Tracee Ellis Ross wants you to love your hair

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Let the church say, “AMEN!”

I love my hair because:

1. It has a mind of its own.

2. It’s big. And as a Southerner, the bigger the hair, the closer to God.

3. It’s fluffy.

4. It’s resilient! It survived tragic haircuts, bad dye jobs, and over 15 years of chemical processing.

5. It’s mine. And discovering it has taught me to love myself, as I am.

Do you love your hair? Tell us why in the comments!

Xo, Alexis

About these ads

Yes, this is my real hair. No, you may not touch it.

survivormode

If you don’t know me in real life and have somehow missed a snapshot of me on this blog, you may not know that I have natural hair (and by “natural”, I mean it is free of chemical relaxers that would make it straight). I transitioned to natural hair in 2008, when I was going through a major life change and a ton of stress that manifested in hair loss. I’m talking clumps of hair coming out at a time. So – as a salon junkie – I decided to simplify my life and stop fixating on my hair. I decided to return to my roots, so to speak, and stop damaging my already fine strands and tender head by just seeing what would happen if I stopped the lyes (pun intended).

So. Fast forward five years and I have a full, healthy head of nearly bra-strap length, naturally curly hair. I love my texture (which is somewhere between 3B and 3C if you’re into hair typing, and I am not), and I love the versatility: I can get dressed without paying undue attention to the weather report and having a zillion back up plans for humidity or rain.  I can wear it curly or I can have it blown straight, all in the same week. Top knots, blowouts, or simply wash and go…I wear it all.

That being said, I am not my hair. During the process of returning to natural hair, I learned to appreciate what makes me, ME. But I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what having natural hair means. To me, it’s just hair: not a political statement.  How I wear it is strictly a matter of personal choice. But I’ve also learned that other people are fascinated by natural textures, and I’ve entertained a lot of positive and negative comments and questions – from specific product usage to how I achieve my curl pattern – and I welcome them. Learning to care for something I hadn’t really dealt with since say, elementary school (when my “styling” technique was limited to a ponytail) was daunting, and I don’t mind sharing the tips I’ve picked up along the way, or receiving new ones from others. I’ve learned not to be offended by people who don’t understand “why I HAVE to wear my hair that way“…as if there’s something wrong, ugly or inappropriate about the crown and glory I grow naturally. That’s their issue, not mine.  But what I don’t appreciate is the random person who walks up and puts his or her hand in or on my hair.

So I was interested to see this social experiment, where women with various textures stood on the street and let strangers feel their hair, in the name of satisfying their curiosity, combating ignorance, and engaging in discussion. And I guess they were stunned to find out it feels like what it is: HAIR.

I appreciate that this was done in the spirit of enlightening folks and I can totally appreciate the curiosity, but you don’t have to touch something in order to admire it.  It’s okay to ask questions and engage with me verbally (feel free to, I love it!), but touching me is far too much.  My body is not a free-for-all, and I’m not a one-woman petting zoo or exhibit. It’s really mind-blowing to me that people remain blissfully unaware that women’s bodies are not up for grabs. I don’t want to go all “eye of the tiger” on anyone, but I consider uninvited touching an unspoken invitation for me to “touch” you back. Extreme? Yeah. But we all learn in preschool (or via home training) to keep our hands to ourselves.

If you really want to know what dealing with my hair is like,  just ask my stylist.

Your thoughts?

SCDD Public Service Announcement

If you have naturally curly strands that tangle or snarl when wet, then RUN (don’t walk!) to get a bottle of Kinky Curly Knot Today leave-in conditioner and detangler.

Available for $11.99 at select Target locations, the product detangles with ease and leaves my curls silky smooth. I apply two to three half-dollar sized amounts to my hair while wet, saturate from the roots to the ends, and comb through my strands with a large tooth comb or a Denman brush. As someone who has been tremendously tender-headed since birth but has a head full of hair, I can say Knot Today works like a charm, allowing me to comb out my hair with virtually no stress to my scalp and minimal hair loss as a result.

I’ve found that the 8 ounce bottle lasts for at least 8-10 shampoos or conditioner washes, and it is alcohol and paraben-free.  And as the website notes, “[it] can be used as a regular rinse out conditioner for wavy hair or as a leave-in for thicker curlier hair types. [Knot Today is] an excellent product to use after removing braids and extensions.”

Buy it, try it and thank me later!

Image via Kinky Curly

Don’t get it twisted: NY Magazine vs. NaturallyCurly.com

Kevin Roose recently referenced NaturallyCurly.com (a website devoted to individuals with natural textures) in a Dumb Money” piece for NY Magazine which stated “Some of tech’s clunkers never get off the ground, but others manage to get big, high-profile investments despite having no redeeming qualities whatsoever. (For example, what kind of genius decided to throw $1.2 million at NaturallyCurly, the “leading social network and community for people with wavy, curly and kinky hair?”).”  The series planned to “periodically trawl tech blogs for the worst examples of Silicon Valley stupidity, then subject the investors behind them to public mockery,” though NaturallyCurly was not one of the five more closely-examined websites.

