You Have Taught Me

When I wrote The Definition of Natural last week, I knew it would be a controversial post. 46 of you and counting offered your perspective, and I learned quite a bit from the discussion. After a while, there were so many comments I didn’t know who to respond to first. So here’s what you guys taught me, and my definition of “natural.”

Everyone more or less agrees that natural hair springs wild and curly from the root. A natural woman wears her hair without chemical treatments to alter it’s texture. Some of you even add hair color to the list of chemicals (which would make the color I am going to get over Christmas unnatural).

A 100% natural woman doesn’t wear wigs, or have hair extensions of any kind. She wears her hair as it grows, and uses products and hairstyles that enhance and protect her natural kinks and curls.

We women who wear our hair as it was intended are an assertive and opinionated bunch. For many of us the decision to shun the chemical fire cream was a difficult one, fraught with hurtful comments from family, friends, and strangers. For many, going natural is an act of defiance against what society dictates a beautiful black woman “should” look like.

The judgment of others has created a community of rebels. When I see other naturally curly, afro or lock wearing bellas on the street, we smile. We nod. We acknowledge each other. The Afrobella response to continually being made to feel “not as beautiful”, “unprofessional,” or “unpresentable” is an inflated self-esteem, pride in nappiness, and oftentimes, a wicked superiority complex.

Here is where the danger lies.

Isis has worn every hairstyle under the sun, and she eloquently explains, “I used to hate when women looked at me as less because I had added some hair to my locks, implying that I was not a real “natural”. I am a natural woman…sister…friend – and I have come to the conclusion that (natural) is not defined by my hair, but by my heart.”

And one of my favorite commenters, SlumBeautiful, made an excellent point. “Being “natural” does not and should not define who or what a person is, and that is where a lot of nappturals get it confused. I was actually introduced to being nappy by a nappy-nazi, and being young, I really fed into all the crap about what I am supposed to be now that I am natural. Unfortunately that is where the thin line becomes transparent and where most nappturals go wrong because they need to be defined. Somehow, that natural hair definition crosses over to a judgment of someones character and that is pure BS…I love to recruit people and tell them about my life as a nappy girl but I don’t feel any superiority over anyone else nor do I think that I am more real than anyone else,” she says.

Amen to that! I have teetered close to being that “nappy-nazi.” Ask Mama Bella ’bout that. Whenever she complains about her hair, I always tell her she should just go natural. And her response is often along the lines of “no,” and sometimes a four-letter-word gets thrown in there just for fun.

Chemical straightener and dye has damaged her hair, and in the past she has had to wear extensions to mask the damage. Now that her hair is healthy again she doesn’t need the weave anymore, but that doesn’t mean she sees anything wrong with wearing one. I just called her for a quote on this. “It’s just like my lashes. Julie says, if anyone asks you where you got such long lashes, just tell them “I paid for them.” And leave it at that because it’s none of their effing business.”

Alrighty then. Mama Bella’s experience ties in with some of my readers, who are sending in Ask Afrobella questions that I’m not qualified enough to answer, about serious issues like alopecia or thinning hair (Bellas, I will try to find professional advice for your questions but that might not happen until 2007. I’ve got a lot of travel scheduled for December. But two of my Afrobella goals are to find a professional hairdresser and a dermatologist to answer serious questions like these).

Jazmin, look for a post on deep conditioning and moisturizers soon!

It’s important to care for your hair. Whether you’re rocking a TWA or a three feet of weave, treat your hair like you would treat an invaluable silk gown. Cherish it, wash it carefully, and it will respond to the love you show.

I guess I kind of see hair extensions and wigs as akin to breast implants. Some women get them because they honestly need them, to look and feel normal and to boost their self esteem. Even more women get them just because they’re fun, and long hair equals femininity. Some women get ridiculous, long, big, over-the-top weaves for attention. And it’s their prerogative. Who am I to tell anyone how they should wear their hair? It’s your thing, do what you wanna do. Whether you buy it at the store, or pay beaucoup bucks to have it styled every three weeks, or you’re a napptural sista who makes her own products with honey and olive oil, it’s important to admire who you see in the mirror.

