Tag Archives: Curly hair

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

 

Undefined Curls

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Afro power

Undefined curls or undefined afros is something I’ve been hearing about for a while but never really paid much attention to. I don’t feel I can continue to ignore it because it’s really starting to bug me since these terms are actually targeted towards those whose 4c hair may not curl up and bounce like other natural hair types. Apparently to some, undefined curls or undefined afros are deemed undesirable or even unkempt. All I want to know is why? I know unkempt hair when I see it, and no it’s not attractive at all. But if a woman decides to just rock her beautiful afro with no particular curl pattern in it, what’s wrong with that? Why do people think that only curly natural hair is pretty?

There was a discussion on FaceBook yesterday regarding an article that had several pictures of women rocking their undefined afros in very elegant ways. The point of the article was to show that women with 4c hair can rock their hair without defined curls and still be beautiful. I think that is a great message to put out there and we need to hear it more. In the comments following the article, one naturalista made a very powerful, eye-opening statement:

“Curls are the new relaxer for natural women.”

I emphatically said “YES” when I read this statement because it is so true! There is a curly hair obsession reminiscent of the creamy crack (chemical relaxers) addiction among many in the natural hair community. There’s an insatiable thirst for curly hair. This, in turn, breeds product junkies because they are constantly searching for that magic potion to curl up their hair and give it the best definition. Somehow, curly naturals have become the standard of beauty to which we all should strive for, and again I want to know why? Please don’t think that I’m bashing those with curly hair because I’m not. I know there are many who have naturally curly hair, and there is nothing wrong with that. There are also those who go through painstaking efforts to make their hair curl. And then there are those who are ok with just letting their natural hair do whatever it is it does.

Many of us became natural because we knew it was the healthiest decision to make. We have educated ourselves and have personally experienced the harmful effects of chemical relaxers. We’ve vowed to get and maintain the healthiest hair possible by going natural. Somewhere along the way, the belief that curly hair is the only hair and the most beautiful hair to have has taken over. Maybe that belief was always there but I ignored it because I was so wrapped up in my own natural hair journey. I never cared about having curly hair because I knew from the beginning what my hair could and could not do, nor was I interested in trying to make it curl up.

As if we don’t have enough fighting and dissention amongst us as black women, it saddens me that we still have to deal with this very old, poisonous belief that kinky hair is ugly and undesirable, but curly (“good hair”) is beautiful. If less emphasis was put on having curly natural hair and more focus is put on natural hair health and the beauty of ALL hair types, then maybe there wouldn’t be such an obsession with achieving the ultimate defined curls. Maybe more naturalista’s would simply love their hair regardless if it can curl up, or if it’s just in an amazing afro standing tall and proud with no emphasis on curls.

You Know….Cuz Natural Hair is in Style Now…..

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Let's talk tresses

You guys remember how I said that I have no problem stopping a complete stranger to tell them how gorgeous their natural hair is right? I do it all the time, and sometimes it leads to a 10-15 minute conversation about hair, products, and regimens. A few weeks ago my husband and I were out and about and decided to grab some subs. Two cars away from us a woman was also heading inside of the restaurant and she had gorgeous curly locks. Her hair was so full and had body, and it was colored the prettiest caramel color too. I knew right then and there that once we got inside and ordered our food that I was going to A) tell her her hair is gorgeous, and B) talk hair with her.

She was very nice and very sweet and our conversation started out really nice. She had been natural for seven years but she was still flat ironing her hair almost every day until the damage it caused made her stop. When she stopped straightening her hair was when she discovered and loved her natural curl pattern. She’s a curly girl through and through and never knew it! I’m sitting there excited for her and eagerly hoping that she’d drop more eye opening gems on me. We began talking about products and she said that there’s nothing on the market that works well for her hair so she started making her own concoctions like you know who. Y’all know my eyes lit up like the high beam lights on a car right?

So here we are totally engaged in this natural hair conversation while my poor husband was relegated to putzing with his phone because I had completely ignored him to talk to this stranger about hair, and then I hear this:

“Well you know most men don’t like natural hair, so then I go back to straightening my hair with the flat iron. But now that natural hair seems to be in style again I’ll be rocking this while it’s in style. Pretty soon the wigs, weaves and braids will be making a comeback too.”

