So I totally ripped off the widely lampooned Time magazine Person of the Year concept to make a larger point, I promise. I get endless Ask Afrobella questions about the same thing. It goes a little something like this — I can’t find enough cool natural hairstyles! Or, bella, I’m sick of my natural hair and thinking about getting a weave/wearing a wig/going back to the creamy crack. Help!

One of my favorite games is spot-the-afrobella on television, and recently I’ve been spotting beautiful afros and naturally curly styles in high end commercials for Mercedes and Jaguar, among many other surprising products. Just judging by commercials alone, the profile for natural hair has grown tremendously. But still, there’s this lingering perception that it’s hard to manage and even harder to style. And I’ve heard many an afrobella complain that she’s “bored” with her hair. Mind you – these are often the same people who will rock the exact same dead straight hairstyle every day. In fact, one of my very favorite natural girlfriends who used to wear her hair out and free to match her personality (I won’t name names, because I love her) has started blowing her hair as straight as possible and pulling it back hard into a librarian bun every day. She’s still beautiful, but I miss the free form curls. Her explanation? “I got bored, couldn’t find the perfect product, my favorite product stopped working on my hair…” and she’s not alone. In fact, regular reader CeeCee left a comment just yesterday about a similar issue.

Hi Bella,

I have a question for you. My mom currently has natural hair, but she refuses to wear it out, she always hides it using hair extensions (not weaves or wigs). Another friend of mine also has natural hair but refuses to wear it out either, she has hers hidden in weaves. I keep on asking them what the point is of having such beautiful hair and keep it hidden. Could you perhaps consider writing a post on some pretty natural hair styles I can point them to? Thanks!

No problem, CeeCee! This post is dedicated to me and you, your mama, and your cousin, too. And every other woman who wears their hair as naturally as it grows, but is looking to give it a little flavor, style, and sass.

We all need hair inspiration from time to time. Lucky for the modern day afrobella, we live in the internet age. Gone are the days when it was hard to find even a photo in a magazine of a natural hairstyle to inspire you. If the afrobella inspiration you can occasionally spot in television and magazines is not enough, there is always Fotki. Just do a search for natural hair, nappy hair, kinky hair, afro, whatever. It’s on there, trust! What I love about Fotki is, these women aren’t necessarily models. They’re real afrobellas who take tremendous pride in their hairdos, and photograph their growth, products, and styling techniques to share with the world.

On Fotki you can find frohawks that are fly, or gangsta , or braided. You can find wash n’ go styles that are sexy and fierce or cute and colorful. Curious about unconventional afro puffs, two strand twists, cornrows, chiney bumps, or bantu knots? Click away and find photos of all kinds of styles.

Many of the members of Fotki sistas are members of Nappturality, and I’m hard-pressed to think of a community that’s a better resource for women with natural aspirations. Regardless of your texture or length, you can find information and assistance on Nappturality.
The natural hair revolution will also be televised, thanks to YouTube. Just do a search for natural hair and you’ll see — there are a variety of videos that educate and inspire. If you have natural hair questions, check out Najahface’s The Basics: Natural Hair Care video. She covers everything from bad shampoos to cowashes, and gives great moisture advice. This short video delivers a sincere message about natural hair. And this discussion of natural hair vs. chemical relaxers proves that the debate is alive in America as well as abroad.

Megan Jerai’s natural hair journey is one of my favorite YouTube videos — she uses a song I adore and shows the complete progression of her hair journey from short, straightened, and limp to full, thick, and gloriously natural. CeeCee, you should show your mom and friend MissJoJo86’s Natural Hair Journey, she also wore her hair under a wig before fully embracing the fro. Wanna see someone do the big chop? Check out this brave bella’s video. Or this one. I found a great clip from a documentary titled New Growth: The Natural Progression that helps to examine the history and issues of the natural movement. This video by Nana525 uses the unofficial natural hair anthem (Thanks, India!) and shows natural hairstyles by famous women, models, and other inspiring bellas. And this clip from the documentary My Nappy Roots examines the controversial word, and shows hairstyles from across the board.