Hair doesn’t make you a better person. True beauty comes from within, and I think it’s important to embrace who you are and love yourself without adornment first. Then make decisions for the right reasons, not to fit into a fad or to look like that video girl you see on Sucker Free Sunday. I personally would like to see more of a balance in the media – if I can’t get music videos with tastefully clad women, let’s at least have Afrobellas with thick coils of hair being embraced as desirable right alongside the traditional blond extensioned broads.

It makes me sad to hear women say “I could never go natural,”, or “my hair is too nappy to be natural.” Half of the time, these are people who believe the lies that the media has told us, who believe in contrived, outdated concepts of “good hair” versus “bad hair.” All hair is good. If you nurture it and give it time to grow, you might give yourself a pleasant surprise. “Natural” is about strength and confidence. Patience is also a natural-hair virtue, because it takes time to find the right products and styling techniques.

Going natural has worked for me. I don’t have to worry about getting my hair wet, or not having the dough to go to the salon. In laying down the relaxer, I’ve finally been able to relax and that feels wonderful. But what’s right for me isn’t right for everyone else, and wearing extensions or using chemicals to achieve the texture you want doesn’t make you a traitor. Whatever makes you feel beautiful, bellas!

So regardless of whether or not Leela James is natural, she provides a role model we can aspire to. I for one certainly hope that her locks are her own, but even if they’re not, the pride with which she wears her hair and the larger-than-life presence that her lion’s mane gives her is inspiring. In that sense, she really does epitomize what Afrobella is all about – embracing and celebrating untraditional beauty, and facing the world with confidence no matter what.

And that’s a philosophy I believe any bella can get behind, regardless of your hair texture or shade of beauty.

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Comments

  1. This is a great post… I absolutely loved it. When I decided to go natural a couple of years ago the seperation on different hair boards is what bothered me the most. I didn’t think I was better than anybody else because I decided to go natural. I also didn’t like the different hierarchies about hair texture or beliefs so I kind of shied away from the boards. Not to mention the fact that natural seemed like another way to keep black women seperated (light skin v dark skin, natural v. relaxed, natural v. napptural).
    Continue to spread the positive vibes….

  2. Thank you for taking the time to explain in detail…What I believe is a fact..” I am not defined by my hair….but my heart….

    Afrobella….Thanks again my Sistren

    Be Blessed

  3. You should post that song by India.Arie “I am not my hair” it fits perfectly.

  4. Wow. This post is unbelievable. You touched on so many important points and at the end of the day, it truly is what’s on the inside that counts. Thank you for this.

  5. Very interesting post. I wear my hair natural and it is the best thing I have done. I sometimes wear my
    hair out like Leela’s but mine is not that long yet.
    Is it possible for you to post where natural
    looking weaves like Leela’s can be bought. I would
    like to add some length to my hair like Leela’s.

  6. BRAVO ‘Bella! You have touched on the points everyone who commented were trying to make, only in a more eloquent manner, of course. :o) BTW, can’t wait to see your information on conditioning tips. I think that keeping your hair properly conditioned and moisturized–regardless of its texture–is a very important and often misapplied step in hair care.

  7. This is a beautiful and informative post.
    I’ve always thought that once you’ve learned to love your face without make-up and your hair without chemicals and your body without clothes, you’re free to adorn youself however you want. If other people want to politicize your hair or dress that’s their issue.

  8. Shonquayshah says:

    thank you so much…i am going “natural” as I type…i haven’t put the “chemical fire cream” in my head for about 5 months or more. i will be rocking a twa sometime next year and am contemplating braids, etc…for the mean-time. 1/2 natural + 1/2 perm = not cute!

    by the way…people used to comment on my daughters hair (she is a beautiful black child of two african-american parents and was born with straight black hair) when people used to say…oh she’s got “good” hair, i’d say “if your a woman and you have hair, that’s good” of course now her hair is nappy because i foolishly put the “chemical fire cream” in her hair a couple of years ago, cause she didn’t want to comb it and i got tired of dealing with it….i should have done THEN, what she’s doin’ now…rockin’ braids!

