Archive for Hair

What next?

Posted in Beauty standard, Racial/ethnic stereotyping with tags , , , , , , , on November 9, 2011 by Confessions of LadyV69

I came across this article where it states that doctors and scientists have developed a new laser procedure that makes it able to turn your brown eyes blue permenantly.

I have major issues with this. We’re bombarded with images and messages from the cradle that project that long, straight hair, blond hair, white skin and blue eyes are the preferred standard of beauty. Anyone who does not fit this ideal is ignored or demonized. In many cases, the further away any particular group of people are from the ideal beauty standard, the more lengths they go to in order to attain it and feel acceptable. It should come as no surprise that black women spend the most money on hair care and cosmetics out of any other racial or ethnic group.

To put it another way, curly hair is considered ugly to a number of people. As a result, countless women feel pressured to slap relaxers, BKT or flat iron in order to feel acceptable. A lot of people think it’s only hair and you can grow it out if you want to be curly again, but in a number of instances, it’s not just hair. The way that people wear it has had major political and social implications for a lot of people over many decades.

In reference to this new laser eye surgery, I feel it could turn into something fairly ugly because some people with brown eyes will come to think them as unattractive while blue ones are revered. In many societies, brown eyes are the dominant gene while blue ones are fairly uncommon. As a result of their relative rarity, blue eyes are viewed as novel by a lot of people and as a result, wind up being coveted and revered. Notice that the article states that the surgery will only be able to turn brown eyes blue. There is no surgery being developed right now to do the reverse and since I tend toward skepticism, I doubt there ever will be. Brown eyes aren’t anything special because that’s the most common eye color that people the world over have. It reminds me too much of the book “The Bluest Eye,” where a black girl believes that if her eyes were blue, her life would be better. I also have issues with this because the eugenics movement a century ago (as well as the Nazis, who borrowed many of their ideas) purported that people with brown eyes were lazy, feeble-minded and whatever other “defienciency” you can name. So in turn, if this new surgery takes off and some of those old reprehensible ideas return, people with brown eyes may come to think of them as something that needs to be fixed. Many women and girls already feel that their hair is something that needs to be fixed. Why add another body part that no one has any control over to the equation? When will the human race stop fucking trying to pressure its members to turn themselves into fucking pretzels in order to fit into some narrow standard beauty? When will the beauty standard be expanded so that everyone will be made to  feel beautiful? Sorry for the coarse language, but this issue really gets to me. I can’t help but think that this surgery is anything other than racist and xenophobic in nature. If you want to change your eye color that badly, just get colored contact lenses and call it a day. They’re cheaper and if used correctly, will cause less damage in the long run.

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When a style comes out right

Posted in curly/kinky hair, Styling with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 6, 2011 by Confessions of LadyV69

So last weekend, I blew out my hair into a huge fro like so:

However, I didn’t want to wear big hair like that to work all last week. For the most part, the blown out fro results in a cotton candy cloud look that I’m really not a big fan of. I prefer curly fros that have some curl to them. So I decided to do a style that I haven’t had much success with before as an experiment-bantu knot outs. Most of the other times that I’ve attempted the style, it’s been a big fail because I’ve attempted them on damp hair and the knots simply DO.NOT.DRY. Which makes my hair look a hot mess. Someone suggested on a hair board that I frequent that the best way to achieve the style would be to do it on blown out hair. So the day after I blew out my hair, I spritzed some water, slapped on some Curl Junkie Honey Butta and proceeded to put in about 10 knots. I two strand twisted my hair into 10 twists first, then twirled each twist around on themselves into a knot, then secured each knot with bobby pins. You could also tuck the ends of the twists underneath each knot, but my hair tends not to want to stay, hence the pins. When I took the knots down the next morning, this was the result:

I pinned the bangs back to take some hair off my forehead. OMG! I loved the results. My hair was so fluffy and looked so full, which is no small feat considering how thin and fine it is. I’d love for it to be a new staple style but since blow drying has the potential to cause damage, I can’t wear it this way too often. Dang. I wore it like this for a couple of days, then wore it with a headband.

