Natural Attitudes — Taking the Plunge

How old am I in this photo? It looks like it was taken at our old house in Belmont, so I couldn’t have been older than four. And already my little face is drawn and my eyes are troubled at having to wear rollers and get my hair done.

Our hair issues start so early. From early childhood, we’re encouraged to tame it with products, to control our curls (by creating bigger, heat-processed curls), to somehow disguise our “bad hair” and create the illusion of “good hair”, better living through chemistry. And if our roots dare show (such a bitter double-entendre on that word, roots), we perm them to high hell every six weeks to keep up appearances. And our family and friends have all compounded those feelings through years of learned good intentions.

“Do something with that head of yours.” “Can you even pass a comb through that?” “Your hair looks like Buckwheat/ Sideshow Bob/ a Brillo pad/ a ju ju warrior.” I see it as an institutionalized chain of self-loathing. But according to this utterly amazing Miami Herald article about the culture of hair and blackness in the Dominican Republic, generations of women see it as self-love.

Several women said the cultural rejection of African looking hair is so strong that people often shout insults at women with natural curls. “I cannot take the bus because people pull my hair and stick combs in it,” said wavy haired performance artist Xiomara Fortuna. “They ask me if I just got out of prison. People just don’t want that image to be seen.”

The hours spent on hair extensions and painful chemical straightening treatments are actually an expression of nationalism, said Ginetta Candelario, who studies the complexities of Dominican race and beauty at Smith College in Massachusetts. And to some of the women who relax their hair, it’s simply a way to have soft manageable hair in the Dominican Republic’s stifling humidity.

“It’s not self-hate,” Candelario said. “Going through that is to love yourself a lot. That’s someone saying, ‘I am going to take care of me.’ It’s nationalist, it’s affirmative and celebrating self.”

Money, education, class — and of course straight hair — can make dark-skinned Dominicans be perceived as more “white,” she said. Many black Dominicans here say they never knew they were black — until they visited the United States.”

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. There are so many issues to unpack in this article, even in this little passage from it. I’m going to start at the bottom and work my way up.

[edited at 7:20 a.m. In addition to other issues with the controversial Miami Herald article Black Denial, two of the main sources have complained of being misrepresented. Please click here to read a response written by two Dominican graduate students at Howard University, Christina Violeta Jones and Pedro R. Rivera. This was first published in Clutch Magazine, and it includes letters written by Dr. Ramona Hernandez, Director of the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute at City College in New York City, and Dr. Ginetta E. B. Candelario, Professor of Sociology at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. I found Dr. Candelario's quote about "self love" to be the most alarming quote in the article. Her rebuttal states in part, that the comments attributed to her were "a shockingly simplistic and distorted misrepresentation both of the research I presented at the Dominican Studies Institute in the fall of 2006, for which Ms. Robles was present, and of the interview I granted her afterwards." She concludes by saying that "In lieu of engaging any of that research, the article resorts to facile attributions of self-hatred, denial or social pathology to Dominicans as whole. The reality - historic and contemporary - is far more complex than that." I'm very interested in hearing a Dominican response to this article, now that I know there are two sides to it. But back to the larger points I was trying to make].

That idea, that someone could not know that they are black “until they visited the United States,” also exists in my country, and I’m willing to wager that it’s a common adage in countries where everyone’s skin is a shade of brown and prejudice becomes based less on black versus white, but on the subtle shades of skin tone. Usually, it’s said with relish and ugly delight, behind someone’s back. And now that I think about it, I really have known people who deny their blackness, or try to mask it by any means necessary. I know a mother who regularly used skin lightener on her baby, because “the child came out too dark.”

I used to hang out with this girl in my high school days who was always loud and had a chip on her shoulder. (Why was I friends with her? Hindsight is 20/20, my friends). She once told me with a smirk, that I could go to a rasta party in a bad part of St. James but she couldn’t, “because you would fit in better. You’re blacker than me.” Lucky for her, her ignorance rendered me speechless. Later on, after she left, I dreamed up the sweetest string of cuss words ever. But that always happens long after the moment has passed, doesn’t it?

Let me contextualize my outrage: This was coming from a person whose parents are practically the same skin shade as my parents, a person who also had curly, afro-textured hair. My skin is a couple shades darker than hers, but the idea that I was somehow “blacker than her” and could therefore venture into rougher neighborhoods spoke directly to her own, carefully crafted self-image. Let the record show: I did go to the party, I had a great time, and I bet she’d have been surprised to know that there were people of all races there, including several noticeably foreign, white tourists. And they were all having a good time too. She missed out on a lot of fun because of her unfounded prejudices. Now, that girl lives in Florida and the last I heard, she was working as a waitress at a restaurant with a reputation for roaches. I wonder if the adage has proven to be true for her. I wonder what that adage even means, because I find it hard to understand how an adult person could honestly and completely not know what their racial identity is. Somebody please explain that to me. The issues behind this are big enough to warrant another post at another time. I gotta talk about the hair thing right now.

I grew up in the kind of culture that Ginetta Candelario speaks of, a “pain is beauty” culture where many women are encouraged to start creating the illusion of straight hair from an early age. Having grown up in that culture, I can’t agree that the practice of straightening hair generally comes from self-love. I did it to be accepted. I relaxed my hair to fit in, and to be considered attractive in the same way that my girlfriends were. I did it for eighteen years. But I hated everything about the process. I hated the stink of the chemicals, I hated the burning, I hated that I needed to go back and get my fix every six weeks, lest my real texture ruin the illusion. The processes made my hair brittle and weak, and I hated how it looked. I got a pixie cut, so I wouldn’t be rocking one of those stubby little barely-there ponytails. (I know you know what I’m talking about). And I’m sure that there were many, many other women who felt the same way I did.

I also know that there are many women who don’t feel as strongly anti-straightener as I do. For many women, it ain’t that serious. It’s just hair, and they can switch the style up whenever they want with wigs or weaves, or hot combs. I admire that versatility, but I’m happy to work with what I’ve got right now. For me, my hair feels like an extension of me. It’s who I am. For me, it’s not just a hair style, it’s a life style.

I know that some of the members of my family straighten their hair because they love the look of it, they love the feel of it. But I also know that some of the members of my family are damaging their hair with chemicals. I’m sure that they do it out of routine, expectations, and just plain not knowing how to deal with their natural texture. I think that many women would love to go natural, but they just aren’t sure how. Or they’re afraid of how their hair will look because they’re never let it grow naturally, they’re worried about what people will think. They worry that their husbands or boyfriends or men in general won’t find them as beautiful. And in the case of the Dominican Republic that is presented in the Miami Herald article, apparently they’re painfully aware that the whole society will reject them. That’s a whole lot of pressure to conform.

If you’re considering going natural, I’d like to take this opportunity to dispel some falsehoods and address 50% of the Ask Afrobella questions I haven’t gotten around to yet.

Natural hair isn’t THAT hard to care for. Sure, transitioning can be traumatic if you’re not used to having hair with its own will. But if you learn how to work with it, your rewards will be great. Imagine being able to go swimming and get your hair wet without worrying about ruining your do. Imagine having fun outdoors, or working out as often as you’d like because you don’t have to worry about sweating out your roots. Imagine being able to wake up, wash, style, and go without spending an hour fussing with a flat iron. Imagine fluffing your fro or pulling back your locs and looking effortlessly cute after riding in a convertible. Imagine having healthy, strong hair that’s nourished and undamaged by heat, harsh treatments and processes.

If you go natural, it can take a while to find the perfect product for you. I’m not even gonna lie. Not every thing works for everybody. My advice is, try as many at home hair recipes as you can. Motown Girl and Anita Grant and Nappturality are incredible resources of information. Do your research on any of the favorite product lines you hear the most about in natural hair circles, or on websites like Nappturality, or Motown Girl. Do price and ingredient comparisons on Anita Grant, Miss Jessie’s, Carol’s Daughter, Curls, Kinky Curly, Qhemet, and Oyin. Read product reviews. Educate yourself on ingredients and hair types. Don’t go into transitioning without knowing to expect. Make sure you’re good and ready and don’t plan to turn back any time soon before you quit the fire cream cold turkey.

Natural hair can be gorgeous on everybody, but I think many women of color don’t realize or don’t believe that. Wearing a big mop of free form curls, a crown of twists, or a regal mane of locs is a guaranteed attention getter, and it takes confidence. I can’t tell you how many people – men and women of varied races – have given me unsolicited compliments on my natural hair. Little kids love it. Why? Because it looks healthy and distinctive and cool, and I wear it with pride. I still get the classic Trini “what’s happening with your hair” attitude when I get home, but it’s no thing. Those comments always come from empty vessels. Respond with a warm smile, good humor, and a laid back attitude, and they’ll slink away looking like fools. My friend Melissa calls it “taking the high road.” It’s hard to do, but I try my best.

I’d like to think that acceptance of natural hair is becoming more common. At least here in Miami, I’m noticing more and more black and Latina women wearing their hair in eye-catching au natural styles rather than using heat or chemicals to straighten their hair. Here’s hoping that more and more women of color recognize that black skin is beautiful in all of its tints and tones. Natural black hair is gorgeous and good. And owning your heritage — celebrating the color of your skin, the shape of your nose, the curves of your body, the true texture of your hair — feels incredibly liberating. I couldn’t recommend it more.

Much thanks to Nichelle for sending me the Miami Herald article, and to Mademoiselle M for Clutch’s rebuttal.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Comments

  1. I think you are so full of crap and i absolutely hate the way you generalize, referring to all black women as “we”. You are implying that all women who relax their hair have self hate issues and that’s a load if i’ve ever heard one. Reading your post, i think you’re the one with serious issues.maybe you never felt pretty with relaxed hair but it doesn’t mean the rest of us do.I’m african and i have long beautiful relaxed hair down to my waist (no stubby pony for me), and i’m just as african as the day i was born, no denying my “roots”

  2. I read that piece by the MH the other day & loved it but I was somewhat angered by the Dominican segment. There are some very unaware perceptions going on in there. The reading the large perception of beauty standards made me throw up in my mouth because I was so tripped out.

    I have a Dominican friend the same complextion as my with bigger lips when I called him Black he flipped out. I get it but I don’t.

    “I know a mother who regularly used skin lightener on her baby, because “the child came out too dark.”” This is also a problem in many countries in Africa!

    Bygbaby

  3. Ana boo, you are in a matrix & need to be awakened by someone!

    Straight hair does look nice there is n denying it but one needs to look at the underlying reason why so many woman & men destroy what nature gave then.

    Bygbaby

  4. Wow, Ana. That’s almost too much venom for me to absorb at midnight. How would you like me to respond? I’m sorry that you think I’m full of crap?

    If you’d take the time to read my post without your rage-colored glasses, you’ll see the part where I say, “I also know that there are many women who don’t feel as strongly anti-straightener as I do. For many women, it ain’t that serious. It’s just hair, and they can switch the style up whenever they want with wigs or weaves, or hot combs. I admire that versatility, but I’m happy to work with what I’ve got right now.”

    I guess all I can say is, I’m sorry if I somehow offended you by speaking to experiences I’ve had and sharing an opinion that you so obviously disagree with. Keep in mind, all of my relatives straighten their hair. Do you seriously think I mean to imply that they have self hate issues? I took the time to address that thoroughly. But you know what? I hope venting made you feel better. We can agree to disagree, and have a discourse without insulting each other. Or at least, I can. Have a good night.
    Peace and love,
    afrobella

  5. Hey afrobella! Girl, let ana’s ignorance wash off with the contempt that it deserves. Obviously you hit on the truth, and sometimes the truth is a bitter pill to swallow. Like I always say, everybody ain’t able to be saved when they don’t realize that they’re drowning in their ignorance. Seems like she might be feeling the sting of that truth… it is what it is.

    I read the MH piece a few weeks ago over on NP, and my response is the same now as it was then: when people can care more about the long silkiness of their hair than what chemicals are being used to achieve that look can do to your body long term, something is wrong. I stopped using CFC’s when a friend of mine showed me that she used her old relaxer to clean her toilet. When I stood there looking like a fool asking her WTF she was doing, she said that the stuff in there is the same thing you use to unclog the toilet, so why not use it for what it’s really for?

    I had no answer, but I haven’t been back to the creamy crack since then.

  6. Natural Sista says:

    Wow…is it really that serious Ana???

    That’s is why I admire you Afrobella, you don’t dictate to your readers, you just give your opinion and you leave room for discussion for your readers.

    It is so important to read everything and not read selectively. My hair is natural because my hair just could not take a perm anymore. It made my hair thin but, when I natural, I realize my hair is really thick and full. Everything isn’t for everybody. It’s just hair!

  7. TheBeautifulOne says:

    Bella! You’re great!
    I agree with you, “it ain’t that serious”. This is my attitude. I have known relaxed hair and natural hair, I’m back to the natural side of town and I must say that I’m in love with it again. I live in Seoul, South Korea and you cannot imagine all of the wonderful stares, gentle and friendly smiles I get when people look at my hair. I have always had a mane of thick shoulder length hair but now as I’ve found a really great mousse, my curls are more dramatic than ever. I love it! In a sea of beautiful straight black hair, I walk down the street and I cause quite a ruckus with my curls. They make me feel like a celebrity! Like you, when little children see me, they smile and want to play with my hair. I love the attention! Sometimes I believe that my naturally curly hair is opening doors for me that might otherwise be closed.
    Will I ever go back to having relaxed hair? Perhaps, because I believe that hair is just that, hair. With all the money that I’m saving not going to the hairdresser every 6-7 months for a texturizer touch-up, I have more time to swim, jog, WALK IN THE RAIN AND ENJOY DOING SO! Ha!

    Whether someone has relaxed or naturally curly hair doesn’t make them a better or lesser person, more or less black or African. Hair is hair, but unfortunately those of us of African decent have serious issues not with their hair but with their blackness. If I saw Ana, I wouldn’t think any less of her since she has relaxed hair. How anyone black or white wears their hair is there business. It’s about style, fashion, that’s just how I see it.

    You handled Ana’s comment with class and I applaud you for that. You took the high road as you demonstrate being a proud, intelligent Black woman.

  8. Hey Bella,

    I don’t usually post but after reading Ana’s response I wanted to send some positive vibes your way. Unfortunately, she misunderstood your message and choose to translate it into something it was not. As for me, and the majority of your readers, your posts are appreciated.

    You touch on allot of issues I find particularly relevant, and I’m thankful that you are doing what you are doing – keep it up sis. “We” appreciate it.

    ‘rai

  9. Hey have you seen the response article to this? Apparently much of what was quoted was taken out of context. Go to http://clutchmagonline.com/newsgossipinfo/black-denial-response-did-the-miami-herald-have-an-agenda/ to read.

  10. And I would like to leave a post after reading the comments that were made. I’m sorry to see that someone could bring such negativity to your site like that. She (1) clearly didn’t read the entire post and (2) is not a frequent reader because you have never ever ever made judgement on women who have decided that they don’t want to be natural. I agree, it is every woman’s choice and if you are happy with your choice then there is nothing to be ashamed, upset, or angry about. I admire your class and your beauty.

    -your faithful reader

  11. Mademoiselle M – thank you SO MUCH for bringing that to my attention! I’m going to edit my post right away and add that link. It’s vital to the discussion. Thank you!

