Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thursday Distraction: Highly Textured Roll Call!

Rep your city!!! I'll start...


(...though now I live in Washington, DC.)

Where you from?! C'mon, throw your hood up! :o)

(P.S. And don't forget to enter the first Blessed and Highly Textured Giveaway! One day left!)
Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wash, Condition, Go On With Life

You've followed the blog for a while. You've seen my encounters with coconut oil, my love for castor oil, my spur-of-the-moment experiment with eggs. You hollered at me for buying a tiny 15-dollar-jar of body butter (hi Katie!) and watched me sing the praises of -- then ease away from -- fat twists.

And yet, after all the creams and oils and butters I've slathered on my hair, I've realized... sometimes it's best to just keep it simple.

I returned to an old routine this week -- wash, slather in conditioner, go on with life -- and my hair has just been, well, content. (It could have something to do with a new conditioner, Hello Hydration... I blame Curly Nikki.) But yeah, this week, I skipped my usual, laborious routine -- no layering of products, no twisting, no sitting under the dryer -- and my hair's just... chilling.

She's good, yo.

And it's making me think of the early days, when I really didn't have this hair obsession that I do now, when I did just enough -- wash, slather in conditioner, go on with life -- to keep it looking decent. And now that I think about it, that's when it thrived. Grew like a weed, to lengths more than I knew what to do with.

I admit, it's a blast trying new products and techniques. You become something of a discoverer, and you wind up super-knowledgeable about ingredients and porosity and whatnot. But at the end of the day, could it be that your hair happiness lies in that four-dollar bottle sitting in your shower?

Could be. What do you think?
Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Found It! A Jewminicana on Naturally Curly Hair

Most of you already know I ADORE Latina magazine. (Am I Latina? No, not a drop. Lol.) I loved it even more when this month's issue arrived in my mailbox, complete with an essay on one Dominicana's story of her lifelong frustration with -- and then acceptance of -- her hair.

Of course I immediately wanted to share it with you guys, but Latina didn't publish it online. But with a little bit of sleuthing (gotta love being a journo) I found that the writer, Aliza Hausman (shown here in a picture from her wedding), shared it on her blog a few months back, before the magazine picked it up. (And now I'm combing through my own archives for mag-friendly material, hmmm....)

Anywhoo, check out Aliza's hair story here. She describes how her mother (and others) taught her how to hate her hair, and how she fought with it -- until her would-be husband showed her how to love it.

Oh, and for those wondering about the term "Jewminicana," it's one that Aliza uses to describe herself -- she's a Dominican-American woman who converted to Orthodox Judaism.
Monday, April 27, 2009

Monday Meditation

A little change, as this comes not from a blogger, but from a luminary...

"Oppressed hair puts a ceiling on the brain."
-- Alice Walker

Has your mind opened up since you've been natural?
Saturday, April 25, 2009


Watch the video! Enter below! Win some jewelry! WHHHHEEEEEEE!!!!

Friday, April 24, 2009

I'm Baaaaaa-aaaaaaaaack!

Omigosh, loves! The premiere of Obsessed was incredible! I had such a good time in New York, even if the trip was shorter than I would have liked. To give you a quick run-down...

The hotel: Swanky.

The eats: Delish!

The celeb-spotting: Insane! (I hate acting like groupie, but once I saw Michael Ealy and *gasp* *faint* *swoon* Idris Elba... it was a wrap.)

(Speaking of Idris...I wonder how the Tall Chocolate Strawberry feels about curly hair... hmmm....)

And the movie: Actually pretty good! No one believes me, but we came away mostly satisfied and pretty friggin' entertained. I really think the studio somehow picked the dullest parts of the movie to put in the trailer -- maybe to lower expectations -- but the flick turned out to be pretty nice.

OH! And the queen, the one, the only Beyonce?

Fab. U. Friggin'. Lous.

But you all know how I feel. The woman can STILL do no wrong by me.

A few pics below!

Getting ready in the hotel

On the (little) red carpet... after the movie....

You see that? That fine chocolate specimen to the right? That, my friends, is the prototype. Yes MA'AM.

Oh, and I have to give a disclaimer... I've worked in radio for years and met a fair share of celebs and cool people. Decorum is the name of the game, and I was taught to be cool, unfazed, and never, EVER gush.

But gosh... I sure was gushing this time around. HARD.