  9. i don’t think its about being natural or un-natural at all. its about being better educated on how to take care of your hair. most of the relaxers (and naturals) that don’t grow or fall out is because of ignorance about healthy hair maintainance coupled with the pressure to fit within the long hair beauty paradigm. hell most of the professional black salons over process hair and encourage dependence on relaxers and products. if people didnt over process their hair in the first place it would probably grow, check out the long hair care forum – the relaxed hair equivalent to nappturality. its simply its an aesthetic choice, do you wanna be straight, afro-ed, locked, braided? either way you still have to maintain it, if you want it to thrive. and it really shouldn’t be a judgement on one hair type or the other. if anything we can benefit from the fact of having a whole bunch of options and what these nappturality ladies are doing is pioneering research on how to really grow and maintain natural black hair which is something that it looks like the whole race has been ignorant about since forever. amen! thanks for the minute;-)

  10. I think this is such an interesting topic. I’ve seen several close friends make the transition to “natural” hair, and dropping the relaxer. The transition is more than just physical, it’s like they’re exploring and finding themselves.
    Although I consider myself to be “natural”, my curl type is a bit looser than theirs. Mine ranges from mostly 3B to a lil’ 3A, so it’s much more socially accepted, while my friends all have kinky-type hair. But of course I support them in their quest for “nappturality” (if that is a word).
    It is true that we, as AfroBella women, do invest a lot emotionally into our hair. Hair is much more than just something on our heads, it’s more like our identity. We define ourselves by our hair. Not all of us, and certainly everyone does it to certain degrees. I’ll just never forget one instance I had with my Auntie after cutting my hair.
    My auntie is from St. Thomas, and I hadn’t seen her in several years. As a child, my hair was usually kept in a braid down my back, and this was a great source of pride for my Auntie. She used to tell me that my hair was a gift from God, and that I should never cut it. As a 9 year old child, I went along with that. But as a 23 year old woman, I’m doing what I want! When she saw me, my hair was about chin or shoulder-length. Her first words to me? “What?! You cut your hair? I don’t like it!”. LOL! She made a huge deal, a 30 minute lecture, about my hair and how it’s a blessing and it’s Gods gift to me and I shouldn’t have cut it. OMG! I couldn’t believe it! At the time I thought she was just being crazy (My family is crazy, btw), but after reading these posts and comments about hair, I’m starting to understand a little. Not really all the way, because I don’t see how my haircut warranted a lecture like that. After all, hair grows back doesnt it? But, it puts the hair issue into perspective.

  11. 70ssoulchild says:

    ::Hearty Applause:: Thanks for such an eloquent post on a touchy subject with our people. You brought out the pro and cons with such diplomacy. We ‘bellas need to strive to be the best we can be whether that’s natural, relaxed or bald! There’s too much division and separation already in our communities and its need to stop! Its time for us to honestly accept one another as we are. Thanks for such heartfelt, insightful articles. Much Love to you..

  12. coiltastic says:

    this was a great post to sum up the previous. i like how it doesn’t make one less natural by what they choose to add to their hair (weaves, wigs, or dye). Leela James’ hair I don’t care if it’s all hers or not. there are plenty of natural women rocking that same length hair or longer without any additions. it can be done. great post!

  13. thanks Bella for the post-it was quite moving (if you understand what i mean). i think we should all love and embrace our hair, and i’m not knocking relaxed sister’s because i’m currently transitioning, with a bit of afro hair and a bit of teturized there(i’m all over the place lol) but i think you should relax your hair because YOU WANT TO, not because you are trying to conform.
    i believe other races love our hair, i mean, i walked into H&M and some other high street stores in the London west end today and just bout every mannequin white and black had an afro wig (and the wig was styled good-they gave me some ideas and if i go there again i’ll take some pictures). It made me really made at myself for using that creamy crack again, and now i am more determined than ever to go natural and stick it out forever.