  12. Also, I’d like to add that even though straightened hair didn’t turn out to be right for me, it’s a style that many women I respect choose to wear. In fact, I’m doing an upcoming post on a line of products that my co-worker swears by for relaxed hair. Seriously, she was raving about this stuff. So if you’re reading this and you’re a relaxed bella, please understand where I’m coming from with my personal experience, and keep reading for an upcoming post on hair products for straightened styles.

  13. Bella i absolutely love your site and i’m a regular reader even though i have relaxed hair…like you said i fall into the category of women who could care less.

    My mom let me get a relaxer when i was 16. so i know all about the natural hair route. and it wasn’t funny. up until recently i still had the same struggles that i did with natural hair and relaxed hair.

    It’s a 50-50 thing for me. a friend of mine went the natural hair route and we probably have about the same texture of hair. When she does it up she looks F.L.Y but you can’t style your hair everyday and I personally don’t really dig her shake and go look.

    I think going natural works best for people with softer hair textures. Me I do weaves, braids, relaxer and everything in the chinese hair store =)

  14. Wow Anna. Take a chill pill. Is it that serious? I would never attack someone so harshly in a public forum for their opinion!! But…that’s me. Bella helped me in my natural journey by mentioning several products that I never even heard of. I go for extended periods being both natural and relaxed. My hair is naturally curly so even if I have a relaxer, I am still able to wash and go letting my hair dry naturally and curl up on it’s on. It is true that to some people, it’s not that big of a deal. I think all women are beautiful whether they have relaxed or natural hair. It is a preference. It is also true that many of our people have self-hate issues whether it be skin color, hair texture, or anything else. It is important to see both sides of an issue even if you disagree and that is what Bella does which is why I love reading her site daily.

  15. Bella,

    Lovely post. Thank you for addressing the issue in your always-eloquent manner.

  16. joli201 says:

    Hey bella!

    I have relaxed hair (and love reading your site everyday:)) I also started getting my hair straightened at a very young age, and you hit on a few points as to why I haven’t went natural yet..(1) being a question of manageability, (2)I haven’t learned everything about transitioning yet,(3)I’m just not that brave right now, however I refuse to let my straightened hair hold me back from swimming whenever I please. I understood your post completely even though some didn’t. I think that the self hatred comes in when someone who has straightened hair looks at someone with natural hair in a sort of disgust or prejudice instead of looking at it as just another beautiful style that a person has chosen to wear. I will say that when I hear family members or friends look at someone with natural hair and frown upon it, I think of your site and make a point to make a positive comment on it. Your site has single handedly changed a lot of my views about natural hair and if I ever had any little girls I would look forward to holding on to their natural hair as long as possible. Good post Bella! BTW sorry so long :)

  17. Bella,

    From one natural black Harlemite sista to another…I love what you’re doing and keep doing it. You’re knowledge, peaceful spirit, wisdom and integrity shine through in what you write and how you say it. I love being natural because I feel like I’m living the way Spirit intended. Now that’s not to say that once you’re natural your spirit’s wholly in tact or that you won’t continue to learn life’s powerful lessons on self-love, self-acceptance, humility and non-judgement.

    At the end of the day, natural or not…black women can still be: catty, envious, resentful, angry, and continually use outside forces as a measuring stick for beauty. And an afro or locks can’t heal that. Only deep and truthful introspection can.

    Loves ya!

  18. LBellatrix says:

    CeeCee…I don’t have a so-called “soft” texture and yet I wear my hair natural because I have a RIGHT to. Okay? The idea that only certain people “can” go natural is as backwards as the idea that only certain people “can” have certain professional jobs because they’re light-skinned (early 20th century).

    Ana…hope that long waist-length hair is working for you, sweets…and that when you get into your 40s and 50s it doesn’t start thinning out as it usually does for up to 60% of all premenopausal women…because if it does your man might then dump you for a younger, whiter version and you’ll then know that your hair was all you had going for you…

    Mademoiselle M (and Afrobella): Thank you SO MUCH for that Clutch update. I too had read the original article on NP and sadly it corroborated some of my real-world experiences with SOME Dominicans / people who had visited the DR. If the tourism board was smart it would make more of an effort to counteract those impressions, because based on my observations, they obviously don’t want me or my tourist dollars in their country.

  19. wow ana.

    might i add that in the several years it’s taken me to go from being addicted to creamy crack to loving my natural hair, the best thing for me has been the products offer via http://www.mixedchicks.net never have i ever experienced shampoo & conditioners like theirs. whether i decided to wear my curls or iron my hair flat, the health & appearance of my hair has never been compromised.

  20. Patrick Jnr. says:

    Little Sister beautiful and insightful as usual! You continue to make me proud especially with how you handle the nonsence of the few who don’t take the time to read and comprehend before responding… you know I would ah cuss!

  21. The responses will always trigger emotions that ride hi, I read this and thought nothing really of this as when I was growing up my mother never put heat or relaxed me nor my sisters hair. it was natural and well taken care for. I never had any self issues and never looked at anyone else. As an adult I rarely permed may once or twice a year off and on but not anymore and that was a personal decision and it was not done until the age of 24. I just think sometimes that people need to stop focusing on things too much, but I see why it happens with society the way it is. Ana made her comments and to tell you the truth when you present yourself in an “open public forum” Thick Skin is a must and never take anything personal to the point where it will spill over. I think you handled the comments well to uphiold your site but as to a reader here I have seen many people react and in the end we are all human. Just be prepared and stay well.

  22. Sorry for the typo’s emotions run high but the blood stays warm. :-)

  23. Bella, I admire your grace and civility when responding to the first post–I think I would have lost my cool! Thank you for being supportive of all of us bellas–natural or not!

  24. The same thing is going on in my mom’s home country of Brazil, but not so extreme (they know they’re Black before they get to the US, trust). For example, my sisters and I went with her to visit family. While we were in Rio, we went to a cousin’s house. The mother told her son “see, there ARE pretty Black girls!” It was sad, considering they were the same shade as us.

  25. Big brother Patrick, I felt the cuss on the tip of my tongue. But I’ve made a pact to not present myself that way anymore. If it was a face to face discussion, I can’t make that guarantee, lol! Niki and Andy, it’s hard sometimes. But my skin’s growing thicker, and I expected some hateration on this post. It’s a controversial issue and I’ve tried to tackle it with honesty and diplomacy. But I’m not going to give that commenter the pleasure of making me break a sweat. I’ve got too much going on for that to break my stride. Thanks for the love, everyone!

  26. Why is everyone so upset with Ana for stating her opinion? Isn’t this a forum where you can send praises and objections? If Bella can’t take the good with the bad then Bella shouldn’t blog. I wear my hair natural but I don’t believe that natural hair is for everyone, nor do I think it looks good on everyone. This place is chock full of Natural Nazis.

  27. Geija,
    I’m not mad at Ana for stating her opinion, I welcome dissent and discussion. It’s the way she started out with it. It’s possible to disagree with someone and state your opinion without starting off by saying “you are so full of crap.” I know that’s what got my hackles up to begin with, and I tried to respond as best as I could earlier. And yeah, with a website called Afrobella, you’re probably going to find a high proportion of proud-to-be-natural sisters. I try not to be a nazi, and like I said earlier, I’ll be doing a post on relaxed hair products soon. But if stating my personal beliefs about natural hair defines me as a “natural nazi,” I guess that’s fine with me in this case.
    Respect,
    Afrobella

  28. I have to take issue with you about natural hair. I’ve had all kinds of styles (apart from a Jheri curl). And I have to say that having natural hair was a nightmare and didn’t fit in with my lifestyle.

    I have type 4B hair which is as curly and as kinky as you are going to get.
    There was no way I could go to the gym, swim and do two-hour dance classes with my Afro.
    Sure, it looked fantastic when I had just left the house.
    But as soon as any humidity, rain, fog or sweat touched it, it would shrink to up to a third of its size.
    At least with a weave I know that the style that I have in the morning will be the style I have when I come home at night – whatever I get up to.

  29. Bella,
    all I can say is “good job” and that your post was well written. I visit your site everyday and think (know…my opinion), it’s a site that welcomes everyone and all opinions. People should learn to read and comprehend what they’ve read, before jumping the gun. It’s fine to state your opinion about the topic. Please, don’t criticize another person because he/she doesn’t think like you or feel the way you may feel about an issue. If you don’t like the site, don’t visit and start doing your own post…that’s my OPINION:)

  30. @ Geija: Yeah, she has the right to say what she wants, but to call someone “full of crap” is just rude. Also, Afrobella already proved she has thick skin; didn’t you read her comment. And lastly, this place isn’t full of Natural Nazis. There were people commenting that either had permed hair, or didn’t care if other people did it or not.

  31. Thanks for showing love to the beautiful naturals of the world. I to have gotten more compliments in 2 years on my afros and twists than I ever received while wearing permed hair. Of course, it’s not for everyone, but I do agree that we (as people) need to learn to love ourselves in our natural state. But lemme tell you, being a 22 year old who is graduating next month…questions keep arising from my parents about what I’m going to do to my hair. If I’m going to perm it….something because surely “that mess” is not approrpriate for so-called corporate America. Rather than go off on a rant (like I usually do) I calmly say, “You’re right…guess I’ll loc it up.” And so I will.

    Self-acceptance is a beautiful thing….whether it comes with fros or perms.

  32. afrobello says:

    Now I have an excuse to tell my story!
    This past weekend after a family gathering I rode home in a car with female relatives. I forgot how the subject came up, but somehow hair became part of the discussion. I asked why black women (not ALL) don’t celebrate the natural texture they were born with and wear it like I do. The first response I remember is that straightening makes hair “easier to manage.” To that I replied, “500 years ago in Africa, nobody went around saying -gee, I wish there was an EASIER way to manage my hair-,” because no one would have thought it until they had gotten their beauty cues from white society. That argument is a crock, and I firmly believe there’s a wealth of self-hatred propping it up. As if every white person has problem-free hair! Switching up styles is cool and downright fun as well. But the women who ALWAYS have to be silky straight via conk or weave or wig truly baffle me. Especially when it comes to explanations. Isn’t it time to expose the sense of inferiority that created this standard?

  33. HaitianRoots says:

    Bella, first of all, love your site. And the key word is YOUR site. Are your posts going to lean more on oppinion, of course, but I do believe that you do your very best at being open-minded and not lean too far on the Bella side of the scale. You offer us links to read for ourselves and to formulate our own oppinions. All I can say is, I have yet to see any other race of people be encouraged to “do something with their hair”. God didn’t make any mistakes on our skin color or hair texture. Now if you want to wear it straight, that’s fine, my concern is the lack of knowlege many women of color have on what exactly they are putting on their scalp to make their hair go straight. Like the earlier post said, if you are cleaning a toilet with it, should you really have it seeping into your blood stream? Hey, if you can’t relax when you’re pregnant maybe you should raise an eyebrow to the fact that if it’s not good for the baby, it ain’t good for you. We’ve been taught to love the light and the straight, and the brown and the kink to hate. If we would just take the time to understand the history, there would be little room for debate. It goes across all cultures. Why do some Asian women have surgeries to get extra folds on their eye-lids? Because someone else told them that it was beautiful. It’s all a Bluest Eye complex. Keep up the good work!

  34. HaitianRoots says:

    Just re-read my post, the rhyme was unintentional :)

  35. Paulicia says:

    Wow…this post (and the comments) is very deep, and I agree with most of what bella has stated. From a personal prospective, my mom began relaxing my hair at the age of 6, so I never knew what my natural hair looked like. I shaved my head and began growing dreads about 4 years ago. I just got tired of the whole relaxer process- fretting over new growth, avoiding moisture like kryptonite, etc…. I’ve always been a happy-go-lucky person, and having THAT kind of hair inteferred with me living my life the way I wanted. Now, I have long dreads- which I feel are simply beautiful. I no longer have to get up an hour early just to do my hair, and I can look professional in a snap. They have not hurt my career at all, I had no problem getting my job (and my hair was shorter then, too).
    I lost weight since I went natural because I’m more active. With hair issues gone, I can swim daily, run, work out and just come home and hop in the shower to wash my hair whenever it needs it. It has made me more confident in so many ways (maybe employers sense this and like it?), and my husband LOVES them. He doesn’t have to always worry about messing up a hair style, if you know what I mean ;)
    My hair is healthier, stronger, and I now know what my texture is and wonder why my mom wanted to conceal something so unique and beautiful. I love playing with the little boing curls on the end of my locks. I wish I’d known they were there years ago, these curls I’d previously hatefully called “naps”.
    So, to each his own, and we CANNOT deny that there ARE people out there who DO relax to look more ‘white’. I stopped relaxing to enjoy the ‘freedoms’ I saw that many white people seemed to have- the ‘freedom’ to dance in the rain, to splash in a pool, to go skinny dipping on a whim, to work out until the sweat pours off you in little streams. I now have this ‘freedom’, and I wish it for everyone.

  36. Funny Paulicia that you mention that now that you have natural hair you have lost hair as to the active lifestyle you have. I had heard that some women whom had a relaxer were not as active. For me it never stopped me and then it came to a point I said as you why do this?

    I think a person has a decision to do what will work for them as with any hair style, texture or decision it all requires maintenance and patience.

    I am glad at this point in my life I have found both. :-)

    People should be happy with their own decisions and respect others whom have their own Point of View.

  37. Correction

    From Funny Paulicia that you mention that now that you have natural hair you have lost hair as to the active lifestyle you have. I had heard that some women whom had a relaxer were not as active

    your comment of
    “I just got tired of the whole relaxer process- fretting over new growth, avoiding moisture like kryptonite, etc…. I’ve always been a happy-go-lucky person, and having THAT kind of hair inteferred with me living my life the way I wanted. Now, I have long dreads- which I feel are simply beautiful. I no longer have to get up an hour early just to do my hair, and I can look professional in a snap. They have not hurt my career at all, I had no problem getting my job (and my hair was shorter then, too).
    I lost weight since I went natural because I’m more active. ”

    What I meant and to clarify is that when I had permed hair it did not interfere with my active lifestyle but I have heard from other ladies that they felt the same way that you did.

  38. flygyrl72 says:

    No matter how you slice it, try to justify it, whatever, the bottom line is Black women straighten their hair to attain a standard of beauty that was set up by Caucasians. Period. I don’t care what you say, how you try to justify that natural don’t fit into your lifestyle, work environment, whatever, that your hair is too unmanageable, blah, blah, blah. You got an issue w/ accepting your hair as it is. And that’s okay. We all have our things, it took me a LONG time to make the decision to go natural also, so I’m not gonna judge anyone who does rock straightened hair. If it works for you, more power. BUT STILL, it is what it is. Don’t make excuses. You are conforming to what is considered the acceptable “normal” standard for how hair should look. Now I know that there are many Black women w/ naturally straighter textures of hair, & I’m not talking about you, but to those of you w/ naps & kinks, this one’s for you. That isn’t your natural texture, that’s why as soon as humidity/moisture hits that head, it’s back to the puffy roots, even w/ a relaxer. I mean, look at the images that are out there in the media, from celebs to models, the standard is to have long flowing locks. We’ve been bombarded w/ those images since we’ve been born, so it should really be no surprise that the vast majority of Black women don’t really feel comfortable or attractive w/ their naturally God-given hair texture.

