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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Thoughts on Aisha Hinds Heart & Soul Cover Photo?



What are your thoughts on the above picture of actress Aisha Hinds? Please post your comments below. Thanks!

Thoughts on Aisha Hinds Heart & Soul Cover Photo?


What are your thoughts on the above picture of actress Aisha Hinds? Please post your comments below. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

First Day at Work with TWA

Yesterday was my first day back to work with my TWA (teeny weeny afro). I was a bit nervous because as one of a few Black professors on a predominantly White campus, I stand out. In the past, my dreadlocks drew quite colorful commentary and was one of my distinguishing traits. I was nervous because I knew that my hair would draw comments. Most of my colleagues were quite gracious although, I had my share of shocked responses complete with "WHAT DID YOU DO?!!".


I am so proud of myself for not letting others' responses dictate how I feel about myself. Of course, I want to be perceived as an attractive person. Yet, when I look in the mirror that is what I see. I am learning to detach opinion of self from opinions of others. Others' opinions do indeed matter but they are not central to my identity. Believe me, as a self-professed people-pleaser, this is a HUGE step for me.


We'll see how I do the first day of classes when I stand before a hundred plus students! :)


NOTE: The video of my Big Chop is still being edited but I will post it and still pictures as soon as they are available. Please stay tuned, comment and pass the blog along to others. Thanks! Tina

First Day at Work with TWA

Yesterday was my first day back to work with my TWA (teeny weeny afro). I was a bit nervous because as one of a few Black professors on a predominantly White campus, I stand out. In the past, my dreadlocks drew quite colorful commentary and was one of my distinguishing traits. I was nervous because I knew that my hair would draw comments. Most of my colleagues were quite gracious although, I had my share of shocked responses complete with "WHAT DID YOU DO?!!".

I am so proud of myself for not letting others' responses dictate how I feel about myself. Of course, I want to be perceived as an attractive person. Yet, when I look in the mirror that is what I see. I am learning to detach opinion of self from opinions of others. Others' opinions do indeed matter but they are not central to my identity. Believe me, as a self-professed people-pleaser, this is a HUGE step for me.

We'll see how I do the first day of classes when I stand before a hundred plus students! :)

NOTE: The video of my Big Chop is still being edited but I will post it and still pictures as soon as they are available. Please stay tuned, comment and pass the blog along to others. Thanks! Tina

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Enjoying and Adjusting to my TWA



As some of you may know, I am now wearing a teeny, weeny afro (TWA) after cutting off my ten-year old locs. I was so ready to do it! So, very ready. I have been having fun relearning how to work with my natural hair texture. Hmm, I wash my hair with Beautiful Curls shampoo, use some leave-in-conditioner and seal in moisture with coconut oil. The next day, I spritz my hair with water, apply Kinky Curly leave in conditioner and finish with the line’s curling custard. I try Olive EcoStyler Gel the next day when I double strand twist my bangs (longer than the rest of my hair) and use Carol’s Daughter Loc butter to untwist my hair. I can already tell that I am a bit of a product junkie and I had to stop myself from stocking up on new products when I went to Whole Foods today.

I also have to admit that I am adjusting my aesthetics. What do I mean? I mean that I am in the process of redefining what beautiful means to me. Honestly, once I looked at the back of my head, I described it as “a pack of naps”. Yes, that is TOTALLY politically incorrect. I had what I call an ugly moment where I felt like a boy, a nappy-headed boy at that. I know that there are many people who detest the word “nappy” but I’m only sharing the true thoughts that flew like ticker tape across my mind. What did I do? I looked myself in the mirror, told myself “I’m beautiful”, put on a cute red top, some red lipstick and went on about my business.

No, the red top and red lipstick don’t make me beautiful. I believe that I’m beautiful on the inside and the outside. However, if makeup and nice clothing make me feel better about my new look I’m going to allow myself that pleasure.

On a positive note, when I went for a family bike ride today, I slipped on my helmet and didn’t even blink when we were caught in a torrential downpour. My hair is not a worry. Hallelujah. I can also now wear baseball caps and cute hats (something I haven't done in years because my locs were so thick that I couldn't don cute chapeaus). But, the biggest thing I look forward to? SWIMMING! I bought a new bathing suit and I plan to start swimming soon. Looking forward to that adventure! In a nutshell, I’m enjoying and adjusting to my hair all at the same time. J

Enjoying and Adjusting to my TWA


As some of you may know, I am now wearing a teeny, weeny afro (TWA) after cutting off my ten-year old locs. I was so ready to do it! So, very ready. I have been having fun relearning how to work with my natural hair texture. Hmm, I wash my hair with Beautiful Curls shampoo, use some leave-in-conditioner and seal in moisture with coconut oil. The next day, I spritz my hair with water, apply Kinky Curly leave in conditioner and finish with the line’s curling custard. I try Olive EcoStyler Gel the next day when I double strand twist my bangs (longer than the rest of my hair) and use Carol’s Daughter Loc butter to untwist my hair. I can already tell that I am a bit of a product junkie and I had to stop myself from stocking up on new products when I went to Whole Foods today.

I also have to admit that I am adjusting my aesthetics. What do I mean? I mean that I am in the process of redefining what beautiful means to me. Honestly, once I looked at the back of my head, I described it as “a pack of naps”. Yes, that is TOTALLY politically incorrect. I had what I call an ugly moment where I felt like a boy, a nappy-headed boy at that. I know that there are many people who detest the word “nappy” but I’m only sharing the true thoughts that flew like ticker tape across my mind. What did I do? I looked myself in the mirror, told myself “I’m beautiful”, put on a cute red top, some red lipstick and went on about my business.

No, the red top and red lipstick don’t make me beautiful. I believe that I’m beautiful on the inside and the outside. However, if makeup and nice clothing make me feel better about my new look I’m going to allow myself that pleasure.