  14. btw, OLA, i was flicking through some black hair magazines,and i saw an advert for hair similar to that of Leela James’ that i am dying to get when i visit the states. go on http://www.adorablehairdo.com and it should be on there

  15. thanks so much for “summing it all up”!!!I absolutely adore the “nappy nazi” label. I know a website that i won’t mention …should be called the “nappy nazi’s”!!! Anyway…everyone should love their hair…love themselves and love life. Your light shines through how you feel about yourself…and doing so…i have encouraged 4 people this year to embrace the nappiness!!! That alone makes me feel really good! Thanks again afrobella!!!

  16. Bubblin' Brown Sugar says:

    As an African-American woman (the biological child of two African-American parents) my natural hair texture is bone straight. So for me “going natural” is having long bone straight hair. . .this is a type of naturalness that often gets overlooked in the “ethnic natural hair” category. . .you can’t imagine the number of natural sisters who have given me dirty looks and/or dirty comments about my hair which unbeknownst to them is neither a weave nor chemically enhanced. Kindly remember that “natural” is not necessarily kinky/curly :)

  17. Hi Ola! I found this link on one of my favorite blogs, 55 Secret Street. Check out http://www.naturegirl.net for curly extensions and weaves. And from what you ladies are saying, I need to check out some black hair magazines! The coolest and most afrocentric mags seem to be British.

    Bubblin’ Brown Sugar, I honestly have never met a black woman with naturally straight hair before! The women where I’m from who are black and have naturally straight hair are what Trinis call “dougla,” or black mixed with Indian. I’m very interested in hearing what products work for your hair type.

    Keisha, I was thinking of posting the song, but I’ve written about it and posted the video before. I tried to say it without repeating myself, I guess.

    And thanks as usual for all your kind words, bellas! We really do get all kinds of hung up on our hair issues. Marisa, that’s why your aunt would lecture you – she comes from a generation that believes that “a woman’s hair is their beauty.” Our beauty is about so much more than hair!

  18. AppleDiva says:

    Thank you for setting the record straight.

  19. You are so eloquent with your words. Love it! You couldn’t have put it any better than that–plain and simple.
    I no longer work for corporate America so I no longer feel that I have to “conform” to be looked at as “their” equal…having straight hair. I’ve been out of the corporate circuit for a while and thought I would ask my caucasian friend, who is a broker at a major firm, what are the thoughts of a black woman coming in with natural hair(mine is wavy/curly in some places/straight in some places and drawn up curly in other places–would be past my shoulders if not for its naturalness); I asked him to respond honestly as a white professional. His response was, “In a white-collar environment we don’t look at that…we look at your abilities. The blue-collar industry probably pays more attention to that.”

    Well, I guess I asked for I have some insecurities of my own that I have to deal with about my naturalness, but this certainly made me feel okay. It does not validate anything but it boosts a sistas self esteem because it is nice to know in this day and age that we now are looked upon for our abilities, talents, hearts and not our skin color or hair texture.

  20. LBellatrix says:

    Just some thoughts on the “nappy Nazi” comments:

    A lot of sisters are VERY sensitive about their hair. Remember, many of us are largely CONDITIONED to be this way. Some of those sisters who want help on how to improve their hair’s condition take ANY suggestions to avoid chemicals or extensions as hostile criticism when often the suggestion is meant in all kindness.

    Today IRL I do not discuss natural hair care with non-natural black women unless I’m asked very specific questions about it. What I’ve learned is that what I see as a simple statement, other people often mistake for judgement and a challenge to their blackness. You know this hair thing is deep when you can’t even make a SUGGESTION without being accused of being “militant,” “Nazi,” or whatever. That’s why, IRL, I don’t usually bother.

    Because let’s be REAL: If it’s really about hairstyling “choice” then why do those of us who choose NOT to alter or cover up our natural texture get the kind of hostility we get? Because all those people who SAY it’s about choice don’t really BELIEVE what they’re spouting, that’s why.