  39. Flygirl, I get what you’re saying, but when people say things like that, it comes off as pretentious. That’s where people get those “nappy nazi” comments from.

    (I know you didn’t mean it, I’m just saying…)

  40. grownnsxc says:

    @ Bella, love your site. And as many have previously pointed out it is YOUR site and if people disagree with your blogs, they are welcome to either leave a comment civilly disagreeing with your point OR click the little X box in the right hand corner.

    @LBellatrix, much respect before I begin this post. I understand where you are coming from but once again I think people need to understand this is about choice. As someone who attempted to go natural about a year ago, I found that it simply DID NOT work for me. And I think that people need to understand that it is hard to go natural and people do have different hair textures that can make natural styles more difficult for their lifestyle. IMO, it is harder to transition to natural hair than maintaining relaxed hair. When I began, I was misinformed about a lot of things and I am working on trying to transition once again now that I am a bit more knowledgeable, but until then, I refuse to let anyone make me feel bad about my decision to return to a more manageable style.

    @Andy, I couldn’t agree more. It’s all about respect. No one is better than anyone else because they choose a certain hairstyle.

  41. islandgirl550 says:

    ((((BREATH)))) Ok… here it goes. Last time I checked WordPress and Blogspot were there to let people start their own blogs. Bella, this is your blog and your opinion. We come here to read what you have to say because we like your commentary and your opinions. I’m a crazed natural hair person. I’m this way because I relaxed for so long because I didn’t like my hair or it’s texture! Hear that people? I didn’t like my hair texture!!! I come from a family who has Jamaican, Cuban, Irish, and Japanese ancestory. I am the darkest with the most African features in my family. I hated doing my hair and tried to change ME with the creamy crack. Everytime I tried to go natural that plastic jar in that red box would call me. “come here girl… lemme talk to you..”

    I wanted to loc my hair for years, but didn’t because of what people would say, what men would say, what the family would say, blah blah blah. I finally woke up and shaved my head. When my natural hair started to grow in WOULD YOU BELIEVE IT WAS STRAIGHT!!!! I was so upset. LOL!!! Locing has been a process but I am so happy with my choice. This is who I am.

    I appreciate your site and all that it has to offer. Keep doing what you’re doing, Bella!!!

    @Vivi – going to Brazil in February…Did your family really say that???!?!?

  42. Hi Afrobella and Family,

    Thanks for linking and always supporting Clutch! I just wanted to let everyone know that we did not write the original article or response, but one of our wonderful readers gave us the scoop on the Miami Herald series and the response is from another source. We felt the article was definitely something that should be discussed so we were granted permission to repost.

    Thanks!

  43. A cousin of ours did, yes. And I still can’t figure out if it was an isolated incident, or if it was a problem in the society; I have to ask my mother. It caught me a bit off-guard. But it’s not as bad as D.R. For instance, you KNOW you’re Black, there’s no denying it, lol. And in Bahia especially, a lot of the culture has it’s roots traced back to Africa.

  44. I totally agree with Flygirl72.

    Truth hurts!

  45. grownnsxc says:

    @flygyrl72, what I am getting from your post is by being a relaxed woman, I am somehow less black because I am attempting to obtain some Caucasian standard of beauty? Because I think that is an extremely flawed and dangerous way of thinking.

    Simply asking for clarification. Not trying to start any internet beef.

  46. Most of the white people I know straighten their hair to death too. They get up extra early to blow it straight for 45 minutes and do everything they can not to sweat. Having straight hair is not just something black people aspire to.

    My mother didn’t let me get a relaxer until my late teens, so I had natural hair for a long time. I get a relaxer maybe twice a year because I fall into that category of it’s just hair. Having my hair relaxed lets me do what I want, I’ve never had a weave or extension, and I get cornrows when I feel like it. My mother always told me that I was black and my hair, in whatever form it is, is beautiful.

    Nothing gets black women more riled up than what they choose to do with their hair. I just say to each hiw own, and Bella, your site is great. Even with my hair relaxed, between my sister and I we’ve tried almost every product you’ve reviewed. My sister has very silky wavy hair, and I have a lot of curly hair that I relax. We both do what we want, and love your website!

  47. @LBellaTrix please see PurlyQueen and grownnsxc’s comments. Maybe you could be elaborate on how you go about managing your natural hair. Any and all tips are always greatly appreciated :)

  48. Afrobella:

    I will have to agree with the first post from Ana. but I will not be quite as harsh. I love this site too much. Please don’t be so hard on us relaxed sisters. We are just doin’ what we gotta do. Just remember, our white sisters have “issues” with hair also. Too numerous to name. None of us is any less vulnerable to the hair sensitivities. As you indicated above, hair in its natural state and hair that has been processed has to be taken care of. I love using the nicest products on my armpit length relaxed hair and scalp. I love reading about hair care from real sisters like YOU!!! Been relaxed (with only a six month break) for 33 YEARS -DANG!!. Edges and ends still in tact, because as a brown skin sister, my hair in its natural state IS ALSO GOOD!!!!!!

  49. afrobello says:

    ^I don’t think flygyrl72 is saying relaxed women are less black. But she’s implying a trend toward denying one’s true self. Let’s face it, black pride stops at the hair for many of you. Much in the same way that black folks turn a blind eye as their culture is corrupted by a mentality of violence and misogyny. We always stop short of exalting ourselves to the best life offers.

  50. haitianbella says:

    It’s so sad that this day and age women of african ancestry still have trouble accepting themselves. What’s even worse is that so many other people from other backgrounds are taking from us and our culture yet we find it hard to accept ourselves. From Caucasian women baking in the sun to darken their skin to asian women (and men) who use chemicals to thicken up their hair to have that course thick afrocentric look. I weened myself off the crack lye my last year of high school when I noticed my hair breaking. Loc’ed my hair and maintained my locs throughout my college and thereafter for 6 years, everyone loved it. It’s disheartening when women feel compelled to change for men, even worse when they feel men of their own culture won’t accep them or find them attractive-my bf is caucasian and he always loved my locs, lucky for him he never showed dislike or he’d get a knee to the nuts…I unraveled my locs about a month ago and have some crazy coiled curls…i’m still learning ways to maintain the styles I like and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I do agree that there are many women who are ignorant about their natural hair due to the fact they had no choice when the hair crack was first applied to their hair at such a young age…in turn makes it hard to accept their naturally beautiful hair because the transition is too drastic from what they’ve known for so long. *excuse any typos-I haven’t had lunch :) But women stop wasting your time trying to fit into a society that will always find something wrong with you because you let them—Life’s too short to live by other peoples standards
    Peace Bellas!!!
    p.s. stop using that crack-God forbid it falls in your eye one day and blinds you, ooh girl curly coils are hotter than an eye patch :-D

  51. AmiJane says:

    Wow, there is so much to say. Anyhow, I love my hair now more than I ever have before. I have been natural for 3.5 years. After years of getting relaxer saw my hair become thinner and thinner. And I was only in my early twenties. I saw the hair transitions of my friends as well. They too, started out with a head full of thick hair and about 10 years of relaxers it showed to be thin and stringy. I decided I didn’t want this and that was one of the best decisions I ever made.

    Now, the transition wasn’t always easy. And there was a moment of doubt… Like, “What will this new BLACK guy think about me going natural” Because, we all know they have come accustomed to what the majority of us have been showing them.

    But I must say… When I walk around here in Las Vegas I instill black pride in the young and old. Cuz they feel like someone is representin who we are. I actually feel better about myself as a black woman. I’m know that I’m defying the norm and I’m showing extremely pride in my heritage. It’s like here I am, and you could accept it or deny it. I’m not hiding behind some hairdo continously seeking approval or trying to conform (and that’s with white or black people) Most People Love It!

    And I as well think Ana was upset because the post illuminated some insecurities she thought she burried a long time ago.

    At least this blog provoked her to THINK.

    AND OH, Lets be real… Hair is not jus HAIR in the black commnity. Not in this day and age. That’s what it should be. But comeon… ITS NOT.

    GREAT POST BELLA! YOU DONE DID IT AGAIN!

    Anyhow, stay true to what you determine is valuable. Yes, there will be hard times as there is with straight hair or anything else. Going natural does take consistent courage until you have arrived. I would encourage any person of color to seroiusly consider it.

  52. I understand the anger with the sentiment attributed to Dominicans in that article. And I agree that some (many?) women straighten their hair because they don’t know any other way. My hair is straight now, but for 30 years (I’m 40+) I rocked every length of natural possible. Loved my “natural” hair style, not because it was a statement of my blackness (all you have to do is look at me, and hear me speak so lovingly of my ancestry and black culture to know who I am). It was a hairstyle choice and I chose it. Shaved my head for many years, too. Loved it all. But then became bored. Wanted something new. So I straightened my hair, and have for the past 10 years or so. Will probably shave my head again soon to prepare for the next phase of me. But I think judgements about women based solely on whether or not they straighten their hair is as flawed as judging people with naturals. For me, the hairstyle of my moment may change, but the strong, healthy, supportive black woman I am will not.

  53. @ Nessia: It is true – almost everyone I know (black, white, and everything in between) has hair issues. My white friends would perm, relax, blow dry, you name it. It’s always the same thing… the grass is greener on the other side. Same goes for bronzers, tanning salons, all that mess.

    I relaxed my hair for years, and to be honest I LOVED the way it felt for the first week after my relaxer. And then… well it just felt gross. Couldn’t wash it very often, it would get rigid and poofy, oily and then dry.

    The transition to natural wasn’t so bad for me. And now – well I’m in love with my curls, but I do miss the option of wearing it bone straight.

  54. joli201 says:

    Trying to fit into the “white society” is MORE than hair and can sometimes have NOTHING to do with hair. Hopefully everybody on here who is black KNOWS that they are black and feeling through straight hair is not going to make them forget it. Lets not be judgemental and assume we know the reasons for why people choose to do the things they do.

  55. flygyrl72 says:

    Hey grownnsxc, I’m not implying that you’re “less” Black. I never said that. That would be silly. But still, yeah… straight hair was a standard set by Europeans, so if you’re doing it…yeah I think you may have some issues w/ your hair. Yeah (to Vivi), I may be a little bit of a “nappy Nazi” for saying that, but I’ll live with it. But let’s be clear, I’m not judging, I don’t think one chick is better than another just off of sh*@ like this. Because, I’ll tell you now, I can’t get on a high horse about this, I still got issues w/ my hair, big a fro as it is. Hell, I think 99.9% of Black people have issues with their hair, no matter how they rock it. Since forever, our hair has been a catalyst for so many strong emotions, it’s amazing. No other race of people’s hair has the ability to stir up as many powerful reactions/feelings as ours does, ESPECIALLY when it’s worn in its natural state. That being said, straight hair, nappy hair, whatever, you do you. I got friends with both. I got my opinion, ya’ll got yours. We ain’t all gonna be on the same page with this one, no way, no how.

  56. Yikes. First off, I found it in very interesting that both ana and linda felt it necessary to mention the length of thier hair– um, who cares? That does not make your opinion any more valid. linda your comments were well-reasoned, and i’m not trying to put you in the crazy-lady boat w, ana, but really.

    That said,I see where you’re coming from.

    All women have the right to change/modify thier appearance as they see fit. However, you rarely see white and asian women giving thier little girls curly perms, or otherwise altering thier children’s natural hair texture. That type of parenting clearly tells kids that they’re just not good enough the way they are.

    ALternatively, if you are a grown-ass woman, do you. But let’s not delude ourselves. As flygirl stated, we are trying to attain a white beauty ideal. I have been toying with the idea of a “silkener” for a few months, having been natural for over 7 years. Besides the obvious financial investment, I am also loathe to admit to myself that the main reason I would do this is because, even though I like my hair now, I would just LOVE it if it were more curly and “silky.” I find myself thinking, well, it would still be natural looking, so no one would even know I had somegthing done!

    I know it’s a damn shame that after so many years, I haven’t truly accepted my hair. I like my hair natural, but am so pulled by the idea that there is now a method to getting straighter, “better,” natural-looking hair.

    (I’m so conflicted y’all!)

    I say all this to get the burden off my chest, and also to demonstrate that even among natural-hair gurus, there can still be a lot of inward conflict, shame, and doubt. It is so hard to rid oneself of the pervailing cultural attitudes.

  57. bella,
    one of my majors in undergrad was in spanish. a part of me only wanted to visit spanish speaking countries that had high numbers of people of african descent. not until it was closer to the time of departure to the dominican republic, the country of my choice to study, did i realize the blatant racism that I would have to encounter. with the post touching on so many levels that we could talk for days.. i will leave you with a few commments that I had to hear/address while living there for 5-6 months:
    (going to get the ‘dominican’ blowout for my hair): “yes, sit, we are going to make you look just like the ‘blanquitas’– white girls.”

    (to my friend who was of dark complexion): “i see we are going to have to get you a white boyfriend” — from a dominican native.

    (a mom chastising her son): “you are as stupid as a haitian!”

    I’m not putting this out there to say all Dominicans are racist, etc. …. but these are some things that I have encountered that seem to be culturally accepted and that simply exist.

  58. Bella,

    From the disparity of comments, sounds like another “Own your Fro” post is in order. Far too many people have that my hair is not good, soft, manageable, won’t look like that, attitude. People in my family included.

  59. @D. – True! There’s this patch in the middle of my ‘fro that has the tightest curls – a totally different texture than the rest of my hair. And I always find myself pulling on it and getting angry when it doesn’t conform.

    So, even though I love my hair natural, I still feel slightly embarrassed by the nappier texture in the middle. Very strange – I wish that feeling would go away.

  60. I know the history of our hair issues, so I’m not being naive. But it occurred to me that I know several women who feel that wearing makeup is unhealthy and denial of our natural beauty and inherent femininity. Do the posts about how much Afrobella loves makeup get this kind of healthy debate, too?

  61. Mona B. says:

    Hi Bella! This is just about my experiences in the 3 1/2 yrs that I’ve been natural. I went to an HBCU (FAMU), and not only was my self-pride nurtured, but so was my need to embrace myself as I am. And for me that included my hair. To this day, there are still family members that say incredibly hurtful things to me about my hair. But I have reached a point where I LOVE MY HAIR (and myself) AS IS. I love the texture and the fact that it is the way nature intended it to be. I used to be afraid to wear my Afro out, afraid of what people might say and the looks that I might get. Now I wear my “halo” with pride. The funky looks some people give me don’t even faze me anymore. And in learning how to nurture my hair, I’ve learned to take better care of myself. Just my $0.02.

    “For me, my hair feels like an extension of me. It’s who I am. For me, it’s not just a hair style, it’s a life style.” –Bella, I couldn’t state it any better.

  62. flygyrl72 and LBellatrix, couldn’t have said it better myself.

    Afrobella, great site!

