Archive for February, 2012

To shrink or not to shrink? That is the question.

Posted in curly/kinky hair with tags on February 18, 2012 by Confessions of LadyV69

Lady V’s topic of the day: shrinkage.

This isn’t pertaining to clothes or to certain body parts. Ahem. In this case, it refers to hair.

An unwelcome fact of life for many naturals is that curly and kinky hair shrinks. On kinky hair in particular, it can shrink as much as 80% due to all the bends and curves of its hair strands.   A lot of naturals hate shrinkage since it makes their hair appear way shorter than it actually is. I think part of this is due to the fact that long hair is the beauty standard in our society while short hair is considered unfeminine. When I initially went natural, I didn’t like shrinkage either since it was hard to see the progress I made in my hair growth. These days I consider it a blessing, which I’ll explain shortly.

This was my hair in my modified wash and go yesterday:

Although my hair is actually in layers, from here, you can see that it ranges from forehead length to about a little past ear length. This is as short as my hair ever appears currently.

This was my hair after I had blown it out and did a bantu knot out around three months ago:

As you can see, my longest layer in the back is about neck length here. That’s the case for any “out” style I do these days.

My hair stretched is nearly armpit length, as seen here:

I could straighten my hair fully to find out what its length is for sure, but I refuse to risk heat damage right now. I consider my shrinkage a blessing for the following reasons:

  • I can wear it at different lengths without ever having to cut my hair. My look can vary without ever having to visit a salon, which confounds people. I love it!
  • It protects my ends from possible breakage. These days when I wear out styles, the back of my hair is starting to touch turtleneck collars. It’s beginning to be problematic, since hair touching your clothing has the potential to break. Remember, black hair in general is the most fragile of any race or ethnicity because our highly textured hair has the most bends and coils of anyone and each coil is a potential breaking point. It’s one of the main reasons a number of naturals do protective styling so that their ends are hidden and tucked away. I haven’t done a lot of protective styling and I’ve explained my reasons before, but the longer my hair gets, I may have to consider doing more updos, which look halfway decent on me so far.

So I don’t consider it a problem as I’ve long changed my attitude about it. Remember, natural hair goes against the grain and that means re-evaluating and adjusting your mindset about what our culture deems the acceptable standard of beauty. So our hair doesn’t appear long and flowing. However, it can do other things that the hair of people from other races and ethnicities doesn’t do that are special in their own right and it’s to be cherished. Simply enjoy your hair.

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Is Natural Hair Professional?

Posted in Beauty standard, curly/kinky hair, hair in the workplace on February 9, 2012 by Confessions of LadyV69

question that vexes many people of color and is the subject of frequent discussion on natural hair boards is this: is natural hair professional? The question is often asked by women going on job interviews who often express fear that they’ll be turned down before they even open their mouths to discuss their qualifications because they think the interviewer will find their hair “ugly,” “bushy,” “untamed,” or any other negative adverb you can think of, so they feel that they must straighten it just to be taken seriously. Some women insist that they must flat iron or get a wig or a weave because due to their reasoning, they’re at a disadvantage due to their gender and/or race, so why should they let their kinks put them at a further disadvantage?  It’s easy for the majority to dismiss the question as ridiculous, but the thought and the resulting fear surrounding it has social and political relevance.  Despite claims that we live in a “post-racial” society, job hunting can be particularly difficult for people of color due to systemic racism and discrimination. For decades, in an attempt to combat the mainstream stereotypes of a worker of color who was incompetant, shiftless and lazy, most people of color did whatever they could do to try to fit into what was deemed acceptable by the mainstream, whether it was spending their last dime on designer suits or straightening their hair, as our ancestral garb and our natural kinks were deemed threatening to those in power. In fact, it wasn’t that long ago that blacks could face death for even thinking about showing up to work in a dashiki or braids. However, it’s gotten to the point where the behavior of trying to fit in is so ingrained in communities of color that the majority hardly ever has to say anything directly to us. People who look like us can do the job for them quite well. Naturals are subjected to derisive comments every day by people of their own race or ethnicity mainly because those spouting them don’t understand the hair that was given to them by God and don’t realize how much they’ve been brainwashed into accepting straight hair tyranny.

