Hair As Identity Menu

Identity

Permalink:

Solange Knowles Hair Pics!

When I first started this blog, I did a post on Solange Knowles’ bold decision to wear her natural hair. Recently, Ms. Knowles did a photo spread for Oyster Magazine and she is rocking her natural hair! There is nothing like someone who seems to embrace their authenticity. What do you think of the pictures?

 When I first started this blog, I did a post on Solange Knowles’ bold decision to wear her natural hair. Recently, Ms. Knowles did a photo spread for Oyster Magazine and she is rocking her natural hair!

There is nothing like someone who seems to embrace their authenticity. What do you think of the pictures?

IMAGES: http://freshlikedougie.com/fashion/solange-in-natural-light-for-oyster-magazine-photos/

  • H&B

    That she is gorgeous!!!

  • Thanks for leaving a comment, please keep it clean. HTML allowed is strong, code and a href.

Permalink:

Tomiko Graces Gain Commercial

I was blown away by something that I just saw. I rarely watch daytime TV which may explain why I had never seen the Gain commercial featuring the gorgeous Tomiko Fraser Hines. I love the way the commercial embraces natural hair. Some might feel that it dogs straight hair but I don’t think that’s the point. Apparently, naturalistas are in the numerical minority compared to women who chemically alter their hair. However, more and more women are going natural and it’s refreshing to see this depicted in a corporate commercial. What do you think?

Hello everyone, I know that I’m in the middle of sharing my RV trip with you all BUT I was blown away by something that I just saw. I rarely watch daytime TV which may explain why I had never seen the Gain commercial featuring the gorgeous Tomiko Fraser Hines . Haven’t seen the commercial? Watch it HERE.

I love the way the commercial embraces natural hair. Some might feel that it dogs straight hair but I don’t think that’s the point. Apparently, naturalistas are in the numerical minority compared to women who chemically alter their hair. However, more and more women are going natural and it’s refreshing to see this depicted in a corporate commercial. What do you think? I may have to buy some Gain! :)

P.S.: I do believe the voice over was done by Ms. Wanda Sykes! UPDATE: Ms. Tomiko Fraser Hines herself confirmed that this was the voice of Ms. Wanda Sykes. Thanks Tomiko!

P.S.S.: Tomiko and her husband, Chris, have a YouTube channel and I think they’re just the cutest.

IMAGE: http://cheneselewisblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Tomiko-Gain-Slide.jpg

  • Tomiko Fraser Hines

    Thanks again for this wonderful blog! I really appreciate it! ; )

  • topie

    You are most welcome. It's my pleasure and you should know that the commercial made me shout! So proud of you for forging ahead! Yaaayyyyyy!

  • Thanks for leaving a comment, please keep it clean. HTML allowed is strong, code and a href.

Permalink:

Sullivan’s Island: My Sankofa Moment

Hair seems like such a trivial topic when contrasted with the overwhelming pain that slave men, women and children endured. However, it’s important to remember that these strong men, women and children came from a culture where hair rituals were deep, rich and involved. It would have just been one more injustice to have your hair shorn or to be unable to groom yourself. The wonderful book Hair Story by Ms. Ayana Byrd and Ms. Lori Tharps, discusses how slaves were not inclined to think about their hair given the inhumane and unclean conditions in which they lived. Plus, the grooming aids slaves had used in Africa were nowhere to be found in their new environment. Thus, slaves’ hair often became tangled, matted.

During my family’s recent RV trip from Boston to Florida, we made many stops. We designed our trip so that we would have time to visit Sullivan’s Island. Sullivan’s Island is known as the African-American Ellis Island because it was where slaves were quarantined before they were transported to Charleston, SC (North America’s main entry port for African slaves).

When I arrived on Sullivan’s Island (specifically, Fort Moultrie, a National Parks Service museum that traces the African Passage), I began to place myself in the shoes of those slaves who would have walked on its soil just over two centuries ago. Those who know me well already know that I’m a highly sensitive person when it comes to other people’s pain. When people share their travails with me, I’ll be in tears in a matter of minutes because their pain hurts my heart. So it’s no surprise that I got weepy as soon as I began to walk through the halls of Fort Moultrie at Sullivan’s Island. If I’m honest, I wasn’t just weepy, I was crying and I was hit with a deep sadness that my ancestors experienced this AND that this history is largely overlooked, ignored or downplayed. After all, this was centuries ago right? Oh, that reflection caused me such sadness because as I look around today, it is evident that slavery still impacts our society.