  63. alwayzalady22 says:

    i just want to say that i came across this article a few weeks ago, and as inflammatory as it sounded, i think we’re all intelligent enough here to know that there are more than one side to this story in the DR….whether people get up in arms about being misquoted or not, there just HAVE to be some people in the DR who do not hold these beliefs, but possibly right now there are more that hold them, and so they’re getting more airtime…i think it’s important to remember that even here in america, when people sported afros in the 1960s, it wasn’t until 3 or 4 years ago that we started seeing natural hair in tv shows and on commercials on a REGULAR basis! if making people realize that natural hair is beautiful here in america took THAT long, then how can you expect someplace like the DR, where they don’t have nearly the freedoms and exposure to different things that we do, to all of a sudden catch up to us?! this hair business has been ingrained in black culture for hundreds of years, and we STILL have issues with it today, so why not give the DR culture time to expose themselves and evolve and place themselves on a path to acceptance the way we are here?

    i hate to go off on a tangent, but this is exactly why americans appear to be in a ‘cocoon’ to the rest of the world…we just don’t have a freakin’ CLUE about what’s going on in other places, but because we live here, we have an unreasonable expectation that other people in 2007 should be up to speed with us in terms of culture…every culture has their issues, and even us big bad americans need more time to work ours out…i’m pretty confident that as the DR opens up even more to outside influences and gains more perspective, that their attitudes towards hair types will change…but remember, WE needed that too to get where we are today.

  64. another way for us to hate within…..
    …this is just like the light-skin vs. dark-skin taboo in the black community.
    come on black ppl, wake up nah !!
    why cant we just accept ppl’s choices for wearing their hair certain ways and just move on. dont you all realize that its just another form of SEGREGATION in our community.
    come on now its just hair…DEAD CELLS.
    some of you may disagree, but my hair, skin, eyes, legs..whtever does not determine who i am.
    your character does !!!
    so stop with all this “ppl wit straightened hair have issues”…some of yall sound like serious shrinks up in here.

  65. Bella – you were less than 4 in that picture and the curlers were a one-off thing. Your hair grew to shoulder blade length.

    As to the mad person’s rant, you handled her well. There will always be that one negative vibe but you are surrounded by thousands or more of positive ones so brush such people off…they don’t matter.

    Just keep true to who you are and to what you feel.

  66. Afro-Dominicano says:

    Dear Afro Bella, the response to Black Denial you found in Clutch Magazine titled “Did the Miami Herald Have an Agenda?” is not an article written by the staff of Clutch Magazine. Clutch must be given credit for publishing this letter, which was originally posted in the “Submit Comment” section. The article was written by two Dominican graduate students at Howard University, Christina Violeta Jones and Pedro R. Rivera.

  67. I made very similar comments on a hair board a few months ago, especially as it pertains to many black women’s dependence on relaxers and weaves. I stated that I believe them to be physically, emotionally and even psychologically damaging to many women. Please note, I never referenced anyone on that hairboard, in fact we were initially talking about celebrities. In particular I noted Tyra Banks, who stated on her show that she’s afraid (her word not mine) to be seen without a weave. I also referenced Janet Jackson who talked about a hairdresser encounter whereas she spent 12 hours getting a weave. Then went back to do it all over again the next day because the hairdresser cut it too short. She stated she couldn’t be seen with her hair ‘like that.’

    Anyway, you would’ve thought I blasphemed against the Holy Spirit the way I was attacked. All these women, who claimed that their hairstyles were just ‘a choice,’ launched a string of personal attacks the likes of which haven’t been seen since Imus picked up the mike. They claimed I wasn’t even pregnant (I was 5 months along at the time), attacked my book (which none of them had read), even called me out of my name.

    It seems to me that if this process which 75 PERCENT of black women undergo were simply ‘a choice’ it wouldn’t evoke such a strong response. And we certainly wouldn’t be putting this crap on children’s heads when they’re still toddlers!!! What’s any sicker than that?!?

  68. As for managing the transitional period, I would strongly advise that you don’t even try. Especially if, like many women with relaxers, your hair has been overprocessed. Overprocessed hair is like overcooked pasta, lifeless and stringy. African textured hair is springy and full of life. Trying to deal with both on one head is simply asking for heartache. The differences in texture will be too great and you’ll be miserable beyond belief. Bite the bullet and cut that overprocessed stuff off. Once you’ve done that, natural textured hair is a dream to care for. But its almost impossible to care for both textures on one head.

  69. MzNikki says:

    To all of the ladies who are saying that your hair is too hard to manage, doesn’t look right, etc (or whatever your chosen justification for not rocking your natural texture is, I say yeah right! I am a 4b, nappy as a goat’s azz nappy, but I can still rock my twists, twist-out, ‘fro, etc. It’s all about accepting that your nappy hair will not now, or ever for that matter, act like str8 hair does. With the proper products and mindset, you can rock your nappy hair with pride.

    Check out http://www.nappturality.com
    and http://www.motowngirl.com for all the advise, support and information you need to do your nappy hair right!

  70. @ che, I couldn’t have said it better myself. This does nothing but further divide us and make each side seem “holier than thou.”

  71. thank you vivi !!!
    ppl in here carrying on trying to be “dr.phils” analyzing why ppl wear hair straight or curly, ??!!!
    its just hair folks…just hair.
    there are more important things to worry about as black ppl..such as self empowerment & develoment in this world !
    ..over 70 comments and u mean to tell me ppl aint see this is further division in the black community !!
    at least u saw it :)

  72. I don’t think it takes Dr. Phil to see that there’s something very wrong when 75% of any population spends 12 BILLION dollars a year altering their body in emulation of a group different from themselves. As Bella said, I’m sure for many its no big deal, but when you see people visiting this mania onto their children including 2d degree chemical burns, please don’t tell me its no big deal. The light skinned/dark skinned thing is a different matter entirely. After all, we have no control over what color our genes deliver to us. This hair issue is an oppressive one to many, and will remain a hindrance to black female liberation unless we get a handle on it.

  73. roslynholcomb, you put it out there and it’s real: if it’s “just hair”, then why is this conversation even necessary? Think on it.

  74. WildMagnolia says:

    I agree with flygyrl72. I only wish to add that this is not only a Black womans issue. (The average white woman doesn’t look like the chicks in those commercials and magazine ads.) The media and big business targets ALL women. It’s all about the dollar. White women succumb to those pressures far more than Black women. But let’s not internalize and think we’re self-hating. In addition to their own hair issues there’s plastic surgery, gastric bypass, Botox, tanning… The list is endless. The more we as women demand to be accepted AS WE ARE the more the industry will change to what we want it to be. I’ve already seen major changes over the years. The concept of beauty has vastly broadened and I think it has a lot to do with Black women, specifically. We are beautiful and we are trendsetters. Our influence can be seen in every facet of the industry now. We just need to keep on being our proud, stunning selves. We are the culture that sets standards. So whatever you do with your hair, remember, others will look and wish they had the flair and the versatility that comes naturally to us and our hair.

    I’m, thankfully, quite happy with my natural hair and full figure and already tanned skin.

  75. I rarely comment online, BUT ladies let’s get REAL. When we decide to roack a natural our family, communites, spouses, and many others discourage it.

    They suggest you look ugly, unkept, unattractive. WHY? Because they are being Willie Lynch’s children!

    Personlly, I don’t have the time, and won’t give the cash to someone to burn my scalp and make me bald.

    My sister wears a perm (it is long and thick) and I like how she wears it, but wishes she would put braids in sometimes to give her scalp a break-

    I digress. Basically. Like Beah Richards in Beloved- Love yourselves. Laugh. Love. We need more of that and a lot more of mothers teaching their children how special and lovely they are.

    Rise O’ mighty race!

  76. Adrianna says:

    As a Haitian! I can say a lot of Haitian do have self hatred and problem with colorism.I’ve heard that in the Dominican republic if you are dark they assume you are Haitian . As if they had no African slave on the other side of the island.ZIt’s very sad because there is a lot of animosity between us. I been natural for 4 years and i can’t think of having my hair any other way. It’s a struggle (because it doesn’t grow) ,but i keep the faith alive. I blame my mother for damagung my frail hair when she permed it when i was 7.

  77. Adrianna says:

    As a Haitian! I can say a lot of Haitian do have self hatred and problem with colorism.I’ve heard that in the Dominican republic if you are dark they assume you are Haitian . As if they had no African slave on the other side of the island.It’s very sad because there is a lot of animosity between us. I been natural for 4 years and i can’t think of having my hair any other way. It’s a struggle (because it doesn’t grow) ,but i keep the faith alive. I blame my mother for damaging my frail hair when she permed it when i was 7.

  78. Dear Afro-Dominicano, I edited that information and included their names in the post. Thanks for bringing this information to the forefront. What are your thoughts on the original article? With the name like Afro-Dominicano, I’m very interested in hearing your perspective!

  79. Afro-Dominicano says:

    First of all, thanks for the opportunity to dialogue with you. Also thanks for editing the information. I would kindly add that when you say in your post “I’m very interested in hearing a Dominican response to this article,” I think that the letter “Did the Miami Herald Have an Agenda” is partially the response you have been seeking. Furthermore, as to my “thoughts on the original article,” this response-letter by the Howard students represents my views. The situation of the Dominican Republic has been sold cheap to the audiences. Insufficient attention and repect have been paid to the history, culture, and legacy of a people whose nation has been called the “Craddle of Blackness in the Americas.” Depending on how you choose to tell the story, not all Dominicans will reject their Blackness and not all Dominicans will be anti-Haitian. Just remember, what is our classical narration of the story of Gabriel Prosser? Do we dwell on the deeds of those Blacks who “turned him in,” or do we focus on Prosser’s courage to seek justice for his fellowmen/women? I think we must apply some of those sensibilities when examining Dominican history and peoples, or any country in the diaspora for that matter.

  80. Black Honey says:

    Great post Bella.

    I have always wondered about something. Why is that women with relaxers first response to the natural hair question is that “having relaxed hair doesn’t make me less black.”

    Having relaxed hair doesn’t make you less black. (I say this knowing that for some folk it is really just hair). It does make me wonder if you are catering to the(warped) American (regardless of race) view of beauty. It’s not so much wanting to have blond hair and blue eyes as it is trying to fit a mold that was formed without us in mind.

    Women who celebrate nappy/kinky/tightly coiled/excessively curly/whatever hair are simply celebrating our own beauty. If that makes you feel less black because you have relaxed hair, that’s really something for you to deal with.

    Sidebar: I said American instead of Western view of beauty for a reason. In my opinion, Europeans don’t have this limited view. It’s been my experience, that the idea of beauty is much more personalized. You’re not beautiful because you look like jolie, berry, hayek, or any other flavor of the month. You are considered beautiful because of the way you look as a individual.

  81. Hey bella, I know I’m a little late with my comments. I read your post yesterday and really didn’t know that it would blow up into such a lengthy and sometimes heated debate.

    The one thing about this conversation that always disheartens me is how quickly we as black women choose “sides.” Regardless of how much effort you put into being open to other points of view or not making generalizations in your post, it seems that as soon as the conversation opens up it devolves into natural vs. relaxed, nappy vs. straight, my view vs. your view. And it seems that it never truly moves past this point. All the Willie Lynch-ism that created this issue around our hair remains as long as we fall right back into this trap when the subject comes up.

    I’m not trying to preach, but I do think that we should all recognize that we all have appearance issues, period. After 400 years of ongoing oppression in this World, there’s no way to just flip a switch and make everyone conscious. It takes more than a few decades to undo that. So rather than bicker back and forth, can we agree to keep our minds open to new ideas and to support each other regardless of the personal choices we do and do not agree with.

  82. ONYXbeauty says:

    Afrobella,

    I read your blog from time to time and I gotta say good job. It’s so interesting to have a world full of natural beauty online. I stopped perming my hair when I was 18 (1990) There was very little support and hair salons, products etc back then. I’ve sported braids, twists, short natural and now locs. Recently , I lost my hair because of a health challenge. I was so damn devasted! I felt less pretty, less womanly, less everything. Then one day India’s song came on and I finally realized what the words meant “I am not my hair” For years, I associated women with locs as concious revolutionaries, the Angela Davis types who I grew up around in NYC. But over the years as more and more folks loced up, I realized that I was one of the few revolutionaries left. And now Locs and naturals were just hair styles. I was critical at first.

    And subsequently after 8 years of locs, and then having to cut them off I realized that my locs didn’t make the woman. I’m still a revolutionary, I’m still fly, and to be honest, I look better and ten years younger without the long locs. I am not my hair!

    I say all of this because as women of color, we get so caught up in our hair….I’m bias, I hate perms and all that beauty shop crap. But what I hate more is all the long ass weaves celebrities and now women in black communitites are rocking. I hate a white view of beauty. And yes I wish more black women wore their hair natural, but I know that most will not, but even though I hate the perms and weaves I keep reminding myself that “I am not my hair” and neither is she!

    –ONYXbeauty

  83. Awaken

    The Birth

    10 years old.
    I want to be lighter
    Maybe I’ll use this skin cream so I
    Can be lighter like my cousin with the good hair
    That the boys all stare at
    They said “She’s gonna be baaaaadddd when she is older” and then looked at me and said
    “oh you too.”

    Bottom lip poking.

    Her- Light skinned and beautiful
    with her long hair that doesn’t argue with the comb and
    The brush
    Cream. $2.99, I can save that from my allowance
    I’ll put it on everyday, until I am the color
    Of a paper bag at least, that’s what I heard on PBS
    that they used to do,
    you have to be the color of a paper bag
    Or you have to be a mammy
    And I don’t want to be nobody’s mammy
    I want to be Carmen Jones or Lena Horne
    Then Ill be beautiful….

    This shit burns, I said to myself
    Between my head and my face
    I wont have any skin left..
    The perm is burning my head..ahhhhhhhh
    leaving scabs
    …oozing
    The cream is burning my face
    Dyeing to be beautiful

    Dying

    Just rinse it out, hurry up, eyes watering
    I’ll be okay
    Water will make it better, rinse it out, hurry, hurry
    Use cold water
    Is it straight enough?
    Did you get it all?
    Make sure that it is straight all the way to the scalp
    I don’t want to see a trace of it okay?
    Imma go to school swinging this stuff tomorrow and all of
    The boys are gonna be looking at me.

    I aint no nappy head

    Im equal now
    Watch, I’ll show you

    Act II

    Whooo, look at me
    All the boys are looking at me
    I like your hair he said, the one that
    Everybody likes
    “Thank you” I said patting the back of my
    Hair and blushing although you wouldn’t know it
    Because im dark skinned and this damn cream aint
    Working yet
    I like the way boys smile at you when you look pretty
    Hair swinging, smelling like heat and chemicals, beautiful
    And all the while for six more weeks my hair was pretty until…
    Wait….my roots…shit
    They are back, my roots…reminding me that I need another

    Perm, burning, burning…shit…

    Reminding.

    Get my cream….I must maintain this
    I don’t see how they let their hair get this nappy
    I cant do nothing with this…
    I hate my hair
    Thank God for relaxer, otherwise
    I would be walking around here looking crazy

    all un-relaxed

    Besides, boys make fun of girls with nappy hair
    Laughing, Pointing
    Remember Maria from College Park?
    She had this big nappy ponytail and the boys just laughed
    And laughed
    I kinda liked it though.
    Her mama broke down and let her get a perm and the next day every boy
    In school was in love with Maria, with her hair flowing down her back

    Cooperating.

