Fa La La La La

Tis the season to be natural! As the holidays approach, I’ve been thinking about what I want to see wrapped in beautiful paper under the tree, or sticking out of my stocking. Here are some of the things on my list.

Essential Oils

Oils

For the burgeoning mixtress in me, my friend Judes gave me my first set of essential oils for my birthday in April and I was in heaven!  I loved being able to add drops of peppermint or bergamot into whatever conditioner I was about to use, or to create my own pre-poo using a carrier oil as a base.  And let’s talk about the miracle these oils perform on shea butter, which (let’s face it) does NOT smell like roses.

Naturally, I’d love it if Santa’s Little Helpers restocked my essential oils (including that dreaded lavender… yup Vee, I said it!) and carrier oils, along with the coveted Jamaican Black Castor oil, which is nearly impossible to find in Canada.  And I’d really love to get a few that I haven’t tried before too.

I don’t know where Judes got the set she gave me, but I’m sure you guys are resourceful enough to use Google.

To “beef up” this gift, why not purchase some cute bottles from Ikea or Pier 1 to put the oil in?  Look around and be creative.  However, make sure to buy bottles that are tinted.  Direct light makes the oil go rancid more quickly.

Monthly Product Subscriptions

So the product junkie in me seems to be growing bigger and bigger by the day. For a reasonable monthly fee, I can feed my addiction with a subscription to a product-of-the-month club. Each delivery consists of a sampling of hair and personal care products hand-selected for curlies and naturals alike. Sometimes the offerings are full-sized!

The two I’ve had my eye on are curlBOX and CurlKit.

Each of these has its own appeal. While CurlKit seems to focus a little more on products with mainly natural/organic ingredients, I must admit that I’m quite seduced by the beautiful packaging of curlBOX. Did I mention the full-sized samples?

It’s hard to choose between the two… so why choose, right? Hint… hint…

Gift Sets

Gift and a Half!
Oyin Website

Anyone who knows me, knows that I’ve been having a long-time love affair with Oyin Handmade products.

Ever since the first day I stumbled across their hilarious YouTube videos, I’ve had a soft spot in my heart for the kooky couple (JAMYLAAAAAA BENNU… and her husband) responsible for the uber-moisturizing Juices & Berries, the deliciously scented Greg Juice, and my personal favorite – Shine & Define. So anyone who knows me, knows that I’d love love LOVE to get a box set from Oyin… Say, a Gift and a Half, maybe?  Oh, and they also have a “Black Nerds Unite” tee that I could easily add to my wardrobe.

No Frizz Fizz Cocktail

Curlmart has a gift set with six or seven products from its shopping cart. Or you can even find a nice box set from Shea Moisture called Curl & Shine Kit too.

Jamyla Bennu &
Fellow Nerds

Oyin (yes, I’m back to that) also sells sample sizes of many of their products. Perfect for my stocking, or as decorative bobbles for wrapping my bigger gifts… but no pressure…

Styling Tools & Appliances

Secura – a Reasonable Huetiful Substitute

I have a very old “bonnet dryer” that belonged to my grandmother. The bonnet is a plastic cap, similar to a shower cap, with a hose a-la-vacuum-cleaner sticking out the back, and a very loud motor. I can’t be certain, but I think it’s powered by a little tiny dinosaur… you know like on the Flintsones? When it comes to deep conditioning, it does do the job, but it would be nice to upgrade to an appliance from this century. A shiny new steamer like the Huetiful Steamer would be abfab, but a reasonable substitute would be the Secura S-192.

Gold ‘n Hot
GH3400

A heating cap would be welcome if the much preferred steamer wasn’t possible.

Curlformers

For style experimentation, a set of Flexirods or Curlformers would be nice.  One of each would be even better, since I’m not sure which would work best for my hair.

Things like ponytail clips, barettes, hair pins, and ouchless elastics are also welcome.

And I’ve been looking for a genuine Denman brush for the longest time.