I haven’t seen the documentary yet, but I definitely need to. I hope that gives you some inspiration and food for thought, bellas. It definitely gave me some! I love that so many natural haired women are sharing their beauty with the world. These sisters are doing it for themselves. If you’re an afrobella and you know it, smile and be proud!

The photo at the very top of this post was sent in by Tina Shoulders, the creator of Laidback Home. She wrote in to nominate herself for Afrobella of the Week. “I have been naturally nappy for atleast the last 10 years, from shaven to full and funky. I am a fashion textile and graphic designer and I just recently launched a hip hop inspired home decor line called laidback that is creating a buzz in NYC and LA area. I really got the balls to send you my story after seeing how tight my hair always looks in my picts, if nothing else is tight, my hair is,” she says. Your hair is beautiful, Tina! And you inspired me to start a new monthly feature that shines a light on other afrobellas.

Do you have a truly awesome natural hairstyle you’d like to feature? Send in a fly hair photo or YouTube link, and some information about you to! And congratulations to every last one of you beautiful bellas out there. You’re all afrobellas of the week!

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happy2bnappy says:
August 7, 2007, 10:55 am
It's me! Bella I needed this today thank you so much. I just haven't been feeling excited about my fro recently, but the YouTube videos make me think about breathing fresh life into my hair instead of throwing in the towel. Thank you for staying positive and giving us something to keep us on the napptural journey!
Donna says:
August 7, 2007, 11:22 am
I think the same thing Bella, concerning the fact that when straight there isn't usually such a large variety in hairdo's taken on so I don't understand the switch. OR even the fact that those same varieties can be had while natural, there is the option to switch up with weaves, extensions straightening without chemicals and then having the ability to go back to the natural. When I first went natural I was so anti everything but how God blessed my hair to be. Now I no longer view someone getting a weave as their selling themselves short or whatever the case and I appreciate that versatility. It's like a supervisor pointed out to me at work my hair is cool and no one else can rock it like we (black girls) do, yet we have the option to rock it all! Right now I have a short fro I so so love it and I've been natural for a while but I wouldn't wear it this short for fear I'd look too boyish. Aside from confusing the occasional foreigner:) I love it and constantly get compliments on it. Unfortunately I'm digital camera challenged at the moment but as soon as I get a good pic taken by someone I'll send it in.
1969 says:
August 7, 2007, 11:24 am's post was truly inspirational. Watching the videos make me proud. Great job.
karen says:
August 7, 2007, 11:34 am
I love this post. I wear my hair open and wild most days, and when it needs some therapy I pull it back into a bun or braid with some leave in conditioner. It's wild and free and I love it. But I had an experience last week that bothered the heck out of me. A woman approached me in the street and was literally in my head, turning me around to try and figure out what I had done to get my curls. I said it was natural...that it was important to deep condition, and that I don't often comb it and never brush it. Basically she wanted to know how she could get the exact hair style, not realizing that it was just my hair. I feel like we still haven't embraced ourselves when we can't realize that we all have different textures. Living in brooklyn, I still don't go near any salons because they think I've put a texturizer in and assume I'm there for a "touch up". I know it's a loaded statement and possibly you've already covered it, but I would love to see more about this and hear other experiences.
RyanB says:
August 7, 2007, 11:35 am
In the video you posted, what struck me as particularly interesting was the comment about White people trying to make their hair look more like ours. I remember how infuriated my mother was when the movie "10" came out and Bo Derek was positively PRAISED for her "innovative" cornrows. Such a double standard - people always want to touch our hair, but then also call it nappy and dry and brittle; they love our hairstyles, but then laugh at the same time. But this problem creeps up all the time (from Jazz music to sports to Hip Hop), so I suppose it runs deeper than the hair, doesn't it...
Auragirl says:
August 7, 2007, 11:51 am