On a positive note, when I went for a family bike ride today, I slipped on my helmet and didn’t even blink when we were caught in a torrential downpour. My hair is not a worry. Hallelujah. I can also now wear baseball caps and cute hats (something I haven't done in years because my locs were so thick that I couldn't don cute chapeaus). But, the biggest thing I look forward to? SWIMMING! I bought a new bathing suit and I plan to start swimming soon. Looking forward to that adventure! In a nutshell, I’m enjoying and adjusting to my hair all at the same time. J

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Big Chop: I love my TWA!





Hello everyone. I am so sorry for the delay. I am out of town and I have had limited access to the Internet.


Well, I did the BIG CHOP on Monday and I am thrilled. I absolutely love my TWA (teeny weeny afro) and I look forward to exploring my hair. Here's a pic of my locs before (a few years ago) and my TWA now.


Please stay tuned for more pics and video.




Big Chop: I love my TWA!



Hello everyone. I am so sorry for the delay. I am out of town and I have had limited access to the Internet.

Well, I did the BIG CHOP on Monday and I am thrilled. I absolutely love my TWA (teeny weeny afro) and I look forward to exploring my hair. Here's a pic of my locs before (a few years ago) and my TWA now.

Please stay tuned for more pics and video.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

t minus 2 days to big chop

pardon the typing in this post. i am using my phone to post as i am in transit. i am t minus 2 days away from getting the big chop. i am experiencing a flurry of emotions and look forward to posting pics and or video of my transformation. please stay tuned and let me know your thoughts. i could really use your support because though i have been natural for over a decade this is a big step for me. thanks

t minus 2 days to big chop

pardon the typing in this post. i am using my phone to post as i am in transit. i am t minus 2 days away from getting the big chop. i am experiencing a flurry of emotions and look forward to posting pics and or video of my transformation. please stay tuned and let me know your thoughts. i could really use your support because though i have been natural for over a decade this is a big step for me. thanks

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Denman Brush magic due to bristle placement

Yeahhh! A representative from Denman, makers of the famed Denman brush, was kind enough to respond to my email inquiring about the effectiveness of the brush. Here's my original email:


Hello,

I am a professor and I also blog on hair and identity. I'm wondering if there is any information that you can provide that explains why the Denman Brush works so well (especially on curly/kinky hair)?

Thanks!

Here's the response:

Dear Dr. Opie,


Thank you for your email.


The Denman D31 Freeflow Hairbrush is the most suitable brush for curly / kinky hair, as the nylon pins are widely-spaced and have a staggered formation, which allows for extra movement between the hair and the brush. It is particularly effective for detangling thick curly / kinky hair.


For your reference, I have attached an image of the D31 Freeflow Hairbrush and a link to our website for more information: http://www.denmanbrush.com/acatalog/Denman-D31-Medium-7-row-volumising-brush.html.


I hope this helps to explain the features and benefits of this particular hairbrush.


Kind regards


Claire



So, it sounds like the placement of the bristles has something to do with the wondrous outcomes I've heard so many kinky/curly heads describe. Hmm, I think I still need more info! :)

Denman Brush magic due to bristle placement

Yeahhh! A representative from Denman, makers of the famed Denman brush, was kind enough to respond to my email inquiring about the effectiveness of the brush. Here's my original email:

Hello,

I am a professor and I also blog on hair and identity. I'm wondering if there is any information that you can provide that explains why the Denman Brush works so well (especially on curly/kinky hair)?

Thanks!

Here's the response:

Dear Dr. Opie,

Thank you for your email.

The Denman D31 Freeflow Hairbrush is the most suitable brush for curly / kinky hair, as the nylon pins are widely-spaced and have a staggered formation, which allows for extra movement between the hair and the brush. It is particularly effective for detangling thick curly / kinky hair.

For your reference, I have attached an image of the D31 Freeflow Hairbrush and a link to our website for more information: http://www.denmanbrush.com/acatalog/Denman-D31-Medium-7-row-volumising-brush.html.

I hope this helps to explain the features and benefits of this particular hairbrush.

Kind regards

Claire


So, it sounds like the placement of the bristles has something to do with the wondrous outcomes I've heard so many kinky/curly heads describe. Hmm, I think I still need more info! :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Help: Hair Observations



Image found at: http://www.blackhairwigs.net/blog/wp-content/gallery/the-help-movie/the-help-movie-poster-550x814.jpg

I went to see The Help yesterday and I am FULL of emotion. Gratitude, anger, sadness, happiness. BUT, given the purpose of this blog, I will focus my reflections on hair and identity.

One of the main characters, Aibileen is a 53 year old housemaid who works for a White family in Jackson, Mississippi (every single time I spell Mississippi, I think about the Good Times episode…every single time, it never fails. I looked for a clip of this classic scene but I couldn’t find it. Boooo). Viola Davis does an exceptional job portraying Aibileen with dignity, depth…BRILLIANCE! At the beginning of the movie, Aibileen is shown soaking in her tub, her hair in neat cornrows. Then, we see her wig which she dutifully rolls and pins in the evening so that it’s ready to wear the next day. I wondered, what would have happened had she shown up at her patron’s home with cornrows in her hair. Pure drama that’s what. They would have taken one look at her and probably either sent her home to make herself “respectable” or fired her on the spot. It dawned on me that her wig was as much a part of her uniform as her crisply starched maid’s uniform, stockings and sturdy black shoes. Actually, as I recollect, she wore her wig whenever she went outside whether to work, church or down the street to her neighbor’s house. Was her natural hair something to be covered and kept out of sight? Why?

