Hair As Identity Menu


i love chimamanda – by verta ayanna

i have a serious crush on this chimamanda ngozi adichie. she is feminine and feminist.  she is strong and vulnerable. she is humble and brazen. she is beautiful and Nigerian and brilliantly talented. she is regal; from the top of her beautifully styled head to the tips of her stylishly outfitted toes.  she uses words in the ways i hope to. chimamanda and her heroine in Americanah, ifemelu, came to me when i needed them most. when i needed to see myself in this world and be more fearless sharing myself with this world. when i needed to be reminded that the human experience is not reserved for a select few in literature. there is space and a need for all of us.

Chimamanda Adichie

chimamanda and ifemelu came to remind me of all the characters and books and people that are a part of me; that define me. when obinze’s mother treats ifemelu as her own, telling her “I was once young. I know what it is like to love while young … you can love without making love.  It is a beautiful way of showing your feelings but it brings responsibility, great responsibility, and there is no rush…wait until you own yourself a little more;” it is just as i imagine my own mother would have told me, had she the words and wisdom to do so. this moment and so many more in Americanah touched me deeply. they take their rightful place next to my own memories of my grannie teaching me, and me alone, to eat avocados from their skin with a dash of salt. teaching me to savor what is given, as it is given. these moments, these remembrances, are tucked away for safe keeping; for times i need to be fortified when the world drains me.  i am grateful to chimamanda and ifemelu because when i needed confirmation that love always wins — when we let it — they came to me.

i feel sad when a book i have loved is coming to an end.  i feel sad when time spent savoring the ones that i love is coming to an end. while i am more skillfully present in life than i once was, there are moments when i find myself dwelling momentarily  in the future. considering that in just a few hours these characters, real and fictional and real, will only be a part of my memory. i will no longer see them unfold themselves before me nor will i be able to hold them near and smell the scent of creation on them. i fall in love with books and people often but not easily. i am cautious and selective about what and who i let into my heart.  i breathe people and books in deeply when they are great and admittedly even when they are not so great. i do this so that i will remember. so that i can recall their truth. great books like great people hold truths. we never know which truths will be revealed. once the revelation begins, i long to hold them with me, in the present, for a while longer. at that very moment, i find that it is with greater speed that they start to take flight forcing me to let go. this act of repeatedly letting go allows me to recall that truths once revealed remain. they stain our souls.

a few months ago on facebook, i was asked for my list of ten from a friend.  ten books that have influenced and shaped me.  ten books that caused me sadness when they came to end. ten books that have left their indelible and brilliant stain on my soul. i cheated.  it was too hard to come up with just ten.  here is my list in the order i recall them becoming a part of me:

the orginal facebook list (yes, there are twelve):

the ones i remembered immediately after i posted the facebook list:

the ones i have read after age 40 that i must include:

and the book that prompted this post:

Verta is writing her first book, loving out loud, because she believes that love should never be silent! verta shares how she is inspired by stories, by memories and by life at
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Straight hair for holidays?

According to Merriam-Webster, a “holiday” is a day of celebration when most people do not have to work.  Thus, holidays are a particular time when people may construct special hairstyles to fully embrace the festivities.  Further, hairstyles also convey that the wearer is special because she (or her mother) has taken extra time to create a highly polished, intricate style.  As a little girl, I remember getting my hair “done” for holidays.  Typically, that meant I’d get my hair straightened.

Original image by Bob Croslin from Tampa Bay Times (Combing through memories (4/14/06) by Nicole Johnson)

As I grew older, it meant that I would get my hair relaxed.  I’ve learned that this pattern of straightening on holidays is not atypical…many women I know practice the same hair ritual. What do you all think about this hair ritual?  How does it affect girls and women?

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Love Out Loud: A Series – A Love Story by verta ayanna

Eric’s hands are folded on the table. Firm yet gentle. Fixed yet flexible. Those same hands he used to place stones under Shauna’s pillow for comfort. “They put her right to sleep. She didn’t even know I had put them there and she’d sleep for hours,” he explained. Their oldest son’s hands are unceasingly occupied. He plays with a wind up toy that gets tangled on a few precious strands of the soft and fluffy afro Shauna had finally decided to grow back. He assured he could get it out. My own familiar hands gently helped him unravel his toy making sure to protect each prized, well-earned strand. Shauna’s hands—dry, cracked and darkened from treatment—also bring comfort. They examined and soothe her youngest son’s head after something had fallen on him while playing in the leaves outside. Shauna’s hands touch the tiniest of places in this life she has chosen with such beauty and grace. “One day I just told my soul it should stay. I choose hope,” she told me as I watched her hands. I love hands. I believe that we love with our hearts, our bodies, our minds; and all that love, all that life always finds itself in our hands.