So please excuse me while I get all this excitement out of my system. It's such a foreign feeling, and yet it's happening so naturally! Lol. I'm going just bear with myself and ride it out. And I'll be back to my regular blogging schedule sooner than you can say Idris.

Oooh... Idris....
Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Blessed and "Obsessed"

What do Beyonce and I have in common (aside from both, at one point, rocking curly, fire-red hair)?

We're both going to be in New York tomorrow for the premiere of her movie Obsessed! Woot woot!

Yeah, so I definitely won this random contest at a random party last week (by doing the "Single Ladies" dance of all things... shameless, I know), and now me and my "fake wifey" Lynnette are heading up to Manhattan to see the premiere screening tomorrow.

Color me excited. It's the first time I've won anything since I scored free tickets to Fern Gully when I was a kid. (By the way, I never really enjoyed that movie. Too serious to be a cartoon to me.)

Part of the package includes a stay at the Hudson Hotel, which my friend Nadea tells me is super swanky. (She's tagging along so she can go to the bar.) The only unfortunate thing is that I have to cut the three-day trip in half, since both Lynnette and I have work obligations this week. (Drats!) However, I fully intend to enjoy my time in New York, regardless of how abbreviated it is this time around.

I kinda want to get glammed up, but I've never done a New York premiere before. I'm just a lil' old news producer in D.C., so this will be a whole new scene for me. What's the protocol here? O.M.O., Wes... could you ladies help me out? :o)

My mind is definitely racing, trying to figure this all out before we leave Washington this evening. But please believe I'll be snapping pics and taking photos. I might not be around the blog till I get back, but I will be updating on Twitter. Follow me, baby. :o)
Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Can You Relate?

Came across this on YouTube just a few moments ago, and I was feelin' what she was saying. HARD.

Check it out and let me know your reaction. (A note: The special effects get a little trippy from time to time.)

Tips and Tricks for Two-Strand Twists

Two-strand twists are one of the cutest styles a natural can rock, but they're definitely time-consuming and labor-intensive! I learned this about a month ago, when I tried them for the very first time.

The results were cool, not perfect. But then, my friends and readers seriously CAME THROUGH with some tips for succesful twisting. I was so surprised... and grateful. Now, the next time I carve out two hours out of a day to twist, I can make sure my effort is not at all in vain.

I've been meaning to share those very tips with everyone else, so... here they are. :o)

A note: Some of the advice varies depending on the person (twist while wet? twist while dry?) so use the tips that you think will work best for your hair.


"If you want to have those smooth even twists with little shrinkage start with a good pre-poo and a co-wash. I use a cheap drugstore cholesterol deep conditioner like Queen Helene. I mix in coconut oil, vegetable glycerin, collagen, silk amino acids, keratin, and honey. I know, it sounds like a lot but all the ingredients are easy and cheap to buy either at your local drugstore, online or at the health food grocer. I just like to add a few table spoons of each and up the conditioning. I then co-wash with a cheap 99-cent conditioner like White Rain, Vo5, or Suave. Hair comes out so soft and smooth. By the way, I usually condition overnight as I sleep." -- tgirl


"I always twist when hair is very wet with a good leave in conditioner. I use Devachan Condition One. Smells great. I twist with some Palmer's Olive Oil--bought at the dollar store and Miss Jessie's Butter Creme (the most expensive item I use these days). The butter creme has a more oil based hold and keeps the frizz down for days. You won't have to use much cause it's pretty concentrated." -- tgirl

"I'd suggest you use gel. When I twist, I apply a leave in, then I use Garnier Fructis curl cream (heavy hold). I also will use aloe vera gel sometimes, but the Garnier works well. Also, as I'm doing each twist, I coat it with castor oil to seal in moisture, then once again on the ends." -- T-Dot


"Take a rattail comb and place it behind your ear. Draw a line, through your hair, with it, all the way to your other ear. You've got two sections now. From there, just part the lines across -- don't worry about getting perfect lines within each line. I'll make some of them smaller to make the twists fuller in places, and thicker to thin them out in others. After a few times, you'll get the hang of it!" -- T-Dot

"The more you do it the easier it gets to get the partings even. I don't have perfect lines cause once it's all done I can't see much of my scalp anyway! As long as the twists are going in the right direction for the style I'm going for and the twists are of equal thickness I'm good to go!" -- tgirl