The other person who clearly wore a wig (other folks may have but it wasn’t clearly pointed out) in the movie was Charlotte, mother of the main character (Skeeter). Charlotte has a cancerous ulcer and has apparently lost her hair due to the disease and / or her treatment. She is shown modeling different wigs for Skeeter, finally settling on a wig that seems better-suited to her age and personality. It didn’t escape me that the Black woman wore a wig to cover up her natural, seemingly healthy hair while the White woman wore a wig because she was losing her hair due to disease. Am I the only one who sees the irony in that. I think it’s just amazing how societal norms can lead us to cover our authentic selves.

It was also interesting to note that Skeeter had a mane of curly red hair that was the subject of derision from her mother (and probably the Junior League women who swarmed around the town like a bunch of queen bees). Her hair was considered to be so unmanageable that her mother bought an $11 jumbo piece of equipment from another state (I believe it was called the Smoothenator or something like that) when she learned that her single daughter had a date with an eligible bachelor. The message: Girl, do something with this unruly curly hair so that you can snag a man.

The movie was about much more than hair, much, MUCH more. But I think that the little snippets I’ve shared reflect the movie’s message about how people enforce unspoken rules of conduct. Our hair has to fall in line just like everything else. Something to think about.

The Help: Hair Observations


Image found at: http://www.blackhairwigs.net/blog/wp-content/gallery/the-help-movie/the-help-movie-poster-550x814.jpg

I went to see The Help yesterday and I am FULL of emotion. Gratitude, anger, sadness, happiness. BUT, given the purpose of this blog, I will focus my reflections on hair and identity.

One of the main characters, Aibileen is a 53 year old housemaid who works for a White family in Jackson, Mississippi (every single time I spell Mississippi, I think about the Good Times episode…every single time, it never fails. I looked for a clip of this classic scene but I couldn’t find it. Boooo). Viola Davis does an exceptional job portraying Aibileen with dignity, depth…BRILLIANCE! At the beginning of the movie, Aibileen is shown soaking in her tub, her hair in neat cornrows. Then, we see her wig which she dutifully rolls and pins in the evening so that it’s ready to wear the next day. I wondered, what would have happened had she shown up at her patron’s home with cornrows in her hair. Pure drama that’s what. They would have taken one look at her and probably either sent her home to make herself “respectable” or fired her on the spot. It dawned on me that her wig was as much a part of her uniform as her crisply starched maid’s uniform, stockings and sturdy black shoes. Actually, as I recollect, she wore her wig whenever she went outside whether to work, church or down the street to her neighbor’s house. Was her natural hair something to be covered and kept out of sight? Why?

The other person who clearly wore a wig (other folks may have but it wasn’t clearly pointed out) in the movie was Charlotte, mother of the main character (Skeeter). Charlotte has a cancerous ulcer and has apparently lost her hair due to the disease and / or her treatment. She is shown modeling different wigs for Skeeter, finally settling on a wig that seems better-suited to her age and personality. It didn’t escape me that the Black woman wore a wig to cover up her natural, seemingly healthy hair while the White woman wore a wig because she was losing her hair due to disease. Am I the only one who sees the irony in that. I think it’s just amazing how societal norms can lead us to cover our authentic selves.

It was also interesting to note that Skeeter had a mane of curly red hair that was the subject of derision from her mother (and probably the Junior League women who swarmed around the town like a bunch of queen bees). Her hair was considered to be so unmanageable that her mother bought an $11 jumbo piece of equipment from another state (I believe it was called the Smoothenator or something like that) when she learned that her single daughter had a date with an eligible bachelor. The message: Girl, do something with this unruly curly hair so that you can snag a man.

The movie was about much more than hair, much, MUCH more. But I think that the little snippets I’ve shared reflect the movie’s message about how people enforce unspoken rules of conduct. Our hair has to fall in line just like everything else. Something to think about.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

New York Times article on TSA Natural Hair Patdowns



Image found at: http://www.rlc.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/tsa-logo.gif

I don’t know how you feel about airport security. I for one want to feel safe in the airport and have confidence that the plane, crew and passengers all pass the muster. Recently, however, I’ve been concerned that a lack of education may be causing natural hair wearers to receive disproportionate attention from Transportation Security Administrator (TSA) screeners. An article published yesterday on NYTimes.com (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/16/business/natural-hair-pat-downs-warrant-a-rethinking.html) explores this issue. The article does a nice job of addressing the notion that Black, women, natural hair wearers may experience “cultural pushback” even from other Black women. I’d add that the cultural pushback may even originate from the self. After all we are all affected by the cultural norms of the societies in which we live (you may disagree with the norms, rebel against them, decry them but you are still affected by them in some way, shape or fashion). I know I’ve had my share of personal moments when I looked at my kitchens (interesting blog about it: http://blackerberry.wordpress.com/2008/09/13/hair-changes-from-birth-the-kitchen-the-pick-pressing-hair/) and frowned, upset that I either had to “do something” to the hair on the nape of my neck or cover it up. Yes, cultural pushback is a real issue and I’m delighted that Mr. Sharkey raised this point.

I also appreciate the fact that Mr. Sharkey noted that White women with similarly voluminous hair do not seem to experience pat downs to the same degree as Black women natural hair wearers. Of course, Mr. Sharkey did not conduct an empirical study, however the anecdotal evidence suggests that there may indeed be differences in how the two groups of women are treated by TSA screeners. Wouldn’t it be great if the TSA investigated this? I guess folks would say that the TSA is too busy protecting us to protect our rights.

