Long Hair, Who Cares?!

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Recently, I was on vacation and for the latter half of my stay I put my hair in large havana twists. It looked so natural that people–black people, surprisingly, could not tell that it wasn’t my hair. I was stopped many times and asked if this was my real hair, or how long did it take to grow? I was complimented and admired with, your hair is so beautiful, I love your hair. I had never gotten so many compliments on a hairstyle before. Moreover, every single person, with the exception of one, were men! Can you believe that??! Black men, asking me, a black woman, if this is my real hair! I didn’t know how to feel about this.. Happy? Amused? Offended?

After a while, I studied the situation and actually felt some kinda way, which I cannot describe in one word. I was not angry at the men who asked if this was my real hair per se, but I became conscious of the ideation of long hair seeming to be more admirable than short hair. It was as if being natural was no longer the problem of being excluded in worldly beauty, but now having shorter, natural, is what is specifically overlooked.

I began to feel as though we, as black people, did not entire break the chains of mental slavery. And I am not saying it is our fault. I believe that we had a breakthrough but it needs to go a step further. Yes, we’ve come far with the return of natural tresses, but many of us are still seeking length for beauty. We need to evaluate our reasons for desiring long hair. Some of us may feel inadequate or substandard having not attained long hair length goals. We protective style to cover up our “ugly phase” aka short hair and take hair pills to promote growth for long lengths. Now, if you are doing certain things for hair health, carry on, I support that!

However, from studying the encounters from my trip, I’ve concluded that there is still this ideation in society, that long hair is more attractive. This social construction of beauty was lurking in my subconscious for a long time and I hadn’t realized it until I was probed by these men. It had been whispering to me ever since I became natural, and long hair was my desire. Once I did the big chop, all I wanted was length, and then health was close for a second focus. Basically, I made length more important than health which really didn’t work out because heathy hair is actually what causes length (reduced breakage, etc). Point is, I desired long hair, all my life. But don’t get my wrong, I felt beautiful with my short natural hair as well. The problem was I saw it as a phase and I wasn’t content with staying in that phase. It was meant to be a passing and not a permanancy.

Today, I still struggle with my hair at its short/medium length. I struggle with natural protective styling and finding the time to care for my hair. But now being fully aware of the feelings that lurked in my subconscious for a long time, I plan to be more conscientious and loving to my hair. I plan to work on my self-esteem and self-acceptance. Having confidence as a natural is one thing, but one should decipher whether that is true confidence or wall of delusion and denial around societal standards deeply ingrained in your reasons for your hair goals..

#foodforthought

x0x0,
Sarahdee

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Black Women: Hair and Money Talk!

Source: Pinterest

Image Source: Pinterest

Whether the statement above is true or not, the intended purpose (for this post), is to shock and to awaken one’s subconscious and unconscious mind to utter focal awareness.

The hair business today, is a lucrative and rapidly growing industry. Since the natural hair boom, there has especially been an overabundance of products that share a majority of ingredients, claims and perform the same kind of performance on one’s hair and are sold by many companies. large and small…the same goes for the selling of virgin hair for extensions.

It is overwhelming and it has caused many of us naturals to become “product junkies,” testing out every and anything! Our main excuse which is our downfall is that we must continue to try products until we find what works perfectly for us. Then, we add that product to our “staples,” and continue the hunt to find the rest of products to complete our hair care routine. This justification is only self-enabling, with prospects not so great for our pockets, especially if we took a look back at how much we’ve spent on products that didn’t work for us and have gone to waste. Personally, I know that to date, I’ve spent more than a thousand on hair products and virgin hair.

Companies are profiting majorly from this. There isn’t much they have to do to get us trying an entire line of products or different kinds of virgin hair. Good marketing, attractive packaging, and bold and believable claims are good enough to grasp our attention and interest and lure us in.

I believe that this statistic of our spending on products will soon decline. I say this because, and I will use myself as an example, I was once a product junkie once I returned natural, and since doing research and being conscientious of the ingredients in my products, I can easily weed out the good from the bad. Nowadays, I’ve simplified it even more–I don’t jump for the big company products much anymore–I prefer to get the straight and natural stuff.