I had to do a protein treatment today, since the direct heat of blow drying breaks down the cuticle and wanted that repaired. I used an egg and some mayo, then low pooed with Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle shampoo, conditioned with HEHH, then deep conditioned with Curl Junkie Deep Fix. That deep conditioner is the truth! It leaves my hair super soft. I’ve put my hair into about 15 three strand twists for a twistout tomorrow. I’ve been doing those lately since I find that three strand twists give more definition than two strand ones. They also dry faster than braids and don’t take as long to unravel. It’s really not that hard to do three strand twists. With braids, you take three sections of hair, then braid them all toward the middle. With three strand twists, you divide your hair into three sections, then take the section on the farthest right and move it all the way to the farthest left. Then you take the next section and move it to the farthest left and then the next section and move it to the far left. All sections move toward the farthest left in a sense. It took a little while for me to remember not to move the sections toward the middle like you do with braiding before I was able to get it. The twists resemble ropes. If I remember, I’ll post pictures tomorrow for the results.

 

Controversy

Posted in curly/kinky hair, Racial/ethnic stereotyping with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2011 by Confessions of LadyV69

What I’m about to say reminds me of this song:

Someone posted an entry on Curly Nikki two days ago titled, “We will not lose our love, our marriage, over HAIR!” It’s now gone viral. Nobody asked for my opinion (or probably even cares), so the only things I’m going to say about the issue here is that it’s obviously way deeper than hair and that it’s being used as merely a crutch. If this husband is shallow enough to consider leaving his wife over her hair, there needs to be some serious re-evaluation of the relationship. Because if he can’t deal with something as mundane as a change in hairstyle, how is he going to deal with a more serious issue, such as cancer? Is he going to say, “Um, baby, we need to split up ’cause I can’t deal with this cancer issue?” Marriage vows do say in “sickness and in health.” Unfortunately, there are a number of people out there who aren’t mature enough to take those vows seriously. Also, it illustrates the double standard that still exists between the sexes. Women are valued more for their appearance than their intelligence, while men are valued more for their actions than their appearance. How often do you hear about women threatening to leave their men because of a pot belly and a receding hairline?

The same woman backtracked her statements on the same blog yesterday. She probably didn’t anticipate the reaction she’d get. You can’t send a post on the Internet depicting your husband as an immature, shallow douche and not expect a strong reaction. Either the guy said what he said or he didn’t. Hormones are not an excuse to embellish or downright lie. If you don’t want people sending you unsolicited advice, don’t post situations like that on the net. Just saying.

The other controversy that I will go into is the STARS campaign by some students at Ohio University that has the slogan “We’re a culture, not a costume.” This blog post has some more information about it. It’s being marketed during Halloween but the message can apply for any time of year, really. Personally, I can take or leave Halloween, but I understand why a lot of people love it. It’s kind of obvious why kids love it as they get to play dress up for a few hours and get loads of candy. It also gives adults a chance to shed their responsibilities for a while and be children again, as our society does not give them the freedom to do this often. However, as my finances are a little tight at the moment, the mere thought of buying a pre-made costume only to wear it for a few hours didn’t sit well with me and I felt it would be a waste of money. And I don’t have a creative bone in my body aside from putting words to paper, so making a costume from scratch was not an option. I do have a tie-dyed T-shirt, flare jeans and platforms. So I figured I’d go as a 70’s lady-with a huge fro to match. However, I began having second thoughts about how my hair would look for Halloween because people have taken issue in the past when others who don’t look like me wear Afro wigs and blackface in a conscious or subconcious attempt to caricturize my culture.  Some people may think it’s no big deal when people who aren’t black wear Afro wigs or when people who aren’t Arab wear a headdress because they’re done in the spirit of having a good time, but some things just aren’t funny. Dressing as a generic black person with an Afro wig and/or blackface perpetuates negative stereotypes about an entire race of people. It’s one thing to dress as a specific person or entertainer-such as Beyonce or Lil Wayne, as they aren’t the entire black race. It’s another thing to go as a generic black person and slap on blackface and/or an Afro wig.  If I were to dress as Lady Gaga for Halloween, it would never occur to me to put on whiteface. Yet a white person might think it’s perfectly okay to slap on blackface as they dress as Beyonce or Lil Wayne. What that tells me is that they think they are superior to me and that the phenotypes generally associated with black people are nothing but a joke to them, again, perpetuating negative stereotypes. The way my hair grows out of my head isn’t a joke. I can’t help how tight my curls are.