I also have a few issues with the article. It opens by saying that the protagonist, Ms.Nance, “has a thing about her hair” and quotes her as saying that she doesn’t use chemicals or straighteners and instead wears her natural texture. Why does this equate to having a thing about her hair? She is wearing her hair as it grows out of her head!!! Also, Mr. Sharkey refers to natural hair wearers as being defensive when they become irritated by requests to touch their hair. Now you KNOW how that can go over (insert). Hey, maybe I’m just another defensive natural hair wearer. But, I think if I asked to touch Mr. Sharkey’s underarm, mouth or some other personal area he might understand that it is human to negatively respond to violations of personal space. This is not something specific to natural hair wearers. It would have been great if Mr. Sharkey had drawn this parallel.

All in all, I would submit to a TSA screener patting down my hair but I would be asking questions the whole time. I know, some of you might think that I should keep my mouth shut. Hey, I can’t do that, this is me pushing back on culture.

New York Times article on TSA Natural Hair Patdowns


Image found at: http://www.rlc.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/tsa-logo.gif

I don’t know how you feel about airport security. I for one want to feel safe in the airport and have confidence that the plane, crew and passengers all pass the muster. Recently, however, I’ve been concerned that a lack of education may be causing natural hair wearers to receive disproportionate attention from Transportation Security Administrator (TSA) screeners. An article published yesterday on NYTimes.com (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/16/business/natural-hair-pat-downs-warrant-a-rethinking.html) explores this issue. The article does a nice job of addressing the notion that Black, women, natural hair wearers may experience “cultural pushback” even from other Black women. I’d add that the cultural pushback may even originate from the self. After all we are all affected by the cultural norms of the societies in which we live (you may disagree with the norms, rebel against them, decry them but you are still affected by them in some way, shape or fashion). I know I’ve had my share of personal moments when I looked at my kitchens (interesting blog about it: http://blackerberry.wordpress.com/2008/09/13/hair-changes-from-birth-the-kitchen-the-pick-pressing-hair/) and frowned, upset that I either had to “do something” to the hair on the nape of my neck or cover it up. Yes, cultural pushback is a real issue and I’m delighted that Mr. Sharkey raised this point.

I also appreciate the fact that Mr. Sharkey noted that White women with similarly voluminous hair do not seem to experience pat downs to the same degree as Black women natural hair wearers. Of course, Mr. Sharkey did not conduct an empirical study, however the anecdotal evidence suggests that there may indeed be differences in how the two groups of women are treated by TSA screeners. Wouldn’t it be great if the TSA investigated this? I guess folks would say that the TSA is too busy protecting us to protect our rights.

I also have a few issues with the article. It opens by saying that the protagonist, Ms.Nance, “has a thing about her hair” and quotes her as saying that she doesn’t use chemicals or straighteners and instead wears her natural texture. Why does this equate to having a thing about her hair? She is wearing her hair as it grows out of her head!!! Also, Mr. Sharkey refers to natural hair wearers as being defensive when they become irritated by requests to touch their hair. Now you KNOW how that can go over (insert). Hey, maybe I’m just another defensive natural hair wearer. But, I think if I asked to touch Mr. Sharkey’s underarm, mouth or some other personal area he might understand that it is human to negatively respond to violations of personal space. This is not something specific to natural hair wearers. It would have been great if Mr. Sharkey had drawn this parallel.

All in all, I would submit to a TSA screener patting down my hair but I would be asking questions the whole time. I know, some of you might think that I should keep my mouth shut. Hey, I can’t do that, this is me pushing back on culture.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Ethnocentrism

The idea that my natural hair journey may also be contributing to economic empowerment for U.S. small business owners is rather gratifying. However, as a researcher I like to look into the details to make sure that my assumptions are correct. For example, I was reading up on hair care market research and saw that Namaste Laboratories actually had a revenue increase during the current economic crisis. GREAT! I’m not surprised because Namaste’s flagship product line, Organic Root Stimulator, is rather popular.


However, I didn’t know that Namaste, founded in Chicago by Gary Gardner (the son of the family who founded Soft Sheen, http://www.beautytimes.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=3835), was recently sold to an Indian-based firm Dabur. Did you know that? When on Dabur’s website (www.dabur.com) I looked for the Namaste brand but I could not find it, even under the site’s international reach section. However, I found teleconference transcripts on Dabur’s site that verified the purchase (http://www.dabur.com/en/investors1/DIL-Transcript-Inv_Conf_Call-Namaste_Labs_Acquisition-18.10.10.pdf, http://www.dabur.com/en/investors1/DIL-Transcript-Inv.%20Conf.%20Call-28.04.11.pdf).


I must admit, I’m feeling ethnocentric. I want to be able to say that Organic Root Stimulator is owned by a Black family based here in the United States. Perhaps I’m being nostalgic but it saddened me to learn that it was sold. How do you feel about it? Maybe I’m just overreacting?

Ethnocentrism

The idea that my natural hair journey may also be contributing to economic empowerment for U.S. small business owners is rather gratifying. However, as a researcher I like to look into the details to make sure that my assumptions are correct. For example, I was reading up on hair care market research and saw that Namaste Laboratories actually had a revenue increase during the current economic crisis. GREAT! I’m not surprised because Namaste’s flagship product line, Organic Root Stimulator, is rather popular.

However, I didn’t know that Namaste, founded in Chicago by Gary Gardner (the son of the family who founded Soft Sheen, http://www.beautytimes.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=3835), was recently sold to an Indian-based firm Dabur. Did you know that? When on Dabur’s website (www.dabur.com) I looked for the Namaste brand but I could not find it, even under the site’s international reach section. However, I found teleconference transcripts on Dabur’s site that verified the purchase (http://www.dabur.com/en/investors1/DIL-Transcript-Inv_Conf_Call-Namaste_Labs_Acquisition-18.10.10.pdf, http://www.dabur.com/en/investors1/DIL-Transcript-Inv.%20Conf.%20Call-28.04.11.pdf).

