Hair As Identity Menu

Viewing all items for tag curly

Permalink:

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, www.hamnovels.com : : @tastemistressp : :  http://on.fb.me/1fUwRNo https://twitter.com/TastemistressP

  • travel bird

    I found Teri LaFlesh’s Curly Like Me to be truly life changing. First, I can go natural and still have controlled curls; secondly, I can travel without an arsenal of products; third, I can freely exercise, swim, play sports, endure hot flashes, and, in general, sweat for any purpose and not panic; and, best of all, my hair is growing really long, something that’s never happened. My natural hair has a tight wave that if not tamed somehow bushes out and breaks once it grows shoulder length. With product, it has a more controlled and polished looking wave — for a hot second. However, all I have to do now is wet it, soak it with conditioner, and scrunch and/or finger comb it just a tiny bit — and go. I refresh it with a bit of water and conditioner every two or three days. I do not have to separate and coil and have a somewhat layered hair cut so when I go natural my hair still has good shape. Ninety percent of my hair drama is a thing of the past.

  • travel bird

    I found Teri LaFlesh’s Curly Like Me to be truly life changing. First, I can go natural and still have controlled curls; secondly, I can travel without an arsenal of products; third, I can freely exercise, swim, play sports, endure hot flashes, and, in general, sweat for any purpose and not panic; and, best of all, my hair is growing really long, something that’s never happened. My natural hair has a tight wave that if not tamed somehow bushes out and breaks once it grows shoulder length. With product, it has a more controlled and polished looking wave — for a hot second. However, all I have to do now is wet it, soak it with conditioner, and scrunch and/or finger comb it just a tiny bit — and go. I refresh it with a bit of water and conditioner every two or three days. I do not have to separate and coil and have a somewhat layered hair cut so when I go natural my hair still has good shape. Ninety percent of my hair drama is a thing of the past.

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

Permalink:

My Royal Wedding: Say No to the Fro

Today Prince William and Kate Middleton were married.Why in the world am I bringing this up in a blog about hair?A wedding is a perfect opportunity to examine notions of beauty and femininity.I was married on July 22, 2000.I remember all of the planning.Yes, the venue was important and we had to have a wonderful union and fantastic reception.However, if I’m honest, a top priority for me was to look phenomenal.I wanted to look slammin’!I wanted Fred to take one look at me and melt.Leading up to the wedding, I was wearing an afro.I am ashamed to say that I decided that there was no way in the world I was going to walk down the aisle with an afro.What was I going to do Velcro the veil into my fro?One of my girlfriends, the same girlfriend who took me to the Baltimore barbershop for the Big Chop (see my earlier blog), told me about a wonderful stylist, Janellia, who could give me a natural looking weave.Exactly what do I mean? Well, she used hair that looked naturally curly so I would end up with a curly afro.The night before my wedding, Janellia met me at my apartment and, after I washed and conditioned my hair, she began the process of weaving the curly extensions into my hair.When she was done, I was ecstatic.In my mind, I looked like an African goddess.

Looking back, I have to ask myself why I thought an afro was the antithesis of femininity. I admit that while I loved the freedom of my afro, I still felt like I HAD to wear nice makeup, and cute jewelry whenever I went out in public.In other words, my hair was not cute on its own merit; I now had to be accessorized in order to look feminine and pulled together.Ouch.This is painful to admit and see in writing.Point blank, I wanted long, curly hair when I walked down the aisle.I didn’t “feel” like a bride unless I had it.

Do you have any similar stories about special events and hair?Maybe not your wedding, but a concert or a business meeting?A first date?I’d love to hear your stories!

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

Permalink:

For Me, Relaxers Were Futile Attempts to Present My “Best” Self

Yesterday I asked many questions of myself:WHY did I so desire straight hair?Why, when my hair was falling out and I was spending a lot of money to attain a texture that just wasn’t what I was naturally blessed with?Was it because I wanted to be beautiful?Did I feel ugly in my natural state?What was driving my desire to have straight hair?Why did I look at a relaxer as a magic wand that would grant me beauty?

I can only speak for myself.I believe that I desired straight hair as a way to assert my femininity, to fit it, to feel good about myself.I relaxed my hair because it was a rite of passage for me, and, from looking around, the many other young black girls I knew who also got their hair relaxed around 12 or 13 years of age.I relaxed my hair because it was easier and more convenient.

Is there a deeper root to this?Was I striving for some beauty ideal that was impossible to attain with my natural hair?As hard as it is for me to admit, I believe that the decision to relax my hair was an attempt to escape who I was so that I could become a “better” me.The only problem is, that better me was not the real me.I was trying to conform to an image that I could never authentically attain.

I came across this fantastic audio from a 9/16/09 broadcast on WUNC 91.5 North Carolina Public Radio.The show was called “Haireotypes” and here is the show description from the website (http://wunc.org/tsot/archive/sot0916abc09.mp3/view):

“Whether yours is straight, kinky, thinning, or long gone, the long and short of it is, just about all of us have hang-ups about our hair. That’s because hair and personal identity go together like shampoo and conditioner. There are also plenty of cultural stereotypes about hair rooted in everything from color to texture. On today’s show, host Frank Stasio presents a layered conversation about society’s complex relationship with hair and the biases we harbor about others’ strands. Joining the program are Joan Jacobs Brumberg, professor emeritus at Cornell University and author of “The Body Project”; Ashleigh Shelby Rosette, a professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business; Neal Lester, professor of English at Arizona State University;photographer Victor Jeffreys II; and Michelle Breyer, co-founder ofNaturallyCurly.com. Plus, members of the cast ofBurning Coal Theater Company‘s current production of “Hair” provide live musical interludes.

State of Things Producer Lindsay Foster Thomas kicked off the conversation this morning with a commentary on her effort to embrace her natural look”

Curious to hear your thoughts!

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