Hair As Identity Menu



Pantene’s campaign “Truly Relaxed & Truly Natural”

Hello everyone,

My blogging has been spotty and I hope you’ll agree that it’s been with good reason!  I am working really hard to get tenure at my college so I’ve had my head down teaching, grading and conducting research.  However, I just completed a major milestone (whew hew, graded a TON of papers) and one of the first things I wanted to do was blog and reconnect with you all.

While I was grading and watching the BET Honors show, I happened to see two Pantene commercials that comprised a campaign entitled “Truly Relaxed & Truly Natural”.  Here is a picture of the campaign.

The first commercial starred Chrisette Michele donning her beautiful, golden-hued, faded afro.  The second commercial starred ballerina Misty Copeland sporting her relaxed hair.  Did you see the commercials?  I find it interesting that Pantene is addressing the fact that women of color are returning to their natural hair but that it’s our choice whether or not we do so.  I’m a proud kinky afro wearer.  However, I don’t think you lose your Black card if you opt to get a relaxer.  I do, however, think it’s important that we ask ourselves WHY we make our hair choices.  In a similar vein, I don’t think you lose your identity card if you choose to alter visible signals that you belong to a particular identity group.  Said differently, we may or may not choose to reveal our identity but that shouldn’t mean that we are somehow deemed less embracing of that identity.  Or, should it?  What are your thoughts on this?  What are your thoughts on WHY women make particular hair choices (i.e., to wear natural hair or not)?  Back to Pantene, what do you think of the campaign?

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A balding 13-year old boy and me

Harold movie poster

Good day everyone!  I recently watched a movie on Netflix called “Harold”.  Here is a description of the movie on NetFlix:

“Fitting in at his new high school is tough for Harold (Spencer Breslin), especially since he suffers from early male-pattern baldness. With mean classmates making his life miserable, Harold tries to turn his luck around by taking the advice of a caring janitor (Cuba Gooding Jr.). Co-starring Ally Sheedy, Nikki Blonsky and Chris Parnell, this delightful comedy cleverly depicts the harsh realities of being an outsider.”

Ohhhh how I felt for Harold.  I couldn’t relate to everything because, fortunately, I was not the recipient of bullying.   It was so interesting to me that the whole premise of the movie was how a child would be tormented for his bald pate, how his hair could make him an outsider.  I can relate to feeling like an outsider Harold.  I have been there.  On numerous occasions, I’ve shared how I felt almost like a water-aversive alien because of my hair; afraid of rain, pools, humidity, even a crazy fool with a water hose.  Thanks be to God, I’ve learned (am learning) to accept my hair in all of its glory (even in its smashed, half frizzy state as I type this).  No, I’m not equating kinky / coily hair to male pattern baldness. But, what I am doing is recognizing that we all have identity battles, as we work hard to figure out how we fit in in this world.  May this year bring you self-discovery and self-acceptance as we strive to become the best people that we can be.  Hugs to you all.


If you or someone you know has experience with male pattern baldness, I’d love to hear more about your experience.  Please email me at to schedule a chat.  Thanks!

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! I’ve been on hiatus but I’ve been working on, conducting research on hair as identity and editing a ton of interviews I’ve conducted on the topic. Stay tuned as I share some interesting insights. 🙂

It has been a LONG time since I’ve written a blog post and, during that time, three key things have happened!  First, I’ve been working on  I hope that you like it.  It’s taken a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get it to its current state and I love the progress we’ve made.  Of course, things can always be better so please share your comments on what you like and don’t like about the updated site.  A special shout out to for helping me find a designer for my new logo.  Specifically, Rudi4911 was amazing and did a great job creating a logo that captures how hair is both a physical and psychological reflection of our identity.

Second, I’ve been conducting research on hair as identity and I’ll be sharing various study results on the website.  Results?  Well, let’s just say that we have our work cut out for us as we work to create a society where all hair types are embraced in professional settings.  I have some ideas on how to bring this about and I’ll be sure to share my thoughts and research insights.

Third, I’ve been developing content for the website by interviewing various personalities on how hair reflects identity.  For example, I’ve spoken with human resources professionals, hair stylists, judges, students, administrative professionals and people I met on the street.  I am NOT a video editing expert and it is taking me FOREVER to get the interviews the way that I want them.  Rather than wait any longer, I decided to upload what I have and work on it from there.  One thing I’ve learned about entrepreneurship is that action is required!  Happy New Year and I look forward to reconnecting with many of you.  J


  • Erica addison

    Tina, I’m so excited for you! I can’t wait to find out what is really going on in the natural hair community. Transitioning is tough and I need all the help and encouragement possible! Thanks for all your help.

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Nice Hair! by AdamCohn

This photo was taken by Adam Cohn in Accra, Ghana.  The image is so engaging and it looks like we’re getting a glimpse into Ghanaian life.  I cannot quite tell how the hairstyle is done but it looks like it might be a double strand twist out (see Nikki Mae’s YouTube tutorial for step-by-step instructions:


I am also taken by the vibrant hue of the woman’s hair (I wish I knew her name!).  I haven’t yet colored my natural hair but, I must say, I love her hair color on her!  What do you think?

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Hindu Ascent by Stuck in Customs

This picture by Stuck in Customs (aka Trey Ratcliff) is so peaceful.  The beautiful lighting makes it almost look like the person is ascending into the heavenly realm.  Here is the picture’s description on Flikr:

“A 94-year-old woman ascends the final stairs in the 272-step ascent in the Batu Caves, a pilgrimage site in Malaysia for over 800,000 Hindus per year.

Her hair is 3 meters long (about 9 feet). She has never cut it her entire life. It is so long, she has to fold it back and forth a few times and wrap it to keep it from dragging behind.”

The picture comes from Trey’s daily photo blog found at  Trey, thank you for such beautiful work!  So inspiring!

I am in awe  of the picture and the story behind the picture.  To think that a 94-year-old woman has never cut her hair.  Just one more way to know that hair matters.

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Hair the Father by Giuliagas

This photo was taken by Giulia Gasparro and I found it in the Commons on Flickr.  I LOVE it.  It is rare to see such an up close shot of a man’s cornrows and I love the composition of the photo.  This picture is particularly interesting to me given a recent resurgence of interest in Hampton University’s ban on cornrows and dreadlocks for men in its five year MBA program (  On one hand, Dean Credle (Hampton University’s business school dean) argues that the ban is simply designed to help students get the job and that what students do after they’re hired is up to them.  On the other hand, those who disagree with the ban state that hair should have nothing to do with employment prospects.  What do you think:  should certain hairstyles be banned for college students?  For employees?


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Purple and Green Spiky Hair by fluffy_steve

When you see the image of a purple and green mohawk, what do you think of?  Rebellion?  Anarchy?  Creativity? Independence?  I often wonder about the conditions that drive one person to view this hairstyle in a negative way, while someone else views it in a positive way.  The shades and studded necklace contribute to the look.  What are your thoughts?  Would you want the person in this picture working for you?  Why or why not?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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