Head Coverings

byEA Etsy Shop

At one point, I was known around the corridors of my workplace as “The Girl with the Hats.” Feels like the old hat fetish has come back. Along with beanies, silk scarves and silk scrunchies, I wouldn’t mind breathing some new life into my hat wardrobe with some cool, funkie new pieces. You know, for those days when I don’t have the time or the inclination to style my hair. Maybe even a few headbands or a fascinator or two.

Etsy has a ton of stores selling cute and original styles.

Books

Natural Hair Bible

I don’t have a library of hair books, though I have read one or two that people have loaned me. Here’s a list of titles that seem interesting to me:

  • The Science of Black Hair (Audrey Davis-Sivasothy)
  • Hair Care Rehab (Audrey Davis-Sivasothy)
  • Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America (Ayana D. Byrd/Lori L. Tharps)
  • Better Than Good Hair (Nikki Walton)

At the top of my list is the Audrey Davis-Sivasothy book.  I have read a few excerpts from it and have heard numerous gurus refer to it.  It’s what you’d call a “bible” for hair care.

Cute for Kids!

There are a few children’s books that would be fun to read to my niece and nephew too:

  • I Love My Hair (Natasha Anastasia Tarpley)
  • I Love My Cotton Candy Hair (Nicole Updegraff)

I could go on and on and on…

Maybe I’ve inspired you with ideas for yourself or for your beloved naturalista.  What’s on your list?

Happy shopping, Santa!

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Meteorologist Twisting in the Wind

Did you hear the one about the black meteorologist named Rhonda Lee from Louisiana? She was terminated following her response to a viewer’s expression of possibly derogatory concern, via Facebook, regarding her hair, which is a TWA…

Yeah, it wasn’t funny to me either.

The Facebook of Adversity

The viewer stated:

the black lady that does the news is a very nice lady.the only thing is she needs to wear a wig or grow some more hair. im not sure if she is a cancer patient. but still its not something myself that i think looks good on tv. what about letting someone a male have waist long hair do the news.what about that (cq).

Ms. Lee’s response was:

I am the ‘black lady’ to which you are referring. I’m sorry you don’t like my ethnic hair. And no I don’t have cancer. I’m a non-smoking, 5’3, 121 lbs, 25 mile a week running, 37.5 year old woman, and I’m in perfectly healthy physical condition.

I am very proud of my African-American ancestry which includes my hair. For your edification: traditionally our hair doesn’t grow downward. It grows upward. Many Black women use strong straightening agents in order to achieve a more European grade of hair and that is their choice. However in my case I don’t find it necessary. I’m very proud of who I am and the standard of beauty I display. Women come in all shapes, sizes, nationalities, and levels of beauty. Showing little girls that being comfortable in the skin and HAIR God gave me is my contribution to society. Little girls (and boys for that matter) need to see that what you look like isn’t a reason to not achieve their goals.

Conforming to one standard isn’t what being American is about and I hope you can embrace that.

Thank you for your comment and have a great weekend and thank for watching.

Natural Instinct

Now, I must confess that when I first read about this, I was inconsolably outraged. My first instinct was to stand squarely behind my naptural sistah, fist raised to the heavens. Have we not reached a point where a woman’s appearance is kept separate from her ability to do her job? Is society still trying to hold non-whites to a standard of beauty that is palatable for some but not all?

Rhonda, bomaye! Rhonda, bomaye!

I saw nothing wrong with her handling of the situation. She approached the comment with intellect, insight, and respect.

Then I started reading some of the comments following the article on Black Girl with Long Hair. At the time there were only a handful (maybe about 30), and most of them expressed the same outrage I was feeling when I read the article. People called the action taken uncalled-for. People said that the viewer had to be a racist or closed-minded at the least. I read through many of the comments, fist still raised in solidarity, emotions running high for the injustice that had been done to this natural-haired martyr. But some of the comments supported the network’s decision to terminate. Some questioned whether or not race had really played a role in this issue.

Shoulda Woulda Coulda

Hmmm… maybe Ms. Lee could be accused of having said too much. Perhaps it would have been better for her to have allowed the network’s PR people handle the comment? They could have issued a statement saying something like

The network takes all necessary steps to ensure that members of its news team look their best while in front of the camera. We support Ms. Lee’s choice of hairstyle and thank you for your loyal viewership.

