Oh my poor coif!

The past several posts have been a bit more on the serious side so I say it’s time to lighten the mood and what better way to do that than by talking hair. Get a group of Black women together and after a few hours of conversation inevitably the talk will turn to hair. Let me say as my Granny used to say and I am slightly paraphrasing but my hair is giving me the flux! Older black folks always have the best damn expressions but seriously, yes my hair is working my last nerve.

Let’s recap for those who haven’t been long time readers, I have had natural hair now for about 10 years or so yet I am not a hair person. What does that mean? It means I have never been the type of gal to just play in my hair for the fun of it. Shit, I can’t even braid hair! (Y’all see now why I live in Maine, I lack some of those skills it’s assumed all Black girls have…I had to hideaway in Maine) Yet my lack of hair skills is coming back to haunt me in a big way.

When I made the leap from relaxed hair to going natural, I kept it simple by just cutting all my hair off. No, really I took it from almost shoulder length to about 1.5 inches total. That was heaven, talk about wash and go, which was the ultimate wash and go. Then I decided maybe I should grow my hair out so I did that for a while and when I got tired of wrapping shit around my hair combined with my mother’s passing I decided it was time for dreadlocks. I had dreads for 5 years and in 2009 decided it was time to let them go. They had become physically and spiritually heavy and the lessons I needed to learn during that process had been learned. So I cut em off but this time rather than an inch or so of hair on my head I kept a good 4-5 inches. Since cutting my dreads, I have let my hair grow out and last year started having my hair braided on a regular basis. I admit I enjoyed the braids for a while but recently after taking them out (my braider uses some extensions) realized that my hair is extremely dry and really not in great shape. I have not had a haircut or trim since 2009 and my hair is all kinds of confused.

Now I know all about the various hair styling tutorials on You Tube and sites like Nappturality, etc as far as places to get hair information. I gotta be honest those places overwhelm me, the other day I spent damn near 3 hours on Nappturality and walked away confused as hell. First off in many cases when folks recommend types of products to use, um….I live in Maine, so my access to shit is greatly limited. While I love products like Oyin Handmade, it’s a pain in the ass to order products which take a week to arrive and then you realize oh this shit doesn’t work in my hair. Hand crafted products like Oyin are just high enough with shipping and time that honestly dropping dollars to get something that may or may not work is really not a gamble I want to take.

The other day my hair was crying out for some TLC, it needed me to make sweet love to it. So off I went to find some products. I realize these may not be the best products but at least my hair looks a little happier. I washed with Pantene’s Relaxed & Natural Shampoo for women of color, and then did a deep conditioning with Palmer’s Deep Conditioning Protein Pack, and then I twisted my hair using Cantu’s Shea Butter Leave in Conditioner Repair Cream. I have also taken to adding a dab of Cantu’s Daily Oil Moisturizer. If nothing else my coif while messy most certainly smells good.

But good people what I need help with is styles, in the past I would rock a wash and go afro puff up high, but in light of the dryness I am trying to stay away from washing daily…my hair seems to be saying no more. The other day I did this adorable side roll thingy that while cute the man said made me look matronly. Oh dear. I would love to rock some two strand twists but mine are not for public consumption…they look horrible though they make for a decent twist out the next day though a tad wild.

I know I have some sistas who read here who are natural; tell me what you are doing with your coif? More importantly if you live in a non urban area what do you do for hair products? I should add I used to try to get stuff from the health food store like jojoba oil, etc but that turned my hair extra greasy but not moist if that makes any sense. I want a moist head of hair, I don’t want to be mistaken for salad dressing!

Black Beauty

Thanks to yet another snow storm, I find myself at home with time to kill since with another foot of snow expected on top of the however many feet of snow already piled up in my yard, leaving the house is simply not an option. So it seems like a great day to break my blog hiatus and share some thoughts, after all it is Black History Month which is perfect for what I want to talk about today…black beauty.

Living in the United States which despite all the talk of being a post racial society is a hard place to be as a Black woman. Frankly it’s hard for all women, but today I speak as a Black woman because it’s my experience and I know it. From an early age little brown girls learn quickly they are not valued nearly as much as their pale counterparts. The images that little girls see are primarily that of pale girls with silky hair, girls whose natural body shapes often don’t look like theirs.