    Copyright B. McCrary 2007

  84. Black Honey says:

    I’m passing this poem on

  85. Thank you Black Honey!!

    This is my personal experience….I am so glad to be natural..you have no idea..

  86. @Onyx-I feel the same way, to tell the truth. I’m no longer perming my hair (I’m still transitioning) but I can’t criticize ADULTS who do. People have been perming for a LONG time and telling them that they are ‘unaware’ or not conscious enough is not the way to go about it. Like you said, it’s just hair. Just a bunch of dead skin cells sitting on our heads, yet it’s dividing us, just like a LOT of other stuff. *sigh*

  87. HaitianRoots says:

    @Xcentricpryncess
    From a picky poet i gotta give love where it’s due. beautifully written. Love the breaks and word play. will mos def pass on. look fwd to reading more.

  88. ana Says: July 11th, 2007 at 12:02 am
    I think you are so full of crap and i absolutely hate the way you generalize, referring to all black women as “we”. You are implying that all women who relax their hair have self hate issues and that’s a load if i’ve ever heard one. Reading your post, i think you’re the one with serious issues.maybe you never felt pretty with relaxed hair but it doesn’t mean the rest of us do.I’m african and i have long beautiful relaxed hair down to my waist (no stubby pony for me), and i’m just as african as the day i was born, no denying my “roots

    NO ANA, SHE SAID SOME OF US. READ THE POST AGAIN. Afrobella mentioned that some women are fine with natural hair and look at it as if it is another style. Futhermore, from your response we can deduct how you really feel about your hair.

  89. Black Honey says:

    Thanks for writing it.

    I’m always surprised by how common these experiences are among brown girls in the US. All of us can’t have low self-esteem. This is not a fantasy embedded in our collective chocolate consciousness. No, the message that the nappy hair/dark skin combo is not pretty is reaffirmed everyday of our lives. This is not just in mainstream media. This idea’s destructive existence remains in our community, renewed generation after generation by family and friends.

    Sweeping this under the rug has not helped. Talking about it has not changed a thing. Declaring war on the attitude is the only thing we can do. Wearing your hair natural with pride is a means of combating the lie we have been sold.

  90. Adrianna says:

    It’s a global world everyone wants to lookk like everyone else. the beauty industry wants us to look all the same. That’s facism ( said by the very smart susan gillman. I’m just saying maybe it’s time to give up the self hate.

  91. Now don’t take any thing I say the wrong way, but the things black people on all sides argue about is absolutely laughable. Here we have many afrocentric individuals who take pride in being natural but in turn one individual makes a note of mentioning that she has a Caucasian boyfriend. Then we have relaxed sisters who go out of there way to tell every one how long and kink free their hair is and how proud they are of that. As if the length of your hair makes it more aesthetically pleasing to the eye because of that or by you announcing that to the world in some way that makes people realize that you are not in denial or ashamed of your black heritage. African-Americans and people of African descent have been trampled on, abused, and brainwashed for so long it’s safe for me to say that the damage is irreversible. The vestiges of white colonialism are evident. Alarming amounts of people of African descent in America are ignorant and uneducated. It’s to the point where Oprah doesn’t have hope for us. She said from her mouth and I quote “black children do not have the mindset for school.” Because of her own thoughts about her own people she spent 40 million dollars for a school in Africa with plans to build more in the future. You would think that because black people have gone through centuries of oppression, that when given the chance we would fight to preserve our heritage and pass the love and respect for our history on to our children. How is that going to happen? I hardly see black love anywhere. Who dropped the ball? After the 60s the black race became a part of an embarrassing cycle of shame. So while you guys are arguing about who is more or less black you’re just widening the rift between us all.

  92. designdiva says:

    Daphne, you have a valid point. The only thing I have a concern about is that Oprah said more than what you quoted. Plus this self-hatred goes farther back in the 60′s. I work in behavioral health, and one of my clients is a black woman in her 70′s. The stuff that comes out of her mouth makes me cringe. She’ll make comments about how neat my hair is kept, but I need to relax my hair to make it “good, straight hair” and not “negro hair”. Yikes!!

  93. designdiva says:

    not in the 60′s but “goes farther back than the 60′s”–sorry.

  94. I really like this website. It covers issues unlike any other I’ve read, intelligently and with a broad natural black female afro-centric-diasporic approach.

    I kinda like the natural nazi or nappy nazi label. It’s hilarious. I just picture rigidly saluting every natural head I come across. Hail the nappy!

    Maybe because I’m from Brooklyn (plenty of naturals) and live in NJ (lots of naturals here too), I never realized that there’s STILL this much angst over the hair which grows out of our heads.

    I thought with the number of natural heads I see in ads that being natural was mainstream. I actually thought the drama ended years ago when Jill Scott, India Irie, Lauryn Hill, etc. were prominent. Guess not.

    My hair hangup was always the length, I want it to swing, but I never liked it straight.

    I peruse the fotkis of naturals who used to perm: I am stunned that so many sistas even thought of mutilating such beautiful hair. But like many stated before, it’s their choice.

    I just worry about the toxic chemicals. I have no problem with straightening.

  95. byrdparker says:

    justme Says: July 11th, 2007 at 4:05 pm

    ^^^^^^^
    I am 40 as well , and rocked many hairstyles , except for locks…. I don’t put so much emphasis on hair to determine who i am .

    Beauty Says: July 12th, 2007 at 1:51 pm
    ^^^^^^^

    I totally agree , you have to be individual and still respect others oppinions, especially on a divide and conquer issue . Try to keep a open mind .

    bella for you

    camomelia intea when i was younger one of my domincan friends recomended this if i wanted to go blond naturally. It worked ! What i brought was powder and i had to mix it , i put the concoction on and left it in one day , then did it again for two more days .. voila, beautiful always wore it curly , would wrap my hair and have it sticking out from the top .

  96. haitiangurl says:

    Daphne, Che & Vivi, I totally agree with your comments. I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be black and what it means to be part of the black community… And with all the comments I’ve read here today, I’ve lost all hope – Black Unity is Dead! If we as intelligent, strong, black women cannot see how we are being divided by the same slave tactics used to enslave us 500 years ago – there just isn’t any hope.

    I’ve become as discouraged as Oprah and must look for answers elsewhere because I am not finding any here… While I love your site afrobella and have mad respect for you, I cannot say that I disagree with Ana. The tone of your comments was insulting to women who chose relaxing, or weaves, or flat ironing, or any other hairstyle other than – NATURAL according to you. While that might not have been your intention but what you say and how it’s perceived our two different things. And I as a afro-hair woman picked up on the bias which has been evident for quite some time (your Miss Jessie interview did it for me). Judging by the way the conversation has gone here, everyone is just slamming each other, picking sides. But hey this is your blog and if we want “fair and balance” we should go to Fox News!

    Some may say that it was Ana’s comment that started the jump, but again I understand where honey is coming from and to all you sistah who want to attack please hear what I am saying first – simply that putting someone down (anyone), shaming them, insulting them, talking down to, bashing them over the head with YOUR opinions without knowing ANYTHING about that person is NEVER going to get us as a people ANYWHERE and certainly will not UNITE us to fight the real ills we as a people are facing – crime, sexual abuse, education, prison (the new plantation), etc. These are the real issues that are rocking our community! We are all VICTIMS of slavery and we will NEVER know what could have been had slavery never happen but to think we still would not have this issue of hair is lunacy. You got white folks fighting over BLONDES vs BRUNETTES vs RED HEADS if you can’t see the parallels then please stop reading here. But yet the discourse between white women never gets this venomous as between relaxed and natural headed sisters. Why is that? And for those wanting to talk about self-hate what do you call anorexia and bulimia? As if black people cornered the market on self-hate….

    EVERYONE has issues with there appearance. NO RACE of people ANYWHERE is satisfied with how they look. That’s why there are breast implants, fake tans, porcelain veneers, braces, make-up, pantyhose, bras, razors, waxing, hair products, lipo, tummy tucks, perfume, cologne, tweezers, curling irons, flat irons, hair coloring, tooth paste, body wash, and I could go on….

    The point is WE ALL do something to alter our appearance because we ALL are conditioned to feel inferior, to have self-hate, to strive for perceived perfection… Seriously, folks we need to dialogue about more than slavery, hair and skin color… We need to go deeper for example the sista who raised the issue of us spending 12 billion on hair, what about talking about HOW we are conditioned to spend period. Money in savings account are at there lowest point in the history of this country… How has America become a consumer nation, how has that affected for present (i.e. hundreds of thousands of people who are going to lose their homes b/c of Arm Loans) and what does that spell for our future?

    We are so busy arguing about surface issues never getting to the heart of any issues but I can’t blame any of you, your only doing what you’ve been taught and you see following the same steps of our congress, our president, the media, and sadly I see the downfall of our education system because so few of you are critically thinking… Every issue is an onion, to say that slavery and self-hate is the reason why black women relax only gets you through one layer but far far from the core….

  97. Xcentric Princess – Did you write this poem? It’s beautiful. Thanks for sharing!!

    Big respect to my fellow bellas! I can’t tell you how much your words mean to me. I’m glad to realize that my words resonated with so many of you. It’s never my intention to insult, these are my opinions based upon my experiences. I must admit, it feels great to know that there are so many women all over the world who feel the same. But I learn from the opposing perspectives, like yours, Hatiangurl. I write about hair and beauty because they’re issues I feel close to and also, I feel that I’m knowledgeable enough to shed some limited light on great products and styles. Sometimes, when I write posts like this, I worry at first that I’m getting in over my head, and then I worry that I’m not deep enough. But I never want to start writing without knowledge, and speaking on issues I’m not confident in my full knowledge about. I think too many people spout opinions without being fully informed. It took me over a week to write this post, and I re read it over and over again before I posted it. Because I want to make sure I’m speaking my soul as eloquently and correctly as possible. Even so, I’m an opinionated woman. The site’s called Afrobella. Obviously I have a perspective I’m bringing to the table, and not everyone’s going to share that.
    There’s so much more to say, to get to the core of the onion. I am happy to be a layer, as long as I’m providing some kind of nutrition in some way. That can be food for thought, positive reinforcement for a woman who may have been needing some, or the kind of righteous anger that gets your hackles up and sparks discussion and debate.
    I love hearing your hair journeys and experiences, so to those of you who apologize for leaving long comments — please don’t apologize! Vent, share, discuss with me. I think we all learn from each other, and I really thrive on hearing fresh perspectives. Because I think that’s how we all learn and grow.

  98. Ohhh, Saint Oprah…
    Anyhow, I feel like this. If you’r'e not insecure about your relaxed or kinky hair you wouldn’t be taking offense to Afrobella’s comments. Afrobella was just stating her opinion without bashing anyone.

    Just like when Norbit came out, I found it interesting that it was mostly overweight black girls took offense to the movie. By the way 79% of black women aged 20 and up are overweight. Yes, I’m conscious about was goes on in the media, but i didn’t take offense to this because I’m confident,satisfied, and I don’t feel insecure about my weight or who I am.

    This hair issue will be alive for as long as I am. And with future generations it will be something else. But, Again thanks Bella, for putting it out there to provoke thought and dialogue. I’m done.

  99. Carolyn says:

    I don’t even know why I’m posting because flygyrl72 has already shared my exact thoughts and far more eloquently than I ever could. I prefer natural hair, on myself and on others. I don’t like beautiful straight Asian hair permed curly and dyed lighter colors, I don’t like beautiful dark Latina hair dyed blonde, and I don’t like to see Black women’s beautiful curls, waves and naps relaxed. I find any kind of processed hair, on any kind of woman, less attractive than natural hair. Not unattractive, just less attractive. (By the way, I don’t care for make-up either.) I would love to see ALL women embrace what they have naturally instead of resorting to desperate (and often unhealthy) measures to be what others have told them is beautiful. But that’s just me. Do what you do, but know why you’re doing it.

  100. MzNikki says:

    haitiangurl Says: July 12th, 2007 at 11:02 pm

    I think that you posted a wonderful dissertation on what ails our people, but I have to ask: since you have identified so many problems, where are your solutions for said problems? It’s easy to say “you have such and such issues”, but having identified the problems is only half of the battle… now you need to sit and dialogue with like minded individuals and offer up some ways to help out people over them.

    And can I ask another question? Where is this bias of which you speak in reference to Miss Jessie’s? I thought bella’s reviews of the Miss Jessie’s product line were very insightful and were spot on. I have seen those exact same words put out by many people on the net in reference to Miss Jessie’s.

  101. Thank You Bella, yes I wrote that — it was from my own hair experience….glad to share!!

  102. Bellas, I wanted to share one more poem that ultimately shows the unity that we still must have as black women of all hair types and skin colors. Regardless of our shades and hair types, we are complex, smart, beautiful women. Our differences are what make us beautiful. My grandma has natural hair like me and my mother has a perm, both women are strong black women that worked hard to support our family.

    my skin
    for Nina Simone

    my skin is blackyellowtanbrown

    and it darkens in the sun,

    whether i want it to or not….

    it tells you what you think I am

    it precedes me

    so it must be important

    cause all of these things run through your mind

    when I pass by.

    my skin is blackyellowtanbrown and every shade between

    it’s funny how i’m always here

    but seldomn seen.

    but thats fine

    my hair is nappystraightdreadedpermed

    i am a plethora of things between

    a writerpoetsistaqueen

    that’s me.

    B. McCrary — Copyright McCrary Publishing 2005

  103. ironicdontchathink says:

    Haitiangurl, I find it funny that you come on this site to complain – it’s called afrobella and it’s pretty much a hair and beauty site. Bt you want bella to talk about much more than hair and beauty and get into topics her site is not about.

    and I just HAD to go and find your comment on the Miss Jessies post and yes you say that dividing the community into straight and afro bellas is wrong but you end it by saying and i quote “I heart your site afrobella and think your a true model of acceptance and open-mindedness making this blog such a breath of fresh air! nothin’ but luv for bellas worldwide -” but all of a sudden there is bias now in your eyes. all she did was talk about to the article she read and relate her own experiences

    i don’t think afrobella wrote this to divide the community i think afrobella wrote this to reach out to that percent of women who are using chemicals because they don’t see another way of wearing their hair. she is trying to tell them there is a healthy alternative and they dont need to conform to a eurocentric standard of beauty any more. and i don’t see that perspective in any magazines or beauty websites besides this one. so i appreciate it.

    i am a very light skinded black woman with green eyes and all my life i straightened my hair and ppl usd to tell me i look like a little white girl (as if that’s the best compliment in the world). when i was old enough to do my own hair and MAKE MY OWN DECISIONS i went natural. I let my ROOTS grow out to SAY IT LOUD I AM BLACK AND I AM PROUD. that was my reason for stopping the lye and i applaud anyone who has the balls to do the same thing we are making a statement here and there is strength in numbers

    GOD BLESS

  104. flygyrl72 says:

    All of you saying that it’s “just hair” need to get a clue…or else give me a ticket to that land of unicorns & rainbow Skittles that you’re living in, cause I wanna go somewhere where for Black people, & in particular, Black women, it’s “just hair”. Now, I already said that no, it’s not my place to get up on my “holier than thou” natural high horse re: people who still choose to relax/straighten, but I’m gonna get real. Nappy Nazi?! I’ll be dat. Cause in the end, I’m that chick who’s taking it on the chin EVERYDAY because I refuse to let other people tell me that I can’t be Black & nappy & still be fly. Cause I am. I hold it down. But it’s a hassle dealing with all the crap that comes w/ wearing a fro. At least several times a week, I deal w/ dumb ass comments regarding my hair. And at least 90% of it is from other Black folks. “Hey what up soul sista?”, “Hey look, Erykah Badu/Angie Stone!” (by the way, I look nothing like either one of them). And I won’t even start on how the majority of my family feels about my hair, I was at my cousin’s wedding in Atlanta last year, & you would’ve thought I had a deformity, the way some of my aunts were acting. And one of my cousin’s daughters (age 11) actually asked me “You not embarassed to wear your hair like that?” And it was a child’s honest question, but she asked that cause that’s already how she was viewing my natural nappy fro. Now, I’ve learned to accept that this comes with the territory, but it can still be disheartening, cause the way I see it, my hair should be the norm, I shouldn’t be viewed as some type of “righteous” or “brave” chick just cause I let my hair do its own thing.I live in LA, I work in entertainment, this is the land of weaves & flat irons, so many times, when I go out I’m the only Natural chick around. And then, you get the chicks w/ straight hair, “Girl, that’s so nice on you…but I could never wear my hair like that…” Is this supposed to be a compliment? Beat it! Ridiculous! So, now, I don’t even acknowledge comments on my hair, I shut em down. And I only answer questions from chicks that are honestly trying to take the journey to natural, otherwise, I blow em off. So to all ya’ll on this blog crying about natural chicks are looking down on you, being divisive…whatever, welcome to my world. Cause in the real world, outside of this blogosphere, a lot of us natural chicks are the ones who have to deal w/ negative or stupid silly crap & comments, a lot of it from our own people, solely based on how we’re wearing our hair. Like I said before, wear your hair however you choose, it’s your choice, but don’t sleep on the fact that you’ve been brainwashed into thinking that straighter is better.

