One of the most frequently asked questions, frequently addressed topics, and hot button issues in the natural hair community, is the issue of hair growth. It’s the fuel for blog posts and epic message board threads, and sparks flurries of product purchases for special hair challenges. It’s something I get asked about ALL the time, and the answer is usually not what people want to hear.  So when I saw that brilliant video blogger, comedian, and writer Franchesca Ramsey (AKA Chescaleigh) made a video titled The Secret To LONG Natural Hair! I knew I was going to LOVE this.

Chescaleigh took the idea one step further. Not only did she create a parody video about the whole concept of products that can spur hair growth, but she involved some of the hottest, most popular, successful, instantly recognizable naturalistas in the game, Taren Guy, Hey Fran Hey, the gorgeous ladies of Urban Bush Babes, and Myleik (the creator of Curlbox) makes a cameo!



I LOVE the sisterhood behind this. I think the video is brilliant, and from the moment I saw it I knew it was destined to go viral. (Chescaleigh has a knack for that, obvs). Of course, brilliance attracts criticism. I also expected it to garner some negativity, as is so often the case with natural hair videos and anything satirical in general. This video has been posted everywhere from BGLH to HuffPo to The Root, and the variety of response has been interesting to say the least. I reached out to Franchesca for exclusive response to her latest video that’s sparking controversy in these natural hair e-streets.


Afrobella — What inspired you to make this video and what message do you hope people get from it?

Chescaleigh — I get a lot of questions about how to grow long hair or if it’s possible to skip the “awkward baby loc phase” and have long locs without the wait. Time and again I remind my subscribers that it takes anywhere from 6 months to a year for hair to loc and the only way to bypass short hair is to either get extensions or just be patient. I’ve made two hair timeline videos, a FAQ hair video and even added a FAQ hair page to my site to encourage and remind my viewers to be patient, but I found that the message wasn’t really hitting home. So I started toying with the idea of a making a comedic video about the importance of patience but I just wasn’t sure how to execute it. One day over lunch, Cipriana (from Urban Bush Babes) suggested we make some sort of hair product parody and thus the idea was born! The main message I wanted to convey was that you can’t rush hair growth with expensive “miracle products” and you shouldn’t compare your hair or personal journey to anyone else.

Afrobella — This went viral fast, and now there’s some criticism popping up online, what would you like to say to those people?

Chescaleigh — Is it officially viral? I dunno. I think we need a few more views to be deemed viral, but I’m excited that it’s doing so well. If there’s one thing I learned from “S*** White Girls Say…to Black Girls” it’s that criticism can help fuel views, so I say bring it on! I think it’s easy to find something negative to say about anything if that’s your goal. There are some people online who don’t like me or the ladies in this video and are going to have something nasty to say no matter what we post. You can’t please everyone. Despite their opinions, I appreciate them watching and taking the time to share their opinions. So thank you!

Afrobella — On a personal note, I’m seeing negativity within in the natural hair community and it bothers me. What are your thoughts on that, and how can we get over it?

Chescaleigh — It bothers me too, which is why I wanted to make a video encouraging women to stop comparing themselves to one another (the anti-envy spray) and just to enjoy their natural hair journey. Last week I did an illustration about the divide between women with natural hair and relaxers, encouraging both sides to refrain from passing judgement. Alas, some people had negative things to say about that! At the end of the day, some people are happy being unhappy and having something to complain about. It’s unfortunate that so many of us struggle to accept and appreciate the differences in our hair, bodies and even skin tones. My hope is that by continuing to make comedic content that addresses these issues in a creative and fun way, I can encourage people to think about these divides and hopefully move past them.

Food for thought from Chescaleigh. And for real – yes there are products that will work well for your hair and maybe make transitioning easier, and you may see growth from using more or less of a certain product or ingredient…but patience and love are the most important tools on this natural hair journey. Patience is in short supply, and it’s tough to cultivate. But the results are guaranteed.

Check out more of Franchesca Ramsey’s brilliance on her website, or you can follow her on twitter or facebook.

BTW the title of this blog post was inspired by one of my favorite Guns N Roses songs. Who remembers?