Ooooooooooooooooooh, that’s gooooood…. but I digress.

Dose of Reality

Those BGLH comments got me thinking. Is it possible that the network actually had a strict policy on public relations and social media, and that they had clearly communicated that policy to all of its staff? Could it be that Ms. Lee had violated that policy?

Methinks that might be legitimate grounds for dismissal…

A Little Light Soapboxing

Let’s talk for a minute about Ms. Lee’s fortitude.

Some commentors accused her of bringing race into the situation when it didn’t belong there. However, it was actually the viewer who pulled race into it by identifying her by her skin colour and not by her name. Despite the professional tone of her response, Ms. Lee was still somehow put into the “Angry Black Woman” category. One thing that bothers me is that the second someone asserts him or herself (regardless of sex, race, orientation, religion, or political views) that person is automatically seen as being defensive.

Not cool.

Now let’s talk about people being so quick to assume the Big Bad Corporate Man has been unfair or unjust.

It’s easy to be blinded by the fact that something allegedly unfair is happening to a visible minority. Because the “victim” here is a black woman whose hair doesn’t look like the conventional professional, we rush to her defense. Because she is educated and articulate, we assume that she is within her rights to dress down people who are supposedly being racist, derogatory, or offensive.

But before we make such judgements or take sides, shouldn’t we get all the facts?

That is all.

Angry Blog Woman

Listen to me, but I don’t wanna hear you!
Photo Credit

For a long time, I actually avoided participating in social media in any way.  I’ve always had strong opinions on the way social media is influencing modern society.  But I’ve also come to realize that it is a very integral part of life nowadays, so I need to get over myself and join the rest of the world in the global village.

One of the key reasons I started Nappy Head Chronicles was that I wanted to be part of a community, trading and sharing.  Just the other day, vinegarandwater  spoke about that very subject on her blog.  I was starting to feel like the community thing was taking shape for me.

Don’t Drop Your Seed Everywhere

As a relatively new blogger, I have been treading quite gingerly when it comes to discussions and commenting.  I’ve tried to choose carefully where to leave my stamp and I’ve tried to make intelligent observations or ask relevant questions.  Sometimes, I’ve thrown in a joke or two.  The feedback has been very positive on my own blog and in the various discussions I’ve participated in on other blogs.

All in all, it has been a very good experience… until today.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Someone in the blogasphere posted about how her mother seemed unsupportive of her decision to become natural and was always trying to get her to “do something” with her hair.  I made the mistake of commenting on her post.  I thought I was being witty and supportive.

Turns out that I was not.  At least not in that particular blogger’s opinion.

She was quite hostile in telling me that she wasn’t sure whether or not I was being snarky and condescending but that she was choosing to believe the worst.  She went on to give me quite the tongue-lashing (or the blog equivalent as such).  She informed me that she doesn’t carry the burden of all black women, and that her post was not whining or a need to cheer up.  She also pointed out that she trusts no one and that I don’t know her or her mother.

I was put in my place.

So What Was the Lesson Here?

Everyone comes into your life as either a blessing or a lesson.  In this case, the lesson IS the blessing.

The lesson — the best laid plans really do often go awry.  No matter how good your intentions are, everyone will not always be delighted by what you have to say.  Not all bloggers are created equal.  Just because they choose to share their thoughts and feelings on a miriad of subjects in such a public way, it doesn’t mean that they want or care about your opinion.

“This is what I have to say.  Read it, but keep your thoughts to yourself.”

It took me a minute to get over the shock at this blogger’s utter cynicism.  Then I just felt sad.  Sad that my words had had negative impact on someone.  Sad that sharing my own experience did not comfort her.  Sad that whatever was going on in her world had hardened her so much.  The good news is that I’m over it.  I’m not so jaded by life that I can’t see silver linings, half-full glasses, or any goodness anywhere at all.

Angry Blog Woman is quite right.  I don’t know her.

And after this, I don’t think I want to know her.

How have you dealt with negative feedback on your blog, on other blogs, or in any other forums?