Hey Bella, Have you heard of Amy Holmes? She is a Republican Strategist and often appears on CNN, Fox and MSNBC. She has curly natural hair which is so adorable! Watch cable news regularly for a week and you'll be sure to catch her. :)
ceecee says:
August 7, 2007, 11:56 am
awwww THANK YOUUU!! I didn't think it would be this quick!! you're amazing lady :)
BlackHoney says:
August 7, 2007, 12:05 pm
I don't particularly care for Amy Holmes but I love her wonderfully nappy head of head.
RJ says:
August 7, 2007, 12:10 pm
Thanks, bella! This post had me rolling (creamy crack!! LMAO) but inspired me too!! I love my curly hair so much, but sometimes I get frustrated with it!! Just reading posts like these gets me all pumped up about my hair... wow. all of a sudden i have an urge to go buy a bunch of Curls and Qhemet and some hair accessories... is there a full moon or something?!
summer says:
August 7, 2007, 12:16 pm
hi bella, not sure if you remember me, i used to comment a lot more in 2006 (before you blew up, LOL!). anyways, just wanted you to know that I haven't had a relaxer since February '07, and this Thursday, 8/9/07, I have an appointment to get the relaxed ends removed!! You and a few natural friends planted the seed. A novel I read in my African Amer Lit class was the final straw. So thanks! I plan to start a separate blog documenting my natural journey soon, in which I'll post pics.
Peajai says:
August 7, 2007, 12:25 pm
Great post Bella! I too had gotten to the point where the only variation in my styles was were I positioned my headband. But this summer I have finally let my hair go free (no headbands of any kind) almost every day and I love it. Now I only pull back my "second day hair". And I have finally started updating my hair journal on a regular basis. I'll email you the link.
jerseybred says:
August 7, 2007, 1:58 pm
Bella, Thank you for making me/us Afrobella(s)of the week. Great Choice! I love the stares I receive from people and the look of solidarity from other naturals.
Erin says:
August 7, 2007, 2:34 pm
I'm so glad I was able to see the videos (the internet connection is kinda slow at work), I can't wait to see the documentaries now! Also, summer, what was the name of the novel you read in African Amer. Lit?? Peace, Erin
laidbackchick says:
August 7, 2007, 3:19 pm
Thanks Bella, I am looking good in the picture above if I do say so myself. Hey we gotta love ourselves, hair body and all. I design for a living and that includes my overall look. Shout out to all you bella's out there. FYI the chick who laced my cornrow twist style is from the Boogeydown,
summer says:
August 7, 2007, 3:55 pm
hi erin, the book was MUMBO JUMBO by ishmael reed. but it's not about hair, per se. it's about everything -- music, religion, attitudes, languages -- that we brought from africa, and were told were wrong, bad, ugly, etc, and we now (for the most part) believe it. It made me angry. Why is my natural self not good enough?! I kept thinking. I knew after I finished my paper on the novel that I couldn't stomach the thought of another relaxer and chemically alter who I was to fit into someone else's ideal. Other people's choices don't bother me; just my personal decision. I know that was more than you asked, but I wanted to explain how the book impacted me.
Erin says:
August 7, 2007, 4:02 pm
thanks summer, I love to read and I will definately put it on my list. Thanks for the info! peace, erin
simone says:
August 7, 2007, 6:33 pm
nuff respect to the af-am lit professors out there! laidback is on point. we have to love ourselves and i would just add that life is more fun when we chill. jump in the water; get that hair wet. sweat. we don't always have to camera ready. to paraphrase from another powerful novel -- we have to love our flesh. out there, they don't love our flesh. and we can also chill and also life. remember how high maintenance the relaxer was? we don't need to transfer that to "natural" hair. that's what i like about all these fun ideas for our hair - we dont' have to be fierce all the time. we can be fun. or low key. or sculptural. we can do what we want. we free now. i feel so pretty and real when i read these posts. out there in whitesphere i feel like just a character in somebody elses story--you know that black character. and i know that the media alienates everyone from their natural selves but only black people are required to chemically change themselves in order to be considered accepted at a basic level. people treat cream crack like its soap--required for hygiene! anyhow...back to feeling pretty. i can't wait to look at the videos! thanks bella. keep it coming!
