Posts Categorized: Shop Talk

January 26, 2010

Shop Talk: Adore Your Natural Hair

Sometimes, this obsessive blog thing tends to pay off when you stumble upon something as poetic and downright beautiful as this piece written by Tami, of ‘What Tami Said’ today.

Right now, the back left side of my hair is strangely puffy, fuller than the rest of my head. The curls there are stretched out and winding this way and that. You may surprised to hear me say that I am NOT having a bad hair day. I am; however, in the throes of hand-in-nap disease.

From my own experience, and the stories of other women, I’ve learned that a curious thing often happens when a black woman “goes natural.” First, she is curious, but a little fearful of what lies under all those years perming or weaving or wigging. The decision to stop relaxing can be far from…relaxing. How could it be when society reinforces the idea that if curly hair is a problem, kinky hair is an abomination? It is not beautiful or professional or presentable. Fashion models don’t rock TWAs. The girl nextdoor never has dreads. CEOs don’t sport twists or BAAs. That’s what we’re told, anyway. For years, she has headed to the salon at the first sign of a wave at her roots. Girl, I need a touch up! This shit is NAPPY! Now, she is expected to believe that the same thing she has sought to hide for decades is a good thing.

So, she watches her new growth and hopes that her nappy is not too nappy. There is even a hair-typing scale to obsess over. Please, please let me be more 3A than 4C. Perhaps she spends no small amount of time looking for lotions and potions that will create curls where there are only kinks and zigzags or to give the illusion of wet, shiny tendrils. This behavior–the symptom of a mind still fettered to misguided notions about race and beauty–hopefully does not last for long.

Freedom eventually does come. She learns to stop wishing her hair was other than it is. She learns that naps–whether loose and curly or tight and kinky–can be beautiful. She experiments and discovers that her thick 4a hair makes gorgeous, plump twists; or that her 4c tresses spring into a kick-ass afro; or that her 3a curls look elegant in an up-do. She learns to “do you” as they say. And it clicks that a beauty scale that preferences appearance based on how closely it conforms to that of the majority culture is as useless as it is biased.

And then she falls in love. I did.

Folks who think only straight and silky hair is worth a loving touch are missing something delightful. Running your hand over textured hair (With the owner’s permission!) is addictive. I start at the back. First, my fingers usually find the smooth, neat curls at the nape of my neck. I pull them and they spring back into place. I wrap the strands around my fingers absentmindedly. My hands then crawl further up my head to the crown, where the texture is tighter and a little more coarse. I examine the differences in texture, touching the bumps and waves–smooth here, crinkly there. Before long I am separating my curls, pulling them apart where they have clumped together. And when that is done, when my loose hair is no longer a series of curls but a mass of brown cotton candy, I start wrapping the strands together into twists. Then I pull the twists out again. The result–usually a section of my hair is fluffier and puffier and less uniform than the rest, due to my stretching and stroking. It is relaxing and sensuous. Last night, while catching up on a season one disc of the Fox show Fringe, I discovered I had plaited my whole head.

I can’t help it. Such is “young love.” I adore the feel of my hair. I yearn to touch it. It is hard not to fondle it. And that is so much better than hating it.

*more beauty found here

December 6, 2009

Transitioning Memories

*This post might come off a bit jilted, but it’s pretty much my best attempt at piecing together a strange puzzle dating back to my transition days. Forewarning…it’s a doozy.

ELLE January 2000

It’s funny the things that run through your mind on a lazy Sunday.  Especially when the weather takes another unusually cold turn and your covers and slippers are the most appealing thing next to a cup of hot tea.  Sunday for me is typically Hair day, wash day.  Begin the Process of styling the hair for the work/play week. Because I had ample time on my hands yesterday I thankfully started early & finished early, making today grocery/wash dishes/unpack from vacation type…day.

Somehow though my brain made a detour after checking a few emails, catching up on old blog posts in the natural sphere, and landing on this truly amazing site for natural hair gals. I’m still perusing, finding  just a TON  of cool inspirational information, but sporadically took a break after reading Ebony’s transition story. We hear and see countless stories of transition on a day to day basis.  If you frequent enough sights via curlynikki.com or bglhonline.com, you’re up to speed on just how important expelling these types of stories are, particularly for those just embarking on the natural hair journey.  Earlier this year I made an attempt at voicing my own transitional period, but honestly fell flat, barely touching the surface.

I don’t really have a ton of…great memories during my transition period. I can’t even recall good times after my BC to be quite honest. My mind is suspiciously fuzzy when it comes to taking a trip down memory lane, and I’m a bit miffed as to why.  I want to remember…I want to gold mine those memories and show them off proudly when given the chance…yet, I wouldn’t, or don’t know how it truly all went down.  Whatever, because it’s Sunday I’m headed down the road whether I like it or not…who knows what I’ll find.