SuperFudge

Everybody’s been talking about UN Ambassador Susan Rice and her alleged botched handling of the Benghazi terrorist attack in September.  Did she lie to cast President Obama in a better light during the home-stretch of his 2012 campaign?  Is she competent?  Should she be considered a viable candidate for Secretary of State?

So the other night, the lure of late-night television was too much for my tired-but-insomniac eyes to resist.  Jon Stewart was in fine form, yucking it up about the soapbox sermon by Congresswoman Marcia Fudge in Rice’s defence.  Funny stuff.  Check out the clip he showed here:

My favorite part of the video is when Rep. Fudge alludes to not being the most educated person around, only to have her peanut gallery homie remind her that she’s an attorney.  In true Baptist Minister fashion, she checks herself and belts out

“…But I’m close!”

Knee-slapping, I tell you!

But seriously, I applaud Rep. Fudge for speaking out.  Her message was loud and clear: criticize all you want, but don’t question her qualifications for the job.  She spoke boldly and with unwaivering confidence.  I admire that.  I think we need to see more of that from women in positions of power.

I’m not saying whether or not Ambassador Rice was right, or whether or not I agree with Rep. Fudge.  All I’m saying is…

Mmmmmmhmmmmm… Preach!

Welcome Baby Naps!

One of my favorite natural hair gurus, Whitney (aka Naptural85), and her husband Felipe welcomed a beautiful baby girl on November 15, 2012. Say hello to Olivia…

@Nap85 & Baby Naps
photo credit

This is the couple’s first child, so it’s incredible to me that Mama Naps is finding the time to take care of Baby Naps and still squeeze in some video editing and uploading! She’s redefining Supermom. Also amazing to me is how candid she has been throughout her pregnancy, right up to the day she gave birth. The videos posted give a pretty intimate glimpse. Watching made me feel like I was a part of the whole experience. The way you would be if you were family.  I admire that kind of openness.

Whitney has some great video tutorials on how to care for natural hair, as well as videos that give you a window into her life. I’m sure she’ll be adding some tutorials about newborns and being a new mommy.

She is smart and funny and goofy. Be sure to stop by either of her channels. She also has a blog, which you can check out here.

Congratulations to the happy family! Olivia is soooooo cute!

I Love My Hair – Now

Crooklyn’s Troy
– the look on her face here says it all –
photo credit

When my mom had me, it was the seventies and she was all about the Afrocentrism thing. Black Power, Nubian Pride, Mama Africa, yadda yadda yadda… She cut off her perm and grew an afro. She cut her best friend’s shoulder length hair into an afro too, much to the chagrin of her friend’s ultra conservative, ultra traditional West Indian mother. But not before she gave my six-year-old head a matching afro.

After that, I spent most of my time either telling people I wasn’t a boy , feeling sorry for myself because I didn’t have shiny, straight hair like my friends at school (all races, including black), or avoiding cameras at all costs. Pretty traumatic, actually… by kid standards.

Eventually, I did get a perm (against my mother’s will – a story for another day), but by that time, the damage had already been done. To this day I bob-and-weave when anybody pulls out a camera.

Fast forward to last week, when I came across this video –

All I can say is where was this when I was growing up? At the time, I was so desperate to conform to the beauty standards du jour that I didn’t realize my hair was, in fact, beautiful and versatile and a part of me that I should embrace and be proud of. I was just too young to see.

Hindsight is 20/20. Thanks Ma!

And thanks to vinegarandwater for sharing.

What were your childhood hair experiences? How did you feel about your hair growing up?

Protect and Serve Your Own Purpose

Protect by any means necessary!
photo credit

I just read a guest post by Moderne Meid called How Natural Should Protective Styles Be? The post got my blood boiling a little… but in a good way.

I wanted to weigh in and my comment kinda turned into my own personal soap-box-of-a-blog-post.