As my children walked ahead of me in the arched, cavernous hallway, I imagined what it must have been like to reach American soil and then realize that you were about to be subjected to further pain, anguish, torture. That I might be looking at my children for the last time. I also realized that had I been born then, I may have been one of the shackled.

Hair seems like such a trivial topic when contrasted with the overwhelming pain that slave men, women and children endured. However, it’s important to remember that these strong men, women and children came from a culture where hair rituals were deep, rich and involved. It would have just been one more injustice to have your hair shorn or to be unable to groom yourself. The wonderful book Hair Story by Ms. Ayana Byrd and Ms. Lori Tharps, discusses how slaves were not inclined to think about their hair given the inhumane and unclean conditions in which they lived. Plus, the grooming aids slaves had used in Africa were nowhere to be found in their new environment. Thus, slaves’ hair often became tangled, matted.

Tomorrow, I’ll talk about how slaves, as resilient as they were, found ways to groom themselves.

Find out more about the movie Sankofa.

IMAGE:  http://images.moviepostershop.com/sankofa-movie-poster-1993-1020235232.jpg

  • Thanks for leaving a comment, please keep it clean. HTML allowed is strong, code and a href.

Permalink:

Professional Hair

I wonder if each of you can describe what “professional hair” is in your particular industry? Please comment and let me know: 1) the industry in which you work and 2) how you would describe professional hair and unprofessional hair in your industry. It would be great if you even have a picture to illustrate your point!

The other day, I blogged about model Chrystèle Saint-Louis Augustin. I talked about how proud I am of her for sporting her naturally coily hair on the runway and in fashion spreads. Of course, I do recognize that not all of us are in the fashion or entertainment industry.

Having said that, I wonder if each of you can describe what “professional hair” is in your particular industry? Please comment and let me know: 1) the industry in which you work and 2) how you would describe professional hair and unprofessional hair in your industry. It would be great if you even have a picture to illustrate your point!

For example, in academia, I’ve noticed that women in particular seem to be more comfortable wearing their natural hair. Natural might mean gray, curly, kinky, straight, wavy, blonde, black; however it NATURALLY grows out of the head. Also, what is it about academia that might affect how professors wear their hair?

  • topie

    Hi Sherry! Thanks so much for your comment. Have you ever seen unprofessional: hair coloring? dreadlocks? braids? long hair? I guess I'd add that it's anything that looks unkempt…the thing is, who determines what is and isn't unkempt?

  • topie

    Happy New Year by the way!

  • •••
  • Thanks for leaving a comment, please keep it clean. HTML allowed is strong, code and a href.

Permalink:

Insecure, Teenaged 40 year old?

I don’t know what it is, but seeing my family makes me revert to my insecure teenage self when I was just as likely to think that I was going to be the next President of the United States as I was to feel like a nerdy, unattractive social outcast. I, like most us want to please my parents. But, they haven’t seen me for awhile and my waist is three inches bigger than what they’re used to. Plus, I am four+ months after the Big Chop and while I LOVE my twist-out, this style is definitely an acquired taste.


My heart is racing, I have a bit of agita and I’m getting a nervous headache. About to make an important presentation? Being chased by an assailant? No, nothing like that. I’m about to see my Southern family for the first time in a few months. I don’t know what it is, but seeing my family makes me revert to my insecure teenage self when I was just as likely to think that I was going to be the next President of the United States as I was to feel like a nerdy, unattractive social outcast. What is this all about? Why do these feelings emerge? I guess it’s natural…I, like most us want to please my parents. But, they haven’t seen me for awhile and my waist is three inches bigger than what they’re used to. Plus, I am four+ months after the Big Chop and while I LOVE my twist-out, this style is definitely an acquired taste. I’m wondering if its positive reception is affected by the fact that we live in the North. As I’ve blogged before, I’ve heard that the South may not be as hospitable to natural hair (http://tropie7189.blogspot.com/2011/11/north-more-hospitable-to-natural-hair.html).

Despite this angst, I’m going to rock my same self and see what happens. I’ll be sure to share the details. :)

Permalink:

What We Can Learn From Chrystèle Saint-Louis Augustin

I imagine that the pressures of modelling must be overwhelming at times. It must be much easier to go with the flow and blend in with all of the other models. That is why I admire Chrystèle Saint-Louis Augustin, a French model of Caribbean descent (both of her parents are from Martinique according to information I found about her). Why do I admire Ms. Augustin? Well, among other things as the pictures illustrate, she sports a head full of coily hair. In my opinion, she ROCKS HER FRO! It could be said that Ms. Augustin’s mane is remniscent of an earlier super model, Ms. Peggy Dillard.



