Posts Categorized: Shop Talk

May 24, 2011

If you don’t try, you’ll never learn

Over the past few years I’m sure many of us in our respective cities and neighborhoods have noticed a slight influx in women proudly wearing their newly natural coifs. In my own personal life, I’ve seen what can only be described as a growing coalition of Fro-Action in and around my city….and I live in Brooklyn! Even a few close friends have chosen the natural route, BIG CHOPPED and are now finding their own way along this journey.

For many years I felt as if I was the only young Fro-in rockin & styling her own hair, figuring out this natural hair ish, not a single relative, BFF or co-worker to share & discuss product info, hair styles etc. Ironically, this imposed isolation I was in really did help to instill within me a strong sense of confidence, especially when it came to the reaction of those who simply could not understand my choice.

But I did not run out of the gates knowing much…if anything about dealing with my hair, and I understand firsthand that this is the most defining common factor facing many newly naturals. Where do I start? What products do I use? How much time do I have to spend on my hair?!

Here’s the deal. You have to TRY.

I’m not talking about seeking advice from you natural hair peers, stalking your favorite Youtube gurus and asking a bevy of questions on the Twitter #naturalhair hashtag (…these certainly do have their place). Nope. I’m saying that you must put forth the effort to  manage your own hair the best way you now how. Get your hands dirty,  attempt to know something about the strands that run through your own fingers as opposed to someone else.

Sounds simple, yah? But what I’ve continued to notice is this need for immediacy when it comes to caring for our hair. This instant need to figure it all out within one single breath or one hyperactive episode of Glee.

“How long do you spend on your hair?! 3 hours…WTH!”

I’ve been natural for well over ten years, and continue to receive off handed comments about how long I dote on my Fro. Truthfully, it’s of no consequence. But if you’are seeking advice from me or any other natural haired gal who cares for her strands with a dedicated approach, yet refuse to transfer it into action…it’s a disservice to how much you could in fact learn.

Time really shouldn’t be the issue here, nor the type of product or styling tool you use, because with practice, patience and a better understanding of what it means to nurture textured hair…that is when you’ll see results that you are most proud of.  What was often a 4 hour ‘ordeal’ mixed with detangling & shingling, can realistically be cut in half with the right apporach. And practice, no matter the intended style!

In reality many of us live busy, structured lives with families and friends to hold our attention from day to day, and for the most part cannot fathom spending anywhere from 2-4 hours on our tresses. But all of us need to start somewhere. Whether you’re natural for 10 years or 6 months, it’s often about the approach heading in. If you’re on this journey, you have to abstain from standing still. Give it a go!

April 21, 2011

How To Become Your Own Source for Inspiration

One of the more obvious moments during anyone’s natural hair journey is the ability to become inspired by the numerous pictures, blogs and photo logs we stumble upon daily. As the days and years let on, there continues to be ample amounts of visual inspiration across the web. And just as easy it is to ingest all of these gorgeous images…eventually we do find ourselves on the receiving end, becoming our own source of inspiration not only for ourselves but for those around us.

The best way to celebrate beauty is to acknowledge it.

This is something that’s not relative to hair length, curl pattern, texture, but more so to do with the best qualities of ourselves we often hide away until someone else plucks it out from obscurity. But what happens when we are away from our keyboards & favorite Tumblr sites, out in the real world encountering fellow naturals? How many of us reserve our best compliments for the face staring in front of the mirror rather than the floods of women we greet on a day to day?

What I’ve found truly remarkable in celebrating another woman’s developing sense of self, is the natural beauty that is also reflected within each of us. In the circle of the natural hair community, we often call this Sisterhood, a camaraderie that can only be nurtured if it is practiced and passed on. While I don’t feel that we are in any danger of losing out on all the perks of belonging to such a valuable circle, it’s great…if not absolutely essential, to have markers along the way reminding us just how valuable our contribution truly is.

There’s a hidden prowess in daring ourselves to speak up & acknowledge the woman standing next to us. For some it might take courage, & with this I say try. Still give a little go when uncertainty still feels a little too familiar, & fear of rejection or *side eyes*silences our ability to speak. There is a great campaign brewing over at Love Brown Sugar where CeCe has tapped into something similar. The challenge is to #UPLIFT those, particularly women, by offering up a smile, a word of encouragement in hopes of squashing this invisible wall some of us build up to ward off negativity or uncertainty.

I encourage you all to stop over, read some of the comments…but also step out into the real world to celebrate, practice and become inspired.

April 19, 2011

How Does Natural Hair Fit Into Your Overall Identity?

I’ve often wondered  about the changes many of us under go after we decide to go natural. While the texture of our strands do change & the products that over fill our cabinets and showers slowly morph into something entirely different, what goes for the rest of our being?

A conversation with a friend a few years ago prompted me to answer for myself & I paused a bit before answering.

Her remarks were directed mostly towards the way of dress & overall appearance of many naturals newly sporting curls & kinks. For her, there was a noticeable shift in how many of these women defined their style & aesthetics. Our banter was fun & lighthearted while we compared both our manner of dress – she is also natural, though dons the occasional waist length weave out of convenience while attending both school & work. Her attire was basic, simple pieces – black pants, black top and matching Keds or flats.

Mine has always been bright tops, contrasting darker pants/skirt/dress with a bevy of accessories (both in hair, arm…etc.)

Of course, no one’s identity is tied up soley in their manner of dress, yet the takeaway from our exchange was a noticeable difference in the before & after mindset of those who decide to go natural.