Quickly, members of the natural hair community clapped back in the comment section, and Christa Bailey,  the CEO of  NaturallyCurly’s parent company TextureMedia weighed in also, noting that “approximately 60% of the world has textured hair (waves, curls and coils). That’s a lot of people — close to 80 million textured hair females 18+ in the US alone.”  She continued: 

“Combined with other brands in the TextureMedia portfolio, NaturallyCurly serves close to 2 million unique visitors every month who appreciate having an engaged community platform to share and learn more about products, stylists, photos, trends, hair health and more.

Women with textured hair spend 3x more on average than their straight-haired peers.

Our community alone spends an annual $1/2 BILLION on hair care. They create 15,000 pieces of content every week, and they constantly struggle with weather, frizz, body chemistry changes as well as with social feedback ranging from recruiters recommending straightened hair in order to be taken “seriously” in job interviews to millionaire matchmaker, Patti Stanger insisting guys don’t like girls with curly hair.

Every day is a new hair day. Hair does not define someone, but tied to hair are intangibles like identity, self esteem, confidence, and personality. It’s a big deal to a lot of people.”

Roose posted an update to his article to clarify: “My point about NaturallyCurly (which sells products and provides advice to curly-haired people of all races) was simply that a social network built around a single community of any type is, in general, a dicey proposition. The annals of Internet history are littered with niche sites that have lost out to more general hubs…. My criticism was of the idea of a social network for curly-haired people, not the influence or viability of the curly-hair market in general.”

NaturallyCurly.com – 1, NY Magazine-0

It’s interesting how personal style and social media have intersected.  It’s also interesting to see how mainstream media seems to misunderstand the power and potential of sites that cater to this particular audience.  As a naturally curly individual, I remember how I felt the first time I found quality products for my hair in Target…the same way I felt when I found YouTube channels, web forums, and even a Facebook group that existed to fill the void I was seeing in the beauty industry.  And honestly, I was excited to see Viola Davis giving us fierce curls on the Oscar red carpet, and to see Oprah rocking them on her magazine’s cover!  Maybe the tech industry will catch up too.

Oh my…Oprah Goes Au Naturel!

Look who’s rocking natural hair on the cover of her magazine, on stands August 7!

Per oprah.com, the August edition is all about transformation.  Oprah notes: “The only way to real transformation is through the mind.”  Free your mind, and the rest will follow!

Are you loving her look?

Image via oprah.com

Darrius Peace Hopes to Redefine ‘Beauty’

The natural hair phenomenon  – which has remained a topic of discussion thanks to enthusiastic transitioners, social media and films such as Good Hair - shows no signs of slowing down.  Birmingham master barber, stylist and instructor and 12 year hair industry veteran Darrius Peace is introducing MyHairAintNappy.Com,  a resource he hopes will “help redefine what we consider, or what we’ve learned to [think of as] beautiful and incorporate organic beauty into that definition, [and to help others learn] to love and embrace themselves in their organic form.”

How did you get into the hair industry?  When I got to UAB [where he received a bachelors degree] I decided I would grow my hair out.  Because it was really difficult for me to find someone to do the styles I wanted – I thought every girl could braid, and was disappointed to find out every girl can’t – it got me into [styling my hair] myself .  [When] people inquired who did my hair,  I told them I did it myself.  Soon I established a small clientele on campus.  Then I decided to legitimize myself and get certified, and there was a barber college close to Rast Hall.  I went there to get proper licensing and certificiation so I could become a professional hair stylist.

What motivated you to launch MyHairAintNappy.com?  At some point I am going to retire from doing hair. When I do that, I want to leave a legacy.  I want to have a mark in the industry so my children can say, ‘Here was my dad’s contribution to the hair industry.’  It’s been beautiful in the four walls of the salon, and now I’m able to [share expertise I've only shared in the salon]  with the world.

Peace’s plans for his brand’s footprint extend beyond an online resource; he has also written and published a companion book, My Hair Ain’t Nappy: A Black Man’s Introspective on Natural Hair, which can be purchased on the website and at amazon.com.   

“The book offers information on how to effectively transition – both mentally and physically – into accepting, embracing and loving your natural hair.  It’s a must-read for all those that are transitioning or even have a thought of transitioning to natural hair,” Peace says.

Are you against the use of chemical relaxers?  I don’t want anyone to think I’m opposed to relaxers – I’m not.  I prefer that if you’re going to wear anything that isn’t native to your natural curl pattern, that you don’t wear it because you think your hair is nappy.  I hope that black people begin to employ more positive terminology in reference to our hair textures and omit words like “nappy” and all those other words that are antithetical to our being beautiful.

What’s the biggest mistake you feel naturalistas make with their hair?  I think the biggest mistake I’ve seen is people not seeking professional expertise.  YouTube has been a very valuable resource, but it’s mainly comprised of amateurs who have learned to master their own texture.  But a professional hair stylist has encountered various hair textures and can offer custom solutions to help you optimize your hair growth.

What do men really think about women with natural hair?  To be frank, brothers don’t care.  It ain’t even about your hair; it’s about you.  We love confidence, we love beauty, and we love you when you love you. 

