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Posted in Uncategorized on November 5, 2013 by Confessions of LadyV69

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Posted in Uncategorized on July 10, 2012 by Confessions of LadyV69

livingnaturallyeverafter

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…

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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

What I promised and an unusual request

Posted in Uncategorized on November 8, 2011 by Confessions of LadyV69

So I’d stated in my last post that I’d post pictures of my three strand twist out. I didn’t have time to take any pictures yesterday, so this is actually 2nd day hair. My hair tends to appear fuller the longer I keep a style, particularly in the summer when depending on what products I use, the humidity swells it up.

 And the back view:

I like how defined my curls are. This style is definitely a keeper.

I got something of a weird request today. I take my lunch to work most days. It was lunchtime before I discovered that I had forgotten my container of yogurt. I usually eat it for an afternoon snack. So off I went to the store to get a container. Right after the cashier had rung me up, she stated, “I like your jacket.”

“Thanks,” I said. The jacket in question is a fake leather one I got at a discount store near my house last year. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on it, actually.  Here’s a picture with me wearing it:

Then the cashier asked haltingly, “Can I touch it?”

When she asked the question, I thought she meant my hair. It’s a touchy issue among curlies. Because curly and kinky hair are generally viewed with disdain, a number of people simply aren’t exposed to it much since countless women straighten it in order to feel accepted. So when a lot of people come across someone with curls or kinks, they view it as a novelty and sometimes, they don’t even think it’s real. So in order to see if our hair is real or to experience the novelty for themselves, they think it’s perfectly acceptable to touch our hair, sometimes without even asking our permission. I actually haven’t had a lot of people touch my hair, with or without permission. I personally think it’s due to the fact that it’s not thick or dense. It’s often flat and depending on what I do to it, it doesn’t have a lot of volume, so people probably think it’s boring and nothing special. I’ve noticed that people with thick, dense hair get mauled more often. I can definitely tell you that many naturals despise it when people touch their hair, as they view it as an invasion of their personal space. Some black naturals even suggest that when non-blacks do it, it harkens back to slavery when we were regarded as property that our owners could treat as they wished. I’m the type of person that doesn’t take kindly to invasion of my personal space in general, so I definitely don’t like it when people attempt to touch my hair, particularly without my permission. This woman at least had the manners to ask, the same which can’t be said for everybody, so since she’d asked, I would have permitted her to touch it. I’ve noticed that people with straight hair don’t get mauled that often, since it’s the beauty standard.

However, when I asked her what she wanted to touch, it turned out that she didn’t want to touch my hair.

“Can I touch your jacket?” she asked.

I nearly burst out laughing. It’s a knockoff Rocawear jacket that I paid $30 for. It’s not real leather by any means. But it probably did look real enough for this woman to want to touch it. So I let her touch the sleeve. “For something that’s probably a knockoff, it feels real,” she stated.

“I guess it does,” I stated for lack of anything better to say. After she drew her hand away, I rushed out of the store with a quick goodbye. I think that was the first time anyone ever asked if they could touch my jacket. Very unusual.

Hair ends

Posted in cats, curly/kinky hair, Natural hair care, Uncategorized on September 16, 2011 by Confessions of LadyV69

First, an Hazel update: Her antibiotic medication was switched from liquid to pill form yesterday. Even though I’d put the liquid antibiotic in her food, she simply wasn’t getting the full dosage of it as she wouldn’t eat it all. With the pills, I put them in those pill pocket treats from Greenies and Hazel gobbles them up. She’s probably less able to taste the medicine that way. So far, so good. She’s doing okay otherwise, so that’s another plus.