As far as the actual question is concerned, I need to preface this by saying that in most corporate environments, certain styles and certain hair colors are deemed universally unacceptable, no matter what your skin color, such as mohawks and green hair. Although, those things are considered outside the mainstream, there isn’t anything inherently wrong with them in and of themselves. The thing is, one can choose to get their hair styled and cut into a mohawk and one can choose to dye their hair green. However, those people need to realize that a consequence of such choices is that they may not be able to work in a corporate environment and if they are okay with that consequence, all is well.

The actual question about natural hair being professional concerns the hair that you are both with, was created by God and which you had no choice in how it appears. How on earth can the hair that grows out of your scalp ever be unprofessional? Speaking for myself, I’ve come too far with my hair to ever be pressured into slapping a relaxer ever again just to be deemed acceptable to somebody. Is that hiring manager going to take me to the ER to treat a scalp burn? Is that hiring manager going to give me money out of their pocket to pay for doctor visits and medications in order to treat hair loss and damage to my hair and scalp? If that person isn’t willing to do that, than their opinion about my hair texture makes no nevermind to me. Any company who would turn somebody down for something as ridiculously shallow as their hair texture is not a place that’s worth working for in the long run. In my current job, I’ve never worn completely relaxed hair. I had braid extensions when I initially started there nearly three and a half years ago, but I went fully natural nearly two and a half years ago and no one has ever said anything negative to me, so often, the fear that you’ll be an outcast in an office environment because of your hair is unfounded.  All that should matter is that your hair is clean, well groomed and that you wear it with confidence. All this reassurance still won’t convince some women as long as racism, sexism and straight hair tyranny are still prevalent. I can’t make all those things go away but what I can tell you is that confidence in your abilities and in your appearance will go a long way.

I got some of these photos from Le Coil. Personally, I think any of these styles are more than suitable for Corporate America. For those that don’t, they can suck it.

This happens to be Corinne Bailey Rae:

 

Experimenting

Posted in curly/kinky hair, Styling on February 5, 2012 by Confessions of LadyV69

So, I had worn a flat twist out for most of last week, but by Thursday, it was really starting to get fuzzy. I decided to do something that I had never been too successful in doing before, which was to put it in an updo.

I am somewhat challenged when it comes to styling hair so I was prepared for it to suck and for me to end up slapping a headband on it, but to my everlasting surprise, it came out halfway decent. I didn’t leave out as much hair on top as I wanted, so that part of it came out looking a little flat but it wasn’t half bad. I got the styling tips from this YouTube channel. This is what it looked like from the front:

And from the back:

Then, I had seen this person’s YouTube channel the other day and saw a video on there about defining your curls simply by using the Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie and Ecostyler. While Allthat’sgold used the Olive Oil Ecostyler, I happen to have the pink Ecostyler currently. I doubt it matters which Ecostyler you use. Anyhoo, you simply smooth on the Curl Enhancing Smootie, mist your hair, then smooth on the gel, shake your hair and go. It’s done on slightly damp or dry hair. I figured this was a easier way to do a wash and go. Normally, if I do wash and goes during the week, I have to get up at least 45 minutes earlier than normal in order to wash my hair, shower and then put product in my hair in order to be not be late for work. Doing it Allthat’sgold’s way meant that I could wash my hair the night before, allow it to dry overnight, then just put the product on in the morning. So, on Thursday night, I co-washed using one of my staples, Suave Naturals. I have the lavendar one currently. Everyone loves the Coconut one but lately, that flavor has been hard to get in the store. After washing, I lathered on the Curl Junkie Beauticurls leave in, put my hair into 4 jumbo twists, let it air dry for a couple of hours then went to bed.  When I woke up on Friday morning, my hair was about 90% dry. I applied the CES and the Ecostyler as per her technique. The result is that my hair didn’t shrink as much as it often does with wash and goes. The thing is that I had to scrunch some of the product out as I experienced a fair amount of whiteness. I’ve used both products on wet hair before as well as with hair that was more damp and have experienced significantly less whiteness, so I know it was due to the fact that my hair was mostly dry. I’ll probably do it on hair that’s 50% dry next time, but then that might result in more shrinkage. Hmm. Well, here are the results from Friday. It’s a little flat, but it was only the first day.

This is how it looked yesterday. My hair has expanded and it looks fuller, which equals better.

In all, this style is a keeper, though I may tweak it with different product combinations. Who knew that doing your hair could actually be fun?