Natural Hair In The News

You know a phenomenon is near its peak when you find it being covered by mainstream media.

Unlike Fung Shui, snowmen teeshirts, and “the hyphy movement,” or any other national phenomenon written about in the New York Times and Newsweek, I don’t think naturally curly hair is a craze that might sweep the nation and eventually subside in popularity. I know afros came in and out of style in the Seventies, but I honestly believe that the current wave of proudly natural hairstyles isn’t a mere trend or passing (high top) fade.

My mother-in-law recently sent me a link to this Newsweek article by Evette Collins. “I Freed Myself When I Embraced My Locks” is a well-written but familiar tale to just about every black woman who has decided to go natural.

Her vivid description of hot combs and chemical treatments will strike a chord with any woman of color, and I sincerely hope that her conclusion leads more timid aspiring afrobellas to lay the chemicals down.

One day, about five months after I started wearing my natural hair, I was out getting lunch when I heard words that sounded almost foreign to me: “Your hair is so thick and pretty!” The woman who complimented me not only put a smile on my face, she confirmed something I had struggled to convince myself of—that my natural hair was beautiful, too. I’m now proud to wear it, to show other black women that our hair is gorgeous just the way it is. It took me years to get to a peaceful place about my hair, but in the end, I got it all straightened out.

Amen, Evette!

I remember when I first told Mama Bella that I get so many more unsolicited compliments on my hair now than I ever did before, I didn’t get the vibe that she fully believed me. But she’s seen for herself, complete strangers will approach me to gush about my curls. Just last Friday at the grocery store, a random shopper and my bag boy both told me that my hair was so pretty, and most notably, my husband was amazed at how long my hair is now, after he came to chat with me while I was in the shower. When wet, my curls unfurl down to mid-back! It’s remarkable. I never imagined my hair could be so healthy and strong five years ago, before I stopped straightening.

When I took the big chop, I had no idea what my natural hair texture would emerge to be. I was pleasantly surprised, and learning how to wrangle my curls has been an adventure. Going natural for me became a journey in self-acceptance, which culminated in abiding self-confidence. I would recommend it to anyone, even those reader who write and tell me their hair is “too nappy to be natural.” I don’t believe there is such a thing. There’s a lot to be said for having faith in restoring good health and reducing stress on your heat and chemical-treated tresses.

As you’ll see in Evette’s photo (taken by Jack Bridges for Newsweek), she’s got a head of pretty, dark, thick, and healthy curls to show for two years of natural-hair-love, and she looks beautiful.

As if Newsweek weren’t enough, then I was sent a link to “Taming Frizz and Setting Curls Free,” an article in the New York Times’ Style section that highlights the growing trend of (and market for) celebrating naturally curly hair instead of blasting it straight with heat and chemicals.

The article mainly focuses on Caucasian curls, which can be no less hard-to-tame than natural Afro hair.

I have gotten ’nuff e mails from Greek, Irish, Middle Eastern, and Italian bellas who have expressed frustration with their particular hair issues (and love for Afrobella)! Still, I ached for even more ethnic representation. Perhaps that’s coming in a future NY Times article, I’d love to see Lola Ogunnaike suss out the root of the natural hair issue in black America today (she’s one of my favorite writers, and a real role model)!

I will admit that lots of the products mentioned in the NY Times piece don’t work for my particular kind of curl pattern (figure out yours here) – John Frieda, Redken, Herbal Essences? Ich don’t think so.

But the Times got it dead on in some ways.

It’s not just anecdotal that curly-haired women have more shampoos, conditioners, serums and balms in their bathrooms. “According to market research, curly-haired women spend more on their hair than straight-haired women,” explains Ms. Breyer (of invaluable haircare resource NaturallyCurly.com).

So, so true! The article made my inner product junkie get the itch for Devacurl. Following Measha Bruegergossman’s glowing and unsolicited rave, I’m seriously thinking about giving them a try. Low Poo and the Set It Free moisture lock sound utterly amazing.

I’m happy and proud to see these articles, and I sincerely hope that the representation of naturally afrolicious kinky-curly-locked women in mainstream media increases.

It’s a big confidence booster to see people who look like you on television. I’ve noticed more curly-haired sirens popping up in commercials for Best Buy and Mercedes, and I can identify (and get hair inspiration from) television personalities like the gorgeous Tanika Ray (who — I’m with Brad on this one — could sorta look like she could be Jennifer Hudson’s more sultry sister, especially after a couple of drinks).