    If I am put in a situation where I have to defend a sister’s right to wear her hair in the texture God gave her, I WILL do it, regardless of what that texture is. And I WILL challenge anyone who thinks that there’s something wrong with that. If that makes me a “nappy Nazi,” so be it.

    One more thing and then I’m out: Not all hair boards are meant for all black women. If you can’t get with one, by all means save yourself the stress and go somewhere else where people are more amenable to your views. That’s what I did when I left NaturallyCurly x years ago after getting tired of all the “4B” women whining about how “bad” their “4B” hair was.

    Sorry for the essay, Afrobella…keep on keeping on with the insightful posts.

  21. hello Bella, always on point.i just wanted to add that there are some women who are natural, and wear their hair straight. i’ve been on the recieving end of some snarky comments from other natural women, when i decided to try other styles. i say that to say everything is not what it seems.

  22. flygyrl72 says:

    Great post! Dead on. Admittedly, I tend to lean toward being a Nappy Nazi, & I always have to remind myself that we all have our own journeys & I shouldn’t judge. However, I was on a Delta flight from LA to Atlanta last November, & I sat next to Ms. James for 4 hours. I have a pretty big natural & when I gushed to her about her hair, her face totally froze up. It was an awkward moment & that’s when I realized that it wasn’t all hers. And upon closer inspection en route to ATL, I saw that she gets some help from extensions. No disrespect, she still rocks a fly hairdo. But no, it ain’t all hers. Again, big ups for breaking down this Natural debate so eloquently & fairly.

  23. For alopecia and most hair growth problems Vitamin E oil or cream rubbed into the scalp helps…one can also take pantogar tablets to stimulate hair growth.
    Steam treatments also are a great help as do taking the Vitamin E as a supplement.
    I lost a large clump that left my scalp bare and I was in my twenties! I religiously rubbed the oil into my scalp and the hair grew back!

  24. I love to wear my hair natural. Check out some pics on my site to see me with my natural fro. People don’t particularly like it and I have to ask them, is it that it doesn’t look good on me or is that you just want to see me with a more european look? Even if they don’t say the latter I still roll my eyes and think that it’s the defiance blackness of it.

    Black is beautiful baby!

  25. i think if a person is not comfrotable with their identity, that sure as hell don’t want to see you loving yours. i have also noticed that some Black women feel that when i am natural i am reminding the “white folks” that they are Black too.

  26. Hey Bella Baby! Great post. It sums up everything I was feeling from the last post. I have encountered the nappy-nazi’s and they can be a bit “extra”. It’s kind of sad that us Black folks can keep finding ways to divide ourselves. Your site brings sistas together, keep doing what you do girl!

  27. PS: I want Leela’s hair too! It’s freaking fab!

  28. I saw this on a listserv I’m on and this seemed like the place to spread the word:

    Posted by: “Chris-Tia Donaldson” cdonaldson00@yahoo.com
    Calling all Naturals!!!

    My name is Chris-Tia Donaldson and I am in the process of writing a book about black women who have made the decision to wear their hair natural. I am conducting a short online survey on black women’s experiences with relaxers and/or natural hair and would appreciate your support.

    Completing the survey will take less than 5 minutes, and you will be entered into a drawing to win a $50 gift certificate to Target.

    Please click here to take the survey:
    http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=566662950738

    The survey will close on Friday, December 29.

    Thanks in advance for your participation and feel free to forward this email on to other naturals!

