Sunday, August 30, 2009

Time Magazine: "Why Michelle's Hair Matters"

After the blogosphere went all a-Twitter this week after Racialicious' questions about curls and the New York Times' explainer on black hair politics, I was amused to open this week's issue of Time and see Jenee Desmond-Harris' piece, "Why Michelle's Hair Matters."

The article -- again -- explains for a mainstream audience the weight of expectation and politics that we carry in our strands. And it makes mention -- again -- of "Good Hair," which, I suspect, is the reason all these articles and essays are coming out in the first place.

I find the most interesting parts of the article are the author's own reflections. Desmond-Harris shares:

Even though I'm biracial and should theoretically have half a share of hair angst, I've sacrificed endless Saturdays to the salon. It is unfathomable that I might ever leave my apartment with my hair in its truly natural state, unmoderated by heat or products. I once broke down at the airport when my gel was confiscated for exceeding the 3-oz. limit.

I'm neither high maintenance nor superficial: I'm a black woman. My focus on hair feels like a birthright. It is my membership in an exclusive, historical club, with privileges, responsibilities, infighting and bylaws that are rewritten every decade.

Not once when I've seen an image of our First Lady has it been lost on me that she is also a member. I don't see just an easy, bouncy do. I see the fruits of a time-consuming effort to convey a carefully calculated image. In the next-day ponytail, I see a familiar defeat.

In the end, it's the same issue, same conclusions, just a different publication. On one hand, I enjoy seeing black women's issues showing up in newsprint and magazines. On the other hand, I wonder how we're going to move the conversation forward. We keep lamenting. We keep complaining. We keep resigning ourselves to external forces imposing their expecations on our hair.

When will we start exercising autonomy over our hair, and what -- whether curled, coiled, pressed or relaxed -- it means?
Saturday, August 29, 2009

Happy Birthday Mike!

The world's greatest entertainer would have been 51 years old today, and people around the globe are taking the opportunity to celebrate. Spike Lee is throwing a huge bash in Brooklyn later today (and he'll be on our show this morning to talk about it!).

Let's have a little celebration here on Highly Textured. What's your favorite Michael Jackson song, video or moment?

Oh, and to set the theme for the day, here's a little diddy to dance to in celebration....

Enjoy Yourself - The Jacksons
Friday, August 28, 2009

The Accidental Moisturizer

Hola chicas.

You know how everyone is on the search for that ever-elusive, yet oh-so-effective moisturizer. I may have just found mine. Well, created it. Unintentionally.

The ladies and I took a last-gasp-of-summer trip to the beach recently, and, knowing I'd be getting my strands wet in the tide, I brought along two favs in the product arsenal -- coconut oil and Aussie Moist conditioner. The oil was to protect my hair before I jumped into the waves, and the conditioner was around to moisturize and style the curls after I was done frolicking in the water.

But a strange thing happened in the sand. For some reason, I decided to mix the two together. In my palm, half oil, half Aussie. Rub together, and apply.

You would have thought I found a rainbow.

My hair instantly became incredibly soft. And a number of the curls that had fuzzed-out (you know what I mean) sprang back into happy, defined coils.

Oh man, what a discovery. Especially since my last (intentional) experiment didn't turn out so hot.

I don't know exactly what makes it work, but it certainly works for me. Since that trip to the beach, I've been using it as an all-over moisturizer between wash-n-go's. A note though -- it can build up over a few days. But that's nothing a simple co-wash can't take handle.

What about you? Have you discovered any concoctions that just made your hair sing?
Thursday, August 27, 2009

New York Times: "Black Hair, Still Tangled in Politics"

As the discussion around black women's hair grows around the blogosphere and now in the cinema, it was only a matter of time before the issues we seem chat about only in selected company made it to the mainstream print media.

Today's New York Times features a story by Catherine Saint Louis, exploring the tangled politics surrounding the hair of black women. Saint Louis writes:
In the face of cultural pressure, the thinking goes, conformists relax their hair, and rebels have the courage not to. In some corners, relaxing one’s hair is even seen as wishing to be white.

For some, the battle lines are drawn.