"To cut down on frizz/puffing at the crown, make sure your hair is pretty well soaked when you do your twists. Not a spritz. It needs to be wet. Then, coat it with your products (gel or oil or what have you) to seal that moisture in. For those wayward twists (and to give me a little more control) I'll pin the twists down as I do them, row by row, with duckbill clips. keeps them close to your head. I sleep at night with a scarf tied around them tightly and then oil and shake in the morning." -- T-Dot

"For the puffy roots, try braiding at the roots and then continuing with twists." -- KCurly


"To stretch your twists, once done, blast them with the blow dryer while stretching them downward. Helps them to extend a bit -- kinda like blowdrying your hair with a pick. It won't be hanging hard, but they will be a little longer." -- T-Dot

"For shrinkage, I twist on almost dry hair or completely dry hair. It takes longer but the length shows more." -- KCurly


"For those rebellious ends: twist all the way to the end. Don't be lazy and stop when you get close. Follow through. And coil them with oil once finished." -- T-Dot

"Dunking the ends in a little water helps them to curl/coil up." -- KCurly

"Twist to the ends and coil aronnd your finger to tame the ends. I have the same problem with crazy wild ends." -- tgirl


"'s nice during a movie :)" -- KCurly

(Shout out to T-Dot, tgirl, and KCurly. Thanks for the advice, ladies!)
Monday, April 20, 2009

Stalling on the Fat Twists

Hey loves,

Okay, so I promised a video on how I put in and take out my fat twists, but I'm going to hold off that for just a quick minute. Why? 'Cause my ends have been tangling, and I need to figure out how to prevent that.

Basically, I've noticed a few more tangles and knots in my hair in the two weeks that I've used fat twists as a styling method. And that makes me a bit sad, because otherwise, fat twists have been so good to me! (*whimpers*) But, I can't bring myself to show you guys anything that might give you knots. It's just not right.

So, soon as I figure out how to keep my twisting tangle-free, I will let you guys know. And THEN, I'll be more than happy to show you lovely people the way. :o)


Wanna See Something Amazing?

Check out RusticBeauty's rollerset video.


Linked on Afrobella and Textured Playground!

Aloha loves!

Today's "hair day," so I'll be doing... I dunno, something, to my hair today, and tell you about it in a little while... but in the meantime, I'm cheesing because Blessed & Highly Textured has been shouted out on two great blogs!

Texture Playground and Afrobella gave Highly Textured some link lovin' today. How cool is that? And it all stems from blogger and writer Laquita, who recently penned an article for Clutch magazine about sites and blogs for natural ladies.

So yeah, colored me tickled. And make sure to check out these lovely bloggers and the article at Clutch.


Monday Meditation

"Know that God has made you the way He's made you for a reason. If others can't appreciate it... oh well. And when they do begin to appreciate it, it'll be too late. But learn to appreciate yourself. Look in the mirror and say, 'My hair might be nappy, it might be kinky... but I'm fly.'"

-- BeautifulBrwnBabyDol

(If you haven't already, check out BeautifulBrwnBabyDol's YouTube channel. The girl is BAD, and soooo inspiring.)
Sunday, April 19, 2009

Fifty Followers!!! Yippee!!!

Hey guys! I now have 50 followers of the blog and I'm. SO. EXCITED!

Thanks again to every single one of you for reading, commenting, and adding to the overall discussion on the blog. We've become a little Blessed & Highly Textured community. :o)

I'm working on some posts for this week and I want to continue to encourage everyone to keep commenting, keep asking questions and keep making suggestions. And I want to do a giveaway (I know, just like everyone else, but they're so much fun, right?!), so I'm working on that too.

In the meantime, I just want to let you know that I love you all to pieces!


Ocean City, MD, Summer 2008
Friday, April 17, 2009

Tell Us Your Results!

Many of you have shared your experiences with products, styles and techniques in the comments section on various posts, and as a result, have blessed us with many tips and tricks and some good advice too. Now I'd like to herd all of those experiences together, so that you can easily find them.

So... if you look at the top right corner (over there ---> ), you'll see the "Your Results" box, where you can click to read others' (or post your own!) experiences with styles and products. I'm hoping you'll make great use of them and give others inspiration to try new things. :o)

Have you tried any of the styles, techniques or products over there in the box? Go ahead, tell us about it!!!
Thursday, April 16, 2009

Public Service Announcement ...and YouTube!