    Chris-Tia Donaldson

  29. Okay so I wrote a soliloquy and then my computer shut off. So I’m gonna make this as brief and to the point as a chatty cathy like myself can. I’ve been relaxing my hair since the 5th grade (my puerto rican mom w/ loose waves who knew nothing of my tight curls had dragged that brush through my mane for the last time) and my dad, who is haitian and where i get the mixed hair, didn’t know any better because eventhough he’s a mean braider the hair he was used to dealing w/ was a lot coarser than mine. So here I was stuck in the middle and quite happy with the alternative of wrapping my hair at night and waking up good to go. Until 3 years ago. I had enough of years of “not letting my natural roots show”, whatever that meant, and decided to grow my relaxer out and go to a “curly hair stylist” (*whispers* “they don’t really exist”). I definitely underestimated the torture involved in not having a hairstyle of any sort for 5-6 months straight. Growing out a relaxer is no joke and was a particularly humbling experience for me as a performer. I eventually ended up going to a curly hair salon and had the stylist hack off the remainder of the chemically straightened ends fully ready to embrace my new, virgin locks and lo and behold…….a HOT MESS. though it was partially on the stylist not knowing what the fug he was doing, it turns out my curls are not uniform. i have big loose waves, botticelli curls and kinky spirals mixed into one very perplexing package.

    Now…if I worked from home and never socialized and had no life I’d be fine chilling w/ my eclectic natural style but fact of the matter is some girls are just blessed w/ cuter natural hair than others and while I have many other lovely and natural physical attributes my hair ain’t one of ‘em. So I brought my beautiful black ass back to my original stylist and slathered on the buuuuuurn baby. And all was right with the world.

    Afterwards I WAS left feeling a little defeated and hoping that there was a way for me to have the option of straightening my hair w/o chemically relaxing it. To be fair I did find that with some tweaking and right combinations of product I could get my curly hair to look cute but then if I needed it straight for a performers headshot (straight hair is more versatile) or an audition or a performance I couldn’t just pull out the hot comb (I’m scared to go near one of those things and burn my face off) so ultimately I had to do what was convenient and I feel more confident and less burdoned for it.

    I have much love for my curly sisters and still lurk on the naturallycurly site for product advice (while I do relax my hair I try to go to great lengths to keep it as healthy as I can despite and find that curly girls tend to stick with products that are more natural and nourishing to the hair) but I conformed and I can’t say I’m all that sorry for it.

    Any thoughts on my different perspective?

  30. i applaud you, natural hair isn’t for everyone. i say you gave it a chance and you found it wasn’t for you now you have another choice. many people transition more than once, so don’t be hard on yourself. as we see from the Leela James post beautiful hair is beautiful hair, permed, natural or phony pony. also many people have different curl/wave types, so it is definitely a matter of practice and techniques that will help in the long run. i think if all hair types were celebrated in the meida as much as the looser flowing curls you would see cute styles for our hair too. now that you have decided to perm i think a great site for you to check out is http://www.longhaircareforum.com.

  31. This post was so worth the read! Lovely!

  32. Your article is thoughtful and I enjoyed reading it. I do have a question about the following statements:
    “Everyone more or less agrees that natural hair springs wild and curly from the root. A natural woman wears her hair without chemical treatments to alter it’s texture. . . . A 100% natural woman doesn’t wear wigs, or have hair extensions of any kind. She wears her hair as it grows, and uses products and hairstyles that enhance and protect her natural kinks and curls.”

    Just curious, why is it necessary that products used on chemical-free hair enhances natural kinks and curls? What if the products used eliminate kinks and curls temporarily, which simply spring to life again through shampooing or water application? Is an unspoken part of the definition of natural is that one should never, not even temporarily, alter the texture of one’s naturally kinky hair so that it becomes straighter?

    My own experience is that the majority of products that “enhance curls” seem to diminish the inherent kinkiness of natural hair. While the hair does not become straighter, it definitely becomes less “wild and curly.” Would it not be more natural or authentic to shake out one’s hair after a shampoo and conditioner and let it air dry to its default state of wildness or kinkiness? Including the “enhancement of curls statement” as part of the definition diminishes the point that natural is what “springs wild and curly” from the root.

    Styling one’s natural hair – whether temporarily straightened or enhancing curls or spirals through the application of styling products and/or heat, or leaving it unenhanced to dry without heat or products – is just an aesthetic choice. I argue that wearing a straight hair style achieved by the application of heat and hair products to non-chemically treated hair does not negate the fact that what is growing from one’s scalp is natural hair. Requiring that natural hair is more authentic if it is styled to “enhance curls or kinks” leads us down the slippery path of whether one has a good natural hair attitude versus a bad natural hair attitude.