Megan says:
August 7, 2007, 8:31 pm
Aw thanks for the shout out Bella.
ayomidejpw says:
August 7, 2007, 9:56 pm
Cool short vides. I wear my hair in two strand twist every day. I never get bored of my hair. When it is almost time to get my hair washed I take my twist out and wear it wild. I love my hair. I can pin up and do some different things to it. The only problem I have is the longer it gets the more tangles I get but I have learned to keep my hair trimmed at the ends. I do sometime blow dry and wear curls but not often. I really like the picture of the hair style you posted very funky!
Joy says:
August 8, 2007, 10:12 am
Thank you! I needed this.
Dominique says:
August 8, 2007, 3:28 pm
I love this entry! I just did "the big chop" a month ago and I'm so very happy that I did. I'm always so pleased when I see other natural sistah's doing their thing.
Melinda says:
August 9, 2007, 11:48 am
Bella. For me, it's about feeling authentic and being free. Being natural has allowed me to be more confident in my own skin and has helped me to honor my own unique brand of individuality. And as a plus; being natural is just downright sexy. I remember that pivotal moment in my life when I made the decision to stop using the creamy crack (lol) I was terrified; because I was deeply insecure and I cared way too much about what society and others thought of me. But there were just too many cons than pros to having straight hair: I hated when it rained. HATED! My pinned doobie would be tied with a scarf, plastic bag and shower cap to keep it from getting wet. I barely washed the back of my neck! Trifling...I know... Not learning how to swim. Natural hair=not feminine. Natural hair=angry militant Natural hair=you hate everyone with a perm. I'll look like one of the little black rascals. Not being able to get a job Dark skin + Natural hair = Total Jigaboo. My thinking was ridamndiculous. But that's real talk. Living in fear is no damn joke. My straight long hair was my BEAUTY. Period. And I couldn't see mahself without it. And please no angry blogger responses; this was my particular struggle and my warped thought process prior to chopping that mess off. Thankfully, I made the transition through courage and listening to my spirit. It's one of the best things I've ever done to reclaim the real creating my own standard of beauty; instead of using someone else's measuring stick.
edesse says:
August 11, 2007, 10:46 am
Yeah!!!! I know i'm a little late for the celebration but Yay!!! anyway. I think this is a great idea Bella! I would LOVE to hear more about other afrobellas who own their own businesses. I was soooo happy to find Laid Back Home! I think her stuff is truly amazing. So, afrobellas, if you have websites, blogs, businesses, list their links. I would LOVE to scope you out!
Mo-Mo says:
August 11, 2007, 2:48 pm
Great post! I've noticed an increasing amount of natural hairstyles in the media as well and think it's great that we don't have to feel "ashamed" of our hair anymore. I really need to watch My Nappy Roots in it's entirely. I'm proud of my natural hair (going on 8 years) and don't think I'll ever go back to the "creamy crack". Although I frequently have my hair in twist extensions and "natural" weaves, when I do where my hair out in it's natural 'fro state, chiney bumps or two-strand twists I always get complements. I find more people of other cultures are opting to 'nappify' their hair--just the other day a Caucasian acquaintance of mine came over to have my sister cornrow her hair with extensions. I've been trying to find more different styles to use with my natural hair (the magazine store doesn't have much of a selection) and Tina's mohawk is very inspirational!
Melonie says:
August 12, 2007, 5:12 pm
Hey Bella. I have been frequenting your page for quite some time now and I never got around to posting anything. But I just wanted to say thank you for all of your inspiration and for helping to put us natural and, in my case, soon to be natural sisters on the map. I was curious to see who would come up on your Fotki link to the chiney bump section in your blurb and to my was me! Who knew? I was so humbled and appreciative that you referred people to my fav Caribbean style (I'm Jamaican btw). I hope all is well with you and I just wanted to give a shout out to you and also thank you once again. All the best. Melonie
LBellatrix says:
August 13, 2007, 9:01 pm