Love Tanika’s vibrant, effortlessly chic ‘do and her spunky interview style. She’s as gorgeous as a young Chaka Khan, IMHO.

I believe the current curly hair trend is here to stay. I hope to see even more products on the market, more afrobellas on the tube and the silver screen, and definitely more of these smart, well-written articles that represent women all shades (and textures) of beautiful!

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Comments

  1. I love Tanika Ray’s hair.
    I like that Newsweek decided to cover the turn towards natural hair among many black women. I wonder what white people think as they read the author’s article.
    Lola Ogunike is very talented. She has written for many publications over the years.
    I started relaxing again about two years ago but I think I may return to my natural textur very soon.

  2. Great post! I think that there are so many of us out here who sometimes feel like we’re in this curl fight alone. LOL If it doesn’t flow straight or stand up like an Angela Davis afro then we start to have problems. It’s great to see an article a sister with curly hair and how happy she is about it.

  3. Fabulous post! I’m always happy to see anything that encourages Black women to rock the natural!

  4. Great Post! I love my natural hair. I have been natural for 3 years now and it is probably healthier,longer, and thicker than it has ever been. It’s one of the best decisions, I ever followed through on. My friends that started out with healthy hair 10 years ago, all have thin and sparse hair due to drowning their hair in relaxers. I won’t ever go back to a relaxer. Plus, in Las Vegas my fro makes me stand out! And for some reason, the caucasions love it.

  5. Great article. Tanika Ray is so beautiful and her hair is gorgeous!

  6. BlackHoney says:

    Another great post Afrobella.

  7. what are the beauticians going to do,if i were them i would start educating myself in natural hairstyles.

  8. Great post! I LOVE my natural hair! I also influenced my mom to go natural (although she won’t admit it ;). I definitely believe that women are truly embracing who they are and working it! I do not believe this is a fad.

  9. wow what a great article, i wanna go natural too

  10. flygyrl72 says:

    Amen!

  11. Happyness, ain’t nothing to it but to do it! This week I’ll be posting some tips on transitioning, so stay tuned!

  12. Coffy,

    Ain’t that the truth! I am slowly but surely training my hair stylist on how to deal with my hair. She can give me trims, she gave me color and she just cut some layers in for me for shape, but she still cannot get my curl to come back. Even if I bring in all the products I use (since she doesn’t have the right stuff in her salon). I still have to go home and re-wet/wash my hair and condition for my curls to come back. I had her blow me out on Friday to cut the layers in, and I am still conditioning and trying to get my hair looking right again. I yearn to be able to walk into the salon, get my trims/cut/color, and walk out NOT looking a hot mess.

  13. On the real, I’ve been wearing my hair natural for more than twenty years, and though I wouldn’t go back to straightening most days I still don’t like it natural! It’s the multiple textures–I get nice curls in the back (where I can feel but can’t see them), but the front always goes limp and semi-straight. It’s never full and doesn’t stand up on top like Tamika Ray’s glorious hair no matter what I do–just flops over. Does anyone else have this problem? I can’t be the only natural-haired woman whose natural hair doesn’t look great overall.

  14. hey ladies i can testify that Devacurl Set It Free and a diffuser will give you the biggest most defined curls.

  15. bella,
    you are right on time with this post! thanks for sharing the info and the links. i also appreciate the love and support you left on my page when i voiced my interest in making the decision to go natural!

  16. LBellatrix says:

    As someone who’s been natural for 11 years and locked/locking for 3, I continue to dream of a day when black women stop being ashamed / afraid of their natural texture.
    Let me be clear: I’m not saying you can’t still take advantage of all the styling options out here. I’m saying that you cannot have healthy hair without knowing the foundation you’re working with. And contrary to popular belief, the foundation IS NOT relaxed hair.
    I’ve said for years that every black woman should at least know how to care for her natural hair, even if she chooses not to wear it natural. Because you just KNOW there are sisters who looked at Evette’s picture in Newsweek and said, “Well, MY hair won’t look like that.” Nine out of 10 of them have NO CLUE what their hair will look like because they’ve never seen it! They will perm/weave themselves nearly bald before they’ll learn how to appreciate the hair they have…and that’s assuming they have any hair left!
    We’ve got to stop the madness. I’m looking forward to reading your future posts on this subject. :)

  17. Great post! I’m happily relaxed right now, but I can see myself going natural in a few years, primarily because I see myself living in another country and I know that I will not be trying to keep up a relaxer overseas.