  105. Leah Beah says:

    Hi Bella,

    I thank you for your site. I have a things to share however I wanted to begin by thanking you for the post. I have a very good friend who is puerto rican. He is a light skinned man with features that would be described as african features. My friend and I have had conversations that have left me very sad because he denies his african heritage on a regular basis. He has gone so far as to tell me that his racial background is European. He would constantly voice his opinion in a negative manner towards darker skin, full lips, and kinky hair. One day I was forced to speak boldly and question his intentions. I was mortified at his comments regarding how some puerto ricans and dominicans feel towards african americans. I still for the life of me cant understand how someone can be a darker skinned person with kinky hair and not know that they are black or of african lineage. Another thing that puzzled me is that he wanted to try and say that many of the mixed race african americans in the entertainment industry were of latin descent. I then asked him to explain how he felt about me because I am african american, one parent is french and african american and the other is african american. He then told me well that he feels that I am different because I am not really black. It pains me to think that there is a very large population of people walking around thinking like this. I experienced this face to face. My hopes are that one day all people of color would realize that our self hatred can only be stopped by loving and embracing all that we are as a people…not what society has told us is best for us. Love yourselves and be who you be…straight hair, curly hair, light skinned, dark skinned, short hair, long hair…love who u be!

  106. Wow! “Ana” musta had too much to drink, when she posted that hot mess of a reply. Don’t drink and post.

    Question: Why are the relaxed sistas so…defensive? If you escaped the “straight is better” conditioning, then…praise God! If you didn’t, just nod your head and pray for deliverance. But don’t get mad, cuz somebody called out the madness. Afrobella, you obviously hit a (raw) nerve.

    I don’t care about black women liking, or even preferring straight hair. Can’t make you love what you hate, if napp hatred is indeed the case. The insanity comes with what it takes to get nappy hair to the point of slick-to-the-head straightness. Many of us (I’d be scared to shave my head, cuz of what may be underneath, due to years of relaxing)have SCARRED scalps, from relaxer burns. That’s sad and sick.

    Truth is, if the fumes from that creamy Draino don’t/didn’t make you jump up, and declare, “I’ll pass on this”, then check your pulse and your sanity.

  107. AmiJane says:

    Wow, Leah Beah, that extremely disheartning. You can only enlighten him with the truth when he is ready to accept it. I would ask what for his age ,but, I know this happens from ages 2-89.
    WOW:(

  108. Bella, This is a big step for me, but I used to straighten my hair to look whiter. I grew up in a white neighborhood, was one of three black kids in my primary school and high school. My mother is a very light mixed race woman, with extremely white features (she’s gorgeous) and I envied her straight hair and light skin. She always taught me to be proud of myself, but couldn’t quite manage my hair, so often relaxed it. As I grew older I saw all the white, pretty girls get all the attention around me, and I felt ugly. Britney spears was idolized by everyone and Beyonce was criticized for having a ‘big butt’. So i continued straightening my hair, getting awful weaves, just to look like my white counterparts. Then a 17 It hit me that I was unhappy. I had never felt attractive, I hated my straight hair, and realized it was because I felt fake. Having an English syllabus in school, we rarely learned about black history (my mother had taught me some), so I took it upon myself to learn more about my heritage. (it was alot of sad reading), and decided that i was going to go natural. It took a long while, but I’ve been natural(not in braids) for a year and a half. I’ve never felt more proud and beautiful in my life, It’s taken a while, but I see my differences as beautiful (i sport a huge curly afro. I get complimented pretty much everyday by strangers about my hair, and am always being asked on dates (this is not just down to looking good, i believe it’s because I now love myself inside and out and it shows). I know naturalness won’t work for everyone, but it certainly worked for me. peace.x

  109. Wow. This is an Afrobella record! I cracked 100 comments for the very first time thanks to this very controversial post.

  110. @DesignDiva

    The specific interview that I am talking about can be found online. I just quoted one of the most damaging things she has said recently…

    http://in.news.yahoo.com/070101/139/6aqj9.html

    Read the article. That’s just a example of how she and other affluent black Americans are ignorant of the their own less fortunate counter parts in America. She has said far worse and I will leave it at that.

  111. Congrats bella! I was going to mention the 100 posts thing but I didn’t want to seem inappropriate. Your site has gotten very popular in a short time so you should be proud. :)

  112. designdiva says:

    Daphne:
    Thanks for posting the link to the article. I admit that I’m such an Oprah fan that I just didn’t want to believe that she would say those exact words. (just like some folks on this site don’t want to believe that chemicals are bad for our hair)My bad–we still cool Daff! ;-)
    Good post lulu. I know how you felt, I felt the same way a few years ago,and then I finally “got it”.

  113. designdiva says:

    Bella,
    I started visiting this site because you reviewed beauty and NATURAL hair products, not RELAXED hair products. I kept visiting this site to get tips on what products to use, the music, and some of the commentary that black women can relate to. Keep doing your thing bella, and don’t apologize for who you are and what you think.

  114. flygyrl72 Says: July 13th, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    You are my new she-ro!

  115. Bella thanks for the info.. I was torn between relaxing my 14 yr. olds hair or not.. She basically has enough hair on her head for 3 people !

    Have a great day~

  116. When you say ‘natural hair isn’t that hard to care for’, you mean *your* natural hair isn’t, don’t you?
    However, please bear in mind that not all of us have that luxury.

    I am 100% African, so have none of the racial mixing that some people from the Caribbean may have been exposed to. I am NOT ABLE to pull a comb through my hair, without breakage (of either my hair or the comb). Girls in my family therefore either relax or mildly texturise their hair just to be able to manage it.

    I reject the theory that has anything to do with self-loathing or racial shame. I am perfectly happy to go out in the sun, and get darker or lighter as the weather demands. But please don’t generalise about ‘our’ hair. I personally feel that it makes my struggle (yes, it is a struggle) feel invalid.

  117. LBellatrix says:

    I’m coming back to this really late, but:

    [begin long-azz essay]
    To those who wanted me to elaborate on my hair care regimen: It’s all at Nappturality, where I’m a member (one of the original members, actually). I’m newly returned to short nappy hair after a little over 3 years of locs, so look for the newer posts.

    The main thing I want to impress on that subject is this: “Managing” one’s natural hair involves “managing” one’s expectations about natural hair, and being prepared to undo possibly a lifetime of negative MENTAL conditioning. For example, the very word “manageability” is loaded. I’m old enough to remember when it was heard much more regularly in TV commercials and the association I have with the word is “being able to run a comb through it.” Well, guess what? There’s a specific state that MY nappy hair has to be in before I can “run a comb through it.” Does that make it inherently unmanageable, the way too many people believe? Does it make it “bad”? No…it makes it DIFFERENT. It requires different methods. Recognizing that nappy hair care is a different methodology is one of the biggest first steps to “managing” natural hair. Letting go of straight-hair beauty ideals is another.

    Obviously a subject that generates this many responses is not superficial. We keep going around and around it but the truth is that black women are conditioned to hate the hair they’re born with, more so than any other group of women, and they suffer lasting psychic damage because of it. If being one of a dying breed of critical thinkers makes me a nappy Nazi, then so be it. (Hey Flygyrl! Hey Roslyn! *waving* :D )

    I’m sick and tired of seeing yet another generation of black girls coming up thinking that they’re inherently ugly because their natural hair doesn’t curl, wave, or flap in the breeze. I’m sick and tired of black women and girls losing hair because of flat-out IGNORANCE. (FYI…if you can read this, you have Internet access, and that means you have access to ways in which to “manage” natural hair, no matter what type of hair you have. There is NO EXCUSE not to learn…unless your brain won’t let you go there, and if that’s the case, you need to examine that.) I’m sick and tired of black women being taken advantage of by an industry that doesn’t give a damn about them (and I am including the majority of salons and stylists in this indictment). Afrobella’s is just one of MANY sites that are attempting to instill REAL self-esteem in black women by CHALLENGING the myths and lies that we’ve been taught are simply part of our culture. And you can tell where people are at in this journey by how they react/respond to posts such as these.

    [end long-azz essay]

  118. TheBeautifulOne says:

    Not disrespecting Daphne at all, but what I’d like to know is: Why is it important to people what Oprah Winfrey does with her money? Believe me, I do not watch her show when I’m living in the U.S. or out of it, but I do admire her. I admire the fact that she believes, as I do, that an education is key to living a successful life.
    I thank you for posting that article, I read it and I really don’t see anything incendiary about it. I was a public school teacher and agree with what she said.
    Most black American kids,NOT ALL, really don’t understand the value of a getting a good education. Is it there fault? Absolutely not. I blame the parents and of course, the parents blame the teachers. I’m sorry people, whether or not anyone builds a school for our children in African (yes, they are our children, what a concept!_or builds a school for our kids in the U.S. is of no importance. You as a parent should make sure that your child has a good education regardless of where you live, who your city officials are, heck, no matter who the president of this country is!

    A good education starts at home! My mother while raising me and my brother always read books, suggested books to us, the encyclopedia was used on a daily basis (not just for book reports) She instilled in us a love for learning, about ourselves and the world around us. We lived in low income housing but that was no excuse to not study, not speak properly, have great manners and love and respect each other as people and children of God. We knew we were special from Day One. Did my mother boohoo about some celebrity doing for her children what she and the community around her could do? No.
    I applaud Ms. Winfrey and anyone else who in some way or another tries to instill the importance of a good education.

    We don’t need to throw dollars at the problem, obviously it doesn’t work.
    Parents and/or guardians need to set a standard of excellence in the home and I assure you we will see a change in black children.

    For those black parents whose children are excelling in school, I applaud you and beg you to keep up the great work! You are raising future leaders not only of the community but future leaders of the world! I loved those parents who called me to ask about their child, educational programs, scholarships, grants. I loved staying after school to help that special child who had that burning desire to learn! They were the only reason I walked in those doors everyday. I couldn’t disappoint that boy or girl (so few) who wanted to learn the language I taught, wanted to learn about other cultures. You see, a teacher will bend over backwards for a child who WANTS to learn. Sorry if that ticks some of you off, but that’s the truth. However, after being threatened and then cursed at on a daily basis, I left teaching because I felt that this was not my reason for living.

    I now teach overseas to people whose livelihood depends on what I teach them and I haven’t regretted it for a minute. I have never seen harder working students in my life.

    I left teaching because I thought that I was wasting my time and energy on a lot of kids who’d rather run the streets, curse and disrespect me on a daily basis, but had the latest fashions that their parents so quickly bought them all the while reciting the latest song by the latest rapper or r n b singer at the top the charts.

    Oprah can do whatever she wants to do with her money, because it’s HER money. What black parents need to do is focus on actually raising their children and educating their children to see past today and even tomorrow. Education does not begin when you drop your little darling in front of the school.

    It starts at home.

    May you have peace

  119. Wow ladies!! such valuable comments
    @ flygurl, LBellaTrix and all the other Nappy Nazis out there, I don’t know if the wisest route to trying to educate people on the benefits of natural hair is by “brow beating” them…that’s already a major turn off. I understand your passion but you have to understand that everyone’s experience is unique to themselves. If you feel that you reached a state of self-love after going natural that’s unique to you!

    Some of us just really could care less, so flygirl you saying that EVERYBODY has to care, really is uncalled for, you can’t make people be passionate about what you’re passionate about. The world would become such a dull and lifeless place if we all held the same opinion!

    Caring for your hair, be it natural or relaxed takes a certain amount of work. I think we should all be respectful of others decisions and don’t judge others from an uppity/snobbish standpoint.

    Point is: let there be love shared amongst us ladies! The world is full of so much hate as it is already!

  120. AmiJane says:

    MMh, I don’t respect Oprah or her decision. But you are right that is her money.

    TheBeautifulOne- I’m sure there were black children here im America that excelled in school and would have loved to have been apart of Oprah’s charter school or whatever she calls it. Yeah, the selection process would have been more challenging, but, I guess she wasn’t willing to do that amount of work.

    Anyhow, there has to be a better way than saying, thinking, ooh, these children are BAD or whatever it is one may think. Let me just go overseas or to Africa to educate. I’m not saying I condone disrespect. But, there has to be a better way. Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer

    This issue has many layers that deals with more than just the teacher or parent. Sighhh…

  121. AmiJane says:

    Ally-No disrespect inteded at ALL. But, I do have a question for you. In your most recent post you were saying you couldn’t run a comb through your hair without breakage, etc.
    Do you try to comb your hair when it is wet or dry? Being natural, I ONLY comb my hair when it’s wet with a conditioner in it. I think most Afrobellas can relate to your issue even if they are racially mixed. Please, Please, Please don’t take the question the wrong way. Remember, I’m not sure what you are aware of.

  122. TheBeautifulOne says:

    Hello again!

    Amjane, you’re right: this issue does have many layers.
    I just want Black people to not only feel empowered but to BE empowered.
    Regardless of whether a celebrity or congressman gives money to help improve education for children, black children in particular should be of no concern to any of us. When will black people stop looking for help and actually BE the help that they seek? We are more than capable of producing well-educated children without the help of the government, etc. How? Raising our children! The black kids who excelled in my class and in all other classes had parents who respected them, who knew the names of every teacher, actually sat down with their children to help them with their homework, etc. It was always the parents who attended Parent/Teacher conferences that had the child excelling above their grade. And before anyone can say, “hmph, I bet they were stay at home Moms, etc. uh, no they weren’t. Most of these mothers held full time jobs or sometimes a part-time in addition to their full time jobs.