For example, before, I would buy a brand name type of essential oil blend. In my intermediate stage, I would check the ingredients for fillers and unnecessary or bad chemicals and opt for an essential oil blend that contained recognizable ingredients (not chemical compounds with big names that don’t seem like English). Now, I just buy the oils that I love and that work for me, such a organic coconut oil, jojoba oil, sweet almond, etc. I can create my own oil blend and I know exactly what is in my blend and it lasts much longer than store brand blends, which essentially makes it the cheapest investment. The same goes for some styling products, moisturizers, deep conditioners, etc. However, I relapse from time to time and end up buying some new product to try, hoping that I would love it, and add it to my staple products and hair care routine.

As for hair weaves, I consider that an investment, and I expect them to last forever and therefore reuse them over and over. I do not plan to purchase new hair for the rest of my life, let alone, after this year. I hope to attain my hair length goal by next year, and be able to have more versatility when rocking my tresses. From time to time, I will switch it up with wigs I create from the hair weaves I have, and also utilize protective styling with synthetic twists and braids.

Overall, my excessive product bingeing days are over. I have better control over my spending and am conscientious of what I look to buy. As I continue to narrow down by using up most of the products I already have, I try keep my hair regimen as simple as possible. It also helps that I can do my own hair, so I don’t have to go to a salon and get it washed, treated and styled, or have braids and twists done. That process in itself saves a ton of money. I also do some small money-saving things such as reusing synthetic hair (marley hair) from Havana twists. Anyhow, to conclude, I am heading towards the clear from this statistic. My goals are to simplify my hair care routine/regimen to look like this example I’ve created below:

1 sulfate poo
1 sulfate-free poo
1 conditioner/cowash
2 or 3 hair mask combos/DC treatments e.g.: a protein, a moisture/hydration, etc.
homemade essential oil combo
1 cream/butter (pure shea butter)
1 gel (friendly ingredients)
1 edge control (optional)

Ultimately, I do not want to have more than one product that does the same job in my hair closet.

I hope that this post can help other naturals or relaxed women become aware of their spending on hair products and conduct an assessment to determine whether they are spending excessively on products. Collectively, we DO spend more than we should on our hair, not that is is our own fault entirely. We need to cut down in this area of our lives and be more conscientious of our spending. Other aspects of our life will appreciate it!

We put so much into our appearances that sometimes we don’t realize the value of that dollar we spend.

Below are links to a couple topics off on a tangent which I found to be interesting reads. Thought I would share with you all:

Why do Korean beauty supply stores succeed while Black Ones Struggle (blackinfrastructure.wordpress.com)

Why Do Korean Beauty Supply Stores Outnumber Black Owned Ones? (Blackhairinformation.com)

Natural vs. Relaxers, Weaves and Wigs

The ongoing hair war!!

Recently, I stumbled across a video on YouTube discussing Black women with weave vs. natural hair on the Trisha Goddard show. I believe that this topic is major and crucial in order to move past the judgement, criticism, and scorn that Black women receive about their hair and to gain understanding, acceptance, and support of one another. Here is the video below:

I do not feel that this video did this topic any justice due to lack of time and the differences in opinions from the panel of speakers. It seemed as though they lacked the necessary empathy and understanding of one another. Instead, some of them were trying to prove why their hairstyle was the best and the “right way.” They did not appreciate and respect one another as Black women and come to mutual grounds, hence the reason why I believe this cycle will continue.

We all come from different backgrounds, having different histories and upbringings, struggles and stories, etc. Not to mention that as individual human beings, we are all at different stages of growth in our lives. Combativeness, defensiveness and imposing opinions upon one another is not necessarily the most effective way to alleviate the proposed issues on our hair.

A part of me wanted to be upset and chime in on the argument, especially when the guy had his opinion on black women as “negropeans.” <–No offense taken as I do not identify with that. I had to take a mental step back and say to myself,

“…whoa, there is no need for me to get worked up over these opinions that these people are entitled to. They are expressing their beliefs as a part of society. That’s right, society..one of the main causes and contributors of corrupt mindsets and the development of self-hate. To argue would mean that I am trying to prove myself to them, society, once again, which I am not. Looking back on my hair journey, the American society’s opinions and standards of beauty was the reason why I permed in the first place! So nah not me, not again, I will not internalized the self-hate, the “negropean,” the “hiding” my natural hair with weave, etc. The only person I will answer to, live for, and seek my validation from is God. He is all for self-love and I have accepted MYSELF and love myself. My future husband will accept me as is and love me for who God made me, and God’s grace and mercy will always cover me from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet! He has accepted me, He made me!, so who care about the opinions of anyone else? No need to live a life full of misery dictated by society’s ever-changing opinions, standards, and beliefs.”