I must admit, I’m feeling ethnocentric. I want to be able to say that Organic Root Stimulator is owned by a Black family based here in the United States. Perhaps I’m being nostalgic but it saddened me to learn that it was sold. How do you feel about it? Maybe I’m just overreacting?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Huffington Post Article on Natural Hair

Image found at: http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcR2tSarouiSglKXgzLLlDZfByhoT8MPwf8taFBs2JGSFiqzFe1qqQ


I just finished reading an outstanding Huffington Post article by Janell Ross http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/04/black-hair-natural-relaxed-_n_918200.html). Ms. Ross's article, "Natural or Relaxed, For Black Women, Hair is Not a Settled Matter", is well-written and full of information
.

I wanted to share the article with you all for several reasons. First, the article suggests that something is definitely afoot when it comes to more and more women opting out of chemical straighteners and diving into the world of natural hair. Each of us probably knows someone who has either Big Chopped or is transitioning to natural hair. But, I didn’t realize that chemical relaxer sales have declined by 12% in the last two years! Did you know that?

Second, I love the fact that the article delves into the social stigma associated with natural hair. In fact, the article opens with a church woman questioning why so many of the young women at her church were wearing their natural hair to church. That made me laugh out loud because one of the places where I heard that my dreadlocks were inappropriate was in church. I am grateful that as a Christian I happen to be personally familiar with the Bible and could quickly see that that was someone’s personal opinion NOT The Gospel. Amen to reading scripture and seeking holistic insight (i.e., don’t just read one scripture of out context). I also recall my older family members being astonished when I first Big Chopped over a decade ago. My Mom told me the other day that when she first saw my TWA she said, “That nut went off and cut off all of her hair”. HAHA!! My mother is precious and you have to hear her soft Southern accent to feel the full impact of her statement. The funny thing is that my Mother went natural a few years ago and is toying with it again now. Hey,she’ll tell you that relaxer-thinned hair is not her look of choice.

Third, the article made me reflect on the impending glances, comments and murmurs I may encounter once I go back to school with my own TWA. People identify me as the tall black woman with dreadlocks. Well, that is going to change. I am so excited about learning more about my hair. The first time I wore a TWA I grew it out and kept it in double-stranded twists, too afraid to unbound my hair. Now, I want to ROCK a natural in its many shapes and styles. I am ready to confront my own notion of beauty, femininity and style. I am ready to explore.

Finally, I had never heard of Uncle Funky’s Daughter (http://www.unclefunkysdaughter.com). The name alone makes me adore this natural hair care company already. I will have to try out the products on the next phase of my journey.

Huffington Post Article on Natural Hair

Image found at: http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcR2tSarouiSglKXgzLLlDZfByhoT8MPwf8taFBs2JGSFiqzFe1qqQ

I just finished reading an outstanding Huffington Post article by Janell Ross http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/04/black-hair-natural-relaxed-_n_918200.html). Ms. Ross's article, "Natural or Relaxed, For Black Women, Hair is Not a Settled Matter", is well-written and full of information
.

I wanted to share the article with you all for several reasons. First, the article suggests that something is definitely afoot when it comes to more and more women opting out of chemical straighteners and diving into the world of natural hair. Each of us probably knows someone who has either Big Chopped or is transitioning to natural hair. But, I didn’t realize that chemical relaxer sales have declined by 12% in the last two years! Did you know that?

Second, I love the fact that the article delves into the social stigma associated with natural hair. In fact, the article opens with a church woman questioning why so many of the young women at her church were wearing their natural hair to church. That made me laugh out loud because one of the places where I heard that my dreadlocks were inappropriate was in church. I am grateful that as a Christian I happen to be personally familiar with the Bible and could quickly see that that was someone’s personal opinion NOT The Gospel. Amen to reading scripture and seeking holistic insight (i.e., don’t just read one scripture of out context). I also recall my older family members being astonished when I first Big Chopped over a decade ago. My Mom told me the other day that when she first saw my TWA she said, “That nut went off and cut off all of her hair”. HAHA!! My mother is precious and you have to hear her soft Southern accent to feel the full impact of her statement. The funny thing is that my Mother went natural a few years ago and is toying with it again now. Hey,she’ll tell you that relaxer-thinned hair is not her look of choice.

Third, the article made me reflect on the impending glances, comments and murmurs I may encounter once I go back to school with my own TWA. People identify me as the tall black woman with dreadlocks. Well, that is going to change. I am so excited about learning more about my hair. The first time I wore a TWA I grew it out and kept it in double-stranded twists, too afraid to unbound my hair. Now, I want to ROCK a natural in its many shapes and styles. I am ready to confront my own notion of beauty, femininity and style. I am ready to explore.

Finally, I had never heard of Uncle Funky’s Daughter (http://www.unclefunkysdaughter.com). The name alone makes me adore this natural hair care company already. I will have to try out the products on the next phase of my journey.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Dreadlock Picking Mess

Yesterday was a hilarious hair day for me. For those of you who’ve been tuning in to the blog on a regular basis, you know that I vacillate between adoring my locs and wanting to have an afro. Well, yesterday, I got the bright idea of trying to pick out a loc to see how much length I would have. I went to CVS bought some conditioner, a rat tail comb and went to work. I followed the simpler directions I’d found on taking down locs (http://www.ehow.com/how_2093196_take-down-dreadlocks.html) rather than the more complex directions which require knot remover cream (http://www.treasuredlocks.com/howtorelo.html). I just soaked my hair with water and conditioner and went to work. HA! I spent hours, I mean HOURS picking at ONE loc and it is still not fully detangled. I do have a lot of loosened hair but I just don’t think that I have the patience to pick out my entire head. Seriously, it would take MONTHS to do it.

I plan to Big Chop between 8//21 and 8/26 so pray that I find a good stylist and that I keep up my courage to do it (I can be a real chicken). One of my journalist girlfriends even plans to film it for me. Please tune into the blog often so that you can be one of the first to see my transformation!