Purple says:
October 8, 2012, 9:13 am
Great interview and video. Very true --- you just need lots of patience. I am puzzled that anyone would find anything wrong with the video.
bella says:
October 8, 2012, 9:32 am
Me too!! I was seriously wondering what folks were so mad about. It's always something!
jaimuziq says:
October 8, 2012, 9:47 am
The negativity is unfortunate but u can't please everybody. I thought of Guns n Roses too when I watched it the first time I even swayed from side to side like Axl did lol The video is hilarious!!!
Keesha "Kay" says:
October 8, 2012, 9:52 am
And why are some people throwing shade? This is #realspit lol I loved it!
bella says:
October 8, 2012, 11:13 am
there are folks who always need to be up in arms about something. To them I say, go be angry elsewhere LOL
Freedom Fridays says:
October 8, 2012, 12:14 pm
I loved the video and thought the overall message was on point. Well done to all the ladies involved in this work of art.
Maven says:
October 8, 2012, 12:48 pm
It's hard to understand what someone could hate about this video. I thought it was cute, and real. If you've ever cut your hair and waited for it to grow out, you know that there is almost always an "awkward phase", and that's whether you are natural or relaxed. You just have to get through it. You really can't please everybody. It's great Chescaleigh takes it in stride.
pets says:
October 8, 2012, 4:21 pm
Great post!
Lifting the Shade says:
October 8, 2012, 5:51 pm
Not by way of justification for the shade, but rather to clarify what has been deemed as such: Perhaps it is that the images in the video all represent women who have long hair and it was not solely earned by Patience. These well meaning videos, etc. can be perceived as condescending if not misleading. There are women, like me, who could quickly resent the accusation that our hair is not growing due to lack of proper care and/or Patience. Some of us take excellent care of our natural hair and have been natural since long before it was as popular as it now, yet due mostly to genetic circumstance have never retained the length that these women and so many natural sites purport can be everyone's. Just like I can take great care of my body and never boast the body of {insert fab body icon here] the truth is that Patience is not sufficient to grow long hair--but it is sufficient to grow healthy hair and a healthy attitude about it no matter its length. Finally, I propose that the "shade" may also be borne of a concern that has also been mine: it consistently concerns me that as African American women whose hair texture and length was historically held against us that we hold onto the measure (literally) even as we commit to a lifestyle/hair choice that supposedly reflects our embrace of ourselves. Who cares if the hair is long? A cute style and healthy roots and tips should take precedence in our discussions and we probably shouldn't entertain--even in parody--those who have "natural hair" but whose minds are still relaxed. And maybe, in short, the conversation has grown trite to those who threw said "shade."
Gbhlong says:
October 9, 2012, 8:07 am
The video is right on the money. Good techniques along with lots of patience, love and self acceptance will allow your hair to truly flourish. Good quality/natural products can also help you on your hair journey, but they are no miracle solutions to growing your hair.
MDA says:
October 9, 2012, 8:38 am
I think this was an insightful and well-stated comment. I think the biggest concern was that people like HeyFranHey probably always had long hair but not necessarily *healthy* long hair. In the past, she's talked about cutting off her long, albeit damaged and heat fried, strands. But yeah, some people are just prone to having long hair. I know Cipriana had to big chop due to damage that occurred during her earlier modeling years, but if you look at the childhood photos she shared on the UrbanBushBabes website, you'll see that she had hair down her back as a little girl. Very long. It's called genetics. You know how some people will always be slender (but necessarily healthy), regardless of what they eat? Well... So, I think some of the people who unfortunately threw shade were responding to the fact that it's not just mere patience that will yield long hair, if that's what one desires. I liked the video, but perhaps if the creators spent a few seconds discussing how long hair is not the end-all-be-all and how some people need to understand that everyone can not have booty-length hair, it would have been even more awesome. I definitely don't condone the shade, bitterness or jealousy, though.
Chescaleigh says:
October 9, 2012, 10:24 am
Completely understandable on all levels! The length and health of your hair is based on a variety of factors, including genetics and overall health like drinking lots of water etc. Nowhere did we suggest that if you hair isn't growing it's because you aren't taking care of it. But as I said in my interview, I was inspired to create this video because of the constant questions I get asking what my "secret" is or if there is way to make hair grow faster or locs form quicker. This isn't to say that everyone wants long hair or that natural hair is only beautiful if it's long.
Chescaleigh says:
October 9, 2012, 10:26 am
thanks again for posting Patrice!
Lifting the Shade says:
October 9, 2012, 2:26 pm
I should've added in my initial post that I've stalked, erehem, watched you on YouTube and think you're funny, smart, and offer a valuable perspective--this response revealing one of the reasons why. Thanks for it. I'd also add that the video didn't overtly suggest any of what the Shade Throwers seemed to perceive/attack but you know when you touch someone's wound they flinch. And my last paragraph speaks of that wound. I don't expect one video--meant to be funny (and it was)--to address that, but it is a discussion that we need to start having around our conversations about natural hair just like we've had it around chemical and other "un-natural" treatments. I typically don't even get into conversations about hair politics--if I can call it that, but I've respected the work and community of this site and Chescaleigh for a while now so I feel comfortable and grateful to participate in the convo. Thanks everyone!