A Bit of a Rant, Really

Here’s what I had to say:

hi moderne meid. great post!

i’ve always found it funny how concerned people are with other people’s hair situations. to the point where they are telling each other off via forums and blog comments about how this one is selling out and that one shouldn’t use heat and this is or isn’t a big chop… yadda yadda yadda. why can’t people just respect each other’s right to do what ever they want with their own hair?

recently, a group of popular bloggers/vloggers has gotten flack for posting a humorous video about a magic product that makes hair grow. people got offended because all of the girls who appear in the video have very long and beautiful hair (that’s kinda why they are all so popular in the blog/vlog-asphere). the point of the video was totally lost on those with self-esteem and/or jealousy issues. c’mon people, though there really was a serious message behind it, it was all in good fun. we must learn to take ourselves a little less seriously.

but i digress…

i think protective styling has everything to do with protecting your ends, and very little to do with whether the method you use involves natural or unnatural materials or products. some people consider hats a protective style. is a hat acceptable, but not a wig?

honestly, i think there’s nothing wrong with using extensions to keep your hair from the harsh elements. as long as you are smart about it and don’t cause more damage, it’s all good. as you rightly said, we don’t know what the individual circumstances are for the person wearing that wig or weave so we can’t presume to judge.

I think that sometimes, the natural hair community can get a bit carried away with the hair policing. Why can’t we just leave others alone to make their own decisions about their own hair?

What do you think? Should protective styling exclude the use of hair extension and wigs? If so, what do you consider to be an appropriate protective style?

Oversensitive to Making Light

chescaleigh & her youtuber friends share a laugh
photo credit

Just over a month ago, I shared a YouTube video that revealed the so-called Secret to Long Hair (read the original post here). It was a good-natured, fun-loving infomercial spoof that went viral in the natural hair world. The concept was put together by Franchesca Ramsey (aka YouTuber chescaleigh, of Sh*t White Girls Say to Black Girls fame). She invited some of her YouTube/blogger friends to participate and have a little fun. That was the plan, anyway.

Well, true to chescaleigh form, the video has been receiving some negative criticism.

The following is a sampling of some of the complaints made about the video:

  • insensitivity to the struggle of of others to grow their hair
  • lack of diversity in terms of skin tone/hair texture
  • too many “mixed” chicks and not enough “blackness”
  • locs are not considered “natural”
  • arrogance and condescending

SMH. Really? I mean, REALLY? Locs are not natural? And when will the shade of black stop mattering?

I think the message intended was totally lost on some viewers.

For those of you hiding under a rock who haven’t see the video, here it is again:

The ladies featured in the video recently sat down with Celebrity SoundOff’s Maureen Aladin to discuss natural hair, their personal journies, and the contraversy surrounding the spoof. The interview is in four parts, with parts two and three being the most focused on the video. I think they did a great job addressing the issues. Check that out here:

CSO Secret to Long Natural Hair – Part 1

CSO Secret to Long Natural Hair – Part 2

CSO Secret to Long Natural Hair – Part 3

CSO Secret to Long Natural Hair – Part 4

You can read more on the topic from Cipriana of Urban Bush Babes here, or from chescaleigh in an interview with Afrobella here.

Were you offended by the parady? What did you like or not like about it? Did watching the interview change your opinion?

Hair Growth Secret Revealed!

Pssssssssssssssst… Hey you! Yeah, you with the short, dull, brittle hair! Yes! You, pointing at yourself and looking confused and a little wounded… Wanna hear a secret? A secret that is guaranteed to grow – nay transform – your hair?

People of African descent have struggled for many years with this issue. They have combed (pun intended) the earth in search of a miracle remedy. Many creative solutions have been born of… of… I don’t know… frustration? Desperation?

Well just today, a group of the natural hair community’s most popular bloggers/vloggers, all of whom have successfully cracked the long Afro (as in African, not Jackson 5) hair nut, came together in support of a novel solution, with almost magical results.  Even a prominent business woman weighed in.

So, without further ado:

Okay, so it’s not rocket science… but you get the point, right?

We’re adjourned.

Is Eight Really Enough?

A short time ago, I saw a news report on CTV that claims that the “eight by eight” rule (eight 8 oz glasses of water per day) is too much for the average person. According to the report, this recommendation is based on guidelines, set out in the 1940s, that failed to communicate that this daily intake was actually for all fluids, including fruits, juices, and other foods containing liquids.

Hmmm….