    • aerjogg1 says:

      Just want to respond to F. Green. I thought your response was pretty thought provoking. I recently started wearing my hair in the natural state. Been doing this approx 1 year off and on. I have no relaxer and have not had one since 2002. I pressed my hair…thanks to my mom who taught me and helped me become an absolute expert in the area of straightening and laying it out! She was an expert. My mom’s hair is straight with a little curl and my dad’s hair is as kinky as can be but soft. So my hair has always been very long and healthy while pressed or relaxed. It was when I cut my hair very short that I realized I have beautiful natural hair. My hair is long again but I wear it natural most of the time.

      F. Green, I understand exactly what it means to shampoo and condition in the shower, shake my head and simply go. I did that for months without applying products to my hair. Then I started to realize without any products my hair started drying out. I did not like putting products on at all except a little oil because I found certain products left my hair brittle, greasy, hard, or mushy. But, after trying many different products and trying different amounts, I found that some products do work in terms of helping to keeep the moisture in your hair. So it’s not that the products changed the texture of my hair at all..they don’t. At least I haven’t found any products that straighten my hair just a little. The right products simply coat my hair and prevent horrible drying out and allow my curls to stay in tact. To allow my hair to “air dry to it’s default state of kinkiness” is what I have done up to now or the last month. My hair needed something to help coat it and keep it from drying out. In fact the product I am currently using helps to protect it and keep it in its most authentic state because leaving it to dry in the elements of the environment whether the weather is hot, humid, dry, cold, and depending on the area we have no idea the chemicals in the atmosphere, all of these factors can have a huge impact on the health of our hair. When I was young and when my mom did not straighten my hair, braiding, twisting, or tying it up kept it from the elements and kept it healthy.

      I’d rather not braid or twist my hair so using products that coat it to protect it helps to keep it in its authentic state. Products that coat the shaft help my hair to stay healthy and my hair doesn’t appear so dry and brittle. I have learned that my hair with the “right” products stay in it’s authentic state. My hair when pressed or relaxed certainly alters the texture and can be very unhealthy. I have nothing against straight hair but know that I damage it when I straighten it. My mother kept my hair straightened because that is all she knew how to do. She straightened my curls and I have pictures as a 2 year old with huge wire rollers prepared to sit under that dryer I have used off and on for over 30 yrs.

      I absolutely love my curls and thank God in heaven for allowing me to learn that curly is beautiful and so lovely! Thank you for this post!

  33. I think that as Black women we need to honor and celebrate ourselves. I LOVE this site for that reason. WE are all beautiful each in our own way. The fact that we have been stigmatized for so many years by someone else’s definition of beautiful really holds us down, separating us, keeping us critical of ourselves and each other. Isn’t it funny how much time and money are devoted to mimicking our natural beauty… a beauty that many of us do not even recognize! As Black women, we possess a distinctively unique range of beauty which defies anyone’s definition: we are a rainbow, and our pot of gold is our light that shines from within. The ABSOLUTE TRUTH is that our beauty comes from within, no matter what we do to our hair. It is the Light of Love. It is our mothers who teach us how to be beautiful, to find that switch ~if we need help~ and to shine our beautiful light; how to be or not to be the kind of woman we end up becoming. Of course, it’s a never ending process and we make many mistakes and lose lots of hair along the way. One of the things we have to understand about our mothers is that they are individuals with histories that predate motherhood. Mothers need to be humanized and appreciated differently. When you learn to appreciate your mother as the woman she is/was, to understand what she had to grow through in the process of becoming herself, then her legacy will mean so much more to you because you will understand that she wasn’t raising you to be her, she was raising you to be you… via the benefit of her own life experience, positive or not. Then perhaps you’ll appreciate the fits she had over your hair, your hair choices, and then finally accepting you no matter what you do to your hair. It’s amazing what discussions about our hair will lead to. My Mother’s been gone a year today and I ‘m still learning to be here on this planet without her … and still wanting to talk to her about my hair. She was my BEST FRIEND, a true Bella