And after my self-assurance, my thought processes were back on track and my soul was well.

Remember:
“We are what our thoughts have made us; so take care about what you think. Words are secondary. Thoughts live; they travel far.” Swami Vivekananda

The discussion of this topic on the show, in my opinion, was ineffective for the most part in terms of breaking down the dividing wall and creating cohesion and understanding. On another hand, ironically, it shed some light on the continuity of deeply rooted issues that black women generally face. We are judged for wearing weaves, and wigs, having relaxers, texturizers, blonde hair, straight hair, natural hair, especially in an afro, and anything else, you name it! People are going to judge, it’s almost second nature to formulate thoughts, make side comments, give looks of disgust and disapproval, etc. However, it is up to us to respond and reaction or lack thereof, or internalized and live a life controlled and validated by other’s likes and dislikes.

Here is my standpoint:

Today, I am a proud natural. In the past I’ve had perms, texturizers, Dominican salon blow outs, extensions, etc. Currently, I own wigs, and hair extensions to make wigs. I am all for doing whatever makes one happy with their hair BUT FIRST, you must come to terms with accepting your natural self at some point. And I am speaking to those who’ve chemically relaxed their hair like I had and had never been and remained natural all their lives.

I first became self-conscious about my natural hair at the age of 9, when I came to America. 99% of the black girls that I saw in this America had straight hair and I was the odd man out with natural kinky hair. I started to think that my own natural hair was ugly and unacceptable and I begged my mother to straighten my hair. I experienced the self-hate that probably most of the girls with straight hair did with their natural hair. Whether consciously, subconsciously, or unconsciously, self-hate thrived within us because that fact that we got our hair chemically relaxed and kept up with it to rid of our natural, “unacceptable” curl pattern is proof that we did so.

Fast forward to 2011, I returned to my natural hair after transitioning for a few months because I felt that my texturized failed me for the first time causing my hair to break off in the middle. I took a leap of faith that Spring to do the big chop (BC) and rock my teeny weeny afro (TWA) in public. And let me tell you, although deep down I was slightly uncomfortable because change is at first uncomfortable, for the most part I was PROUD that took that leap of faith and reverted back to my natural self. I was not ashamed and I knew I stood out in school, in public, and among my peers. I didn’t mind the stares too much because I accepted MYSELF..my NATURAL self. I LOVEDDDDD my hair then, and even more now. It was the most liberating experience in my life thus far! I felt the chains breaking and I smiled from ear-to-ear, exuding confidence in my natural state and feeling FREE!!

After accomplishing that, I was able to do any and everything to my hair without purposely trying to disguise my natural hair out of self-hate and disgust. I no longer wanted what the majority had, as I did when I was 9, I just did what I wanted to do with my own hair. After all of this and that, I can go texturize my hair again or perm it if I wanted to because I have liberated myself from oppression and mental slavery that trends and things deemed acceptable by the majority/society is the supposed definition of beautiful. I can have extensions if I wanted to because I am my own definition of beauty and need no validation from ANYONE because my God is my only creator of ALL things and He has made no mistake on ME.

These days, I make hairstyle choices for fun, no longer to hide.

 And that is REAL acceptance.

You must become confident in the skin and with the hair that God has blessed you with. You must NOT be ashamed of your natural self and natural hair. It may take some time, but you CAN get there. Each person has their own rate of personal growth and it is not for us to judge anyone on their hair choice. We must be supportive, empathetic, and listen to each other’s stories. Once you’ve truly and fully accepted YOURSELF for who you truly are, THEN, I believe that it is absolutely safe to enhance your already-beautiful-self with whatever you’d like without getting too carried away.. Some people enhance their beauty with make-up, some with jewelry, others with a new outfit for a special occasion, etc. If adding hair, or straightening your hair gives you an extra boost, then there’s nothing wrong with that. Just remember the importance of acknowledging and accepting your natural self FIRST and not getting caught up in the facade of excess enhancements and depending on them to define your beauty. Be your own definition of beautiful and never depend on society to define it for you. After all, God created you for His glory, not the world’s.

xoxo

With Love & Acceptance,
Sarah Dee