Okay, back on the hair tip today. I’m sure you’re all thrilled. In the midst of all the crap I’ve been through, I neglected to say that I dusted my ends a couple of weeks ago. It’s simply a mini-trim. My ends were really jacked up and I was getting knots like crazy. The amount of knots that I’ve gotten since the dusting have been reduced considerably. Since I’ve gone fully natural, I’ve trimmed my hair myself. I’ve had numerous negative experiences in salons whereby I’d tell the stylist that I only wanted about a half an inch of hair trimmed and before I knew it, three inches were gone from my hair. If I do it myself, I know that only the amount that I want trimmed will be done and no more. The last picture here shows the result of my dusting in which my ends don’t look so frayed. If I didn’t mistrust hair stylists so much, I suppose I could go to a salon for a professional and neater trim, since my hair is kind of uneven as it is. You don’t have to cut your hair that evenly with curly or kinky hair because the coils in your hair hide unevenness. Also, my uneven hair isn’t that noticeable to other people but at part of me would like something more polished. The issue isn’t just stylists that ignore my wishes, it’s what a trim would cost. Natural salons charge half a fortune and many of them flat iron your hair and then trim it. I limit the use of direct heat on my hair because of the potential for damage. And at this point, nobody would know what my hair needs as much as I do.

On one hair board the other day, somebody posted that some white acquaintance of hers commented that her hair must take a very long time to do and she was feeling some kind of way about it. I went on a tour to Canada last year and roomed with this older Australian woman. A couple of days into the trip she remarked the same thing-that my hair must take a long time to do. I’ll tell you right now that in my case, that statement is false. I’m fairly lazy when it comes to my hair. If it takes me more than 90 minutes to do it, including the time it takes to wash it, I don’t bother. That may be a lot of time to some people, but I have to take into account that I have to be more gentle in handling my hair than other people. Because my hair is so tightly coiled, it is actually more fragile than straight hair, which a lot of people find hard to believe. Black natural hair may look coarse and tough, but in a lot of cases, Afro-American natural hair is like mine-fine and thin. I’ve heard white friends and acquaintances say they’ve damaged their hair with color, flat irons and blow drying but since they tend to have looser textures and their hair isn’t as fragile, most of the time, it takes longer for their damage to show. It’s not out of the question for my hair to get damaged with flat ironing just ONE time, whereas with looser textures, it could takes months of flat ironing for it to get damaged. I can’t just run a comb through my hair and comb it from the root down to the end. For one thing, I can’t use fine toothed combs that straighties use. They’ll rip out my hair. I can only use wide tooth ones. Also, combing my hair from the top down would damage my hair. I have to comb from the bottom up and gently work out any tangles I encounter. If I’m not able to comb the tangle out, I use my fingers. With that said, it only takes me about 15 minutes to detangle my hair, primarily because I stretch it with twistouts/braidouts and because my hair isn’t thick. This is the one time where having fine hair can be a blessing. I pity thick haired naturals who have one hour detangling sessions.   

So anyhoo, lately my main styles have been a wash and go, braidouts and twistouts, with puffs and curly fros here and there. None of those styles in and of themselves take more than an hour and puffs and curly fros take just 5 minutes to do. I feel there’s more to life than being a slave to my hair. There are some naturals who take around 6 hours to do their hair in certain protective styles, like braids and twists, because they want them really small and neat. More power to them. I ain’t one of them. While I initially arrived on that Canada trip, my hair was in a braidout. It took me about 10 or 15 minutes each night to rebraid my hair into about 8-12 braids. The next day, it took about 10 minutes to take the braids outs, moisturize, seal and fluff my hair. That was it. The one time I washed my hair on that trip and did a wash and go, it took a little over an hour. That roommate, who had naturally straight hair, washed her hair every other day, then took about 45 minutes to blow dry her hair. Her hair routine took as much if not more time than mine. And her hair wasn’t as versatile either, whereas I can change my curl pattern whenever I want to. In short, however amount of time you want to put into your hair is up to you.

Relief

Posted in Uncategorized on September 2, 2011 by Confessions of LadyV69

Just wanted to give a quick update on my cat.

I took Hazel to the specialty vet this morning. This place is also an emergency vet’s office, so they’re open 24 hours. Initially, Hazel was going to have the surgery and be there for two days for observation. However, I got a call from them late this afternoon and was told that when they examined her ear, they didn’t see any growth there. Her primary vet told me he didn’t think he got it all out when he sent it for the biopsy last week, but apparently the whole growth got removed after all. Also, the specialty vet said that the biopsy report indicated that a benign growth couldn’t be ruled out. They did some other tests on Hazel which came out normal. They are having the growth re-biopsied and I’ll have to take her back there in the next week or two for a checkup, but it’s possible that her condition may just need to be treated with medication and she won’t need surgery, which would be a huge relief. She’ll be home by 11 tonight, for which I am grateful. I will say that I’m not all that pleased with the way the matter has been handled as it’s caused me and Hazel major emotional distress. Hopefully, Hazel won’t have any more health issues for awhile.