Shauna is as radiant on this unseasonably warm day in January 2014 as she was in 1990 when I first met her in college. She was cute and quirky and different in college. She still is. Shauna is a collector. She collects words. She shares books that have touched her while we talk in her bedroom. Books that have inspired and moved her. She shares quotes that have kept her faith strong when it was weak. Some might think that the affirmations—words hand written and scattered like fallen leaves around her bedroom and bathroom—give her strength. I think otherwise. Shauna’s strength is the affirmation—emotional support and encouragement that the world so desperately needs. She also shares the collection of newspapers she has amassed over the past month. She reads them during her monthly trip to Philly for treatment. She says that Eric is probably happy they are not all over the bed when they try to sleep at night. I bet the love they share for each other and for words make him miss her newspapers almost as much as he misses her when she goes. I imagine Shauna and Eric as the children trekking home from the library with more books than they could carry. Still thinking about the ones they hated to leave behind. I imagine them as the children who stayed up with heads under covers reading books late into the night. Secretly collecting words. An obsession that only they could understand. What exists between this wife and her husband is so considerable. It is nearly too much to contain in words.

Shauna is a mother. She chases joy in the everyday—like so many mothers. Folding clothes for her family. Leaving the random, unmatched and missing socks for the boys to sort out. Ironing clothes or as was the case on this particular Sunday, being reminded by the ironing board and the pile of clothes near it of yet another bit of household work that would not get done that day. Before she boards the Amtrak to Philly, she dries the boys’ comforters. Making sure they smell fresh and linger with warmth from the dryer and from her touch. One that is a familiar memory to those she leaves behind for the remainder of the week. “Striving to keep everything as normal as possible” each month so that she can continue to live. To remain among the living.

After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, Shauna had a double mastectomy. The doctors constructed new breasts for her without nipples. As I understand it, this is common since it is rare to save nipples during this procedure. A woman can hope for the appearance of nipples with cosmetic surgery and even tattoos, though she will not have nipples as she once did. “I took my nipples for granted until I didn’t have them,” she said. Her words whispered to me for hours, days and weeks after I photographed her. I marveled at my breasts and my nipples in a new way. The nipples that efficiently and miraculously delivered milk to my children. The nipples that dutifully stand at attention when nipped by something cold and/or sudden. The nipples that surrender and abandon themselves entirely when caressed and fully consumed by a lover. Glimpsing what is not has a way of making us value what is.

After two years of multiple surgeries, countless treatments for cancer and the double mastectomy, Shauna believed she was winning the fight with breast cancer. Then “breast cancer broke her back.” Literally. The cancer had spread through her spine. The pain she was experiencing in her back was far more serious than her doctors realized. The cancer was eating her bones. She needed surgery. One doctor told her it was amazing that she was still walking. Over the next year, there were several miracles that took place. There were several medical professionals that would witness Shauna’s existence and marvel at the fact that she was still alive. Doctors would take chances on treatment with her. Her walking into their offices another day was not anything their science, their medicine or their logic could explain. In January 2012, she had spinal fusion surgery. It was not supposed to work. Her bones were deteriorating. They did not show signs of fusing with the metal inserted in her back yet, miraculously they did. In 2013, her liver was filled with tumors that led to liver failure. With a combination of alternative and modern medicine, many of the tumors inexplicably disappeared and the others were dramatically reduced in size.

Shauna is now four inches shorter because of cancer. She has been on and off of chemotherapies for five years because of cancer. She has learned to be gentler with herself because of cancer. “I use my body differently now than before, she said. “Instead of saying I can’t do it anymore, I find a different way to do it.” Shauna is far from perfect. That is what makes her so beautiful. Her experience living with cancer is not without anger or sadness or fear. She has had days that were so low she thought she would give up. She has attempted any and every treatment she thinks will offer her the chance to live and love another day.

Shauna is living. Living with cancer. Living with hope. Living with love. “The name Shauna means God is gracious,” Shauna wrote to me, “I believe that God is presently showing so much grace in the midst of the circumstance my family and I are experiencing and the grace makes all of the difference … it allows us to focus on what we have—the grace of each moment together.” She knows her “existence can be an example to everyday people that the miraculous is possible. No matter how long I am here. I realize that just because you are not 100% cancer free does not mean you are not a miracle. The miracles are in the midst of the details. I am not going to wait till I am 100% cancer free to help people.”

Shauna is a living modern day miracle. Miracles are expressions of love. Love is the miracle. Shauna’s story is about love. Shauna’s love is a loud love. Insistent in the most graceful way. Her life allows us to witness miracles and to allow those everyday miracles that walk among, between, in front, behind and within us to roam freely on this earth and be recognized. None of us know when we will die. We simply know that we will. Those living with cancer are made more immediately and intimately aware of the mortality we all share in grueling and beautiful ways. Living with cancer “forced me to identify my own worth, my own divinity,” she told me. Living has helped Shauna recognize that she is hope and love personified. We all are.

Verta is writing her first book, loving out loud, because she believes that love should never be silent! verta shares how she is inspired by stories, by memories and by life at
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Coolishness and Fakery: The Joys of Fake-a-licious by Petra E. Lewis

Remember that old mantra: “If you can’t grow it, then you can sew it”? I was always of the other camp: Why sew it when you can grow it? Trust me: Unless there’s a serious medical condition involved, everyone can grow it—with the right care. Yeah, I guess I’ve already outed myself: I have never been a fan of fake hair.

Fake hair for me was always a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency measure. In the decades it took me to actually understand my über-complex hair, let’s just say there were a number of mishaps: some that ended in tears. (Sound of glass breaking.) That’s when I would reach for extensions, or during some particularly tragic episodes, even a wig.

Mind you, my own hair is so thick, when I used to mildly relax my hair, and (wet with water and product, in the process of drying) it hung down past mid-back, I’d get that old shady side eye from folks on the street and the train that I used to translate as: Yeah (suck teeth) you know that mess is a weave. Nah, sweetie, it was actually my hair. I guess that’s part of the reason why I had such an aversion to fake hair—inside I was chanting: I can grow it, I can grow it—SEE!!!

I’ve never had a weave in my life. But I recently submitted to a delightful life of fake-a-licious-ness, not out of any tragedy or emergency, but willingly. Why? Because right now time is the most precious commodity I have—at moments, even more precious than money. I’m a writer, entrepreneur, and knowledge worker—and the more time I have to simply sit down and think (then strategize and/or execute) the better.

Currently I take care of my own hair—having been stylist-free for a number of years. But when I do need to return to salon-level expertise, I return to my old stylist, owner of Y·O·U Hair Wellness & Lifestyle Spa in Jamaica, Queens, Liana Robinson*—with whom I’m still good friends.

Right now the first novel in my trilogy is about to go live in March; I’m expanding the offerings of my ghostwriting business (BookStar Business Ghostwriting + Development); I’d been doing my due diligence, and am about to launch another (long-term) entrepreneurial venture I attended the Kauffman Foundation’s FastTrac NewVenture training program for—and recently was inducted into their very selective coaching program; I need to finally get my professional website together—and expand my social media footprint, which takes werk; and I’m also actively seeking, and beginning to get, speaking gigs and other opportunities related to my book.

Yeah, I’m laying the foundation for that kind of life. The kind of life where having income from multiple revenue streams—instead of one job—can either make you look unfocused—or it can make you look like Jay-Z.

For 2014, the theme at my church, Christian Cultural Center (CCC) in Brooklyn is: focus. And so I am. Although I tend to wear my hair up most times anyway (which means it’s not that time consuming), I called up Liana and told her that I wanted to put the back portion of my hair into synthetic twists. I’d had that style once before. The hair she gets is so similar to my own hair, it’s kind of scary.

She completed the style on February 11th—and I love it! All I do once a week is use a spray moisturizer called Quench and saturate the twists and my own hair, use cinagrOrganic’s Scalp & Hair Health Vitalizer on my scalp for growth, use a different product on the long “kitchen” hair at the nape of my neck and gather and twirl it into one twist, which I then sweep up with the rest of the twists in a no-snag elastic, then elegantly pin my bun into place. Done! All I focus on is the front of my hair, which I also tend to only do once a week, since I usually sweep it up into a Samurai-style topknot, then only wet and refresh the edges at the front of my hair every three days or so.

My one worry with this style stemmed from my book tour. My curls are as much my signature as my writing, and I wanted new fans to see the whole me—the real me. Instead I compromised on a style that allows me to have no-brainer convenience (synthetic twists in the back) and my own free-range hair in the front that I can either wear in a top-knot, or a punky cascade of curls for book appearances.

I am loving this style—and shamelessly celebrating the Joys of Fake-a-licious! Or at least reveling in it for the next 3 – 4 months.

*If you’d like to learn more about Liana Robinson and her Y·O·U Hair Wellness & Lifestyle Spa, visit:

Petra E. Lewis is a writer, author, entrepreneur, Tastemaker, and Synergist who lives in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. The first novel in her trilogy, The Sons and Daughters of Ham, Book I: A Requiem debuts February 2014, : : @tastemistressp : :

  • Malla Haridat (@MallaHaridat)

    And this is the one of the best parts of being a woman in 2014 – options. It looks fab! Keep rocking it and invest every last additional minute in your business and enjoying life!

  • Petra

    Thanks, Malla! About to do the old weekly moisture down and pin up right now–before heading out. Have a fab weekend! #fakehairdontcare LOL

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Love Out Loud: A Series by verta ayanna

Verta Maloney

Mommy! My friend said my hair is not soft.

Mommy! My friend said my hair is puffy.

Mommy! My friend said my hair is not straight.

My heart unraveled into a thousand fragile strands that day as my daughter told me what her friend had said. She was hurt. Not solely because of what her friend said but more precisely how she said it. A nuance not missed by my intuitive young daughter. I took a deep breath. I chose my words with care. “Your hair is soft,” I told her as we touched it. “Your hair is not straight, but it could be,” I told her as we looked at pictures of all the amazing and stunning ways black girls and women could wear our hair. “Your hair is puffy sometimes and sometimes flat and other times wild and magnificently crazy,” I told her as I tried to make her smile. “We have options little love!” I proclaimed.

After all this conversation, after all this focus on the words I chose, I began to realize that my four-year-old daughter was becoming slightly obsessed with long, silky, straight hair. My four-year-old daughter, whose mother had a fierce and powerful ceasar in college. My four-year-old daughter, whose mother rocked the hell out of some box braids back in the day. Though I told her that I loved her hair so very much and so should she. She was not convinced. I could see it in her eyes. Oh the things I can see in her eyes. Eyes that were fixed on my ever-so-fly, short, straight, relaxed, silky, precision cut done to perfection every six weeks in Brooklyn. Another nuance that could not have gone unnoticed by my ever-watchful little girl. I became fully aware that what I said was less important than what I needed to do.

Hair does not frighten me any more. It used to. I once feared what others would think, what others wouldn’t think. There was a time I feared the way I chose to wear my hair would mean I didn’t love myself enough or loved being black too much. I used to fear that how I chose to wear my hair made me more feminine, more attractive or at times too masculine, too strong and less attractive. It took years of trying on different hairstyles, before I could finally embrace the different versions of myself. Hair can be the outward expression of the fears, hopes, dreams, beauty and love that we, as women, have within us. We get to decide which, depending on the day. As mothers, we get to decide which we pass on to our daughters.

What I did next shocked my girl (and my boy) in a profound way. On a hot Saturday in July, I chose to share my love for her in the loudest way I knew how. I know and understand that there are no silent expressions of love. I cut my hair off. I did it for Simone. As she looked at me, eyes wide, with the hint of that smile I adore on her perfect little mouth, “I want hair just like yours,” I said. “So beautiful and so perfect.” Forgetting how much I love teeny-weeny afros, I also promised to grow it out just like hers. That was a mistake. I have no patience for things like that anymore. For weeks she would proudly and loudly tell people, “My mommy cut all her hair off because she wants it to be like mine. That’s going to take her a looong time!”  She has a good sense of humor that one.

I do know for sure I did something that day, in that moment, to help give her a stronger sense of self. Today she is a seven-year-old girl who gets inspiration from strawberry shortcake and has me twist pink and green strands into her two-strand twists one day. Today she is a seven-year-old girl who will rock her twist out until it is black uhuru locked and tell me when I try to tame it, “Mommy, I don’t care, I love my hair when it’s all wild and crazy!” Today she is a seven-year-old girl who has rocked a long straight do for about 18 hours or so because children can’t help but play and sweat out the best of intentions on yet another day. Today I do know for sure that for right now, in this moment, my girl fearlessly loves the skin and hair she is in and she is doing so in the loudest ways she can.

Verta is writing her first book, loving out loud, because she believes that love should never be silent! verta shares how she is inspired by stories, by memories and by life at
  • Tina

    Hi Verta! I just looked at your piece again and I really love it!

  • verta ayanna

    thanks Petra! thanks Tina. that means so much to me. thanks so much for the opportunity to share my voice 🙂

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Happy New Hair: The Curly Girl and Naturalista’s Guide to Four Life-Changing Books! – Part II by Petra E. Lewis

Teri LaFlesh, blogger and author of Curly Like Me

Teri LaFlesh, blogger and author of Curly Like Me

My hair is absurdly complex. It literally took me decades to finally understand it—and discover best practices for maintenance.  However—truth be told—I would never have figured all these things out without an assist.  Today, blogs and YouTube tutorials for natural hair are ubiquitous, but for me it was largely thanks to four books that I was finally able to understand my hair.  This post wraps up the second in my two-part, countdown-style listing of four books that were life changers in helping me to both “decipher” and holistically transform my hair—and can help you, too! Here are my final two game changers…

2/ HEAL THYSELF I became a vegetarian Thanksgiving of 1990. I remember thinking to myself: This is the meatiest day of the year. If I can get through this day without touching the ham at breakfast, or the turkey at dinner, I’ll be fine. Outside of unintended slipups (darn, those Chinese dumplings got me every time!), I’ve never looked back. I can’t remember if I read Queen Afua’s Heal Thyself before or after I went veggie, but like Curly Girl (mentioned in my first post), I consider it to be a foundational text. Anyone who thinks that what you put in your mouth and what is happening on your head are not connected is kidding him or herself. Back in the day (when this stuff was still fringe, not mainstream and being done with thumbs up from celebrities) I did juice fasts, colonics, took raw-foods preparation classes, and once went on a trip to a Native American sweat lodge, sponsored by Queen Afua’s Heal Thyself Center (established 1982). The book opens with Queen Afua’s amazing story of how she cured herself of asthma and other chronic diseases through natural living. As the book’s cover says, “No Woman, Man or Child Should Be Without This Natural Healing Book.” Co-sign!

TO PURCHASE: Heal Thyself

1/ CURLY LIKE ME Teri LaFlesh has one of the single most beautiful head of curls I have *ever* seen (see photo above). Curly Girl and Curly Like Me are co-joined, because without the paradigm shift started by the former, I would not have been able to accept the life-changing advice and absolute gift that Curly Like Me is. The advice Lorraine Massey gave that I considered insane (using No-Poo to cleanse my scalp, and using conditioner only—instead of shampoo—to “co-wash” the rest of my hair) is no longer heresy to me, but Gospel. When you see old photos of Teri’s fried, damaged, stunted teenaged hair, and that child’s miserable face, it lets you know that she really is curly like you—and if these methods worked for her, then they can work for you. What I love most about Terry is the loving, gentle, empowering language she uses to describe curly hair:

The media’s portrayal of hair affects how we view our own hair.…When we watch television and see that there are no representations of hair that behaves like ours, it’s easy for us to feel as if we aren’t normal. To inoculate ourselves against these stealthy influences, we need to be aware of this media bias toward straight hair. If you are, it will save you the energy you would otherwise waste by feeling bad about your hair. Especially since you have magnificent, unique hair—and that’s a good thing….We are repeatedly shown that the only way to handle all hair is by using the methods that work with straighter hair.

(Stares at Terry’s photo on the cover with love and awe: this. woman. gets it.) Curly Like Me is the equivalent of “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud!” for curly hair. Calling all curly girls and naturalistas: This woman—and this book—will change your life. Wishing you a Happy New Hair!

TO PURCHASE: Curly Like Me

Till next time: Love, Peace, and Hair Grease, my friends y amigas….

Click to read Part I

Petra E. Lewis is a writer, author, entrepreneur, Tastemaker, and Synergist who lives in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. The first novel in her trilogy, The Sons and Daughters of Ham, Book I: A Requiem debuts February 2014, : : @tastemistressp : :

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A New Year…A Clean Slate. by Terésa Dowell-Vest

There is something to be said about a clean slate…a fresh start.  With the beginning of a new year, comes the promise of a fresh start. This year, as with many years, I began this year with a fresh haircut…a clean buzz. This wouldn’t be that remarkable except this year, I’ve also moved to Washington DC where the air is considerably cooler than the balmy Los Angeles weather I’m use to or the mild Atlanta winter I most recently left behind. The hawk is out and circling over my exposed scalp.  I keep her covered but I embrace, as I do every year, the love for a new cut…a clean slate…a fresh start. This new year rings in 2014 with a new home, a fiancee who will be my wife later in the year, and a new opportunity to share my writings on a great blog; “Hair as Identity“. Created by my college friend, Dr. Tina Opie, “Hair as Identity” will be an outlet for me to explore the power and pretty of hair…despite rarely having any.  What does it say to wear your hair cut close or cleanly shaven? What happens when you have no choice in whether you get to keep your hair, losing it to illness or age? I’ll also address hair in other regions of the body and examine the beauty and politics of hair…there. Let’s play! SO…here’s my introduction to you and Happy New Year! Click Here to read the entire article.

Terésa Dowell-Vest is a writer, producer and director. She is the CEO of Diva Blue Productions, Diva Blue Publications and Diva Blue Photography. She currently resides in Washington, DC. (Twitter: @teresadowelvest)

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“Hard” is relative: What turkey can teach us about embracing our hair by Tina Opie

In my earlier post, I asked “Is kinky hair hard and straight hair easy-peasy?”.  Hard is relative.  That means in this social world we inhabit we tend to make comparisons in order to determine something’s value.  Thus, for kinky hair to be “hard” this must mean that it’s been compared to something else and found to be more difficult.  In this –case, kinky hair has been compared to straight hair.  However, if a woman with a full head of kinky hair complained about her hair being “hard” to an involuntarily bald woman, I think the bald woman might slap her.  In other words,  we must examine the comparison that we’re using to determine our hair’s value.  Why did “easy to detangle” became  a key indicator of hair’s value?  Is this about time?  I admit, it can be an absolute pain in the butt to spend an hour or more detangling my hair so that I can get it ready for washing or styling.  Yes, I have rolled my eyes at fellow gym-showerers who wash their hair, towel up, dress and dart out of the locker room all before I’ve even gotten all of my hair products arranged just so on that itty bitty shower bench.  There are definitely times (especially after a 6AM spinning class and before the 8AM class I teach) when I WISHHHHHHHH I could be done in 5 – 10 minutes if I wash my hair.  However, for the most part, that is not my reality.  I have come to accept that.  I may still suck my teeth and ask, “Why God, why?” when I’m gingerly working through my sopping wet head, praying that the product doesn’t goop up leaving me looking like I rolled my head in popcorn.  That is just me.  But, all in all, I LOVE my hair.  I love what it can do, how soft it is, how versatile it is, how Black it is.  I love it.

But, I first needed to realize that things that take time are not necessarily bad and things that are quick and convenient are not always “the best”.  Take food for example.  Let’s say you have turkey deli slices on one hand and a roasted turkey on the other hand.  If we applied the above hair value algorithm (quick = best and superior, longer time = hard and inferior), we’d argue that turkey deli slices are superior to a roasted turkey.

turkey deli slicesroasted turkey

REALLY?!  Don’t get me wrong, I love a turkey BLT, a turkey Reuben.  When I want something quick and tasty, those are amazing choices.  However, when you have the time, deli slices just don’t compare to a well-cooked roasted turkey.  Try as you might, it is much more difficult to take turkey deli slices and make a gourmet meal.  Yet, with a roasted turkey you can make soup, sandwiches, salad, hot food, cold food.  You get the picture.  Yes, deli slices are quick and convenient (and tasty!), but that quick convenience means you lose out on versatility.  If you value versatility, all of a sudden, quickness and convenience may recede in importance.

Whatever YOU have embrace it.  My point is this, if you have versatile hair embrace IT. It may mean that you have to take more time, but that’s life.  If you have quick/convenient hair, embrace IT!  It may mean that you have less versatility, but that’s life.  Let’s live it.

Introspection: Ask yourself what you value about your hair.  Most importantly, ask yourself WHY you value it.  Please share your thoughts on the site!

Happy New Year!


  • Amy D

    So true about embracing what we’ve been given. My friend is in treatment for stage 4 ovarian cancer. All of her hair fell out this past week. Her hair was long, well below her shoulders. Her young adult son shaved his head in solidarity in the fight against cancer. It seems to be a way of identifying with his mom (who adopted him when he was school age).