Dreadlock Picking Mess

Yesterday was a hilarious hair day for me. For those of you who’ve been tuning in to the blog on a regular basis, you know that I vacillate between adoring my locs and wanting to have an afro. Well, yesterday, I got the bright idea of trying to pick out a loc to see how much length I would have. I went to CVS bought some conditioner, a rat tail comb and went to work. I followed the simpler directions I’d found on taking down locs (http://www.ehow.com/how_2093196_take-down-dreadlocks.html) rather than the more complex directions which require knot remover cream (http://www.treasuredlocks.com/howtorelo.html). I just soaked my hair with water and conditioner and went to work. HA! I spent hours, I mean HOURS picking at ONE loc and it is still not fully detangled. I do have a lot of loosened hair but I just don’t think that I have the patience to pick out my entire head. Seriously, it would take MONTHS to do it.

I plan to Big Chop between 8//21 and 8/26 so pray that I find a good stylist and that I keep up my courage to do it (I can be a real chicken). One of my journalist girlfriends even plans to film it for me. Please tune into the blog often so that you can be one of the first to see my transformation!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Denman Brush

Yesterday, I sent the following email to Denman International, the makers of the infamous Denman Brush (http://www.denmanbrush.com/index.html):

Hello,

I am a professor and I also blog on hair and identity. I'm wondering if there is any information that you can provide that explains why the Denman Brush works so well (especially on curly/kinky hair)?

Thanks!

I am very curious to hear back. I’ve heard that the Denman brush is a great detangler and curl definer. As a loc wearer (for now!), I haven’t had cause to use one in a LONG time (though my Mom used them on my hair back in the day). Do you all use them? What other tools do you use to detangle your hair? To define your curls?

Denman Brush

Yesterday, I sent the following email to Denman International, the makers of the infamous Denman Brush (http://www.denmanbrush.com/index.html):

Hello,

I am a professor and I also blog on hair and identity. I'm wondering if there is any information that you can provide that explains why the Denman Brush works so well (especially on curly/kinky hair)?

Thanks!

I am very curious to hear back. I’ve heard that the Denman brush is a great detangler and curl definer. As a loc wearer (for now!), I haven’t had cause to use one in a LONG time (though my Mom used them on my hair back in the day). Do you all use them? What other tools do you use to detangle your hair? To define your curls?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Natural Hair Rules: To Follow or Not to Follow



Image found at:
http://www.kisforkinky.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/natural-hair-nevers1.jpg


Reflections on WhoisSugar's "How to Do You with Natural Hair"


I needed a good laugh today, so I went back to a YouTube channel that always brings me a deep chuckle (you know the kind that you feel in your belly?)! Whoissugar is HILARIOUS to me. In her videos she is able to balance humor with great information. Here is a video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGy-umrnG9o) she did earlier this year on “how to do you with natural hair”. Her main message is that there appear to be a million and one natural hair rules and, perhaps, they infringe on our ability to fully express ourselves. Here are a few of her comments:


1. If you want to flat iron your hair every day for the rest of your natural hair life, do it
2. If you want to use a fine-tooth comb to comb your hair with and start at the root do you
3. If you refuse to use a Denman brush on your hair to detangle it, do you
4. If you want to have weave on top of your natural hair, that’s alright
5. If you want to put vagina cream and horse products and silicones and baby urine or whatever in your hair to make it grow faster or whatever, do you
6. If you sleep on cotton sheet, with a cotton pillowcase and a cotton scarf, wrapped with a cotton bonnet with cotton ponytail holder in your head, if that’s what you want to do you, do you


I like the video because it sheds light on how natural hair itself can become bondage if we’re not careful. Not the natural hair itself but the rules that we or others may impose on us natural hair wearers. For me, natural hair is about FREEDOM. DO YOU!


What natural hair rules have you heard of? Do you or don’t you abide by them? Why?



Natural Hair Rules: To Follow or Not to Follow


Image found at:
http://www.kisforkinky.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/natural-hair-nevers1.jpg

Reflections on WhoisSugar's "How to Do You with Natural Hair"

I needed a good laugh today, so I went back to a YouTube channel that always brings me a deep chuckle (you know the kind that you feel in your belly?)! Whoissugar is HILARIOUS to me. In her videos she is able to balance humor with great information. Here is a video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGy-umrnG9o) she did earlier this year on “how to do you with natural hair”. Her main message is that there appear to be a million and one natural hair rules and, perhaps, they infringe on our ability to fully express ourselves. Here are a few of her comments:

1. If you want to flat iron your hair every day for the rest of your natural hair life, do it
2. If you want to use a fine-tooth comb to comb your hair with and start at the root do you
3. If you refuse to use a Denman brush on your hair to detangle it, do you
4. If you want to have weave on top of your natural hair, that’s alright
5. If you want to put vagina cream and horse products and silicones and baby urine or whatever in your hair to make it grow faster or whatever, do you
6. If you sleep on cotton sheet, with a cotton pillowcase and a cotton scarf, wrapped with a cotton bonnet with cotton ponytail holder in your head, if that’s what you want to do you, do you

I like the video because it sheds light on how natural hair itself can become bondage if we’re not careful. Not the natural hair itself but the rules that we or others may impose on us natural hair wearers. For me, natural hair is about FREEDOM. DO YOU!

What natural hair rules have you heard of? Do you or don’t you abide by them? Why?