Dribs and drabs

Posted in Uncategorized on September 1, 2011 by Confessions of LadyV69

This post is going to be all over the place, so if you want something with more coherence, you can skip it 😀

I got a major shock on Monday when I got a call from Hazel’s vet. The results were in for the biopsy they did the week before. According to the vet, Hazel has a low grade malignant tumor in her right ear. I was speechless. Actually, I’m still having trouble processing this. Hazel is only 2 years old. She’s just a baby. According to the research I’ve been doing, tumors like this don’t usually show up in cats until they’re much older. The vet had no answer as to why Hazel has one so young. It’s just one of those things. He did say that her prognosis is fairly good due to her age and her otherwise good health. Plus, the tumor is low grade, so it isn’t that aggressive. So I am feeling a little better about things. I have to take her to a specialty vet since she’ll need more invasive surgery than the regular vet is able to do.   I’m taking her tomorrow. I took the day off work as I know I won’t be able to focus while she’s there. Wish us luck!

I did promise you last time that I’d take a picture of my flat twist out. The twist out on Monday came out a hot mess as it was still damp when I took the twists down. I’d put satin sponge rollers on the ends of the twists on Sunday and I should have known better, as my hair takes forever to dry with those. I had to slap a headband on my head and call it a day. I did re-do the style on dry hair Monday night. Usually when most naturals style their hair while dry, it’s not bone dry. Combing, brushing or otherwise manipulating your hair dry leads to frizz and can cause breakage if you’re not gentle. I usually spritz a leave in or moisturizer in my hair, seal with jojoba oil or shea butter, then style. These pictures are actually from Tuesday, when my hair came out much better looking:


 

The thing about styling on dry hair is that while it shows off more of your length, your curls tend to be less defined. Whereas, when you style on wet or damp hair, your hair has more shrinkage but your curls tend to be more defined. Most of the time I style on damp hair and live with the shrinkage, since I like my hair to have definition, but I didn’t have a choice a few days ago. I’m still wearing my hair in the same style. My hair doesn’t hold styles that long because it’s so fine, so I have to re-twist every night or every other night to preserve it.

Also, did anyone see the controversy over the internets today over the founding of a natural hair sorority? I wasn’t into that scene in college as I thought that whole Greek thing was juvenile, but to be real, there are thousands of special interest groups around based on a lot of things-religion, occupation, where you live, your race and anything else you can think of. If the KKK can be legal in this country, I’m sure there’s more than enough room for a sorority based on hair. And I’m not just saying this because I have natural hair. I don’t sweat other special interest groups, so why would I get upset over this one? The author of that commentary didn’t focus her rant on just the sorority, she made it into a veteran natural vs. a newbie natural thing, which I’m beginning to find tiresome. Some veteran naturals who have been natural for 15 odd years when natural hair was even more stigmatized are resenting relative newbies like me who’ve become natural within the last few years because they feel they no longer stand out. My thing is this-I understand that when a veteran natural decided to embrace what nature gave them 15 odd years ago, the internet as we know it didn’t exist. As they didn’t have the resources that are available now, they were alone in the wilderness, so to speak. However, if your hair is the only thing about yourself that makes you feel unique, you need to find something else, because resenting others for recently taking their natural journey is akin to resenting others for having the same two arms and two legs that you do. I don’t get the mentality that you should be the only natural in the room. I have been in a room full of naturals and I can tell you that no two heads of hair are exactly the same. My fro doesn’t look exactly the same as anyone else’s, which is the beauty of our texture. It’s unique, but in this sense, it’s just hair, which isn’t even a living organism.  I live in a city where I see at least a couple of naturals in the street every day, but I don’t feel some kind of way about it. Personally, I’m like, “Yay, she’s team natural.” Rant over. What’s your opinion on the issue?