Hola folks! So even though Blessed and Highly Textured is a natural hair blog, there are plenty of people who aren't natural (hey, who aren't even girls!) who stop by and read from time to time. (*waves* Hi guys!) However, it's come to my attention that these readers are hesitant to participate in the discussion and comment! Their reasoning: "Well, I'm not natural..." or... "It's girl talk, it's not my place."

To that I say... PSHAW! If you feel like you have something to add to the conversation, add it! Even though the blog is dedicated to natural hair, I don't want anyone to feel like they're excluded from discussion -- especially since sometimes, we go beyond simply shampoo-ing and styling. (See videos: Natural Hair and Men, and Newspeople Tackle Natural Hair!.)

Of course, the rules are the same -- no being evil, being whiny, or bashing other people. Basically no negativity... but I don't have to tell you that. :o)

So yeah, if you have something to say, g'wan an' say it! You will not be cast off the island (unless, of course, you talk bad about Beyonce... then your name is mud). So folks... have at it!


I'm on YouTube now! Who'da thunk it? Check out my channel:

Thanks! :o)

(This public service announcement brought to you by the Coalition of Cool People. Stay chill.)

Fat Twists Are A Girl's Best Friend

"Define without the dryer! Air dry without the drip! Try the magnificent, splendiferous FAT TWISTS!"

I know, I know, I've been needing to update. But I've been enjoying my hair too much.

Fat twists are my new best friend.

An explainer: Fat twisting is what I do now to dry my hair after my weekly deep-condition. The process is simple -- saturate my hair with my styler/leave-in of choice (this week, it was Organix Vanilla Silk), seal with the with the oh-so-wonderful castor oil, and twist the hair in several, large, chunky sections (hence the name, Fat Twists).

I make about seven or eight twists, coiling the ends around my finger so they curl up on their own, and then just leave my hair be. End scene. Turn out the lights, turn on Leno, cuddle up on the couch. I take them out the next day, when they're about 75-85 percent dry. The twisting (I believe) helps the curls find each other and clump together, and after I separate the twists, the hair spends the rest of its drying time settling into happy curl families.

It's worth mentioning that I don't rake my fingers through my hair when I'm separating, out of fear of major frizz. Instead, I slide my fingers down each section -- kinda like I'm shingling, just with no product -- and the clump families seem to separate and define themselves. (Okay, maybe it would make more sense to show rather than tell... ooh! Future video maybe?) Once they settle, I get a head full of bouncy, boingy curls... which "feels like sex," apparently. (That's what my best friend said. Her words, not mine.)

Anywhoo, my second time trying fat-twist drying made me just as happy as my first. Another bonus: the curls LAST. For, like, ever. Okay, not forever, but it sure seems like it. (Confession: Last time I washed my hair was two weeks ago. I was so impressed by the staying power of the curls that I wanted to see how long they'd stick around. Alas, an unhappy scalp got the best of me.)

I especially love that fat-twisting eases the process of drying. I don't have to sit under a hood (and worry about halo-frizz). And I can air dry without having to try to keep wet strands off my neck.

Now I'm wondering how fat twists work on other textures and lengths. Have you dried your hair in chunky twists? How did you like it?
Monday, April 13, 2009

A Video: On Men and Natual Hair

I made a video earlier today discussing men and natural hair, in response to a video posted by Erin of Naturally Scandalous. She was talking about the types of men she attracts now that she has locs, and I thought it was quite an interesting (and amusing) subject to talk about. So peep my video below... and if you want to see Erin's, click here.

Monday Meditation

"There is nothing more beautiful than knowing one’s self and feeling free, loving, trusting and strong enough to reveal it to others."

--SuburbanBushBabe on Newly Natural

Alright folks, vacation's over! Let's get back to it! :o)
Thursday, April 9, 2009

Newspeople Tackle Natural Hair!

I know, I know! I said I was taking a break. But I kept seeing this video around the webs, so I couldn't go without posting it.

It's a news report by the Fox affiliate in Chicago -- about black women going natural so they the have freedom to exercise.

I work in the news bidness, but sometimes I can't help but shake my head and think to myself, "A bit late to the game, are we?"

And I'm not sure how I felt about the anchor banter. Or the use of the term "ethnic hair"... But enough about what I think. I want to know your thoughts. Give it a watch and discuss in the comments section.

And I'll go back to my blog vacation, I promise! :o)

Break Time

Hey ladies (and gents... I know y'all are out there)...