I imagine that the pressures of modelling must be overwhelming at times. It must be much easier to go with the flow and blend in with all of the other models. That is why I admire Chrystèle Saint-Louis Augustin, a French model of Caribbean descent (both of her parents are from Martinique according to information I found about her). Why do I admire Ms. Augustin? Well, among other things as the pictures illustrate, she sports a head full of coily hair. In my opinion, she ROCKS HER FRO! It could be said that Ms. Augustin’s mane is remniscent of an earlier super model, Ms. Peggy Dillard. Don’t know who she is? I’ll be sharing more details about her in an upcoming post.

What can Ms. Augustin teach us? Well, I’d argue that if she can make her coily and/or curly hair part of her brand, we can all think about how we can do the same. Granted, we don’t all have model looks, nor do we all work in the entertainment / fashion industries. However, perhaps we each can revisit an unstated (and sometimes stated!) assumption that straightening our tresses is a necessity if we desire to project a professional image.

TOP IMAGE: http://bit.ly/LG6u3q

BOTTOM IMAGE: http://bit.ly/NIzgwb

Permalink:

MTV Does Hair

As we’ve discussed over the several months on this blog, hair matters. It affects how we feel, the image that we portray, how others receive us. It appears that we’re not the only ones who accept that hair is important. MTV is casting for an episode called “I hate my hair” on it’s show “True Life”. TRUE LIFE: I HATE MY HAIR Is your hair your obsession? Do you spend hours of your day and week to style and manage your hair? Are you digging yourself into a financial hole just to deal with your hair? Do you have unwanted hair, or not the “right” hair? Are you undergoing a procedure to alter your hair or do you go to great lengths to manage it?


As we’ve discussed over the several months on this blog, hair matters. It affects how we feel, the image that we portray, how others receive us. It appears that we’re not the only ones who accept that hair is important.

MTV is casting for an episode called “I hate my hair” on it’s show “True Life”. Here’s the casting call :

TRUE LIFE: I HATE MY HAIR
Is your hair your obsession? Do you spend hours of your day and week to style and manage your hair? Are you digging yourself into a financial hole just to deal with your hair? Do you have unwanted hair, or not the “right” hair? Are you someone with a hormone imbalance that leads to hair loss, or facial hair growth?

How does your hair affect your social life? Does your hair make you feel unattractive and affect how you interact with members of the opposite sex? Do your friends and family think you are out of control with your hair obsession? Are you undergoing a procedure to alter your hair or do you go to great lengths to manage it?

If you appear to be between the ages of 15 -28 and have hair that’s making you unhappy, email us at casting@lintonmedia.com and tell us about your story. Please include your name, location, phone number and recent photos of yourself.

I can happily say that I don’t hate my hair…I am learning to love it in all of it’s shapes (wow, still working on loving that just woke up, mashed in shape, whew!).

So, while this casting call’s not for me, I wanted to share it because: 1) some one may be interested in the casting call; 2) it strikes me as interesting that MTV is interested in this topic. A few days ago, MTV even did a casting call for women going natural (see this article on The Root). I couldn’t find the actual MTV casting for the natural hair show so I didn’t blog about it but I thought that you all might like to hear about it. What do you think? How would you like the hair stories to be portrayed? Any True Life fans out there? What do you think?

IMAGE: http://bit.ly/NmsgTC

  • Thanks for leaving a comment, please keep it clean. HTML allowed is strong, code and a href.

Permalink:

Barbie!

It seems that a trend is afoot. Folks are taking “regular” Barbie Dolls and turning them into coily-haired goddesses. A visit to the Mattel website, revealed only one Black doll: However, dolls like this are showing up: Can you say GORGEOUS!!!!? Wow, if only such dolls were readily available. The thing is, it sounds like the “regular” hair can be converted to coily glory with hot water and pipe cleaners. Would it really be that difficult for Mattel to figure out how to manufacture such dolls? I guess it’s going to take significant consumer demand before such adjustments are made. What do you think? Would you buy one?