    What sets these Moms apart from others is the fact that they do not leave it up to the teachers to teach their child, they were teachers in the home.

    I don’t think that Oprah said that Black kids were bad, I believe that she simply said that most black kids’ priorities are seriously warped. Those kids are capable of learning but the parents are either absent or don’t care, therefore, she may have felt that it would be a waste of time and money to try to reach these kids. That’s her choice and I probably would have done the same thing.

    As a former teacher, nothing is more gratifying than watching a child WANT to learn. When a child is hungry, you feed that child. Those children in Africa (our children) are hungry for knowledge! The only thing that these kids want is a uniform so that they will be able to go to school. That says a lot about their character and committment to education and the future. They are not asking for the latest Beyonce album, the latest sneakers, XBox, or a weave so that they can sit and look “cute” in school. They are saying, all I need is a uniform and my mind will take care of the rest. THAT’S POWERFUL.

    I’m going to google something now and see if I can contribute some money or time for a child to go to school in Africa. If anyone knows of a particular organization, please feel free to share it with me, perhaps everyone on this blog would like to help. I hope so.

    I’m not giving up on black kids in the U.S. but it seems that their parents are.
    Let’s change this.

    Peace.

  123. Ally, why are you trying to run a comb, which is after all, designed for European textured hair through your hair which has a totally different texture? Does it really make sense to change your hair to fit the styling implement as opposed to changing the styling implement to suit the hair? Maybe combs aren’t for you. So? There are plenty of great ways to style your hair without ever using a comb.

    Despite any and all race-mixing that may or may not have occurred in my family tree, I can assure you though I’ve been accused of many things, no one has ever said I had ‘good hair.’ My hair is as nappy and super-coily as it comes. I’ll put my naps up against yours any day of the week and I’m confident I’d be voted nappiest. Not only is it nappy, it shrinks like crazy, and I love every inch of it. And you know what I combed it with for the eight years I wore my hair loose before I locked? The two best combs in the world. The ones at the bottoms of my arms. Yep, my hands. And I only combed it when it was wet. Folk go absolutely nuts about my hair, as its long and healthy.

    I’m older than most of you and I have to share something that shocked and amazed me several years ago. I worked in an office with tons of black women, and it seemed most of the older ones (40+) wore weaves. After a while I got known in the office as a type of hair guru, as I worked with herbs and essential oils, and folk would come to me with the hair hook-up. I can’t tell you how many women I saw with 2d degree scalp burns who wouldn’t lay off the relaxer long enough for their scalp to heal. They couldn’t let that ‘nasty ugly stuff’ show. And all those older women with weaves? They weren’t them for length, they were wearing them to cover major bald patches in their heads from years of relaxer abuse. Did they stop to give their hair a chance to recover? Oh no, they continued with the relaxers and added weaves for even more damage.

    I don’t believe for one moment that these women were making a ‘style choice.’ For them, and many other black women, this whole relaxer/weave thing is a mania. Think about the fact that there are black women out there who think of a major part of their beauty, their crown as it were, as ‘nasty and ugly.’ How on earth can any woman ever feel her power, her grace as a woman when she believes that something that grows out of her body is nasty and ugly?

    I wish, you don’t want to know how much I truly wish it were just hair. But I’ve had far too many ‘meetings in the ladies room’ to entertain such a delusion.

  124. Oh, and Ally, there’s a picture of me on my website, in case you’re curious about my hair texture. It was taken before I loced two years ago. Trust, there is no nappier head on the planet, I have no doubt.

  125. Wow. Ana should probably come back and read these posts. Or at the very least, read what she was writing before she submitted it. From the “no stubby pony for me” comment to stressing the fact that she had long straight hair to her waist, it sounds to me a mirror showed her what she was really all about. This is my first time here, and after my Big Chop in March, I have been devouring information on natural hair and becoming more aware of my potential in other areas. Some of our people can’t shake our attitudes about who we are and what we could be. We should support the efforts of Afrobella and embrace this information as another facet of who we are and what we are capable of. Keep dpoing what you do! :-)

  126. Every perm aint for the fall, and every dred aint for the cause. If we could agree on that it would be progress in the natural vs. perm debate.
    In some of the post, the media was blamed for the lack of diverse images and for perpetuating a Caucasian ideal. The job of media is to promote aspirations. It is their job to make you feel not good enough, they are hoping what will follow that feeling is buying their specific product.If women came to the table knowing the images on television, specifically the images of beauty are false, the claims of the products are exaggerated, then companies would be forced to change because of consumer demand.
    I would also like to note that Black women are not the only ones dealing with these issues of natural or processed hair. Many Greek, Jewish and Italian women who have coarse curly hair are also tormented by the images in the media, and these same discussions are talked (whispered)about in their communities.
    Bella you got me in here telling to many industry secrets, ’bout to have me on the unemployment line. :) I love what you do , and what you stand for, keep up the good work.

  127. I think there’s a lot of confusion on this topic because pesome people seem to think its about folks degree of negritude. As far as I’m concerned, nothing could be further from the truth. Its about being your authentic self. Its about being free, like every other group on the planet to wear your hair in its natural state without suffering a social, and sometimes even an economic penalty. Whether you’re as militant as a Panther, or as assimilated as Condi Rice is irrelevant. Your naps are no indication of that one way or another.

  128. # ANA & ALLY

    ——————
    Please girls, stop this Bs saying that “I’AMv 100% AFRICAN
    It’s my case and the case of many 100% AFRICAN GIRLs in France or AFRICA, and talking about France, Relaxer hair is seems the “normal way”, but we have more and more girls who began to turn natural, and WE HAVE MANY 100% AFRICAN with what some people calls “very very nappy hair”. It’s my case, and after 2 years of being natural, I’ve learn how to be cumfortable with my “nappy nappy hair”, so stop this bullshit !!!
    talking about AFRICA (especially my country), we have relax hair, fro and pigs. for what i see, girls usually prefers to have braids, pigs and other but, most of them alternate, it’s not Pigs or relaxer hair all the time as i see in white countries

    Another difference according to me, when i was child (and i think the same thing continue), it’s was EXTREMELY RARE TO SEE MOTHERS putting chemicals products on little girls !!! The first time i comme to France, i was really upset to see those black girls aged 8 or 10 with pigs or relaxer hair. in my country, durinng my childhood (I’m now 32), imagine a mother relaxing the hair of a child was like “WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO”. Most of the time, relaxer girls began to do this a 16 or 18. But sadly, b/cause of internet, TV and all those things, things hardly changes mostly in african cityes, and the new idols are MTV girls and the look which goes with :(

    ————————–
    Ally Says: July 14th, 2007 at 11:32 am
    When you say ‘natural hair isn’t that hard to care for’, you mean *your* natural hair isn’t, don’t you?
    However, please bear in mind that not all of us have that luxury.

    I am 100% African, so have none of the racial mixing that some people from the Caribbean may have been exposed to. I am NOT ABLE to pull a comb through my hair, without breakage (of either my hair or the
    comb).

    ——————
    Ally, i hope you’ll stop thinking that natural hair is mostly for black women with some racial mixing !!! IF you are really african and know your country, so you that in our countries, we have all type of textures or skin tones. Question : can you tell me what your ancestors (with no racial mixing) used to take care of their hair? If they used tio this well, so, we can. the problem is that many of us had forget (or not be educated) with products or the manner to take care of our natural hair.

  129. Sorry for the mistakes :( It’s to late in France so i’ll be back to read this interesting file :)

  130. Brilliant beautiful ‘bella!! This post hit close to home as I am a hairdresser. My policy, to ease my mind, is to not apply chemicals to the youngins. Instead, I teach them how to care for and love the hair they have been gifted with. My hope is to foster the sense that the choice to perm is about fashion, not any underlying need to “de-blackify”. My mama never let me go the route of my cousins and had me rockin’ my fro, big as day. At the time I thought she was hella (sorry, I’m from Cali!) mean but in retrospect, I’ve realized that I wouldn’t love my hair as much as I do had it not been for her. The kicker? My mama is Portuguese with long, straight hair. How she knew how to handle me and mine I’ll never know, but always be thankful. Blessings to ya!

  131. TheBeautifulOne says:

    This is for “Mama”

    I lived in Paris for 5 years and you’re right, in Paris or other parts of France you don’t see just relaxed hair. You see cornrows, braids, etc. Unfortunately, what is going on a lot in Paris is women becoming quite “weavealicious”. Little girls, their mothers, etc. weaves mixed with braids all over the place. Me and my Black American girlfriends would comment on how much badly done weaves we’d see in a day and it was quite astounding. I never went to the hairdresser in France for fear that someone would want to put a relaxer in my hair, etc. Not to say that there are some beautiful black women with equally beautiful hair there, but it is so hard to find someone that is really into making your hair as healthy as possible, not just fashionable or “easy to manage”.
    I twisted my own hair, wore it natural for five years, some of my other friends found Black American hairdressers in France who knew how to put a relaxerr or a texturizer (for those who wore their hair this way). There is a very large Black American community in France, particularly in Paris, so we shared lots of beauty tips, new which stores to go to for which products and who among us were former or current hairdressers. Whenever I went to get my products I was amazed at how many beauty salons were applying relaxers from ROOT TO ENDS!!! Once I saw this I knew that I would never go to a beauty salon and it was no wonder that while most of the beautiful African women I saw daily had the most horribly damaged hair. Someone needs to tell these beauticians that it is damaging beyond belief to apply a relaxer from root to end.

    I worked in the fashion industry then and was backstage at all the major fashion shows, etc. I once met Alek Wek among others, but she stood out from the rest. When I was removing her nail polish, she said how much she loved my hair and wished that she had the same! That was just yet another reason to stay natural. My hair is very thick and curly, but I don’t have the same issues that most people in this forum have. To me, IT’S JUST HAIR. There are important issues to be concerned about and for me, hair is not an issue. Being educated, improving health in the black community, improving self-esteem in our black youth…these are real issues to me. How I wear my hair? Caring about the hairstyles of others? Please.

    Bella, just keep on giving us some informative reviews about products, music, etc. Hair is not a political issue as some would make it out to be. I respect everyone.

    Peace

  132. TheBeautifulOne says:

    Also Bella,

    Do you know the average age of your audience? It would be interesting to know.
    Thank you.

  133. I’m not surprised at some of the responses my post has had, I’m used to being attacked by militant ‘naturalists’ by now. Some women do look down on me for choosing to have my hair relaxed, as they perceive it as selling out in some sense.

    Roslyn, I’m so happy that you’re a self-proclaimed ‘hair guru’; you must be so pleased with yourself. With all due respect, I just hope you realise how patronising you sound.

    Why don’t we all just get on with our lives, and stop sounding off about how other people should live theirs. And that was my original point – please don’t pontificate about how ‘we’ do ‘our hair’ – by all means share information and advice about your hair, but I’d appreciate being left to make my own decisions. I’m an intelligent adult, and I feel that my choices are valid based on the experiences I’ve had.

    And for the record, combs are not European by any means – feel free to visit any good African museum to see the devices your ancestors were using to manage their beautiful locks.

    **TheBeautifulOne – I know what you mean about Paris – I’ve never worn a weave myself, but wouldn’t mind them on other people if some of them weren’t so laughably bad – c’est incroyable!

  134. ** semi-retraction – I do realise that some ladies don’t have a sense of humour about their hair…

  135. I first came to this board not because of the natural hair care tips (I currently relax my hair) or the makeup reviews (don’t wear any), but for the commentary on the Afrobellas of the week. Some of whom relax their hair. Afrobella certainly has a point of view and a style which I always enjoy and respect, even if I don’t always agree. (And not just on the topic of hair. I think there was a post saying that good makeup starts with good foundation, but I believe it starts with good skin care… but I digress. oops) But it’s some of the commentary here that I find disappointing, some people implying that women they’ve never met are self-hating or delusional because they’ve chosen to relax their hair. Look, we all have different journeys, taken different paths. We can – and should – disagree. The debate is wonderful. We also should seek to inform. But most of all, we should tone down some of the negative stuff (Ana, you too) and tone up the supportive stuff. No one here is perfect, but we are all God’s children.

  136. Ally, when did I patronize you? I merely asked you a fairly straightforward question. You claimed your hair was too tightly coiled to get a comb through it. I simply asked why you were changing your hair texture to comply with a styling implement designed for straight-textured hair. It would seem to me that I asked a fairly reasonable question. Its akin to cutting off your leg to wear a pair of one-legged pants. It makes no sense whatever. Given such a reasonable question, I’m curious as to why, instead of answering it, you chose instead to go on a tangent about how people are being attacked here. I don’t see anyone at all being attacked. I certainly am speaking only of the women who do in fact have issues with their natural texture. If you do not, then these posts don’t pertain to you. But you are the one who claimed that you relaxed because you couldn’t get a comb through your hair. I only want to know why you would want to.

  137. And I know very much about the combs used to style African hair, and I also know that most of the combs we use in America and European countries are not akin to those. African combs were designed to lift or pick out African textured hair, not comb through it in the sense you referred to in your post.

    And I didn’t see anyone trying to make you do anything, I simply want to know why you’re willing to put the chemical equivalent of Drano on your head (after all, that’s where your brains are) in order to comb it. A process that is, after all, unnecessary and not designed for nappy hair.

  138. TheBeautifulOne says:

    **Ally,

    C’est moi, The Beautiful One. Oh la la! Cette femme, Ally, elle n’est vraiment pas la pour rigoler! C’est une fanatique de qq sort, et franchement elle commence m’enerver avec ses commentaires de l’Afrique, des peignoirs et leur usage originals. Il y a des femmes ici qui se prends pour des “vrais femmes ou des vrais blacks” etc. Ne leur ecoute pas, tu portes tes cheveux comme tu veux! Elles se levent pas avec toi tous les jour pour te fais belle! Je suis americaine mais m’eloigne de plus en plus de critiquaires debiles au propos des cheveux des noirs.
    Prends soins de toi!

  139. BeautifulOne,

    You know I just had to Google Translate what you said. I have been keeping up with the comments on this post and alot of them have become hilariously funny to me now. You’re right, none of us is helping the other get ready in the morning. Whether you’re relaxed, natural, whatever, If you’re comfortable with what you’re doing, then you don’t have to explain yourself to anyone, let alone some random people on the internet.

  140. The Beautiful One: No fair!! I took French in seventh grade….damn, I guess I’ll have to use the Google translator :P

  141. TheBeautifulOne says:

    To Peajal and Zcentricpryncess only:

    Peajai: You’re quite resourceful! Xcentricpryncess, it’s never too late to take up French again. It’s one of three languages that I speak fluently and I’m working on a fourth one: Korean, since I now live in Korea. Yeah, none of these ladies get up and comb anyone else’s hair, and Peajai, it’s getting pretty comical and sad in here what with all the tension, snootiness and the laughable so called “history lessons”etc. You said it best: If you’re comfortable with what you’re doing, then you don’t have to explain yourself to anyone, let alone some random people on the internet.” AMEN.
    AMEN TEN THOUSAND TIMES!