After giving it some thought, I have decided to blow out my hair and wear the big fro. Since it’s a phenotype specific to me as a black person, I have a right to wear it proud. I wonder how many other people will put as much thought into their costumes.

Curly Nikki Meetup

Posted in curly/kinky hair, Natural hair care with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2011 by Confessions of LadyV69

I am so furious with this site right now. I had a completed entry uploaded but it never showed up on the homepage. So now I have to do it all over again. And it only took me an hour to write it last time. I could scream right now.

So on Thursday night, I went to a natural hair meetup hosted by Curly Nikki and sponsored by Mizani. Why am I just writing about it now, you ask? Because I had a busy weekend and I wasn’t able to get to it until now. I went to the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Friday night to see a band from Columbia, MAKU Sound System. Then yesterday, I went to the Central Park Conservatory and walked around Central Park with a friend, then I went to a slammin’ brunch today at what is quickly becoming one of my favorite restuarants, Bogota Latin Bistro.

Anyhoo, 1500 people RSVP’d to the Curly Nikki event. It was initially going to be held at a bar called Solas in the East Village but due to the overwhelming demand, the venue was changed to the Carlton Hotel. In the end, there was only room for 650 people. As Nikki herself stated, it would have been expensive to hold the event at a venue that could accommodate over  1,000 people and she wouldn’t have been able to meet everyone. So, it was what it was. Personally, I was overwhelmed and kind of lost at the thing. I’m introverted by nature and I get uncomfortable attending events by myself that have more than 100 people. I don’t have it in me to schmooze and “work the room” as I, like many introverts, find small talk shallow and pointless. So I don’t have a lot of juicy anecdotes for you which renders me a sucky blogger. But I have to be honest. I spent half the night being a wallflower, standing against the wall. I did get to meet Nikki and take a picture with her, which was the highlight of the night. She’s petite, warm and personable. Everything I am not. I’m not envious of her or anything, I’m just stating the facts. As I was walking up to her to greet her and get our picture taken, she gave me a hug. I would never hug a complete stranger as I guard my personal space, but I know not everyone feels they have to guard theirs. After the hug, I said that I loved her site and asked her if she liked New York. “I totally love it,” she said.

Then she said, “You know, you look like Tracee Ellis Ross.”

My mouth dropped open. I never get compared to celebrities as I don’t look like any of them. “Really?” I asked.

“I think so,” Nikki said.

I don’t see the resemblance but maybe someone else will.

Tracee Ellis Ross:

Yours truly:

To reiterate just how much I suck as a blogger, I had no idea until the next day that a couple of celebrities were at the event. Both Janet Hubert-Whitten and Karyn Parsons were there. They were the original Aunt Viv and Hillary on the “Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” I had to read a couple of other blogs of other people that were at the event to find out they were even there. I totally missed them. In my defense, they don’t look exactly like they did on the show. For one thing, they’re both 20 years older and they’re both sporting natural hair now. And plus, at one point, there were 650 people in a cramped space that had dim lighting. It was easy for me to miss them. Can’t speak for anyone else, though. Here they are with Nikki:

Also, Mizani gave away goodie bags containing a brochure on all the different hair types and two tiny samples of product, which was a little disappointing, given how big a company they are. They did have stylists giving hair styling demonstrations on models, which was interesting.

