Tag Archives: Kinky

How to Be Hair-Positive In The Natural Hair Community

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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.

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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.

 

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Straight versus Curly

When I decided to go natural, I didn’t like the term “Natural Hair Movement.” To me “movement” was just another way of calling it a fad (another word that I detest) when describing black women saying no to creamy crack (relaxers and perms).  Now that I’m over a year into my journey and have met countless women on the same journey as myself, I see that it is indeed a movement. Black women are embracing their heritage and are proud of the hair they were born with. Black women are tired of wasting countless hours and paying ridiculous amounts of money to have their hair relaxed, cut and curled at the beauty salons across America. Black women are finally realizing the damage they’ve been doing to their hair and scalp for years by using harsh chemicals or heat to straighten their hair. They have decided to reclaim and redefine what beauty is, and in essence, showing the world that there is beauty in our natural kinky hair. That to me is the Natural Hair Movement. How this translates into your place of employment is a completely different story. Some places are more accepting than others of African American women wearing their hair in it’s natural, kinky, coily state. I often find myself pondering how I would have been received if I was still working for a law firm or any of the other very corporate places that I’ve worked in the past had I made the decision back then to go natural?

I’ve heard personal stories from friends and family who faced harsh scrutiny, ridicule, and flat out discrimination because of wearing their hair it’s natural state. Actresses, local TV personalities, upper management to entry level women have all faced problems wearing their natural hair in the work place.  Unfortunately the fear of facing such horrible treatment, or worse, termination,  is what keeps many from ditching the chemicals in favor of their natural tresses.

It angers and saddens me that hair neatly styled and groomed is considered ugly or unkempt because of long held ignorant and close minded views. Hair in it’s natural, kinky, coily state is somehow unprofessional and a bad representation for a company? Really? How can any place of employment call themselves diverse or “equal opportunity employers” when they put limitations and restrictions on whether or not a person can wear their hair as it naturally grows out of their scalp?  Oh wait, I remember now. They want to do business with certain companies and corporations, so allowing their employees to look too “ethnic” is out of the question. (Insert twisted up face here) I wholeheartedly agree that every business has the right to have dress and grooming rules, but where does it end? What if companies enforced rules against people who dye their hair blonde? Doesn’t that sound ridiculous? Well, telling someone that they cannot wear their hair neatly in it’s natural state is ridiculous too.

I can’t even imagine being asked by my employer to straighten my hair because they liked it better that way, but unfortunately it’s happening to a lot of black women. More recently in the news, the US military is coming under fire because of it’s strict rules against natural or braided hair. Female members of the armed forces, African American in particular, are being told that they have to wear their hair “straight” or wear a wig. Braids and natural hair of any kind are unacceptable. I would love to meet the people (more than likely white men) who made these rules because they clearly need to be educated on African American hair.

If you’ve noticed, I’ve mentioned neatly groomed hair several times in this post. That is because I believe that all hair, natural or chemically treated, should be neatly groomed. Natural hair still requires grooming, and you can’t just wake up and not do anything to your hair. Those of us that are part of the natural hair community have the responsibility of being diligent with the grooming of our hair. Even if you don’t believe in combing or manipulating your hair every day, grooming of some sort is still necessary. We cannot walk into work looking like rats have been sucking on our hair and expect our employer to be ok with that. Being natural does not mean you have the right to look unkempt at work or any place else for that matter.

I have a Pinterest account, and a board called Braids & Natural Hair. That is where I pin various styles that I would like to try or styles that I find to be unique and beautiful. The styling options for African American hair are endless, and we should be able to wear our hair in well groomed and dignified styles no matter where we work. Maybe, just maybe, corporate America will see that embracing diversity includes accepting various types of ethnic hair too. Our natural hair is nothing to be afraid of and it is indeed beautiful.

Feel free to check out and follow my Braids and Natural Hair board and my other boards on Pinterest: