Viewing all items for tag black hair
I was nervous about seeing my Southern family with my growing afro. My anxiety escalated when the Southern humidity hit my hair. One morning I looked in the RV bathroom mirror and gave myself an over the glasses grit (yes, I’ve gotten to the age where I now peer over my glasses to see things close up….ahhh, the pleasures of aging). Anyway, my once beautiful two strand twist out had become a bed of cotton (thanks to my hair care regimen it was SOFT cotton but cotton nonetheless).
Our Winter 2011/12 Family RV Trip was amazing. Our route: Boston; New York; Northern VA; Williamsburg, VA; South Carolina (Sullivan’s Island– known as the African-American Ellis Island); Florida and back to Boston. On the trip, our family had a wonderful time reconnecting, exploring and catching up with loved ones.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was nervous about seeing my Southern family with my growing afro. My anxiety escalated when the Southern humidity hit my hair. One morning I looked in the RV bathroom mirror and gave myself an over the glasses grit (yes, I’ve gotten to the age where I now peer over my glasses to see things close up….ahhh, the pleasures of aging). Anyway, my once beautiful two strand twist out had become a bed of cotton (thanks to my hair care regimen it was SOFT cotton but cotton nonetheless).
Egad!!! This was only a few days before I would see my Mom, Dad, aunties and cousins and a mere few hours before our tour of Colonial Williamsburg. Well, I went to it and quickly retwisted my hair with the only hair care products I brought with me (note to self, what works in cold weather may not work in hotter weather, pack accordingly). The good thing is that I’m learning how to keep things moving even when my hair doesn’t look like I’d like it. After all, I’m much more than my hair. Yet, I still went through quite a bit to ensure that my hair would look great for my family encounter…
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
I apologize for the crazy font / text in this post. There is something wrong with Blogger. I’ll correct it once I figure out the solution. Thanks!
After yesterday’s INTENSE workout with my new personal trainer, I am still rocking my headband in an attempt to contain the afro at the roots of my dreadlocks (I’m back to growing my hair out again…don’t ask, I seem to be going through an indecisive hair phase).
The fro at the roots is fine with me though. As I’ve said before, I am not going to allow my hair to stop me from working out. Here is a news report about the relationship between hair and exercise: http://perfectly-pretty.com/2010/04/22/unique-perspectivehow-womans-hair-effects-womans-health/.
Here are a few resources to help take care of your hair and exercise (I’ve included information for people with natural and chemically altered hair): http://curlychic.com/excersise-hair-care-tip-how-to-protect-your-curly-hair-while-you-workout/;http://thefitnessgoddess.blogspot.com/2008/08/hair-products-for-black-women-that.html;http://www.curlynikki.com/2011/02/exercise-routines-and-natural-hair.html;http://www.ehow.com/how_5177077_maintain-exercise-african-american-women.html;http://blacknaturalhaircare.net/tag/exercise/;http://chocolateorchid.blogspot.com/2009/12/hair-exercise-sweat.html.
Yesterday I shared how I made a huge mistake with my daughter’s hair. In a nutshell, I practically shellacked her hair with gel during the week to accommodate her daily swimming at summer camp. Unfortunately, by Friday her hair was a cemented, shriveled mass that was difficult to comb. When I suggested that my daughter wear her swim cap, she dissolved into tears and admitted that she didn’t wear it because she didn’t want to be teased. What in the world is a parent to do? How do you parent at such a sensitive moment?
Now, some folks may think that what I’m about to share is bad parenting; however, I think it’s important that we prepare our children for reality. No, not dash their innocence but help them understand that life is not all Disney and Chuck E. Cheese’s. We explained that Chase’s hair is unique in that while it loves water, it is best if her hair is combed out BEFORE it dries. This is different than the hair of the other children’s hair. She exclaimed, “That’s not fair! I want straight hair like them!” Wow, I feel you baby because I went through the same thing when I was young girl. However, I had to explain that as a little Black girl her hair will never be naturally straight because God blessed her with kinky, coily hair. The look on her face was classic, “Mommy that is bull. This is not a blessing.”
My husband and I then both shared with our daughter that teasing is inevitable. It’s not nice, it’s unfortunate, but everyone is teased about something. I was teased for my big feet (size 10 pre-pregnancy, size 10.5 – 11 post-pregnancy), my height (just under 6 feet), my long slim face you name it! Yes, we will intervene if teasing creates a hostile environment and we will NOT tolerate bullying; however, teasing is pretty much a part of life. We want our children to develop sufficient resilience and coping mechanisms to overcome such experiences.
So after all was said and done, what did I do? Well, I whipped out my phone and booked the first hair braiding appointment I could get! Braids can help protect the hair when swimming. I can’t wait to tell you all about our African hair braiding experience. What an adventure! J
Image found at: Image found at: http://www.hairliberty.org/black-hair-care/articles/assets_c/2010/11/mother-daughter-hair-orig-thumb-350×232-173.jpg
Feeling much better after getting the Bad Mother of the Year Award yesterday (http://tropie7189.blogspot.com/2011/06/bad-mother-of-year-award.html). I also reflected a bit on why my daughter’s hair is relevant to my role as a mother. Mothers are supposed to be nurturing, caring people who make sure that their children are neat, clean and loved. Hmm, I guess sending my child out of the house with a jacked up hairstyle violates all of that, no? So, I’m a better Momma if my daughter’s hair is perfectly coifed? Wow, I’m not even talking about my son. There must be something unique about the mother-daughter relationship. More on that later.
I think I feel better about myself when my daughter’s hair is done because I’m presenting my daughter to the world in a way where she is at her “prettiest”. Ugh, that doesn’t sound good. Why am I so concerned about what others think? This is reminding me of how I felt at work trying to keep my naps under control (http://tropie7189.blogspot.com/2011/05/unbound.html). Am I doing the same thing with my child? Do I think that if her hair looks poofy she’ll be rejected by those around her? What do you all think?
Image found at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/58555480@N05/5374157219/ by RachelJBenson
Want to know a crazy way that hair has affected my life? How much and what type of exercise I do! This probably sounds all too familiar to some and may sound ridiculous to others. But, I’m not the only one who has faced this. Check out this great news video that explains the issue: http://perfectly-pretty.com/2010/04/22/unique-perspectivehow-womans-hair-effects-womans-health/.
Let’s look a bit deeper. Sweat, comprised of water and salts, causes the hair to get wet and look dull. Further, for people with naturally curly hair, the wetness can cause relaxed hairstyles to droop (ugh, I used to hate it when I sweated out a newly crafted coif) or natural hair to look “nappy around the edges”. This might sound like vanity but it’s also a practical challenge. Many people think that kinky, coily hair is rough; however, the hair is actually quite fragile and must be treated with specific care. For example, washing kinky, coily hair everyday is often a no no because this would strip the hair of natural moistures and potentially lead to breakage. Not to mention, that could take HOURS and I am just too busy to spend hours on my hair every single day.
So, what to do? Keep our hair looking slamming but pack on the pounds? Or, be fitness mavens but have jacked up hair? Thank goodness there are healthy alternatives! I’d definitely say that women need to take exercise seriously. Perhaps we can personally mandate a minimum amount of exercise per week and figure out how to take care of our hair as a secondary thought. We are creative people. If we say, “I am GOING to exercise. Hmm, how can I keep my hair nice?” we will have much more positive outcomes than if we say, “Oh no, I’m not messing up my hair so no exercise for me”. In other words, the way we mentally frame hair and exercise will influence our attitudes about exercise. To put it bluntly, it doesn’t matter how your hair looks if you’re dead.