Congratulations to everyone who's made the leap to natural! Especially you, Melinda; I can guess how hard it was to let go of something that was probably a major marker of beauty/self-esteem. ("Why'd you cut off all that pretty long hair?" *rolls eyes* ) I'll celebrate 12 years of freedom from creamy crack this Thanksgiving. I recently did my first BC in 9 years and I'm seriously considering keeping it at this length...but at the same time I feel like I might enjoy growing it out again. Whatever I do, trust that it will most definitely stay NAPPY because I want to stay HAPPY! Thank you (again) for an insightful post. As far as I'm concerned, if you have Internet access, you're only a Google search away from having all your questions answered (and fears assuaged) about being spare me the lame excuses...
BkHoneyBee says:
August 14, 2007, 9:38 pm
Bella Your hair is fierce!!! I am so loving the fro-hawk. Thank you for posting the videos. Sisters, don't give up on your beautiful naturals. Those videos remind us what we kinds of torture we inflict upon ourselves in the name of beauty. A beauty that no woman, black, white, asian and latina can possibly attain.
augusta says:
August 17, 2007, 7:37 pm
I've been relaxer free for about two years now. During this stage, I was what one might consider a 'bit' militant.I tried convincing every I knew who was on the 'creamy crack' to consider getting off it. The funny thing is, I realized that black hair is the most beautiful and versatile hair of all ethnic backgrounds. We are able to sport a plethera of styles that other folks can only dream of sporting. That said, I am not as quick to judge someone who relaxes their hair...well,only those who sport the see-though 'bob'. ;)
Irys says:
August 18, 2007, 6:51 pm
Wow. Thanks. I'm so glad I found your website, and I really enjoyed so many of these videos, too. I've been wearing my hair naturally for a few years, and it's been an interesting journey. I've found that I want to learn more and more about our attitudes and opinions and perspectives about our hair and what we believe it says about and for us. I also rediscovered one of my favorite music videos, "Freedom 95", so thanks for that, too. I will definitely be visiting again soon.
Monet says:
June 24, 2008, 11:05 pm
Wow! This is my first time on this site but it definitely will not be the last. I found it by accident as I try to find a new hairstyle as I go back to my college town and my boyfriend who still hasn't grasped the fact that I will not be perming it ever again. Maybe that is because I have not explicitly told him. Oh well... But actually I am on my own hair journey and I am near the beginning. I still havent chopped the perm and some color out and I am trying to get ready for that. I am a theatre major and I need versatility. I need to be able to look like any and everything depending on what the role calls for but at the end of the day I want to be able to look in the mirror and like what I see. I also like to fall asleep without worrying if my current position will mess up my do. But I really appreciate this site and all the lovely women who left posts because we all need support. Let's be as strong as our natural hair!
LaToya/New York says:
July 21, 2008, 2:48 pm
Hi, I work in Corporate America. For a company that is predominately white. Five months ago, (it seems like forever) I made the decision to go natural and stop relaxing my hair. I thought the decision to go natural with my hair would be just as easy as it was to go natural with my nails. (I used to wear acrylic). However, I am almost at my wits end. I have been in recovery from creamy crack for almost 6 months and I am already entertaining the idea of going back. I am in the transition stage where it is hard for me to do my hair. I have braids in now. It's almost time for me to take them out and I am worried that I won't be able to find a style that I can wear to work with suits and such. I am so frustrated right now. I have never paid this much attention to my hair. I mean, when I had a relaxer I was getting a wash and set every week like the rest of the drones out there. Letting my Dominican hairstylist convince me that color is good and that I needed to jazz up my hair a little. That's when all the breakage started. Don't get me wrong. I still have a good length of hair. However, I have no idea what to do with it. I need help. There are just certain natural hair styles that don't look right on me and certain styles that don't look clean enough, and professional enough for me to rock with a power suit. Right now I have the braids in a bun. Very jazzy and unique right? I know. I need help, and I am losing my nerve. It's not easy! I have been addicted to the creamy crack since I was nine! I am 29 now. That's twenty years later I am deciding to make a change. Please help me!


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