    My hair does not define my blackness. People, wear your hair however you want to wear it. Don’t let these “natural zealots” fool you, they are just as lost in the sauce as THEY THINK you are. Be proud of yourselves for who you are and not for what you look like. We need to embrace each other and our differences. Variety is the spice of life!!!!

    Be well!

  142. @TheBeautifulOne, perfectly said. i’m going to have to steal, “don’t let these “natural zealots” fool you, they are just as lost in the sauce as THEY THINK you are.” classic.

  143. TheBeautifulOne says:

    Coffey,

    Steal away, steal away! Ha!

    Have a good day! I’m going to bed, it’s 10 44PM. I must be ready for my students tomorrow.

    Blessings!

  144. Wow this is such a touchy subject. I could go on for days about our issues with our hair. I too posted about the Miami Herald article on Fly, specifically the segment on Dominicans and hair, mainly because of my own experience of going into a Dominican salon with my natural curly. Trust, actions speak louder than words and the way I was treated showed that my natural hair was NOT welcomed. I know it’s a generalization but they can say “I’m black and I’m proud all they want” (which wouldn’t happen) but that example I experienced showed me different, and based on some comments I received on Fly I’m not alone.

  145. haitiangurL says:

    afrobella, I really appreciate your responding to what I wrote. I really respect your opinion and your blog! And I am soooooooooo glad to hear that you had a good time visiting my city – CHEE-CAGO!!!!

    I would like to respond to MzNikki, I agree with you that often people are great at diagnosing the problem and not offering any solutions… I’m a political junkie afrobella is really the only non-news blog/site I visit… I also do a lot of volunteer work in the community specifically with at-risk girls… My education background is in psychology & sociology, this is just to give you some background of where I’m going from w/my response to your comment…

    Briefly, regarding the division I’m seeing here – I’d like to throw this into the ring for debate. No side is going to win if your objective is zero sum game (gaining more people to your side vs your opponent). Arguments only force the participant to choose sides which leads to division. Which is obviously what is happening here around this issue. So what then is the solution?

    The word that terrifies George Bush the most – COMPROMISE! Both sides can only win by meeting in the middle! Thousands and thousands of years of history shows that there has never been complete victory! Unless you’ve annihilated your opponent. Which I’m sure is not our aim. From the natural side what I am hearing and what was demonstrated by the article is a lack of RESPECT for natural hair (negative comments from loved ones, society, the media etc. degrading childhood experiences, being made to feel bad about your appearance, etc) and on the relaxed side – this is not everyones experience, we have choices, not about low self esteem, just hair, being told what to do, holier than thou attitude from natural camp, etc. Now where is the middle? Which is a discussion I’ll leave to you guys on the board…

    Also, for those who claim natural hair is a self esteem issue – self esteem has very little to do with your OUTWARD appearance it was more to do with your EMOTIONS.

    “In psychology, self-esteem or self-worth is a person’s self-image at an emotional level; circumventing reason and logic.”

    The emotional level is “what our unconscious believes to be true about how worthy, lovable, valuable and capable we are.” For both sides one can see how if you were degraded for hair you will have low self worth or feel less valued in THIS AREA. Those who were not, do not have their self worth tied to their hair (but it can be tied to something else. Nobody escapes their childhood without a blow to their self worth which in turn plagues them into adulthood (unless said issue is confronted). Which p.s. accounts for those who have gone natural feeling emotionally better about themselves – you confronted your scarring childhood issue not b/c your hair is natural! Someone who never had issues about hair can go natural and still not feel emotionally better about themselves.

    Having pride in ones appearance i.e hair is ego which is the basis of pride.

    “…(Self-esteem) differs from ego/pride in that the ego is a more artificial aspect; one can remain highly egotistical/prideful while underneath have very low self-esteem.”

    Something else to ponder:
    What would change in the black community if everyone wore their hair naturally? In Africa? Would a dred lock brother stop killing a dred lock brother? Would natural women stop hating on natural women? Would the African tribes stop warring against one another? Again – I state this to make the point that self esteem/worth is not about OUTWARD appearances.

    Sorry for another long dissertation lol, I just want to us go deeper with this issue and find solutions rather than go around in circles like a dog chasing its tail. lol…

    Again my point is – in order for both sides to win we must meet in the MIDDLE. There is no other way! so what is your middle?

    Be Blessed!

  146. haitiangurL says:

    I will offer this as my middle – as a women who wears here hair naturally – I would like my choice to be respected. Which means a fair representation of natural women as their is for my relaxed sisters. I would like a cease fire on negative comments, stereotypes, disdainful looks regarding my hair.
    ——————————

    A compromise I would like to see is the age of relaxing a child’s hair be moved to 16 years old where they can have input into the decision. And that decision should be respected!
    ———————————–

    Lastly, I would like to see ALL BEAUTICIANS throughly trained in the care and well-maintenance of black hair for healthy first and then style! I have no problem with specialization for those who want to specialize and not learn both – but this means salons for both camps!

    Any others?

  147. haitiangurl says:

    I forgot part of this exercise is what you give up to the opposing side for what you want…

    My concession to the “just hair” camp including ana, is I will respect your choice to wear your hair the way you’ve chosen. And give up assuming that because we are both black our experiences are the same. Some are not.
    ———————————–
    I give up my assumption that you are trying to be European (let’s face it curly fro or laid to the side WHITE PEOPLE are not fooled – your still BLACK). But can you please educate yourself about the dangers of the chemicals you are putting into your body as it is absorbed into your system through your scalp and can cause cancer and infertility (there’s more at stake here then just black pride).
    ————————————
    I will also try my darnedest not to pass judgment for those who choose to wear weaves. But can you make sure that it’s tight (see Robin Givens and/or Jill Marie Nelson for an anatomy of a hair weave)…

    I hope this brings peace….

    Love Always – haitiangurL

  148. I havent read the articles youve posted yet, but I wanted to post a link to an article that appeared in last Saturdays Washington Post on the subject of Dominican hair stylists.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/13/AR2007071302138.html?sub=AR

    Call me crazy, but I think that if people would embrace their whole, true selves, theyd be a lot happier.

  149. msnyc718 says:

    I read this site everyday and it never fails to spark interest. This issue of hair, beauty and Black women seems to never end. I wish that we could come to terms with our own hair but that seems to be a never ending struggle in this country( or world for that matter. Its such a personal issue- like religion. I have not relaxed my hair in over 10 years. Some of my friends go to the Dominican salons and rave about how great their hair turns out hinting that I should pay a visit. Its just a personal choice for me. I may press my hair once in a while just to see how it looks but no more “creamy crack.” Its been so long now and I don’t miss it. I wish that Black women all over the diaspora could come to terms with our hair issues.

  150. As a Dominican (and African-American), I do resent that article. It is incredibly biased and does not take into account (as much as it could have) Dominicans who ARE aware of their African ancestry and are proud of it. It’s not much more than “OMG DOMINICANS HATE THEMSELVES!” and the comments here reflect that. I do thank you for acknowleding the response to that article by those students.
    If the word “Dominican” was replaced by “African-American”, there would be no big shock. Welcome to planet Earth, where these sentiments are shared by many people of the Diaspora, as well as Africa. -sigh- Man… In fact, I’m sure that some African-Americans would get away with saying that they were white too, if their ancestors were mixed with European blood as much as Latinos’.
    There is also the issue of wanting to have a place to identify with a country. Many people associate ‘black’ with ‘American’.

  151. I just finished the Clutch article, and I am sooo glad they printed that. As a Smith College alumna, I was not pleased that a professor of ours would take such an anti-feminist stance on such an important subject! Whew, Im glad they cleared that up, lol.
    L

  152. I am new to your site but I have been natural for almost 3 years. It has been hard to learn how to care for my hair and to accept that no amount of product will make my hair wavy. My hair is very coarse and extremely kinky. It has taken a lot of pain and self acceptance. I have met and been hurt by many people like Ana, who seem to take my natural hair personally. I just want to say, thank you for taking the time to write this article as it really hit home for me. I really was not perming my hair out of self acceptance and since I have been natural I really have become more accepting of myself and my flaws. Plus my salon experiences are lot better!!!

  153. Women who circumcise their daughters don’t think that’s a bad idea either.

  154. ladydandridge says:

    Wow…. have we really taken it all the way to female circumcision???? From Hair???? As far as I know, no one has died from a bad perm….jeez. Now, I will admit, I have been natural for oh… I guess around 5 years and I am still learning about what is best for my hair. But that was the case even when I was younger and had a perm. The fact is, as I have gotten older my body has changed… not just in the weight department *eh* but also with what products work best for me. Now I definately won’t lie and say that I would still go back to wearing a perm because I won’t. I have entirely too much hair (3 hairs per follicle to be exact) for one stylist to do without resulting in a burned, tender scalp. I’m not boasting, i’m trying to be honest that when I say I have a lot of hair, I mean A LOT of hair. But I also dont appreciate fellow natural women giving me the evil eye when I have my hair pressed straight. One of the many great things about natural hair is the diversity of styles that you can rock within a given week or day even. It simply boils down to what works for you as an individual. Please just be smart and make intelligent decisions for yourself. If you are going to the salon and being burned every 6 to 8 weeks, maybe there is a problem. If you are trying to comb through your dry fro with a comb you bought from CVS resulting in breakage, maybe there is a problem. But there are solutions. MANY OF THEM! and not all of our solutions will be the same, how could they be with such a variety of races and genes that make us who we are.

    peace!

    PS: Bella, Im glad you made it to the CHI- my favorite place in the world! GO NU!

  155. I actually go to Smith College and heard Ms. Candelario talk in one of my classes about Dominicans and their relationship with skin tone and hair. It was really facinating. About the not knowing they were black issue, she said that because people were often so mixed in races, darker skinned “black” dominicans were so often exposed to the hair and complextions of the light skinned “white” domincians so it didn’t seem to be much of a difference because they were so familiar with each other, you know, they could be really light skinned and have a first cousin who was super dark and not think anything of it.

  156. I completely agree with c0cc0…a lot of Black people from the US should really get off of their horses about Dominicans. (I’m Af-Am in the Chi!) Yes to everything she said, cuz we obviously have issues. I haven’t been in a debate like this in a looong time…i don’t straighten my hair, but i have never in my life told someone else what to do with their hair, i just support people who want to learn about natural hair and answer their questions. And like flygyrl, I deal with bullshit from haters EVERY SINGLE DAY, and yes, natural hair comes with ECONOMIC CONSEQUENCES, which makes it more than “just hair.” But I also get a lot of love too…which really helps when it gets hard.

    In terms of haitangurl’s compromise, i can (and do) respect women’s choices to do what pleases them with their hair, and not assume what their motivations are. Now, it bothers me to read that some of the posters here seem to be saying that the only reason why hair is “an issue” is because women with natural hair have created it as one. I’ll concede if others agree to come off of that.

    I will admit, though, to having prejudices. First, I do not at all assume anything about a person’s character because of her hair…some of the snottiest, bougiest, hatinest, emotionally illest women I have had the displeasure of meeting have natural hair and claim to be “conscious.” However, when I’m in a black neighborhood where almost NOone has any kind of natural hair, and I see another woman with a fro or locs, I do think she might have something in common with me, or may be on some interesting political tip. Because she has clearly chosen to do something dramatically different with herself and seems to be ok with her Africanness somehow.

  157. peace to all who embrace the african part of their selves. I know that the indian and african part in many of us comes in many shades. it is all beautiful. i have been around the afro-cuban experience more and the african culture is widely embraced. I understand how many dominicans can be in denial because of what they know and go through. you are stil family and we love you.

  158. hi are there salons for in south korea that do weaves ansd braids. if so please give me the salons names. I will be going abroad next year. and I want to keep my hair up thank you

  159. hatred for perms not my black people says:

    I love you mama n God got me good.

    I remeber my mamas hair she stopped perming an curl burnin. Me an my sis insisted get a perm your hair looks napped. You aint to old to straightin that crap. I laughed so stupidly I became my mom an she became me. I stopped an laughed an hugged her with my sis. We said sike mama you look just fine. We oiled an combed her hair. I told her she looked sweet she told me to shutup please. Man I felt so racsist against me. I told her I was actin like she acted when she called me that. A nappy headed hoe when I was just three. Sometimes we have to look in the mirror. My hair fell out I got ten times fold what I did to my mother cause I backed talked. Children respect your parents when they go natural. Now I’m natural the way God made me. I was wonderfully made even in my mothers womb He formed me. He gave me the numbered strands of my head with no perms. God doesn’t make mistakes men does. Come here black people hear this.
    I kissed my mothers head an said I love you an I’m sorry. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder as. I beheld her beauty I felt proud to be me. To me I can’t understand what you went through the struggles of whites hatin blacks. I wasn’t born then. All I know was her own cousin when she was a child disowned her for being to nappy n black. while her brothers n sistas called her white skined.
    I had a hatred for this callin cause she’s mixed with native not white. Being half the nigga is being with the man they would say. My half native/black grandma wanted to give her away. To some white couple. She told her dark skinned dady this is always my home. He shed tears cause how hatred infested the hearts of his darker kids against her. He told her she was his black daughter. Hatred it much deeper than words. I became a slave to fakeness. I shook off the shackles an walked towards freedom. How many times must I walk free again? Daily you must free yourself from black on black hate. White hate looks an black bashing black. An people bashin black men as worthless free yourself from them. While avoiding those who say black girls aint strong or don’t got what it takes. Avoid people who say your to dark to bigg nosed. If they hate you they must hate themselves. So haters please hate somewhere else. If your to strong for the one you love an they think your ghetto put fabulouse to it. I don’t like every style that you wear your hair exted I love it. An for thoses sistas that want black men africas makin them sweet. So don’t chase after men who only want white. An for them black man who love them some sistas. We out here right in front of you with all hair styles. An for other colors who want some chocolate come hither theirs different shades to pick from.

  160. Have you ever thought of posting videos to your site articles to have the readers more interested? I mean I just read through the entire post and it had been pretty good but because I am more of a visual learner, I found videos to be more helpful. well, let me know what you think.

  161. yomommathem says:

    the best products for african hair are dominican hair products

    f*ck dr miracles
    f*ck miss jessies
    f*ck jane carter solution
    f*ck luster’s
    f*ck the natural product junkie movement
    f*ck care free curl
    f*ck kinky curly custard and their whole line

    go get you some capilo suela y canela shampoo, deep conditioner and some crece pelo, and cinnamon oil too. and your hair will grow and be soft and you’ll wonder why you havent discovered dominican products before

    • Cinnamon oil sounds amazing I’m gonna take your advice and get these products..Do you know where I can find them?

  162. Such a great post and good read. All over the world women of color are dealing with the same hair issues. At the end of the day it just comes down to self esteem and the need for women to accept their God given beauty as it is.

    Try Take Down Hair Products Today!!

  163. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as
    though you relied on the video to make your point.
    You clearly know what youre talking about, why throw
    away your intelligence on just posting videos to your weblog when you could be giving us something enlightening to read?

Trackbacks

  1. [...] me at age 3, getting my hair done. And as I wrote in the original post back in 2007, “already my little face is drawn and my eyes are troubled at having to wear rollers and get [...]

  2. […] Natural Attitudes: Taking the Plunge. A response to Black Denial […]

Speak Your Mind

*