support black businesses, but good grief! Spending $20 and up on an 8 oz jar or smaller of a product is just too much for this sista that’s on a budget! But that’s a story for another day.

Most of you know that I’m big on DIY products. If I can save a buck or two I will do so. Every once in a blue moon I’ll try a new product, but for the most part I stick to my more reasonable products or I’ll I make my own and I rock with it until I perfect a recipe that suits my hair needs. I guess that’s why when I read about the uproar with Shea Moisture, I rolled my eyes because at the end of the day, sometimes you’re better off learning how to make your own products or going with a smaller brand that’s less expensive but still effective. Many accuse Shea Moisture of changing/watering down it’s product, and Carol’s Daughter has been accused of the same. I don’t use their products to be able to give an opinion, but both claim they have not. I can see formula change as a valid worry for naturalista’s, especially when the company has been sold as in Carol’s Daughter case.

I’m not as upset about what Shea Moisture is trying to do as others are, I’m more disappointed in the execution. At the end of the day Shea Moisture is a business, but for black women, we felt we finally had a company that made and sold products just for us and our natural hair needs. We no longer were forced to use shampoo’s and conditioners that weren’t made for our hair. Now with this new direction that Shea Moisture is going in, many loyal black Shea Moisture customers feel betrayed. Black women are the ones who were fiercely loyal and supportive of a brand that dared to bring forth a line exclusively for African American hair, and this is how we’re treated. I get it and I empathize with those feelings. But we must remember, at the end of the day it’s about dollars and cents. Nothing else matters to these companies. Not even customer loyalty.

Breakage Again *Update*

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There is a such thing as having too much of a good thing. Initially, I assumed my breakage was due to not protective styling, too much combing, etc. After really thinking about what I’ve been doing to my hair, I figured it out. Too much caffeine in my homemade sage tea rinses. I didn’t do my tea rinses on every wash day. More like every other. But where I messed up is I made my tea too strong which dried out my hair and made it brittle and break off in the back. Caffeine is drying to your hair, something that never crossed my mind. Please learn from my mistake my lovelies. Do everything in moderation. Including tea rinses. They shouldn’t be very strong teas, and you shouldn’t do them too often.

I took the scissors and cut as much as the damaged ends off as I could. Yes my hair is uneven and shorter on one side of my head, but I don’t care about that at the moment. My main concern is getting my hair back healthy and keeping it moisturized. At the moment my hair is in micro braids and I’ve had them for about three weeks now and I LOVE them! I haven’t had micro braids in over 15 years! I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

 

Sonya March 24