    • Tina Opie

      Thanks so much for commenting and sharing. Please hug your friend for me and let her know that there are prayer warriors out there! 🙂 There are so many forces working against embracing what we have (whether it be our God-given identity traits or material things) that we are almost like whirling dervishes trying to get more, change, become someone different. Whew, let’s all pause and appreciate. 🙂 Happy happy New Year!

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Happy New Hair: The Curly Girl and Naturalista’s Guide to Four Life-Changing Books – Part I! by Petra E. Lewis

A New Year always means a “New You”—even if you fall miserably short. I made two lousy resolutions last year and didn’t accomplish either of them. They were tiny things. The kind of stuff I call “should have been there, should have done that” items. Ironically, while I never got around to fulfilling those two (relatively) easy-peazy vows, I did breeze through big, non-resolution items like finally finishing the first novel in my trilogy, and launching two businesses. Go figure.

Cover of Curly Nikki's curly-girl guide, Better Than Good Hair

Cover of Curly Nikki’s curly-girl guide, Better Than Good Hair

So let’s resolve not to make resolutions. Instead, let’s simply tap our inner Oprah—and pursue our best self.  Where should you start? Here—or should I say: HAIR. As we wrap up 2013, and optimistically leap into 2014, HAIR is my end-of-holiday-season gift to you—must reads for having some of the baddest hair anywhere. And I mean that in the RUN-D.M.C. sense of the word: Not bad meaning bad—but bad meaning GOOD!  A perfect segue into my first pick in this countdown-style listing of books. Here are the first two life changers on my list…

4/ BETTER THAN GOOD HAIR  Stumbling upon all these new team-natural blogs and instructional videos in recent years has spawned what I call my “old dog, new tricks” hair education. Arguably La Reina del Naturalista Blogosphere is the Queen herself: Curly Nikki (Nearly 300,000 Facebook likes and 46,000 Twitter followers—and counting…).  My first crack at Nikki’s 2013 curly-girl guide, Better Than Good Hair —a title I found absolutely brilliant—made me LOL (one of Nikki’s not-so-secret weapons: being snot-out-your-nose funny)! She also has that “girlfriend-confidential” thing on lock—you feel like you know her (personally), and she knows you. I was among those who preordered Better Than Good Hair, and while I haven’t gotten through all of it yet, the hi-lar-ious forward section from Kim Wayans (yeah, of the In Living Color Wayans ha-ha! clan) is worth the price of the book alone. I remember Curly Nikki once advising on her blog that when you detangle your hair, you should do it as delicately as if it were lace. Every time I detangle my own hair, that little gem of advice pops into my head. It’s that kind of simple, yet solid baseline advice that makes this a must have on every naturalista’s bookshelf.  TO PURCHASE: Better Than Good Hair 

3/ CURLY GIRL Back in the day, when I used to texturize my hair to stretch out my natural curl, I would literally go into a panic when I took the “what if” leap in my mind about living abroad. I felt like I could not live without my stylist at the time. Today: Homegirl—and all those dreaded chemicals—are long gone, and I take care of my own hair. Now, among the things I cannot (and I mean *really* cannot) live without (anywhere in the world) are the DevaCurl brand of products, created by the Patron Saint of all Curly Girls, Lorraine Massey—co-owner of the Devachan salon and spa in SoHo (a beautifully scented sanctuary for curly girls). To me, Curly Girl is the original spiral-haired manifesto. And like most manifestos, initially it seemed radical to me: Ditch your shampoo? What the…. Then only use a product she invented called “No-Poo” to cleanse your scalp, and (again) do not use shampoo on the rest of your hair! (Faint rustling sound as old girl tries to tip toe quietly towards the door, to get away from this crazy woman.) But Lorraine was right.  Just know this book will rock your world—and its complete paradigm shift on caring for curly/kinky hair is mandatory, if you want to start rocking those curls the way that God intended!  TO PURCHASE: Curly Girl

Check in next week for #2 and numero uno….

Till next time: Love, Peace, and Hair Grease, my friends y amigas….


Petra E. Lewis is a writer, author, entrepreneur, Tastemaker, and Synergist who lives in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. The first novel in her trilogy, The Sons and Daughters of Ham, Book I: A Requiem debuts February 2014, : : @tastemistressp : :