I'm taking a quick blogging break to catch my breath and catch up on everything else I need to. Consider it a long weekend. (Some of you have that anyway, of which I'm extremely envious.) Really, it's a mental/writer's break more than anything else. I've posted almost every day since I started back in January, and I'm pretty proud of that! But I need to read up and refresh, and I think I've earned a blog-free day or two. ;-)

So take the time now to browse through the archives and catch up or comment on anything that strikes your fancy. And if I could nudge you a bit, pleeeeeeease, please please check out my friends in the Sisterhood of the Spiraling Strands Series. These beautiful ladies have such an array of textures, and I'm hoping they can inspire some of you out there.

Other than that... have a happy Resurrection Day! ...or Easter, whatever you prefer to call it. :o)
Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sisterhood of the Spiraling Strands: Elena

I kinda love Elena. She's smart, driven and has already accomplished a lot at just 25. She's traveled the world, going all sorts of places from Nicaraugua to Tanzania, and got her Master's degree in Public Health from Yale. Now she's in med school in South Carolina. She's pretty much your all-around bad-ass chick (although she'll probably shake her head and start chuckling when she sees this)... and, oh yeah. She has gorgeous locs. :o)

Age 25
Professional Student
Charleston, SC

Describe the fabulousness of your hair.
Well, I have thick, medium length (just past my shoulders) locs. My hair is black and the texture is more wavy than anything else, which made for a very interesting year-long locking process!

What's your favorite thing about your hair?
The color… its naturally jet black. I love that and really can’t see myself coloring my locs.

What's your favorite product to use? Why is it great?
Anana shea butter... It’s a honey and vanilla shea butter that’s light, doesn’t buildup and smells great! I also never have problems with my scalp; I think this product has something to do with that.

What's your favorite style to rock?
Ummm… I mostly wear my hair pulled back. Not necessarily because its my favorite style, but because its easy and I know how to do it.

How long have you been natural? And how did you get there?
Well, my last perm was in December of 2002. I cut my hair (the drastic, going natural cut) in December 2003 and started locs June 2006.

The journey??? I had only permed my hair for 2 years. I was out of the country for 6 months (January through June 2003) and couldn’t get a perm. When I got back, I was like, “Why am I perming my hair again?” and just didn’t get another perm. I cut my hair on a dare! My friend (to remain nameless) was like, "You’re a punk, you won’t do it." I told her to make the appointment -- and the rest is history. I rocked 2-strand twists and the let out until I decided to loc. I started my locs with 2-strand twists (the length was beyond my shoulders) and it took a year, mostly because of my hair texture.

How would you describe your hair's personality?
Defiant; diva-like; refuses to get in line; determined to maintain its identity as wavy; frustrates the hell out of me at times....

I think my hair is like a confident woman who knows who she is, is comfortable with that and says to hell with anyone (including me) who seeks to change that!

What have you learned about yourself or your hair?
About my hair... I thought my hair was nappy! From all the hair stories and memories from my childhood, I thought my hair was nappy and difficult. That’s not the case. My hair is thick and has pretty much been long since it started really growing around age 2. I’d had a standing hair appointment every two weeks since I was 10. I thought my stuff was nappy and required serious reigning in. When I went natural, I discovered it was difficult because of its thickness and length. The actual texture (wavy) kinda eases some of the pain when dealing with it.

About me... I’m not as attached to my hair as other people are (to my hair). My mother didn’t speak to me for almost a whole day when she saw my first cut. I think hair is hair; it’ll grow back or not. I love mine, but its just hair.

What has surprised you most?
My locs... they look and behave nothing like what I expected. I've learned to love them though.

What are you still trying to learn?
I need to learn how to style my locs.

And finally, tell us your favorite part about being natural. :o)
My favorite part of being natural is allowing my hair to have a personality.

Before the locs or the twists

Twist mode.

More twists.

Formal locs.

Inauguration weekend with twin sister Marlena.


Look what I found!

I've seen the ladies on mention SheaMoisture Leave-In, but didn't really know much about it and never saw it in a store... until yesterday, when I went to pick up my Elasta QP DPR-11 at the massive beauty supply store on Georgia Avenue.

It's rich and emollient and creamy and a lot thicker than any other leave-in that I've used, so I'm curious as to how to go about using it. Clearly I won't be using as much at one time as I do other leave-ins. Maybe I'll mix it up with some water when I use it. I dunno, I got a lot of thoughts running through my head.