Eve says:
October 9, 2012, 4:31 pm
I agree with Lifting the shade and think the assumption of jealousy is condescending. I thought the video was funny and well done, but I also follow Taren on Youtube, and have seen her hair grow quite a bit in a short period of time. That ain't too patient. It felt to me like the women looked alike (loose curls that really don't look like my hair, with the exception of Chesca's). I would have liked to see more diversity in skin tone, size, hair texture... to make the message more about ANYONE can have long hair with patience.
Chescaleigh says:
October 10, 2012, 12:18 am
Actually Cipriana has 4c hair, but she stretches her curls. Myliek also has 4c hair texture. But for whatever reason, they continue to be overlooked when the topic of "diverse hair texture" is brought up with regards to this video. Honestly, I completely agree that a diversity of skin tones would've been great. And I reached out to someone here in NY that I thought would've been great to include because she has a darker complexion, short hair and a great blog. But not only did her schedule not permit it, but she admitted to me that she's kinda shy and wouldn't feel comfortable in front of the camera. So she wasn't really jumping at the chance to be involved. Besides that I didn't have any other bloggers I felt I could reach out to here in NY. With that being said, you have to remember that this was a YouTube video filmed in a small free studio with no budget, not an actual ad campaign. I don't have the resources to cast models or bring in bloggers from around the US to fit certain demographics. I reached out to my girlfriends that were not only based in NY but were also popular natural hair bloggers. I only made an exception for Myliek because I thought including CurlBOX would be really funny and give the project some added credibility. It was really important to me that this video look professional, so while I could've had video clips sent in from other bloggers, not everyone has access to HD cameras, a green screen or studio space, microphones and proper lighting equipment. And in order for the video to look the way I wanted, I really needed bloggers in NY so I could be there to direct them and make sure the footage was what I wanted. When I've done remote collaborations in the past, the footage I've gotten has been a MESS. I really didn't want to end up in that situation with this video, so I chose to shoot locally, so this is what we came up with. It's unfortunate that people can't see the good intentions and message behind this video despite a lack of body shapes and skin tones. Perhaps a few years from now I'll be able to re-do this video with an actual budget and create something that will be seen as more inclusive.
Chescaleigh says:
October 10, 2012, 12:20 am
thanks for your support and for adding your voice to this conversation!
Tasha says:
October 12, 2012, 5:03 pm
Agreed. I appreciate the video because my girlfriends and I constantly talk about the desire to grow hair longer. This video was a reminder that it's not magic. I do agree that genetics for some will definitely play a factor in how long/fast their hair will grown and hopefully that will be more a part of the conversation going forward. I appreciated the laugh and the message. I completely get the joke.
jhon smith says:
October 18, 2012, 12:22 am
You have posted so beautiful post.Incredible and amazing effort.Your blog is so informative .
Sondra says:
October 21, 2012, 1:49 am
Thanks for sharing the video, thought it was inspiring as well as lol funny! I've worn my hair in locs for the past 15 years, they are now down my back and couldn't think of any other way I'd wear my hair. I've had people come up to me and ask how long it took to grow my hair and some with shorter locs claim that they will be glad when their hair is this long. I assure them their locs are beautiful just the way they are and to remember it's a process and a committment. So often in our hurry up, instant gratification society we tend to forget that some of the most important things in life like healthy natural hair growth, true friendships and even starting your own business require that special ingredient...patience.
October 23, 2012, 8:12 am
Speaking for myself--> I have always had what most considered long hair (relaxed and natural) but in my eyes it wasn’t long enough. I compared my length, texture, style options and even natural hair color to other manes I saw locally. When natural hair vlogging and blogging became popular, it gave women like me (unhappy with my hair) more opportunity to compare myself to women I don’t even know. Then I woke up! I made a decision to love and protect my pretty, God-given hair. We have to accept our genetics and nourish our individual strands, so that they can reach their own maximum potential. It saddens me when I hear people say “I have type 4abc…texture and my hair just won’t grow.” Nine times out of ten the hair is growing, but length is not being retained. You also have to remember our hair has a genetically predetermined cycle..the growth, transitional and resting phases. The Anagen (growth phase) can vary from 2 to 6 years. If your hair only has about 2 years to grow, you won’t be able to accomplish the same length as someone who has maybe 5-6 years. After the growth and transitional phase, your hair is shed and it starts all over again. Make the best of how ever long your phase is. Vlogs and blogs are a great source of info but you have to figure out what works for your individual hair. It is a process of trial and error. Aside from genetics, products that work for your hair and healthy diet are key components for achieving your optimal length. If you are retaining moisture, eating right and wearing protective styles and you still aren’t seeing new length; maybe there is an underlying health issue. Just my 3 cents! Great blog btw Afrobella… Visit me @MANEVIP (Instagram) for hairstyle inspiration and tips!!!