For more information, connect with Darrius Peace via email: dpeace@myhairaintnappy.com.

Image courtesy of Darrius Peace

First Person Fabulous: Lynsey Weatherspoon

Lynsey Weatherspoon

Lynsey Weatherspoon, 27, is a freelance photographer and professor of public speaking at the University of Montevallo and Jefferson State Community College.  She recently chatted with SCDD about her unique sense of style, her photography work and the joys of living downtown.  Lynsey plans to spend her thirtieth birthday in Paris, which she feels is  “the best place for an artist to live or visit once in [his or her] life.”  Check out her website at lynseyweatherspoon.com.

On her inspiration and working style:  My mom inspired me [to become a photographer]. She was my first photography teacher. I learned on a Minolta Film Camera.  I took one class at the University of Montevallo and went from there.  [When taking photos] I try to let the client get a feel for my personality first, and I try not to pose unless it’s needed.  There’s always a sense of art direction.

The biggest misconception about photographers?  I think most people believe that photography (or starting a photography business) is easy.   In my opinion it’s not.  It’s easy to buy a camera but it’s not easy to acquire skill.

Her personal style? I wear makeup when it’s necessary, but I don’t want anything to clog my skin so I don’t wear it every day.  I try to step out of my box every once in a while.  I do try to keep up with the latest trends but at the same I know everything is not for me.  I’m a jeans and tee shirt kind of person.  Jeans, tee shirts, oxfords and Chuck Taylors. Comfortable chic.  My mood [influences my look].  My go-to outfit is this suit I found at the Ann Taylor outlet in South Carolina.  Outlet shopping is, like the best thing ever.  Not only for clothes, but for shoes.

People would be surprised to know: That I own more than one pair of heels.   I wear them when necessary.

On being a naturalista:  I transitioned in 2009. I wanted to try something new, so I thought I’d start locs.  It was the best decision I could’ve made.  I just knew that I was doing the same thing, the same way every day with my hair. I don’t think my hair showed my true personality.  So I started transitioning in January 2009.  [I did the] big chop in July 2009 [and] started locing on October 2009. For me the whole reason I started [the process] was to learn patience. I knew there would be points where I either loved my hair or hated it but I wouldn’t call transitioning a challenge. I became a better person as far as [having more] patience. 

Tell us about a new beauty technique you recently tried:  [Do you mean] the painful beauty technique I just tried? I went to have my eyebrows threaded for the first time.  Though they look awesome, I wouldn’t suggest that the weak of heart to try it. As single tear dropped out of each eye [during the procedure].   I hope it lasts all the way to Classic weekend, because I’m not going back (laughs).  If it doesn’t then hey, at least I can say I tried it.  For $10, [it was worth trying once].

Trends Lynsey wishes would go away? For men:   Snap back hats.  They’re not fitted; they’re the old school snap backs.  They died for a reason. [And] wing tip loafers. Please make them die.  For women: Graphic tees with inappropriate slogans and sayings.

On living downtown:  Living downtown is the second best thing I could have done.  There’s  a vibe to downtown Birmingham.  You have to live here to understand.  Especially in my building, where we’re all artists.  Though I’ve been here 27 years, I finally feel like  Birmingham is home. Being in the mix of everything is a great feeling.

What’s Birmingham’s best kept secret?  Have you ever been to Reed Books on Third Avenue? That’s Birmingham’s best kept secret.  The owner is Jim Reed. It’s the holy grail of books.  You’ll find something new every time you walk in that place.

Any exciting plans in your future? I plan on going back to school next year to work on a PhD in Visual Communication and possibly going out of the country for my photography work.

Parting words of wisdom? Live out your dreams.  There’s no point in saying “I wish I would have,”  just go ahead and do it.

Image courtesy of Lindsey Griffin Photography

Haute or Not? Pi Nappa Kappa

In cased you missed it, Leola Anifowoshe has founded Pi Nappa Kappa, a sorority for women with natural hair.  The group is tied to Anifowoshe’s Natural Healthy Hair Society and not any college or university.  Membership simply requires that one sign a pledge which supports diversity and promotes  a “culture of respect.”  The controversial group, which Anifowoshe claims is all about “sisterhood,” has outraged some African-American members of traditional Greek organizations.   Our take is that PNK’s nomenclature is simply a marketing gimmick designed to grab attention among the many individuals looking to capitalize on the natural hair phenomenon.  While we agree with their mission, we’ll pass on pledging. 

Image courtesy of Huffington Post

That’s Haute: Joey Digital Shows Naturalistas Love

Joey Digital (FAMU grad/Atlanta entrepreneur/founder of digitalguestlist.com) is showing mad love to ladies rocking natural hair (i.e. minus chemical relaxers and weaves).  His Atlanta Classic and FAM U Homecoming bashes are offering special discounts for naturalistas.  While some are criticizing the self-proclaimed “envelope pusher,” Same Chic Different Day applauds his affirmation of natural divas and his mission of spreading the “Gospel of Natural Hair” everywhere.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Image courtesy of  Joey Digital 

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