Archive for May, 2012

Good Hair and the Talk…….

Posted in Uncategorized on May 21, 2012 by livingnaturallyeverafter

I stumbled upon the following post yesterday and I felt that it just had to be shared. This little girl’s experience unfortunately isn’t an isolated one. In fact, similar incidents like this are played out among little black girls all the time. The post really touched me because 35 years ago, I was that same child who envied the long, straight flowing hair that my white classmates had. Who felt that her kinks and coils were ugly. Who felt ashamed when grease spots would get on the mats in gym class and dreading the thought of having to explain why my hair did that to my white classmates. Unlike the mother in the following post, my mother didn’t have the tools nor the self esteem to instill pride in the hair that was bestowed upon me by God and would eventually allow me to get relaxers by high school. I hope that within my lifetime or my niece’s or nephew’s lifetime, that such a talk will no longer be necessary as our hair will have been fully accepted and deemed beautiful by the world at large.

Anyhoo, on to the post:

Let me start off by telling you all that I am not an authority figure on hair nor do I claim to be the best parent in the world. Now that I put my disclaimer out there let me introduce myself. My name is Asmarett  Ashford and I am the founder of Living Naturally Ever After. I am a married mother of two who lives outside of Atlanta, Georgia. I work full time as a school counselor in a rural school system outside of Atlanta. This is my first attempt at blogging so PLEASE be kind.

                                                                   Good Hair and the Talk.

                My daughter went to a well known and highly sought after private school in Atlanta, Georgia from the time she was 3 years old until she reached the 2nd grade. This school is known in the African American community in Atlanta as “the school”. Many prestigious and affluent families send their children to this school. My whole family loved the experience and did not have a singe issue until my daughter was in kindergarten.

My daughter and I both dislike having our hair washed, combed and styled. We both watched the Jetson’s and longed for the convenience that Jane use to have (push a style, sit under the dryer for 1-2 minutes then bam your hair is clean and styled). On this particular Sunday afternoon I was extremely tired and not interested in fighting with my 5 year old daughter’s hair. She saw her freshly washed hair in the mirror and asked if she could wear it loose with a headband. “Sure” was my reply because it was less work and she looked absolutely adorable with an afro. So on Monday morning we picked out her hair which looked like wild cotton candy. She was uber excited to wear her “cotton candy” hair to school with her headband that matched her uniform. I kissed her goodbye and my husband took my daughter to school.

Later that evening I picked my daughter up from school and she was in tears and her hair was in a wild ponytail. She wouldn’t explain to me why she was crying she just asked to go home. Needless to say that was not going to fly with me. I immediately asked her teacher what happened. To my dismay the teacher replied “she has been upset all day because you forgot to comb her hair”. The teacher then went on to ask me to make sure I don’t send her back to school without her hair “done” because it caused too much of a distraction in her class. I was very shocked and honestly did not know what to say. Just then another parent walked up to me and said “I hate when I am out of town and my husband has to do my daughters hair because they make a mess”. I suppose that the other parent had good intentions and she was trying to comfort me.  Both the teacher and that parent were shocked when I told them that her hair was intentionally wild because my daughter and I liked her “cotton candy” afro.

My daughter and I left the school in an awful mood.  As soon as we drove away from the school my daughter stated that she never wants to wear her hair down anymore because she did not have “good hair”!  She immediately began to cry and asked why her hair grew  “this way”  moving her hands vertically and not “that way” moving her hands down her back vertically. My heart broke for my daughter and we had to have a talk on the 30 minute ride home about her hair.

My daughter went on to state  that she liked her hair when she left home  but when she arrived at school her classmates immediatelybegan to laugh at her hair. The other 5 and 6 year old children told her that her hair was “ugly, not combed and nappy”. One little girl went as far as to tell my daughter that she did not have “good hair” like her so she couldn’t wear it down.  My daughter then stated that she hated her hair and wanted good hair like __ (insertrandomfemale child’s name here).  I asked my daughter what “good hair” was and what it looked like.  She stopped and thought for a minute then said “good hair is long and goes down here” pointing to the lower portion of her back. “Good hair is curly when it is wet and dry and it swings when you turn your head”.