Monday, August 8, 2011

Hair Care Thriving During Weak Economy

Note: I apologize for the crazy font / text in this post. There is something wrong with Blogger. I'll correct it once I figure out the solution

Image taken from: https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-85CxsIHXzlI/TYAJD-wUDTI/AAAAAAAAAOw/-TXW2e4XN5U/s640/aestheticimprovement.jpg

Who knew that natural hair care might be an oasis in the midst of the current financial crisis? Sabrina Tavernise penned an 8/6/11 New York Times article entitled, “A thriving growth area in a weak economy: Hair” that addresses this point (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/07/us/07hair.html). The article reports that while consumers may cut many things from their budget during an economic down turn, hair care is not one of them. Call me crazy, but I could have told you that! Really, I know lots of ladies who will stop planning luxury trips, weekly mani/pedis and monthly shopping extravaganzas in order to keep their regularly scheduled hair appointments. One woman in the article even compared getting her hair done to keeping her lights on. Now THAT might be a bit far for me (who can see your hair anyway if you don’t have electricity?) but I get the gist. Hair matters!

Another interesting note was that some women are even turning to the hair care industry for employment given the slow job market. I came across an interesting blog that talks about this from the perspective of the “informal urban economy” as JE, the blog author referred to it (see “If you can do braids, you can get paid!”: http://thesolarpoweredumbrella.blogspot.com/2011_03_01_archive.html). Where there is a will, there is a way.



Hair Care Thriving During Weak Economy

Note: I apologize for the crazy font / text in this post. There is something wrong with Blogger. I'll correct it once I figure out the solution

Image taken from: https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-85CxsIHXzlI/TYAJD-wUDTI/AAAAAAAAAOw/-TXW2e4XN5U/s640/aestheticimprovement.jpg

Who knew that natural hair care might be an oasis in the midst of the current financial crisis? Sabrina Tavernise penned an 8/6/11 New York Times article entitled, “A thriving growth area in a weak economy: Hair” that addresses this point (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/07/us/07hair.html). The article reports that while consumers may cut many things from their budget during an economic down turn, hair care is not one of them. Call me crazy, but I could have told you that! Really, I know lots of ladies who will stop planning luxury trips, weekly mani/pedis and monthly shopping extravaganzas in order to keep their regularly scheduled hair appointments. One woman in the article even compared getting her hair done to keeping her lights on. Now THAT might be a bit far for me (who can see your hair anyway if you don’t have electricity?) but I get the gist. Hair matters!

Another interesting note was that some women are even turning to the hair care industry for employment given the slow job market. I came across an interesting blog that talks about this from the perspective of the “informal urban economy” as JE, the blog author referred to it (see “If you can do braids, you can get paid!”: http://thesolarpoweredumbrella.blogspot.com/2011_03_01_archive.html). Where there is a will, there is a way.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Hair and Exercise

I apologize for the crazy font / text in this post. There is something wrong with Blogger. I'll correct it once I figure out the solution. Thanks!

After yesterday’s INTENSE workout with my new personal trainer, I am still rocking my headband in an attempt to contain the afro at the roots of my dreadlocks (I’m back to growing my hair out again…don’t ask, I seem to be going through an indecisive hair phase).

The fro at the roots is fine with me though. As I’ve said before, I am not going to allow my hair to stop me from working out. Here is a news report about the relationship between hair and exercise: http://perfectly-pretty.com/2010/04/22/unique-perspectivehow-womans-hair-effects-womans-health/.

Here are a few resources to help take care of your hair and exercise (I’ve included information for people with natural and chemically altered hair): http://curlychic.com/excersise-hair-care-tip-how-to-protect-your-curly-hair-while-you-workout/;http://thefitnessgoddess.blogspot.com/2008/08/hair-products-for-black-women-that.html;http://www.curlynikki.com/2011/02/exercise-routines-and-natural-hair.html;http://www.ehow.com/how_5177077_maintain-exercise-african-american-women.html;http://blacknaturalhaircare.net/tag/exercise/;http://chocolateorchid.blogspot.com/2009/12/hair-exercise-sweat.html.

Hair and Exercise

I apologize for the crazy font / text in this post. There is something wrong with Blogger. I'll correct it once I figure out the solution. Thanks!

After yesterday’s INTENSE workout with my new personal trainer, I am still rocking my headband in an attempt to contain the afro at the roots of my dreadlocks (I’m back to growing my hair out again…don’t ask, I seem to be going through an indecisive hair phase).

The fro at the roots is fine with me though. As I’ve said before, I am not going to allow my hair to stop me from working out. Here is a news report about the relationship between hair and exercise: http://perfectly-pretty.com/2010/04/22/unique-perspectivehow-womans-hair-effects-womans-health/.

Here are a few resources to help take care of your hair and exercise (I’ve included information for people with natural and chemically altered hair): http://curlychic.com/excersise-hair-care-tip-how-to-protect-your-curly-hair-while-you-workout/;http://thefitnessgoddess.blogspot.com/2008/08/hair-products-for-black-women-that.html;http://www.curlynikki.com/2011/02/exercise-routines-and-natural-hair.html;http://www.ehow.com/how_5177077_maintain-exercise-african-american-women.html;http://blacknaturalhaircare.net/tag/exercise/;http://chocolateorchid.blogspot.com/2009/12/hair-exercise-sweat.html.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Work Out Hairstyles


Image found at: http://bp2.blogger.com/_M5ZAyfJKD40/SGV7fe3K2ZI/AAAAAAAAAH4/rb4CInBqVpI/s320/Exercise.jpg

Rule #1 of personal training: do NOT tell your new personal trainer that you used to run track. Today was my first day working out with Bismark Osei. Oh my goodness. What an amazing workout. By the end, I'd sweated out my roots and I had two different hairstyles: a mini-afro at the roots and dreadlocks on the ends. Thank the Lord for headbands!

How do you protectively style your hair when you workout? What tips do you have for work out styles? Has your hair ever prevented you from working out?