Unless caregivers are aware of the damage of what happens when you consume a steady diet of images that in no way resemble you, can do to a little girl’s psyche it’s the rare brown girl who will make it to adulthood not conflicted in some ways about her appearance. Generally for my sistern this manifests itself in how we approach our hair.

Hair is often seen as a woman’s crown and glory yet many Black women have a hard time truly grasping that concept when deep down we wonder why our hair won’t do this or that. I have been a natural haired Black woman for a decade now yet it’s only been in recent years that I had true acceptance of what my hair can and cannot do and I am at peace with it. Yet despite the growth in Black woman shunning chemical relaxers and choosing natural hair the fact remains it takes more than simply not putting the creamy crack in your hair to have real acceptance.

When most Black women first go natural they are excited and in many cases trade the addiction to relaxer for the addition to the perfect products that will cause their hair to have curl definition or waves or some other feature that will make their hair appear socially acceptable. I know when I first went natural and did the big chop I was addicted to using Care Free Curl activator gel because it made my hair look curly opposed to tight kinky curls that looked nappier. Then there was the point when my hair started growing out and then it looked like a frizzy mass and I remember being disappointed.

Perhaps it was because of my own frustrations and eventual realization that my hair is never going to lay down (unless it’s being manipulated in some fashion) which is what made this video interesting to me. Please check it out, now I admit the sista is hilarious in her presentation but what she says actually made me think. In the course of my decade long journey I have had folks make all kinds of suggestions about what to use in my hair and for the most part none of it works. I am at the point that pretty much what works best for my hair and my lifestyle as far as energy I am going to put out is, short fro, dreads or braids oh and the occasional afro puff. I am not a play in the hair person, after 30 mins my hands get tired and I have as my braider says at least 2-3 different textures of hair on my head of hair. For years I had a hard time accepting what looked good on me and really coveted the looser curls that I would see on some sisters but guess what it’s not for me.

Yet the sista in the video while it’s clear she is distressed, at the root of her rant is someone who still needs to do the mental work that is part of truly accepting her beauty. But too many of us are not surrounded by folks who give us that validation we need instead we suffer internally. Ultimately too many do not see the beauty of a Black woman’s natural crown and glory…plain and simple. It’s why we spend hundreds of dollars on products to smooth our hair because we still equate beauty with a standard that is not our standard of beauty.

This brings me to this piece. It was in my local news and what stood out was that the woman arrested was a Black woman, a rather cute one too. Now I am not passing judgment on what she does or the charges against her but in reading the comments online following the article it was clear that not too many others saw her as attractive, instead stealing her person-hood by referring to her in terms that strip her of person-hood. So I asked the Spousal Unit was she cute and he said yes. Interestingly enough I think the fact that she appears to have dreads is what really stood out to me, but overall I was reminded of how very little black beauty is valued.

Never mind the fact that she is working in a profession where her looks are required so that she can earn money. I doubt she would be dancing at a club if the tips/earnings weren’t there so clearly someone finds her attractive yet in a public venue like the paper, people feel they must judge her looks. This is life for the Black woman in America. A place where we will always struggle for acceptance yet to truly be accepted most of us must start the work internally. We also need to start with our kids especially our girls; we must present images that affirm what they see in the mirror. It helps if you are in a racially diverse area but even my house, we hang Black art, we buy books and dolls that mirror back what my girl sees in my, in pictures of family members and more importantly what she sees in the mirror.

Update on that Hur Situation

Since I have had a few folks who know me personally wondering if all is well after reading my last post on my hair. I figure I’d better post an update. Whatever had me thinking that hair straightening was a good idea has passed, I am just going to blame that line of thought on PMS and my perimenopausal state. See, I tell the Spousal Unit I get a smidge crazy during that time of the month and I am only half kidding.

No, I actually did some research and was horrified about the process. (good grief, creamy goo and high heat, shit that sounds like a recipe to have no hair left to worry about at all) That said, I am still undecided about my hair as someone pointed out it’s probably tied to the fact that hair is spiritual. Spiritually I am going through some stuff but I can’t reveal that at this time.

So for the moment I am doing nothing, I am pretty much thinking its time to get a haircut despite my wish for length since really when I only have a few inches on my head, life is easy. Or the other option, get some add a hair via kinky twists and go ahead and call it a day.

I do know whatever I do, it won’t involve large quantities of cash nor time. The last thing I need now is to add regular salon time to my already cramped schedule.

So while to some my hair woes may seem trivial, hey this is my spot and I ramble. Have a great week!