How We See Us vs. How Others See Us

I came across a post by The Good Curl that spoke about the “Brown Paper” syndrome that still seems to be prevalent in the Afro Canadian/Afro Caribbean/Afro American community.  She was not impressed with India Arie’s new album cover, claiming that her skin-tone did not seem to be as dark as it naturally is and challenging India’s foothold on self-acceptance.   She was questioning how black people see each other and themselves.

Just for fun, I did a Google Image Search and found what I like to call “The Many Shades of India.”  Here is just a handful below.  How many can you count?  It’s more than fair to say that the power of lighting is astounding…

IndiaArie_Collage

The Many Shades of India
Photo Credit

My response to The Good Curl was that it is often hard for others to see you the way you see yourself. Continue reading

Hair Crush: Whitney Naptural85 White

A little while ago, I talked about one of my favorite YouTubers, Whitney (aka, Naptural85). She had just given birth to a beautiful baby girl. Read that here and watch a video showing off her new family. I gushed (a mini-gush) about how great she was. How smart and funny. How knowledgeable.

Well, she’s all of those things. But have you seen her hair? I mean… have you seen it?

Nap85_Collage

Napturally Beautiful Naptural85!
Photo Credit

Continue reading

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
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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!

Protect and Serve Your Own Purpose

Protect by any means necessary!
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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.

Those Who Live in Greenhouses

Woman in the Shower

Greenhouse!
Photo Credit

I first heard about the Greenhouse Effect when I watched a Real Queens video on YouTube. I may be mistaken here (and if I am, please forgive my misinformation), but it seems to have originated with this YouTuber. When I asked Professor Google, a lot of links pointed back to either the Real Queens YouTube channel or to a blog of the same name. But there are numerous variations in the method out there. Here are the highlights…

How Does It Work?

The Greenhouse Effect (GHE) is a method for promoting scalp stimulation and hair growth using moisture. The basic premise is to create a warm steamy environment for an extended period of time in order to maximize the moisturizing of the hair.

What Do You Need?

  • plastic shower cap or plastic shopping bag
  • oil or butter of choice – Jamaican Black Castor Oil is the recommended oil, although EVOO seems to be popular too
  • scarf or head-tie
  • hat (like the kind you wear in the winter – optional)
  • time

What Do You Do?

  1. Apply the oil to dry or damp hair
  2. Prepare the hair (i.e., twist, braid, bantu knot, etc.) for the next day
  3. Cover head with plastic cap
  4. Tie scarf over the plastic cap
  5. Put on the hat
  6. Leave head covered overnight
  7. In the morning, style as usual

Sounds an awful lot like something called the Baggy Method, doesn’t it? Both require you to coat your ends with oil. Both require you to cover the hair with plastic. Confusing…

So What’s the Difference?

The main difference I can see is that Baggying aims to improve retention while GHE is believed to result, not only in increased retention, but also in actual growth from the root. This is because the whole head is covered during the process, instead of just the ends.

I found a post on Care 4 Curls that compares the two methods. Read that here. The author made an interesting point: to her, it made little sense to exclude a scalp stimulating step in the method. If the purpose of the method is to encourage growth from the root as opposed to simply strengthening the hair shaft, it would seem necessary to physically stimulate the scalp on a regular basis.

Sooooooo?

I think I’m gonna give this a try and see how it goes. I’ll report back in a few weeks.

Are you using an intense conditioning method, such as baggying or GHE? Which one do you think works better? Why?