Here are some more pics:

They spelled her name wrong, y’all.

  Nikki and yours truly.

One of Mizani’s hair models.

Nikki’s husband

Someone joked on Nikki’s site the other day that the next time she came to New York, she’d have to rent Yankee Stadium. Given the response, she just may have to do that.

Seasons change

Posted in curly/kinky hair, Natural hair care with tags , , , , , , , on October 3, 2011 by Confessions of LadyV69

Hey all. So today was the first day it actually felt like fall in my neck of the woods. I actually don’t mind fall that much. I love all the different colors of the leaves as they fall from their trees. I also love the warmth and comfort of wearing sweaters and sipping hot chocolate. The thing is though, I have to re-evaluate my hair regimen with the change of seasons. Winter in particular is a problematic season for my hair, as the air generally contains less moisture which results in dry hair if I’m not careful. Using some of the same products that I used in warm weather won’t work as the weather turns colder. A lot of people may think it doesn’t make a difference, but I can tell you from experience, that it really does. In particular, any product containing a humectant has to go. Examples of humectants are glycerin and propylene glycol. They work by attracting the moisture from the air into your hair. The air generally tends to be more humid in the summer in many places, so those ingredients work fine in keeping your hair moisturized. However, in the winter, the air tends to be drier, so since the air lacks moisture, those ingredients end up drawing the moisture away from your hair, which makes it dry. No bueno. Actually I tend to use products where if they contain humectants, they aren’t too high up on the ingredient list as they tend to make my hair poufy and I only like that look when I’m not at the office. So no humectants.  I need to use heavier, creamy products in cold weather as my hair will need all the moisture it can get. A lot of gels tend to have a lighter consistency and tend to contain alcohol, which can rob your hair of moisture and dry it out, so they’ll have to go as the seasons change too.

As far as styles for the winter, I’ve already declared that I’m laying off most protective styles as they’ll either stress my fragile edges too much or they just don’t look good on me. I don’t use direct heat on my hair very often because of the potential for damage, so blow drying will be kept to a minimum. However, doing a wash and go and stepping out the door with wet hair in 0 degree weather ain’t happening. I have a friend who does that and she once told me she’s gotten icicles in her hair. Um, no. I know scientists say that walking around with wet hair in cold weather doesn’t cause illness, that viruses do, but I’d rather not take any chances. I need to invest in a diffuser before this month is over. The heat is less concentrated so there’s less potential for damage. Whether I retain length by keeping my hair out the majority of the winter is another matter. Many naturals will say that I won’t, but I don’t have the dense, thick hair that’s needed to make many protective styles look decent, so rather than try to force my hair to look like something it’s not, I have to do what’s best for me and work with it. That’s all you can do when it comes to your hair, period. I have to do some experimenting in the next few weeks in order to see what will work for the next few months. I’m actually looking forward to it and seeing it as a challenge. Don’t ask me about snow, though.

Naturalversary!

Posted in curly/kinky hair, hair growth, Natural hair care with tags , , , , , , , on September 18, 2011 by Confessions of LadyV69

Hey, all! I had a good weekend. Hope yours was just as good. Last night, I went to the World Bar with a friend for a singles event. It’s in the Trump World Tower and it’s located a few blocks from the UN. The decor is mainly beige and the chairs and sofas were all square shaped. I did like the ambiance of the place but the space is small. Also, the cost of the drinks were exorbitant. But I had a good time. It was good to be social after everything I’ve been through lately. I even got a free T shirt out of it.

Today, I went to a street fair in another friend’s neighborhood. I actually lived there as well over 10 years ago, but I moved 10-15 minutes away 9 years ago. There were the usual things there-vendors selling food, jewelry, clothes and promoting local businesses. There were also a few rides for the kids. I just bought a plate of West Indian food-curry chicken, rice, potatoes and chick peas and hung out with the friend for a couple of hours, so it was a nice day overall.