I decided to stop on the way home and get my daughter some ice cream so that we could sit down and have “the talk” face to face.  So over two sugar cones my daughter and I had a very difficult conversation about self-esteem and hair. I tried to explain to my 5 year old daughter that God and her parents gave her the hair that she is suppose to have. I explained that there is no such thing as “good hair” just like there is no such thing as “bad hair”. She then asked me if we could “call God and ask him to make my hair grow long down her back “. I asked her why it was so important to have long hair. Sheexplained that the little girl in her class with long hair that reaches the bottom of her back always get picked first by the teacher and their classmates. The little girl with the long hair always has cool hair bows and all of the girls play in her hair at recess. The little girl with the long hair is always called pretty and all of the parents tell her how pretty her “good hair “is.

I was very shocked at how consumed my daughter was with her hair, her classmate’s hair and other people’sresponses to her classmate. My daughter is a beautiful little girl and random people always complement her on her looks, her afro puffs, her manners and intelligence so I was truly confused by her jealousy. In an effort to conform, my daughter I asked her what can she do better than the girl with the long hair? My daughter perked up immediately and stated that she was the best speller, recited poems the best, was always an All-Star student of the week, had the highest grades in the class on most tests and her art was always picked the “best in show”.  My daughter went on and on about all the things she does well in and out of school but as soon as the topic of hair came up she immediately looked defeated.

Our ice cream was long gone by this time and on the ride home I explained to my daughter that she is the person she is meant to be. She should be proud of the way that she looks from head to toe because she is beautiful and unique. I explained that the term “good hair” is a bad word and not welcomed in our home.  We then discussed the term “nappy” and “good hair”. I may have gone a bit too far by explaining the slave mentality and the Willie Lynch philosophy to a 5 ½ year old child but I wanted her to know where the term “good hair” came from.

I then went on to tell my daughter that “good hair” is any hair that grows on a person’s head. I asked her if her hair helped her get good grades, run faster, jump higher or read books better. She replied no to each of my questions. My daughter and I discussedthe entirepros and cons of having longer hair. When she realized that the longer her hair was the longer it would take to wash and style it. My daughter was sold on her pretty curly puffs and her “cotton candy” hair. We then discussed the importance of being happy with yourself and simply not caring about what others say. She was told that the only people that she has to please are God, her parents and herself.

After dinner that evening my daughter, husband and I continued our conversation about “good hair” and how others should not influence what we think about ourselves. My husband even touched on the topic of that green eyed monster, jealousy(side note- thanks to that talk my daughter thought that the green eyed monster was real and sleep with us for a full week!). We went on to listen to the India Arie song “I am not my hair” and continued to give our daughter positive affirmations and celebrate her.

Before she went to bed for the night (in our bed) my daughter said her prayer. I asked my daughter if she had anything that she wanted to ask God or tell God. She thought for a few moments then she asked God to help the little girl with long hair to be nice to and stop talking like a slave. Clearly she got the gist of the message but was confused. She then thanked God for her cotton candy hair.

The next morning I woke my daughter up 30 minutes early so that she could make that decision on how to wear her hair for the day. Without a secondthought my daughter asked for her “cotton candy” hair. We combed out her afro and placed an obnoxious princess crown headband on her head. She looked a bit nervous on the way to school but both my husband and I took her to school. When she walked into the classroom a few of the students pointed at her hair and one stated “ Aja’s hair is still not combed”. Her teacher was not amused and I received a stern look from her. Before I could say anything my daughter told the boy in a matter of fact tone  “my hair is combed and it is just the way I like it slave boy!” Needless to say we had to go to the director of the school and explain the entire situation. She was also not amused and my daughter had to apologize for her inappropriate outburst. The director then talked to the entire class about diversity and how to treat people.

Again, I am not going to ever win a parent of the year award nor will I ever apologize for explaining the world as I see fit to my children. Today my daughter is a happy and healthy 10 year old child with an extra helping of self-esteem. She loved her “cotton candy hair” and does not let the opinions of others determine who or what she is. Shortly after my daughter and I had the “talk” I began transitioning from relaxed hair to being a natural bella.