Work Out Hairstyles


Image found at: http://bp2.blogger.com/_M5ZAyfJKD40/SGV7fe3K2ZI/AAAAAAAAAH4/rb4CInBqVpI/s320/Exercise.jpg

Rule #1 of personal training: do NOT tell your new personal trainer that you used to run track. Today was my first day working out with Bismark Osei. Oh my goodness. What an amazing workout. By the end, I'd sweated out my roots and I had two different hairstyles: a mini-afro at the roots and dreadlocks on the ends. Thank the Lord for headbands!

How do you protectively style your hair when you workout? What tips do you have for work out styles? Has your hair ever prevented you from working out?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Relaxer Versus Natural Hair: A Verdict on Ethnic Pride?


Image found at: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-BfysM1hhZg4/TejvXVGHqYI/AAAAAAAAAqE/M7HFpPnpXJQ/s1600/307841.jpg

Today’s post is short, sweet (I hope) and to the point:

If you put chemicals (e.g., relaxer, Brazilian blowout, etc.) in your hair you are denying your ethnicity.

You should be able to wear your hair however you like and not have your ethnic identification be questioned.

What is your response to those two statements? How do the statements make you feel? Have you ever had someone express these sentiments to you? Please comment and tell me a little bit about yourself. J

Relaxer Versus Natural Hair: A Verdict on Ethnic Pride?

Today’s post is short, sweet (I hope) and to the point:

If you put chemicals (e.g., relaxer, Brazilian blowout, etc.) in your hair you are denying your ethnicity.

You should be able to wear your hair however you like and not have your ethnic identification be questioned.

What is your response to those two statements? How do the statements make you feel? Have you ever had someone express these sentiments to you? Please comment and tell me a little bit about yourself. J




Image found at: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-BfysM1hhZg4/TejvXVGHqYI/AAAAAAAAAqE/M7HFpPnpXJQ/s1600/307841.jpg

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Natural Hair Causes Damage? Say WHAT!!!???


Image found at: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_37PkyoJ9DlE/S_69_adx3_I/AAAAAAAAAMI/e2PcOJtGTz0/s1600/african-american-women-suffering-hair-loss.jpg

The following text was copied from a 7/24/11 article by Zuri Brannen of the Observer-Dispatch article entitled, “Hair trends: Women choosing new styles over chemicals” (http://www.uticaod.com/living/x1009570588/Hair-trends-Women-choosing-new-styles-over-chemicals):

All-natural options


Of course, not everyone follows the crowd. Many women still prefer to wear their hair relaxed because they find it easier to manage. Laly Marte, owner of Laly’s Beauty Salon in Utica, said that relaxers are something that some women have grown accustomed to.


“Once you try something new, it’s hard to go back to what you had before,” she said.

Marte encourages women to use relaxers, and does not suggest that they wear their hair natural because it also causes damage.


“If you leave your hair natural, it breaks off,” she said.


Rachel Yangasa, 15, has been getting relaxers since she was eight years old, and said she prefers to keep it that way because it makes her hair straighter and easier to manage. She said that she would never wear her hair natural because of how difficult it would be to maintain it.


“It would be like an afro,” she said.


But her younger sister, 12-year-old Ticia Yangasa, gave up relaxers last year in favor of a chemical-free alternative: wash and sets from hair salons. Stylists wash and straighten her hair using blow dryers and hot irons so that it can still be straight without using chemicals.

Since Ticia switched, she’s noticed that it has helped her hair to grow better, and it is more healthy, she said.


I don’t know if you noticed the comment by Ms. Marte that wearing your hair natural causes it to break off. SAY WHAT!!!! Now, I’m not the natural hair police snatching women up when they get relaxers (wow, is it really necessary, let folks make their own choices!) but I certainly think it’s uncool to say that natural hair causes damage. What do you all think? Have you ever received advice like this?Please share your story and how you responded.

Natural Hair Causes Damage? Say WHAT!!!???


Image found at: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_37PkyoJ9DlE/S_69_adx3_I/AAAAAAAAAMI/e2PcOJtGTz0/s1600/african-american-women-suffering-hair-loss.jpg

The following text was copied from a 7/24/11 article by Zuri Brannen of the Observer-Dispatch article entitled, “Hair trends: Women choosing new styles over chemicals” (http://www.uticaod.com/living/x1009570588/Hair-trends-Women-choosing-new-styles-over-chemicals):

All-natural options


Of course, not everyone follows the crowd. Many women still prefer to wear their hair relaxed because they find it easier to manage. Laly Marte, owner of Laly’s Beauty Salon in Utica, said that relaxers are something that some women have grown accustomed to.


“Once you try something new, it’s hard to go back to what you had before,” she said.

Marte encourages women to use relaxers, and does not suggest that they wear their hair natural because it also causes damage.


“If you leave your hair natural, it breaks off,” she said.


Rachel Yangasa, 15, has been getting relaxers since she was eight years old, and said she prefers to keep it that way because it makes her hair straighter and easier to manage. She said that she would never wear her hair natural because of how difficult it would be to maintain it.


“It would be like an afro,” she said.


But her younger sister, 12-year-old Ticia Yangasa, gave up relaxers last year in favor of a chemical-free alternative: wash and sets from hair salons. Stylists wash and straighten her hair using blow dryers and hot irons so that it can still be straight without using chemicals.

Since Ticia switched, she’s noticed that it has helped her hair to grow better, and it is more healthy, she said.


I don’t know if you noticed the comment by Ms. Marte that wearing your hair natural causes it to break off. SAY WHAT!!!! Now, I’m not the natural hair police snatching women up when they get relaxers (wow, is it really necessary, let folks make their own choices!) but I certainly think it’s uncool to say that natural hair causes damage. What do you all think? Have you ever received advice like this?Please share your story and how you responded.