Here are a few resources to help take care of your hair and exercise (I’ve included information for people with natural and chemically altered hair): http://curlychic.com/excersise-hair-care-tip-how-to-protect-your-curly-hair-while-you-workout/; http://thefitnessgoddess.blogspot.com/2008/08/hair-products-for-black-women-that.html; http://www.curlynikki.com/2011/02/exercise-routines-and-natural-hair.html; http://www.ehow.com/how_5177077_maintain-exercise-african-american-women.html; http://blacknaturalhaircare.net/tag/exercise/; http://chocolateorchid.blogspot.com/2009/12/hair-exercise-sweat.html.
I still haven’t figured out how to manage my hair and go swimming. I’ll talk more about that later. If you have suggestions about hair care and swimming, or exercise in general, please post a comment. Thanks!
 The anchor woman got a straw set though she normally wears a straight relaxed style. I love how she asked, “Does one (style) seem professional and acceptable and other not?” It was also interesting that she said, “If you don’t insist that I remove it, I’ll keep it”. I guess anchor people’s appearance is that controlled by the audience?
Once I began to celebrate my unbound hair, I felt liberated. I began to do my own hair, experiment with updos (http://www.curlynikki.com/2011/02/dont-get-it-twisted-natural-hair-updo.html) and try out new hair accessories (http://www.etsy.com/shop/BoutiqueDeBandeaux). I really did feel reborn.
I think it was also at this time that I began to work it out as a consultant. I have always had an interest in the “people side” of business. Stick me in a cubicle with a spreadsheet and I’ll die of boredom BUT put me in a room full of consultants who need to learn how to do spreadsheets or a cubicle to train a troubled employee and I am ON (I’ve always loved to teach which is one reason I’m so happy that I’m now a college professor, whew-hew for pursuing dreams!).
Yes, I might be overstating it to say that my hair led to me finding my groove at work, but I can tell you that fully embracing myself led me to become even more fearless, creative and willing to take educated risks. Alice Walker talked about how “oppressed hair puts a ceiling on your brain” during a Founder’s Day at Spelman College in Atlanta, April 11, 1987. Check it out: http://www.endarkenment.com/hair/essays/walker.htm.
Image of Alice Walker found at: http://images.quickblogcast.com/62130-54495/Alice_Walker1.jpg
I continued to feel like an alien in the workplace, well, at least when it came to my hair. There were very few Black consultants never mind Black people with natural hair. I transitioned from a TWA, to twists (that I’d occasionally wear in a twist out). I never felt like my hair was approved of by my colleagues. Believe it or not, this was somewhat empowering. I realized that since I didn’t fit the typical beauty standards I might as well venture out and fully embrace my natural hair. After all, whether I wore straight twists, arranged my twists in an updo, or wore an afro nothing quite meet with other’s approval so I might as well do whatever I wanted.
This led me to experiment with my hair and with hair products. Oh my goodness. Hair products!!!!! Over the course of my life, I must have used a million and one hair care products. Let’s see: African Pride, Aqua Net, Ampro Aveda, BB, BB African Royale, Blue Magic, Carol’s Daughter, Crème of Nature, Dark & Lovely, Dax, EcoStyler, Elasta QP, Head & Shoulders, Infusium, Isoplus, Johnson, Let’s Jam, Lottabody, Luster, Mane & Tail, Motions, Murray’s, Nexxus, Optimum, Organic Root Stimulator, Pantene, Paul Mitchell, Queen Helene, Revlon, Royal Crown, Smooth ‘N Shine, Suave, Soft & Beautiful, Soft Sheen, Sulfur 8, Taliah Waajid, Ultra Sheen, Vidal Sassoon. I’ve purchased picks, brushes, rat tail combs, wide tooth combs, blow dryers, diffusers, hooded dryers, ponytail holders, scrunchies, clips, etc. I could probably go on but I think you get the picture. I don’t know who said it, but I think the large number of products I’ve purchased indicates how important hair is and was to me. I remember the hopefulness that would fill me as I purchased a new product. Might this bottle, jar or can contain the elixir that would help my hair “behave”? Might this new gizmo help me tame my mane? It would be awhile before I learned that my hair had a mind of its own and no amount of coaxing or teasing would make it do exactly what I wanted.
“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?