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Personal Grooming versus Identity Alteration, Part 3

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I continue to post responses to a question I recently posed to a few of my readers. Here is the question:

What is the distinction between grooming and identity alteration?

Meaning, where is the line when personal grooming / hygiene changes into something that potentially alters identity?

Please join in on the conversation as it’s sparking some lively discussion. Here’s a response from Shakena (check out her blog:

“this is such an interesting topic! i constantly go back and forth debating what physical changes i would be willing to make. as i love to wear my hair in different styles (non-relaxed, yet flat ironed vs natural curl) and i love to dabble in make-up, i do not do those things with the intentions of diverting from the person God made me to be. I do those things simply to enhance my natural beauty and to make myself feel good!

as far as plastic surgery goes, i often feel that it is used in reaction to how one wants the public to perceive them. bigger boobs or butt, smaller nose, tighter skin/tummy are often used to cover up insecurities, never truly satisfying the person under the knife. (it has been said that people who get plastic surgery often go back for more or at least for maintenance…sorry no stats). however, as the last post discusses, plastic surgery as a response to a disorder or tragedy would be viewed as a means to return to the person that God originally made us to be.

i agree that personal grooming vs identity alteration is a person-by-person case. however, since the intentions behind each case would be forced to rely on each person’s truths, the reality may never be realized.”

Shakena thanks so much for your comment!
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Half a trillion!!! Breaking the bank for hair care.

Piggy bank image by RambergMediaImages

I was perusing FaceBook and went onto the page for Nappturality (if you haven’t already, please check it out: On the page, I came across an article entitled “What spending a half a trillion dollars on hair weaves says about us” ( My mouth fell open. Wait, half a trillion?!! You mean to tell me that the US deficit is around $14 trillion and we spent half a trillion on our HAIR in 2009?! Are you kidding me? Okay, I don’t know about you but I need to do some research because this cannot be right. Can it? I’ve been blogging about hair and identity for just over a month now and I’ve come across many interesting facts and opinions. However, half a trillion dollars on hair care and weaves threw me for a loop. Perhaps it’s because half a trillion dollars is an amount of money that can impact economies. Just to put it into perspective, here are other things valued around half a trillion dollars:

1. The cost of the 10+ year pursuit of Osama Bin Laden (

2. Potential government cuts to Medicare to help balance the budget (

3. The amount of pension deficits faced by big US cities (

4. Revenues generated by Asian-Owned businesses (

Imagine if we put a portion of that money towards things like…education, job training. Alright, I need to go think about this. What do you all think? What does this mean? Are we just spending like everyone else or is there something deeper going on here? If you think we’re spending too much, how might we go about reducing our expenditures? Well, glad you asked. Here are a few websites that talk specifically about how to save money on hair care:;;;;

What are some of the unique things you’ve done to save money on hair care?

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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!

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