It seems that a trend is afoot. Folks are taking “regular” Barbie Dolls and turning them into coily-haired goddesses. A visit to the Mattel website, revealed only one Black doll:

BARBIE® SPARKLE LIGHTS™ Mermaid Doll - Shop.Mattel.com
However, dolls like this are showing up. Can you say GORGEOUS!!!!? Wow, if only such dolls were readily available. The thing is, it sounds like the “regular” hair can be converted to coily glory with hot water and pipe cleaners (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/14/natural-hair-group-in-geo_n_1149574.html?ref=hair-beauty). Would it really be that difficult for Mattel to figure out how to manufacture such dolls? I guess it’s going to take significant consumer demand before such adjustments are made. What do you think? Would you buy one?
  • Thanks for leaving a comment, please keep it clean. HTML allowed is strong, code and a href.

Permalink:

You should really reflect how the client’s top executives look

“You should really reflect how the client’s top executives look.”Say what?!I was taken aback by the comment because I was dressed beautifully in a tailored suit and donned a cute natural hair style.At the time, I was working as a management consultant on a work project in one of the largest private firms in the United States.The comment came from one of my project leaders.How do you react to such a comment?Perhaps she was referring to the fact that I was wearing a red suit?Or, was she talking about my hair? That is one of the challenges of being in a society where your beauty is often devalued:you don’t know if such comments were intended to be personal and related to immutable characteristics (e.g., YOU need to have straight, long hair) or general and related to things that you can change (e.g., NO ONE should ever wear a red suit).As our conversation continued, I picked my mouth up off of the floor and realized that her comments did in fact seem to be about my hair.Wow.I took a deep breath and weighed the thoughts whirling in my mind.Should I blast her?Should I say nothing?For those who know me in a professional setting, you know that I picked a diplomatic way, but direct way, to let her know that I thought her comments were ridiculous.I said, “Wow, that’s a…different perspective.What if we were working at Black Entertainment Television?Would you be willing to shave your head and wear a short hairstyle a la Robert Johnson?”A blank stare greeted my gaze.That was the end of that. Well, at least she didn’t say anything else. But, I’m not so naive to think that her authentic beliefs were changed as a result of our exchange.

Was this a one-off situation?I think not.The article in this link suggests that other Black women have been and will be subjected to insensitive comments about their hair in the workplace:http://ybpguide.com/2007/09/02/natural-black-hair-not-glamorous/.The picture of the beautiful, professional Black woman was copied from the same article.

What do you think?How would you have responded to my situation?To what occurred in the article?Have you experienced such behavior in the workplace?How did you react?To those who are non-Black, how would you have responded if you witnessed this situation?

Permalink:

Brazilian Blowout

Last night my husband and I watched a fascinating episode of Dr. Gates’ “Black in Latin America” on PBS (http://www.pbs.org/wnet/black-in-latin-america/?gclid=CMXYwfKRzqgCFaNd5QodHjphgQ).The episode focused on Brazil, specifically Salvador, Bahia.This city is the third largest in Brazil (behind São PauloandRio de Janeiro).Dr. Gates was drawn to investigate Salvador because upwards of 80% of the population has Black African heritage.This is not surprising because Brazil had the largest Atlantic Trade slave population in the world at a whopping FIVE MILLION SLAVES.This was ten times the number of slaves deposited onto the soil of the United States of America.

Given the high number of slaves, it was almost inevitable that there would be a lot of “race mixing” and the resulting rainbow hue of people.And with mixed race, you KNOW there are varying hair textures.I was thrilled when Dr. Gates visited a hair salon renowned for teaching women how to embrace their natural hair texture.This is in stark contrast to the famed hair treatment known as the “Brazilian Blowout” which is reputed to have originated in Brazil.The hair treatment is renowned for giving people shiny, bouncy, frizz-free hair and works best when applied to chemically treated hair according to this website:http://www.brazilianblowout.com/faq.

But, STOP!Recent media coverage (http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/41742315/ns/today-today_fashion_and_beauty/ and http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/03/16/brazilian-blowout-craze-safe/) suggests that the hair treatment contains formaldehyde which is hazardous to your health.Why would such an unsafe hair treatment have originated in Brazil? The above MSNBC article “Hazardous for Health?Roots of Brazilian Blowout” quotes Ms Eliza Larkin Nascimento[1] as saying, “There is a racist culture in Brazil, and one of its expressions is a beauty standard that values what is European.Discrimination in Brazil rides a lot on appearance — on facial features, on hair texture. Hair is a great focus, a great symbol”.

Wow, we are all sisters confronting many of the same issues.


[1] Ms. Nascimento is director of IPEAFRO (LOVE that “AFRO” is part of the acronym!) an organization that concentrates on Afro-Brazilian studies.

  • Thanks for leaving a comment, please keep it clean. HTML allowed is strong, code and a href.