    The only thing that has kept me from doing it thus far is really, that I like the way my hair looks straight. I don’t know why, but despite my relaxer, I can wear my hair straight or let it air dry and curl up. I can only take it curly for a few days on end before I get tired of it and straighten it back out. Probably just used to seeing myself a certain way.

  18. I went natural eight years ago because I was tired of suffering from nasty sores left behind by perms and sitting in a hair salon for eight hours and not getting paid. Now, I’m happy being nappy, and if I want to wear it straight, I simply slap on wig.

  19. girl stop, you’re not alone. I’ve been wearing my hair natural for over 15 years, but always kept it buzz cut short because it was easier to care for and because of all the varying textures. It’s almost to my shoulders now and I wear it back with a head band most of the time because the front (more frizzy than curly) is not as attractive to me as the back (nice pronounced curls)…I’m hoping that through trail and error one of the products that bella recommends will get me the overall look/consistency I’m after…

  20. I am going natural and have found the struggle hard but I am determined to keep going.

  21. Girl Stop and Carolyn,
    There are definitely bad hair days to be had. The key is figuring out how to style your natural hair. Have you tried doing some cute finger curls with a thick leave-in conditioner product (like Garnier Curl & Shine) towards the front? My hair falls in perfect ringlets at the back, but in the front the ringlets become these teeny little corkscrews that I don’t always like, so when I get out of the shower, I usually fingerstyle them, or use a cute barrette or headband if I’m not having a fabulous hair day. This might lead to another post…

  22. Stay encouraged, Auleia. I too went through a period where I struggled. Once you get over that hump, you’ll be fine.

  23. Girl Stop and Carolyn,

    I have that same problem with my hair. I have to have product on my hair to blend the front with the back or the front will be mostly frizz with a slight wave, tighter coils on the sides and more defined curls in the back. I use a leave-in conditioner (Garnier Curl and Shine or African Royale Daily Doctor) AND an aloe vera gel (Fantasia IC Hair Polisher and Curl Activator Gel from Sally’s). Those products together give me curl definition in the front and back and blend the three different textures I have.

  24. I hear that kinky girls are more fun! No pun intended. A sista rockin any natural gets more points from me any day.

  25. I can’t imagine going back to a relaxer — even on the days my hair is super dry, knotty, and frizzed up. I don’t want to be tied to a jar of relaxer every 4-5 weeks.
    I’ve been to a salon once since I cut my hair 3 years ago. My hair is shoulder length (in the shower anyway!)
    Really thick and strong! Never knew I had so much hair.

  26. I do have to give Bella props for recommending the Brunsli hair ties (http://hairties.blogspot.com/)–I ordered 2 of them (and they sent me one free) and am loving those! Right now I’ve realized I need a little more length to make those front curls–I got a too-short cut right before Xmas and now the front ends are just sticking-out straight (and fingercurling makes mine straighter, Bella!)

  27. Bella & Peajai – THANKS for the tips. I will definitely try your suggestions! Years of wearing my hair super short has made me lazy and I’m not used to spending much time on my hair. Your suggestions will mean a little more time and effort, but it’ll be well worth it. Thanks again!

  28. I am just starting on my natural journey and I am so glad to see I am not alone.I decided to go natural because when I wear my hair texturized I look like myself. With straight hair I look like I’m playing dress up. I am ready to be myself.

  29. What a great post! I’m so happy that there are finally a ton of products for me to use on my curly hair. I hope you’re right and that this ‘trend’ sticks around forever.

  30. MimiCracra says:

    I appreciate my natural hair and it’s good to see more nappy/curly hair in the medias but I see that even among natural haired sisters, there a some insecurities. I can see that by reading bella and carolyn’ posts about some parts of their hair being defined culrs and others undefined. There is definitely a preference for perfect curls among nappy/curly haired sisters.

  31. i don’t know if it is out of insecurity, but i know i wish my hair were one texture from front to back. sometimes my head looks like a patchwork quilt.

  32. Hey! Herbal Essences in the purple bottle does my hair good, I swear

  33. MimiCracra says:

    Coffy, I understand that one may want the same texture on all her head, but in that case they clearly stated that they prefered the part that was curly/defined… That’s telling IMO…

  34. This is the most awesome, incredible conversation that I’ve witnessed! I, too, have been stressed about my hair and how to make it look nice. I have figured out that I have type 4a hair on the sides and back and 4b in the top — which looks a mess. I feel overwhelmed at trying to find products specific for each section that will produce a curl. Please keep the product recommendations coming!!