Please insert the sound effects of car tires screeching to a halt. My face and my heart just fell. My excitement evaporated immediately. I looked at my husband like “Did you just hear this? Did you hear the words that just came out of her mouth?” (In my Chris Tucker voice) But of course he wasn’t paying attention to our conversation but I needed someone to confirm that I heard right.

Actually, this is how my face looked. True story.

Oh my

There was so much wrong with her statement that I didn’t know where to begin. To be fair this was her opinion no matter how much I disagreed with it. Instead I simply said “Well, I don’t think natural hair is in style. I think more and more women are realizing that natural is the best and healthiest for their hair.” She simply looked at me wide eyed and nodded in agreement. Then I quickly added “I don’t think braids will ever go out of style. Neither will wigs or weaves. Those are protective styles that many of us use to protect our hair.” Again I got the blank stare.

Look, I know not everyone is trying to make a statement with their natural hair. However, I do feel the return to natural hair is a bit of a movement, but not a political one. I think it’s just women being more informed and educated on how harmful the chemicals are that make up relaxers are to their bodies. Then they make the informed decision to let their hair grow out of their scalps the way it was meant to because it’s healthier. This woman that I was speaking with was clearly looking at natural hair as a fad to be followed, to be hip with, but also as a hindrance to her love life because some of the men she dated didn’t like her natural hair. She’s trying to please too many people, and that made me sad.

My parting words to her was “Your hair is gorgeous the way it is, and if some man doesn’t like it then too bad. There are plenty more out there who will appreciate you and your hair for it’s natural beauty.” She thanked me and then her order was called and she left.

Royal by herself

This experience opens the door to several conversations:

1) What makes people think or assume that the natural hair movement is a fad, as if it’ll go away or die down in another year or two?

2) Are you willing to go back to the creamy crack or use a flat iron every day if your mate doesn’t like your natural hair?

This experience also confirmed my long held belief that everyone’s natural hair journey is different. Regardless of the why’s and how’s I’m just happy that women have kicked the creamy crack to the curb. This naturalista that I met may be torn between pleasing the guy she’s dating (or finding a guy who likes her natural hair to date) and staying en vogue with the latest hair styles, but what sticks out to me is that she’s been natural for seven years. That’s awesome to me, and I hope she stays natural.

Hey Y’all!!!

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Happy Anniversary

First off: Happy TWO YEAR NATURAL ANNIVERSARY TO ME!!!!!!!!!!!

I have been M.I.A. for a very long time, and all I can say is that LIFE happened! Everything is good though. My hair is growing and its fabulous. I had box braids for a while and now I’m back to rocking my afro and I’m loving it! My girls are rocking their afro and puffs and other cute styles and we’re just some happy naturalistas!

I think the last time I posted it was about making a hair and body moisturizer with mango butter, organic coconut oil, olive oil, vitamin E, and vanilla essential oil. Did I tell you that stuff is the BOMB on the hair?? It gives you softness and sheen like no other and I’m going to be making more soon.

As far as other products go, I haven’t experimented with anything else. I’ve kept it down to using Wen apricot moisturizing shampoo and conditioner in one, and either my homemade shea butter or mango butter moisturizer. We spritz our hair with water and olive oil every day and that’s it. I plait my hair up at night and tie it up and rock a curly afro from that. I pineapple every once in a blue moon but that’s my routine. Hair washing is once a week or every two weeks, depending on how heavy I used products, and the same goes for my girls. The less manipulation the better and that is what has contributed to our hair growth.

I’ve tossed around the idea of straightening my hair on my two-year anniversary and I’ve decided not to. I’m in no rush to have my hair straightened because I love the fullness of my afro. I love how big it is. I LOVE BIG HAIR! LOL!

Every so often I see posts on how to get your hair curly or people will give me suggestions on what products to use to achieve a curly look. Let me give this PSA, and I hope people hear me loud and clear: I am very happy with my afro. I am very happy with my kinks and coils and the fact that my hair grows up and out and doesn’t necessarily curl in such a way that others will drool over and deem pretty. I am fine  with that, I accept what my hair can and cannot do. I’m sure if I worked diligently enough my hair would indeed curl and have fabulous definition, but that’s not what I want. It’s not what I aspire to have. From the day I big chopped two years ago I accepted my hair, and I love everything about it. So to you naturally curly ladies, I salute you. You have beautiful hair, but guess what? So do I. Let’s keep celebrating each other and accepting each other.

I’ve been away so long that I have so much more to share with you! Stay tuned my lovelies!