Some throw the word ‘consciousness’ around as if it’s a bad seed, labeling many naturals as outwardly bohemian, earth loving psuedo hippies. And while I often scoff at labels of most sorts, I hastily admitted to what she was trying to alluding to. Over at bglhonline, Leila has an awesome feature titled Now & Then, pinning pics of women post big chop or after transitioning. The ‘post’ pics are wonderful to peruse, and clearly capture a glint in the eyes of many of the women. And while I wouldn’t be so quick as to pin thoughts of ‘earth loving mama…,’ what I’m able to admire is an outward confidence that’s certainly elevated.

Perhaps the change that some of us do undergo has much to do with our expectations. How we expect to be transformed once the relaxed strands are no more & the world begins to see us in a different light, something a bit more self defined. For me it was.

Transitioning to natural hair was a life decision based on personal growth & in that sense, my identity is etched in the fabric of making that choice. No labels though. I abhor labels & see no need for their attachment to a human being’s sense of self – believing in this has defintely brought the right people into my life, as well as kept the bad ‘junk’ out.

*Have people’s perception of you changed since going natural? How so?*

April 8, 2011

Silencing Your Own Worst Critic

My most recent guest post from CurlyNikki.com:

Oddly enough one of the biggest obstacles I’ve had to face during the early phases of my first BIG CHOP was something far more delicate and difficult to ignore than frequent quips from ignorant family & friends. While those instances are just as important to confront and learn from during the natural hair journey, coming to terms with the changes in my own personal thinking seemed always the biggest hurdle.

During the days after my first BC, I was left feeling helpless & bordering on failure. Standing in front the mirror with a boar bristle in one hand (incredulous!), and a tub of Aloe gel in the other to slick down and hide the massive growth sprouting from my head was a regular occurrence.

Imagine giving birth to something you’d envisioned for so long, wanted and craved because of all the incredible things you’d heard (not so silly…), only for it to arrive & have nothing to feed & nurture it with, simply because you were not mentally prepared.

The love part, that some of us instantaneously expect doesn’t always happen, and while that’s okay…even normal, being unafraid to wait takes even more strength. The love…the adulation is worth having & worth waiting for if your reasons for going natural were honest, and solely for you.

The most effective way to silence your own worst critic & gain a more firm footing on the image you see before you in the mirror…is to make time for yourself. Don’t rush your thinking about what your hair ‘could’ look like, what it ought to be, instead face the fear. If it is small, stomp it out. If it is large and overbearing, stemming from years of hidden insecurities, claim it before it collapses your wall of confidence and the burden of rebuilding is all you see.

I love this quote from Sociology of Sheena, “the power of contentment lies already in you. You can be your own source.”

Our worst critics…even those found within the confines of our own thinking are our best guides. Abuse them if you have to, but don’t ignore them, nor allow them to manifest into something greater than what you foresee. Be your own source…envision it, until you’re able to claim what’s yours.

 

April 7, 2011

Would You Do It All Over Again…

 

This short video of a woman experiencing her first BIG CHOP left me questioning how many women…who’ve already BC’d, would be willing to cross this road yet again. Would you?

I’ve been mentioning to a small group of people, primarily women, of my intent to BC for the third time later this year, and much to my surprise I’m still dealt curious stares & bewildered looks questioning my reasons…but then I’m also left wondering. Why do I even need a reason?

I’m not certain what happens…well, maybe I have an inkling. After my first BIG CHOP…I let go of that fear of ‘loosing my femininity’ as the hairs on my head where snipped away & there was nothing left to stare at in the mirror but ME. Instead of crawling, I ran away from those insecurities that were piled onto my shoulders for all those years, and instead found comfort in something so much greater. The power of choice is an amazing tool.

We all have differing reason for going natural & embarking on this journey & I understand now that the reasons many do return to that moment of ‘release’ is because there’s safety there….with nothing left to fear.

Because of my recent quest to achieve healthy, longer hair…this idea to BC might come as a surprise. Perhaps not? I always knew that my second chop wouldn’t be my last after cutting off my locs, just the same way I anticipated returning to that particular style some years from now. The limits I used to set for myself as far as my hair was concerned flew out the window such a long time ago…and for this I am glad. I would certainly do it all over gain…& you wouldn’t even have to pay me.

originally spotted @bglhonline.com

April 1, 2011

NYC Natural Hair Brunch

I might date myself a bit after saying this, but even at my age I’m constantly surprised at the wonders of Social Media & it’s ability to connect people. A few weeks ago what started out as quick banter back and forth on the ol Twitter, soon blossomed into a group of natural hair women convening over a wonderful brunch in downtown NYC. Good times were had, with talk of life, loves and enough metaphors related to ‘men’ that would make you either *blush* or lean in for more.

My pics really can’t do it justice, but I had the wonderful pleasure of meeting up with photographer Kia of A Brown Girl’s Chronicles, Savvy Brown (pictured above), the talented chica behind the natural hair Film, A Journey to Understanding, Shola (also above), Sheena from Sociology of Sheena and so many more inspiring ladies that kept me both laughing & inspired.

I implore all, who haven’t already done so…to connect with like minded, inspiring women who are more than willing to talk hair, politics, men, love, life… and the possibility of doing it all again, because there really is no better way to spend a beautiful Spring Day!

  • If you’re in the West Coast Natural Hair Camp, Cassie of blog Natural Selection is hosting a pretty Epic Naturals Night Out, April 9th. Click here for deets! Music, champagne, gift bags and so much more!! Really wish I could attend…
  • It’s a bit down the line, but  on July23rd there will be a Respect the Kinks Meetup here in NYC. Click here for more info.

{{BIG HUGS}} to all the ladies & looking forward to more good times!