The reason I wrote this blog is because I have encountered many people who say they can not go natural because they don’t have “good hair” like mine. My daughter is often stopped by strangers and random comments are made about her “good hair”. To this day my daughter will still say “thank you but I don’t have good hair I have my hair”. It truly saddens me that in 2012 people still buy into the “good hair” philosophy. I love the definition that that The Good Hair Diary adopted. GOOD (good) adj.

-In excellent condition; healthy: Good Hair.http://goodhairdiaries.blogspot.com/p/about.html

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/indiaarie/iamnotmyhair.html

Advertisements

Did I do that?

Posted in curly/kinky hair, relaxed hair practices on May 20, 2012 by Confessions of LadyV69

I was kind of lazy with my hair the last few days. I basically have had it in curly fro. It’s fairly easy. You just put your hair into 6-8 two strand twists, tuck the ends under or use rollers, undo the twists the next day and fluff your hair. I didn’t take pictures this time, but this picture from last summer is representative of the style. It’s one of the few that automatically makes my fine hair seem thick and full. It usually takes at least two days for my hair to appear to have any volume.

Anyway, a post I saw on a hair board got me thinking about some of the things I used to do when I had relaxed hair. In taking this trip down memory lane and reliving some of the things I used to do, even though my hair was damaged, I don’t know how I didn’t end up totally bald. Here are some of the offending things I used to do:

  • After getting a fresh perm, I’d go stretches where I’d use a curling iron every. single. day. On a medium-high setting. I didn’t like bone straight hair so I figured I’d give my flat, limp and lifeless hair some oomph by curling it. The end result was fried hair. And naturally, it would break off.
  • I hardly ever covered my hair up at night unless I wrapped it, which wasn’t often as I never got the hang of it since I was (and still am to a small extent) styling challenged and it would look crazy. I’d lay my uncovered head on my cotton pillowcase. It was not until recently that doing this zaps your hair of moisture. Now, most of the time I cover my hair with a satin scarf or satin bonnet without fail. Silk or satin trap moisture and those materials are less likely to let it evaporate. During those times when I don’t want to use a scarf or a bonnet, I’ll use a satin pillowcase.
  • Going three weeks between washes. There were times I’d go even longer if I wanted to preserve a particular style, because I operated under the common perception that water was bad for my hair as it would just dry it out. Just reading those sentences makes me want to gag (and probably you too). These days, I can’t imagine going more than seven days between washes. I have now learned that it’s not water that dries out your hair. It’s the products you use to wash and style your hair that can dry it out. Once you know what kind of products to use and moisturize your hair regularly, dry hair ceases to be much of an issue.
  • Until I was in college, I’d have my scalp greased with Dax, TCB, etc as it was believed that they’d moisturized my hair. From college until I BC’d, I used Pink Oil to do the same thing. I had major dandruff issues until I went natural. It was worse in childhood, but the problem never was fully resolved until I went natural. It wasn’t until I went fully natural that I learned that mineral oil and petroleum, the main ingredients in Dax, Pink Oil and products of their ilk, do NOT moisturize the hair. At most, they are sealants and are supposed to lock in whatever moisture you put in your hair. Using that stuff without previously adding in any moisturizer only seals in dryness, which in turn can lead to hair breakage. Also, those products can be akin to Saran Wrap on your hair and scalp in that they may not allow either to breathe. Looking back, I’m convinced that those products may have contributed to the dandruff issues I had in that they may have suffocated my hair and scalp. I ditched them when I went natural and I haven’t had dandruff since then either. I don’t think it’s a coincidence.
  • Many years ago, I once got a touchup and a semi-permanent color on the same day. As both chemical processes can be damaging to your hair, it is usually suggested that you do not do them both on the same day. It is highly suggested that you do just one chemical process, then wait at least two weeks to do the other. But I was young and definitely not wise then and I had no knowledge of this until much later. The stylist who committed this offense did not care one iota about the health of my hair. She only thought about all those benjamins she’d get after she was done. Within a couple of days, my hair was coming out in clumps and I developed a bald spot on my crown. It took several years to grow back in. Needless to say, I never went back to that heffa.
  • As a child, a fine toothed comb was used on my tender head and the person detangling my hair (usually a friend of the family) would practically rip it out. It was not until recently did I discover that fine tooth combs aren’t big enough for kinky hair to be detangled with. Now I only use wide tooth combs.