Have any of you used SheaMoisture? How do you use it... and do you like it?
Monday, April 6, 2009

Random Veronica Thoughts

The disjointed randomness (is that redundant?) going through my head right now...

1. I really want to say thank you and "I lub you!" to all the blog readers, commenters and followers. You guys are great, and I really, truly appreciate the support. I just wish Blogger had an efficient way for me to contact all of those in the follow box over yonder --->
Like, there's no "E-mail All" or "Contact Followers" function. Wouldn't that make so much more sense? BOOOOOOOO to Blogger! Anywhoo, thank you guys. Seriously. :o)

2. It's almost been a week since I last did my hair and the curls... are still... POPPIN'!!! My theory? Blame it on the ca, ca ca ca, ca castor oil... I think sealing with the castor, air-drying in fat twists, and, of course, donning the bonnet is what's given my curls their longevity this week.

3. I'm formulating (in my head) a post on people touching my hair. My conclusion: I don't really mind it... that much....

4. My jeans are incredibly wrinkled and tattered and holey today... but they're soooooo comfy. And yes, I'm wearing them outside the house. Shamelessly.

5. Pray for Italy, y'all. And the world in general. For real.

6. Meanwhile.... Give someone a high-five today. Doesn't matter what for. Just find a reason. :o)

Another Sisterhood of the Spiraling Strands is coming tomorrow. In the meantime, keep it funky... and kinky. :o)

Word, son. Fa real.

Heh heh heh...

Taking A Moment...

... to appreciate the flyness of Dorothy Dandridge.

I really have nothing to say, other than that I found this picture on Mischo Beauty and wanted to share it.

That is all. For now.

Monday Meditation

Today's Monday Meditation isn't a quote, but a post by another blogger.

Todra over at Makeup Theory Workshops has a great post about the way women zero in on their flaws and neglect to celebrate their beauty. It's some good food for thought, so click here to read.

Oh, and make sure to smile and make somebody's Monday a little bit brighter. :o)
Sunday, April 5, 2009

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

Y'all know I gotta love you if I'm putting myself on Youtube.

(...says the chick who's already all over Youtube... lol.)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Look Ma, No Pins!

An updo, with nary a bobby pin in sight. Just a headband and a little slight of hand.

Long Hair, Don't Care

We've heard of the Shoulder-Length, Bra Strap-Length, and Waist-Length challenge...

Anyone care to join the Cheng Shiqun-Length challenge?

Come on. Who's with me?
Thursday, April 2, 2009


There's a piece of gum in my diffuser.

I picked it up while straightening my room and heard something sliding around inside it. "Does this diffuser have parts?" I wondered.

Turned it up... slide. Turned it over... slide. Turned it left... slide. Turned it right... slide.

I got a closer look and saw a glimpse of the green Trident wrapper.

Really? Gum? In my diffuser?


I've been struggling to get it out for the last 15 minutes.

Only me.

Thank goodness I've been air drying. Otherwise I would've gotten a sticky -- and minty -- surprise.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Thinking 'Bout Good And Bad Hair (A Facebook Rant)

I don't have much to write about today (other than my serious Hand-in-Hair sickness), so I thought I'd share something I wrote on Facebook -- the image black women have of their hair.

I touched on the subject a few weeks back, hoping to illicit a discussion with my girlfriends... but apparently, they don't read the blog. As one told me, she's not natural, so what's point?

*le sigh*

So I needed to write somewhere else -- Facebook, of course -- where it would be seen.

Still no response from the girls. But... hey... at least I got it out.

The story of Black people’s hair begins where everything began – in Africa. Not surprisingly, the birthplace of both astronomy and alchemy also gave rise to a people in perfect harmony with their environment… The variety of hair textures from western Africa alone ranges from the deep ebony, kinky curls of the Mandingos to the loosely curled, flowing locks of the Ashanti. The one constant Africans share when it comes to hair is the social and cultural significance intrinsic to each beautiful strand.
(from Hair Story)

Do you know your hair? Like, really know your hair? Do you know if she's curly, coily, maybe wavy? Does she lie flat at the crown, or stand straight up, as if she's reaching for the sun? Does she like to drink up water and oils, or would she rather be bathed in creams and butters?

When's the last time you really saw YOUR hair?