  34. Thanks Coffy!

  35. I have been locking almost a year. It has been a very difficult and challenging decision because of the time its taking to get to length. I wore my hair in long braids for years and I’ve really had a hard time dealing with the transition since styling locks is limited when your hair is not yet shoulder length. Not to mention, I think you are subtly pressured by popular culture and media especially if there is a part of you that wants to fit in there somehow.
    However, there is a good side. I enjoy seeing my own hair growing and the creative side of me enjoys the beauty of the different shapes it takes on. I am Leo and my locks are colored so sometimes my hair takes on Leonine appearance which I like. It has made me feel more like myself with locks but I still dream of cutting them off and going with a straight black weave!
    I have had dealings with the lock police as I like to call them. These are the sisters who feel like you must be afrocentric or eating berries or whatever they feel fits into their narrow view of what lock wearers must do. I had a loctician tell me that women who wear perms are stuck-up and we proceeded to debate about the negative attitudes that go back and forth.
    I personally view locking as a personal choice. I was inspired by the variety of women I see in my city, where lock wearers have multiplied in the last ten years. I saw a few sisters in the store one night who were proudly locked and dressed like they were in a rap video. That told me that you don’t have to be limited in how you rock locks. LOL
    I have since had conversations with many beautiful lock wearers since I’ve developed lock envy of women with long locks!!
    I do think its a shame that women like Goapele, both women in Floetry and actress Vanessa Williams (from “Soul Food”)) who were visible natural hair wearers, have all cut their locks. But I guess they are just doing what they feel, as I think, in the end, what we should all strive for.
    The site is beautiful, thanks for the interesting articles.

  36. So helpful and informative.

  37. Your article was really insightful and I really enjoyed it. you speak alot of truth. My ubringing has mainly been around white people, the area in which I grew up was prevalently white. As a result the majority of my friends are white. Growing up wasn’t always easy. Being constantly surrounded by beautiful white women with flowing, european hair often made me feel incredibly inadequate. My mother always asserted that i was beautiful and that i should be proud of my afro hair, but being insecure i endured years of weaves (yes I did the whole beyonce look) painful relaxers and tedious micro braiding, but it was these expensive adoroments that made me feel beautiful and feminine. At nineteen i went travelling to thailand for a few months with firends, and at that time I had a lot of time to think about me and beginning to love myself. My attitude changed and I took out those micro braids. I’m twenty one now and i’ve never looked back. I love the fact that this is the real me, there is nothing fake about me anymore. My hair is beautiful and I can’t go a day without a compliment about it. everything for me changed, my confidence, my attitude I just feel so free. This is my personal experience of going natural, I’m in no way judging any woman for having a weave or a relaxer, because I’d be a hypocrite if was, but what i will say is give it a chance and if you don’t like it then go back to the weaves, as being natural is not for eveyone. Big love Noelle

  38. SASHA BLACKMAN says:

    India Arie’s song ……I am not my hair says everything that needs to be said about black women and their hair

  39. I also agree with the India Arie song playing in the background of this page! *Smiles* I think you are beautiful when YOU know you’re beautiful. It can be natural or whatever if you’re comfortable in your own skin, and know your inner strengths that’s what makes you a beautiful woman!

  40. You recently read your article and it read “A 100% natural woman doesn’t straighten her hair with heat, wear wigs, or have hair extension of any kind. She wears her hair as it grows, and uses products and hairstyles that enhance and protect her natural kinks and curls.” I question why you deleted doesn’t straighten their hair (heat is known to cause damage and change one’s texture), but you left doesn’t wear wigs or have hair extension (which cannot change the natural texture of that persons hair)? Very Confusing???

  41. Advantageously, this submit is definitely the best on this helpful topic. I slot in together with your explanations and can eagerly sit up for your forthcoming updates. Simply saying thanks will not just be enough, for the wonderful readability in your documentation. I will immediately grab your rss feed to stay abreast of any updates. Fabulous work and quite a lot of success in your enterprise dealings!

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