All I can say to all these things now is that now that I know better, I do better.

What crazy things did you use to do to your hair?

Posted in male privilege, Racial/ethnic stereotyping, White privilege with tags on May 16, 2012 by Confessions of LadyV69

This has nothing to do with hair, but I’m reposting this person’s blog entry on here because I feel it explains white male privilege perfectly.

Whatever

I’ve been thinking of a way to explain to straight white men how life works for them, without invoking the dreaded word “privilege,” to which they react like vampires being fed a garlic tart at high noon. It’s not that the word “privilege” is incorrect, it’s that it’s not their word. When confronted with “privilege,” they fiddle with the word itself, and haul out the dictionaries and find every possible way to talk about the word but not any of the things the word signifies.

So, the challenge: how to get across the ideas bound up in the word “privilege,” in a way that your average straight white man will get, without freaking out about it?

Being a white guy who likes women, here’s how I would do it:

Dudes. Imagine life here in the US — or indeed, pretty much anywhere in the Western world — is a…

View original post 805 more words

Experimenting

Posted in curly/kinky hair, Natural hair care, Styling on May 14, 2012 by Confessions of LadyV69

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve updated, but this thing called life got in the way.

I trimmed my hair last week. It was long overdue as I’d been getting a lot of single strand knots for awhile and my ends were starting to look and feel rough, but I hate losing length. #BadNaturalDiva. I can’t give definitive advice on how often you should trim because everyone’s hair is different. I can say that the standard 6-8 week timeframe that many  hairstylists give people isn’t often feasible for those with curly and kinky hair because it can take longer for our hair to get worn down due to all our bends and coils. Some people think it’s a racket that salons do in order to get more money from you. Getting your hair trimmed that often is usually a guarantee that you won’t gain length. Think about it. Hair grows an average of about 1/2 inch a month. When you’re getting your hair trimmed every 6-8 weeks, that’s usually the amount of hair a hairstylist will cut off and they often cut off more than that. When I was relaxed and had my hair trimmed on that schedule, I’d wonder why it didn’t grow. Those caustic chemicals broke my hair off and I often had split ends. Those can’t be repaired, so trims were imperative to prevent further damage. However, the end result was that my hair was often the same length year after year. Since I’ve been natural, I’ve trimmed my hair about 5 times over a 2 and a half year period, or approximately twice a year. I haven’t really needed to trim more frequently than that. I haven’t gotten any split ends since I’ve been natural and it usually takes about that long before my ends get ragged, so that’s the schedule that works for my particular head of hair. Other naturals only trim once a year. Some never trim at all. I think I trimmed about 1/2 inch off, but I didn’t really measure. It wasn’t a whole lot. Here’s a wash and go I did about 6 or so weeks ago at my old length:

Here is a flat twist out I did last weekend. It looks so fluffy at the ends because I used satin covered rollers on them. The hairstyle was actually 2 or 3 days old at that point, so my hair actually had some volume. I used Curl Junkie Coco Creme and the pink Ecostyler gel. It turned out great. I went to a friend’s birthday party and somebody complimented me on my hair. I don’t often hear anything positive or negative about my hair from people, so I never really know how to respond. Lame.

This morning, I tried a wash and go using just conditioner. Well actually a conditioner and a finisher, since I didn’t think using a conditioner by itself would provide enough hold and it was supposed to rain today. I used Curl Junkie Smoothing Lotion and Curl Junkie Curls in a Bottle. That’s it. This was how it looked this morning just before I headed out the door for work. It was still damp, so it looks kind of flat. The slightly shorter length is more noticeable here than in the picture above since my hair wasn’t stretched:

Not quite liking how the sides are laying here. Also, I don’t know if it’s the combination of products or what, but my hair was very itchy today. I usually do use the Smoothing Lotion as a leave in but I also usually put a styler and/or gel over it and I haven’t had the itchiness problem. I usually use CIAB over a gel to give my hair extra protection from frizz. Maybe the combination of the two is a no-go. My hair is softer and it doesn’t have the cruchiness that a lot of gels have, so that’s a good thing. I’m thinking about arranging my hair differently tomorrow so that the sides look better. We shall see.