I ask out of frustration and, I suppose, necessity. As girlfriends are wont to do, we talk about hair -- a lot. The conversation begins with someone's latest cut, color, or salon horror story. But at some point, the conversation turns. And then, they do it. Somebody says it.

"I would love to go natural. But only if I had hair like Veronica's."

Or even worse.

"Well, it's easy for you to be natural. You got good hair."

Cue cringing.

I don't know if you guys can tell or not, but I really, really, really hate it when I hear that. Seriously. It makes me want to change the subject. It's uncomfortable. It's awkward. And believe it or not, in those few words, I hear the end result of 400 years of division, derision and degradation of a people.

Reading to much into it? No, not really. Because when someone says they would only go natural if they had my "grade" of hair, it implies that any other grade of hair -- whether it be "nappy," "kinky," "crinkly" or other -- is something to be loathed, hidden, and never allowed to see the light of day.

I hear the tools of slavery playing out in 2009.

But hey, that's just me.


Someone made a point that I considered quite profound -- Black women are probably the only race of women who can go their entire lives without knowing their true hair texture. Almost always, we're fried, dyed, laid to side, and we run back to the salon four, six or eight weeks later, to get that pesky "new growth" under control. We loathe, fear, are ashamed of our own hair so much that we spend hundreds of dollars and use caustic chemicals just to get it to "lay right." And we "have" to do it, because not doing so would have us "looking like a slave."

And we go our wholes lives knowing absolutely nothing about the hair we were born with.


Common refrains:
"My hair can't do what yours does."
"I wouldn't know how to deal with it."
"I'd just look like a slave."

If you've said any of the above to me, I likely ended up with a million thoughts running through my heads, with the fastest being: "You don't even KNOW your hair! You haven't even given it a chance!"

When was the last time you saw your true texture? New growth doesn't count -- the hair growing out of your scalp may still affected by chemical residue, and therefore may not even be a true representation of your hair. So, honestly, when did you last see your real texture? Do you even know what your hair can do? What it wants to do?

"Of course!" you say. "My hair was natural when I was little. And my mom had such a hard time with it!"

Hate to say it, but momma, grandma, cousin, sister and auntie had to fight with your hair because they didn't know how to take care of it. Oh yes, they could comb, brush and cornrow with the best of them, and I'm not questioning their intent to make you beautiful. But just like our ancestors were stripped of their language, music and religion in the days of slavery, they were also stripped of their grooming rituals. Consider this excerpt from Hair Story:

Without the combs, herbal ointments and palm oil used in Africa for hairdressing, the slaves were forced to use common Western household products and equipment to achieve certain styles. Instead of palm oil, the slaves took to using oil-based products like bacon grease and butter… cornmeal and kerosene were used as scalp cleaners… men would slick axle grease meant for wagon wheels over their hair for a combination dye job and straightener.
Our grooming techniques: lost. Our hair dressing recipes with yummy oils and natural butters: lost. Our unique methods of braiding and twisting to make intricate and regal styles: lost. And we end up, 400 years later, sitting between grandma's legs with a too-hot pressing comb and a jar of marcel wax, among bottles of products made for anglo hair, thinking these tools are the only way to ever make our hair "pretty."

The sad part is that the pathology is passed from generation to generation. And with all the pulling, tugging, detangling and brushing, little girls are quickly indoctrinated with a complex about their hair.

We try to make our hair "good." And if won't be good, it becomes the enemy.


Good hair isn't straight, or silky, or wavy or curly. It's not the result of a press or a process. Good hair is hair that's pampered. It's soft. Supple. It's strong, and properly moisturized. It's fed well, not with junk like mineral oil and petroleum, but with yummy gifts from nature -- water, oils and butters. Good hair reflects light even in a dark club, and simply shines in the sunlight. Good hair is soft and luxurious. It's a joy to touch and it begs to be played with. Good hair is cherished. Good hair is loved.


I have to make clear that I'm not being a natural hair Nazi. Far from it. I don't say all this in an effort to make everyone throw out their boxes of Affirm (or Motions, or Elasta, or African Pride -- I can't help but to see the irony in that one) and shave it all off, a la Zhane. If like enjoy relaxing, relax away. If you press, press to your heart's content. But I am wondering if you'll change you mentality; if you'll stop treating your hair like the enemy, and take on a spirit of exploration when that natural texture does grow in. As the saying goes, God don't make no mistakes. Everyone was blessed with good hair -- it's just a matter of seeing the good for yourself.