This report made me start wondering. Is there really such a thing as too much water? What happens if you drink too much? How do you know how much to drink?

Water Intoxication

This happens when too much water is absorbed by the body’s cells. The cells swell, throwing off the electrolyte balance between the inside and the outside of the cell. The swelling can cause the cell to burst. Other effects of the swelling include irregular heartbeat, excess fluid in the lungs, and seizures. Behaviour similar to alcoholic intoxication and even death may occur.

I remember having to go for an ultrasound once and being told to drink something like 40 oz of water. I was warned to make sure to start drinking at least eight hours before the appointment and to spread it out over as long a period as possible. Of course, I ignored the advice and waited till a couple of hours before to drink the water. Well, by the time I got to the doctor’s office, I was feeling so sick that I actually threw up! I had to reschedule the appointment and the nurse was non-too-impressed with me.

The moral of that story is that it’s not how much you drink, but how fast you drink that could cause a problem.

While it is possible to drink too much water, it is very rare that the body is unable to process the amount taken in. As long as the water consumed is spread out over a reasonable period of time, even in large quantities, a normally functioning set of kidneys will be able to process it without a problem. As a matter of fact, kidneys in good working order can handle as much as fifteen liters per day.

And who would drink fifteen litres per day, let alone MORE than fifteen liters?

How Much Then?

The average daily intake – according to the Mayo Clinic – for a man is 13 cups, or about 3 litres, and 9 cups , or 2.2 litres, for a woman.

Alternatively, there are a few ways to calculate daily water intake.  Simply multiply body weight by 0.5, which works out to one ounce per two pounds body weight. Or choose an appropriate multiplier (0.5, 0.6, or 0.7), according to the level of activity.

Here’s an example:

 Body Weight: 120 lb
Fitness/Activity Level: Low
0 to 30 minutes per day, 2 to 3 times per week – walking, yoga, stretching
Medium
30 to 60 minutes per day, 3 to 5 times per week – brisk walking, low-impact aerobics, light weight-lifting
High
60 minutes or more, more than 5 times per week – marathons, martial  arts, body building
Equation: 120 lb * 0.5 120 lb * 0.6 120 lb * 0.7
Amount to Drink: 60 oz 72 oz 84 oz

So what’s the right answer?  How much water should we be drinking?

My internet findings confirmed one thing: there is no right answer to this question.  Depending on what site you are on, the answer might be different.  Are you active?  What kind of activity are you doing?  How much do you weigh?  Are you a man or a woman?  Are you pregnant? Are you suffering from an illness or a disease?  What altitude do you live at?

The conditions and criteria are varied and numerous.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day,  the best thing to do is to listen to your body.  Adjust the intake with the level of physical activity or changes in the weather.  Most importantly, drink!

That was actually the conclusion of that news report I mentioned at the beginning of this post.

Tips & Tricks

If you are like me, you don’t have a problem drinking water.  In my To Do (or Not Do) List for Retention post, I stated that I take in an adequate amount of water per day.  I no longer have to make a conscious effort to do so.  It just seems to happen on its own.

But for people who have more trouble doing that, there are a few little things you can try:

  • keep water handy by carrying it around or keeping it on your desk in a bpa-free bottle (personally, I use a glass bottle)
  • improve taste by adding lemon or lime, filtering to eliminate “metal” taste, or diluting fruit juice (1 part juice, 3 parts water)
  • avoid or minimize caffeinated drinks, as they can contribute to dehydration
  • eat foods with high water content, such as watermelon, cucumbers, and tomatoes
  • learn to recognize signs of thirst and drink BEFORE feeling thirsty, because thirst means dehydration has already occurred

What’s Hair Got to Do with It?

When we get the proper daily intake of water that our bodies need, we improve and maintain our hydration level.  This, in turn, means that our bodies are better able to metabolize the food we are taking in and to properly absorb the nutrients needed for healthy, long, shiny hair.  Water also flushes out the toxins our body doesn’t need, and helps with elasticity.

The healthier the body is from the inside, the healthier it looks from the outside.

I’ll drink to that!

How much do you drink? What do you do to make sure your properly hydrated?