First blip to come to mind is a documentary I tripped on waaaaay back in the day during my freshman year of college.  It was Black History Month…(AHH! so glad I remembered that!), and PBS was doing their best to remind those who cared by airing a handful of shows mentioning the African Diaspora.  Mid-month they aired a documentary by T. Nicole Atkinson titled, Lockin’ Up.  The film is short, 29 min long, yet the message was perfect timing.  *Let me press rewind though for a quick sec to mention what bought me to ‘perfect timing.’

(more…)

October 1, 2009

In Case You Missed It…

Yeah, I couldn’t stay up last night/morning to watch the re-airing of the “Good Hair” episode on Oprah. I was LIVID when my body woke up at 3:30 in the morning only to realize I was just a few hours shy (it comes on @ 1:30 here in NYC btw). But never fret! Below’s a clip from yesterday’s show, other parts can be found on YouTube. OR, click here to watch the entire episode in its entirety;-0!  I loved the lightheartedness of the show, and thought Ms. O and Rock did a FAB job! Solange…that girl knows how to work a TWA!

September 29, 2009

Media Hair

solange-oprahI won’t admit to a building of anticipation over the upcoming release of Chris Rock’s documentary Good Hair, but I am growing increasingly surprised how the media & press  are choosing to cover this topic, from the NYT article a couple weeks back to Tyra Banks’ premier episode talking about ‘real hair.’ Convoluted and at times biased…at best, I can’t see the trend ending any time soon.

I didn’t touch on Tyra’s ‘big reveal’ episode because in the end…‘it is what it is,‘ many women’s hair experiences are relative to their lifestyle, upbringing, varying influences in their lives (professional or personal),  etc..! But when you can factor in one of the biggest influences in American culture to date…it MUST be recognized.  On Wednesday, September 30th y’all, Chris Rock is set to chat it up with our main femme Oprah about his soon to be released documentary, & rounding out the show’s theme will be a Q&A discussion with Solange!

I’m excited because…really, if you want something done right, go to the right people and Oprah is emphatically the gal for asking the right questions WE want answered, and if I’m not mistaken that may very well be her philosophy on interviewing.  Chris Rock and Ms. O have always had a great dialogue relationship on screen, so it’s already a given we’ll be treated to a fun show! Enter in Solange and we’re almost guaranteed hair hot topics for a solid week or two!

Oprah is set to  share her hair experiences with audience and viewers as well, and my interest will be in the feedback after the show.  So check out the forums on Oprah.com if you dare after the show, and no doubt hit up the natural hair blogosphere for opinions galore;-)!

 

September 8, 2009

Shop Talk: Natural Ease

Is it really hard?  Honestly…I’m playing investigator Chai for one day, and I need to know…is it really THAT hard to care for natural hair?  Is the ‘pouf’ factor intimidating enough to steer most onto easy street…a.k.a., relaxer road?  I’ve never labeled myself as a natural pusha, or what’s been oddly called the “natural Nazis,” syndrome, but I am one of the only two women in my family who’s sporting her natural hair…the other is my proud Mum;-).

A conversation with a friend this afternoon got the wheels turning after she expressed to me that she’d be getting her hair done later in the week, it’d been several months since she’d last relaxed and felt it was time to touch up.  We’d both been down this road before, more so since I started blogging about my hair, yet the road is far from straight…it’s mostly circular.  I’d try to drop tiny hints about the WONDERS of being natural, and the misconceptions that are often thrown about when it comes to caring for a thicker texture, yet the fruits of my tiny labor typically bear zero.  It’s nothing I bemoan about, truthfully I’ve lived by the motto “DO YOU” for most of my adult life, and find it serves many purposes. So while I’m not a ‘pusher’ per se, I do not mind saying that I am a natural hair enthusiast…or informant.  In fact, I do have several friends who are relaxed… actually it’d be more fair to say I have just one friend who is natural and she’s only recently BC’d a month or two ago.  Over the years if one or two had questions about my hair, I was all up in there with an answer, explaining my routine and asking if this might be an avenue they’d like to explore.

frooftheweek1

Over the years, the only friend I’ve managed to convince was my own mother, who after 20+ years decided to abandon the relaxer because her hair was thinning excessively.  Bottom line, with the slight push from her doctor she finally decided to transition. My Mum has had her own struggles adjusting to being natural, yet to label her transition hard, or difficult…I’m still not sure.  Her frustrations clearly showed from time to time, most often when she’d complain about the actual thinness of her hair as compared to the thick mane she used to sport back in the 70’s during the fro revolution.  Her hair texture was different now, though still curly, it lacked fullness, a bit of luster and length.