  35. I love Tanika’s hair! If I knew I could rock the defined curls, and then I’d have the choice to go curly or straight if I wanted, I’d totally do it.

    Another natural inspiration of mine is Jill Scott – I’d KILL for her hair! Too bad I don’t know what I’m doing…

  36. What is all the fuss about. I was brought up by my father, one of 4 kids in England, we had no issues with our hair, we had more important things to deal with. I have never straightened my hair with chemicals, nor had the desire to, or pressure, to do otherwise from, so-called Society.I have sported ‘The Great Bush’ for many years, it as, given me great strength of character, of which I needed for my next journey. My beautiful father, my best & oldest friend died, and I found out I had breast cancer. The roller coaster begins, no more children, fear, chemotherepy, lumpectomy, mastectomy, MY HAIR. The challenge begins, I cut my hair, before chemo. did it for me. Then went to the barbers, to have them shave the rest, Chemo, starts the next day. Today, 2 years later, at 37, I have a little hair, but, really there are more important things we could put our energys into. That we can, love & respect each other, whatever our hair is doing.

  37. Bella,

    I purchased the DevaCurl LowPoo at a salon not far from my house and I love it. It produces great lather, and it really kept the moisture in my hair. My curls are so defined, I even have spirals in my (formerly) frizzy hair in the front. I highly recommend it.

  38. knitnbytch says:

    I decided to go natural in sept. 2006, but I am transitioning. I have a nice amount of new growth that is wavy in the front and spirals in the back. But even though I am frustrated with the 2 textures(spirals/waves, and relaxed hair), I am trying to get to know my hair, and so far I am happy with going natural. I’m not ready to do the BC yet. I decided to give myself until september. What doesn’t curl, gets chopped!

  39. I too have never gotten more compliments on my hair since I went natural. I wear my hair closely cropped and although I am usually blonde-a color most men respond positively to-even when i wear my natural color I get a lot of positive feedback as well. I NEVER got this type of response when my hair was relaxed and much longer. I love my hair in its natural state and while it is a constant struggle keeping my hair and especially my scalp hydrated I have concluded that I will never go back to relaxed hair!!!
    I give tremendous thanks and express mad gratitude to sites like this and the Yahoo Groups I belong to for keeping me up on what to do with and how to care for my natural hair.

  40. Yay! Tanika is my godsister, and she’s even more beautiful in person. I remember being so jealous of her hair when I was younger, it was so long, thick and curly, I loved it!

  41. Hey guys, I have been growing my hair natural for the last two years now, no curls nothing, just natural. It is about 5-6 inches long now. I so want to get my hair done like Tenika Ray, but i do not know where to start or how. Any ideas?

  42. I went through the same thing! People of ALL races compliment me on my hair on a near-constant basis now that I’ve stopped relaxing. A lot of people did a “big chop” but I just let me hair grow out and then cut off the ends, which was all the relaxed hair that was left (took about three months). I do, however, find it funny that the article proclaims that curlies spend more time on their hair-when my hair was relaxed, it had to be blown-out, rolled, smoothed, etc, and I had to put humidity-resistant everything in it. Now that I let my curls be themselves, I wash, gel, and leave the house. No blow-dryers. No flat-irons. No problem.

  43. I have noticed in the media that an African America woman’s beauty is portayed as: long weaves, straight hair, big butt and big lips. Why? I don’t understand, are women really telling their daughters that you have to have straight hair in order to be accepted? It’s hard enough for kids to compete with peer pressue than their self image alone. Don’t get me wrong, I just started the natural thing, I don’t get support from my friends and family. But someone has to step up and dare to be different. It should not take chemical processors to get it done!

  44. is there anything you can do no chemically to turns kikks to curls i am a 4b

  45. Really interesting articles you linked to. It’s interesting to see this stuff hit the mainstream.

    I can’t walk about with a wet head: I’d get sick. I deep condition (with oil) every week or two. I shampoo once in a while. I only comb my hair after I wash it. My hair doesn’t tangle much anymore.

    I’m heavy handed, so I am working on using only a modest (half-dollar size) amount of leave-in conditioners, Castor oil, etc.

    For the winter, I blow dry my hair straight with low heat, and I use a heat protectant. I wear it two french braids, plaits, or a ponytail. It’s a nice style to wear out as well, but since it’s winter, my head stays mostly covered.

    For the summer, I blow dry the root, and two strand twist. Or I may curl with IC Fantasia while the hair is damn or rather wet. Even gives my 4a/4b hair a nice curl.

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