But in recent interviews, a number of people of color expressed a weariness with the debate. They asked, essentially: Why can’t hair just be hair? Must an Afro peg a woman as the political heir to Angela Davis? Is a fashionista who replicates the first lady’s clean-cut bob really being untrue to herself?
The article, for all intents and purposes, is essentially an explainer of all the discussions that we, as black women, have had for years, packaged for an audience who may very well be completely oblivious to the politics of black hair. But it also adds a layer to the conversation -- in these days, the choice to be natural or to straighten your hair isn't so cut-and-dry. Not every woman with a perm is trying to "look white." Not every sista with a coil is trying to be "down for the cause." There are times when I personally wonder, "Are we doing this to ourselves? No one else seems to care how black people wear their hair."

And while Saint Louis mentions the sheer ugliness thrown at Malia Obama when a picture of her twisted hair showed up on conservative blogs, I couldn't help but feel, well... indifferent. I do agree that it was disgusting the way some people hurled insults at a child, but personally, Internet bigots aren't the kind of people I want to impress anyway. (People with an insipid, hardline way of looking at the world do not concern me and don't affect my life path. But that's just me.) I will say that in my experience, any negative reaction to my natural locks (and there have been many) has been from within my own race. As Nia Long is quoted as saying in "Good Hair":

“There’s always a sort of pressure within the black community, like ‘Oh, if you have good hair, you’re prettier or better than the brown-skinned girl that wears an Afro or the dreads or the natural hairstyle.’ ”

Key words: 'Pressure within the black community.'

It doesn't mean the mainstream in totally absolved of alienating women who wear their natural coils. The Times article closes with an experience of one Howard alum (pictured above):
Shayna Y. Rudd, of Washington, wore a past-her-shoulders weave to have a better shot at the Miss America title. She said an adviser gave her two choices: imitate Beyoncé’s long luscious look or Jada Pinkett Smith’s flowing mane. “I couldn’t be who God wanted me to be,” Ms. Rudd, 24, said ruefully. “I didn’t win. My spirit was crushed.”

She has since sworn off relaxers and extensions; instead, she occasionally presses her tight-curled hair and slicks it into a bun, which is what she did earlier this month when she won the title Miss Black USA. (She bested 28 other contestants, only 3 of whom wore their hair natural.)

“Don’t buy into anyone else’s standard, set your own,” Ms. Rudd said.
And at the end of the day, after all the films and television reports and newspaper features about what we do to our hair -- it's up to you to have the last word.
Monday, August 10, 2009

We're Back!

Omigosh, I swear I ALWAYS forget how busy convention weeks are. I just returned from the NABJ convention in Tampa yesterday and I am exhausted. In a good way. I had a great time with all my journalism friends and came back rejuvenated. (Sleepy, but rejuvenated. Lol.)

How'd the hair hold up? Ugh... can we say humidity? It was ridiculous. Borderline oppressive. AND it rained every day at about 4:30 on the dot. The clouds would roll in and then WOOSH -- rain. That "convention blow-out" that I showed y'all in the last vid -- it was done five hours after I got off the plane. Lol! So I had to rethink my strategy and ended up doing a few updos for the rest of the week. Although I did try the blow-out one more time, that time making sure to stay out of the humidity and inside a climate-controlled environment at all times.

Another tidbit: I got a pass to see a screening of "Good Hair." Exciting, right! Except when you get lost on the way to a movie theater in a strange city. *le sigh* So by the time we arrived, there were no seats left. Luckily, the theater offered to let us see another flick for free, so we ran across the hall to watch "Julie and Julia." Very cute.

I will say this -- "Good Hair" got great reviews. My friends who saw it (because they got to the movie on time) said it was funny and thought-provoking. And it was a basis of great conversation in the group shuttle back to the airport the next day, between a TV reporter who regularly rocks weaves to appear on screen and a print reporter who was wearing her natural hair in long twists.

All in all, convention was a blast, as always. Whatever profession you're in, I STRONGLY suggest you joins its national organization and make friends. My NABJ friends are not only some of my best buddies, but also some of the best in the business, and I'm so glad to see them every year.

Next stop -- San Diego in 2010!
Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Going to Tampa....

Monday, August 3, 2009

Finding Blessed and Highly Textured just got a little bit easier.

You can now directly access the blog at Update your bookmarks and tell your friends. :-)

Thanks all!
Saturday, August 1, 2009

Highly Textured one of "YouTube's Best Hair Bloggers"!

Whoo hoo!

The lovely Afrobella is now also pulling double-duty as the hair blogger for AOL's This past week, she posted a list of YouTube's Best Hair Bloggers -- and Highly Textured made the list!

Woot woot!

I'm really excited. I love Afrobella and honored that she included me. Go show her some love at the BlackVoices Hair Talk and at her own spot,