Newly natural, my mother did experiment with a myriad of hair products, a lot that I’d personally recommended to her, others she’d pick up as pocketed suggestions from ladies & stylists at her hair salon.  Most gave her the ‘look’ she sought, but what she ultimately desired was to appear ‘acceptable’ with a sleek look that usually bordered on a post-texturized do.  She wanted to be natural without having to look natural. It might sound odd to say, but I’ve come to believe that in the early stages of my Mum’s BC, she was stuck in a state of transition.  There was no immediate ‘knowing’ of how to care for her hair, especially granted the 20+ years of being relaxed.  Products that she’d often use on her relaxed her, she could no longer apply to her new texture.  This was only part of her problem.  Guidance is a virtue in the natural hair community, yet the advice my Mum sought was from tired stylists who dared not take a comb to section or part.  The only answer was to texturize and pay the tip.

It’s been several years now, and my Mum is still natural, and as far as I can tell has no plans on relaxing.  Over time, the thinness of her hair has waned, the familiar thickness of her hair has slowly come back. And while her length is no longer as she remembered it many years ago, her current short fro suits her personal style…it’s easier for her to get on with the day while washing and go’ing to and fro in the Florida heat.

Was it hard..though? Similar to most other transitions in life, there were adjustments to be made and random advice to be thrown about…some discarded others tucked away for safe keeping.  Yet while transitioning has it’s hurdles…whatever you want to call ‘now,’ where a lot of naturals currently are…post natural…whathaveyou…I’d reference it to anything but hard.  The ‘ease’ that my friend is looking forward to later this week after getting her relaxer, is the same ease I wake up to every morning while taking down my silk scarf.  The once a week ‘Process’ I undergo is tedious at best…but let me pat myself on the back for a minute and say…I’ve had this ‘Process’ down pat for some time.  I jive to my own music in my own place, instead of waiting upwards of 1 hour – 3 hours for an ‘expert’ to dish on what she/he thinks looks good.

I was no fool though, the ‘ease’ did not come naturally, what I scramble through each Sunday has taken time, effort, patience but most importantly the knowledge of how to care for something that’s inherently delicate.  These days I do not solicit other relaxed women to join the natural team, but if you ask…or have mixed perceptions that turn my own experiences on their head, I can’t help but mumble something to a certain affect of… ‘here’s how it really is…’

I could be old school in my thinking, the first time I went natural was in 2001 long before brands such as Kinky Curly, Miss Jessie’s or Curl Junkie were as familiar as they are today.  But what I do have is my own experience, the years, sweat & $$ I’ve put into caring for this mop.  I’m rambling now because…well it does go that deep, it’s something I can’t help.  It is just hair… sometimes though it’s not, it really can’t be.

September 4, 2009

Friday Plans

happy_friday

 

Happy Friday/end of Summer!! I know it’s only the ‘unofficial’ end of Summer, but the eerie calm of my Subway ride into work today, told me something else. Cheers though for long weekends! I’m not sure the historical aspects of Labor Day, but I’ll be more than happy to give thanks to whoever implemented the holiday. That lovely day off always seems to come just at the right time…but really when is a day off never the ‘right time?’

Anywho, while this weekend caps off a shift in seasons…kids are back in school, co-workers return from their long vacations in the hills, I’m planning on returning my hair to a simpler style. Tomorrow, rather than Sunday I’ll wash/style the hair into two strand twists that will hopefully last until Monday or Tuesday evening. I’ll be making smaller twists that allow me to pin the hair up, down, in a pony or what have you…the versatility of twists are endless, and that’s why I luv em!. The only change will be in my styler, which will be a gel/cream base rather than my go-to stash because I want a longer lasting hold. Haven’t used a gel to twist my hair in…I’d say well over a year or so. I did use Darcy’s Botanicals Natural Coils Curling Jelly to shingle, but doubt it will give me the natural hold to last several days. So my options have opened! Which makes me excited because I must run to Ricky’s BSS and peruse their selections, something I haven’t done in a while. If the twists come out decent, which I’m hoping they will if I’m spending more than an hours time on them… I’ll post pics. In the past I’ve used the Jamaican Mango Lime gel with fantastic results, my only gripe was the size of the jar! Teeny tiny for the price, especially at Ricky’s, so I’m thinking a trip to the outer boroughs to stock up  will be in order.  I’ve also used IC Fantasia gel to twist, but found it left my hair significantly dry the following day, which I found odd because I sampled both the Olive Oil formula & the Color Treated formula.

hairIf you ladies have any suggestions for gels, drop me a line! I’ll be perusing some Youtube channels and blogs to see what’s worked for whom and why before I make my run to the BSS;-)

Today though is a co-worker’s B-day in my office, and we’re off to celebrate! Tonight we’ll be taking in the show HAIR on Broadway, a musical that’s gotten amazing reviews since it premiered last summer in Central Park’s theatre. My budget has been bound tight lately, but I splurged for a good time knowing it’d be much needed.  I don’t know any of the words to any of the songs, but it’s all about energy…right?  I don’t know, I’m sure they’ll be a diddy or two that rings familiar, here’s hoping;-).

 

*I’m off for the next couple days, so no posts until Tuesday.  Hope everyone’s holiday is a safe and relaxing one!!