Today is also significant in that this is the second anniversary of my BC (big chop)! This was after around 18 months without getting a relaxer. Even though I didn’t put much thought into doing one initially, I don’t regret it. The freedom I have with natural hair is immeasurable. No more spending 5 hours in a salon. No more burns. No more scabs. No more limp and lifeless hair. I no longer have to avoid rain, humidity and exercise. I now control my hair. My hair doesn’t control me. Total bliss.

I don’t have any pictures from right after I did the BC. It didn’t occur to me that I’d need to take any to track my progress. This picture from January 2010 is one of the earliest I have:

These are from Summer 2010:

January 2011. I look tired in this picture. It was after a party I’d had in my house:

Last week:

I started with hair that was around chin length. Now the back layer is nearly APL. How did I do it? I mostly just did and still do the basics, which are:

  1. I rarely sleep without a satin bonnet, satin scarf or satin pillowcase. Cotton pillowcases rob the moisture from your hair and leave it dry and strawlike. They can also lead to breakage. I found this out a few weeks ago firsthand.
  2. I moisturize and seal every day. I’ll either use a moisturizer with water as the first ingredient or a leave in with water as a top ingredient, depending on how dry my hair is. Then I seal with either jojoba oil or shea butter. Not moisturizing and sealing every day will lead to dryness and breakage.
  3. As my hair got longer, I discovered that I had to wash it in sections as I was losing too much hair while detangling. Some naturals wash their hair in twists or braids but I don’t like to do so. The one time I tried it that way, the twists kept unraveling and I didn’t feel that my hair got clean. What I do is I separate my hair into four loose sections, secure with duck bill clips, detangle with my fingers under running water with conditioner, wash and/or condition each section, then move on to the next section.
  4. A lot of naturals swear by protective styling to retain length, but as I’ve mentioned before, certain protective styles look horrid on me and there are others that I can’t do as they’ll stress my fragile edges too much. I gave up on them as of this spring. I’ll see what happens over the winter when the cold and dry air try to destroy my strands, but I plan to wear the same wash and goes, twistouts and braidouts I’ve been wearing. I do have to invest in a diffuser, though.

You may have also noticed that color I had in my hair before. I got the color on the day of my BC at the salon I went to. I got tired of it after around 6 months, but I had learned by then that commercial hair dyes aren’t the best for your hair as they can dry it out and damage it so I decided to just grow it out. At this point, it’s almost all gone from my hair. My future plans for my hair involve using henna as it’s a natural rinse that won’t damage it unlike commercial dyes. I also hear it can strengthen hair. I have very fine hair, so it can use all the strengthening it can get. Whenever I get around to doing a treatment, I’ll let you know.

I had planned on washing and deep treating my hair today actually, but I was kind of tired after the street fair. It doesn’t really need  to be washed that badly. I tend to wash my hair on Sunday out of habit. I’ll just do it tomorrow. I plan on just putting it into about 8 twists before bed, then wear it in a twistout or curly fro tomorrow.

Later.

Origins

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on July 16, 2011 by Confessions of LadyV69

Yeah, I know. This is yet another blog. What I intend to do with mine though is relate what being natural is like in the context of my everyday life. So you won’t see many product reviews or styling demonstrations on here. Other hair blogs do those things very well. This is going to be a lot more introspective and personal as I won’t just talk about hair. I have never done anything like this before, so I’m excited and nervous at the same time. I’ve wanted to have a blog for awhile but the mere thought of starting one was daunting. I’m not the most technologically capable person out there. But then I finally figured that the only way to get started was to just jump in. So here I am. I hope you’ll enjoy the journey.

  • ‘Natural Hair’: New Divisive Movement (venusgenus.com)