Tag Archives: team natural

Fro Frustrations: Say That 5 Times Fast

MANE MAN is all about celebrating grooming and how grooming can be a great way for us to take of ourselves. Obviously, I spend a lot of time writing about all the products I get to try.  But today, I need to rant.

MY. HAIR. WON’T. STOP. GROWING.

And no, this isn’t a humble brag.  Seriously. I know that many of you are hoping and trying for growth. But, I’m annoyed (at the moment) that my hair grows so quickly.

Here’s what’s annoying about that…I got a haircut just a few weeks go. It was a sizable chop but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it was a “big chop”. As always, I felt a bit uncomfortable the first few days after as I thought it was a little too short. Fast forward to a few weeks later and it feels too big/too long already. WHY!?

This is annoying because, for me, getting a haircut is annoying. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not my stylist at all. She’s great. But, hair cuts take so much time. First, I have to be mindful enough to schedule the appointment. And with my schedule, things tend to be all over the place and varied. By the time I take a moment to sit down and think about life, I often find that I’ve forgotten to do something that is pretty essential. The haircut, by default, gets pushed back.

Then, there is the actual appointment itself. I can’t go in and be out in 20 minutes. I wish I could. It takes that long just to pick out my hair for the cut itself.  Then, I’m in the chair…usually feeling pretty warm (because I ALWAYS am) and thus, near to falling asleep in the chair. I feel a little rude because I don’t talk more, but then the silence also makes me comfortable and sleepy. I know, so many non-problem, problems.

I realize this is not a real problem to have. I’m fortunate to have thick hair that grows quickly. I realize that my hair is pretty healthy.

But, can’t it just slow down a little bit?

 

What are your fro frustrations or biggest hair annoyances? Let’s continue the conversation in the comment section below.

8 Reasons You Want to Touch Black Women’s Hair – And Why They Mean You Shouldn’t

Originally published on Everyday Feminism. Reposted with author’s (Maisha Z. Johnson) permission.

There are a million ways to compliment a Black woman.

You could tell me I look radiant. Say you like my lipstick – it’s hard to find the right shade. Tell me you appreciate how my mind works.

I’m not just fishing for compliments here. I’m giving you options to avoid the dreaded “compliment” of touching my hair.

I’m sure you’ve come across the warning not to touch Black women’s hair before. But do you really understand why it’s so important to keep your hands out of our tresses?

This is a super common racial microaggression, which is a subtle form of racism often done by someone who doesn’t mean to be racist. I’ve had lots of people (usually white people) touch my hair, and in most cases, the touch came with a well-meaning compliment.

But you probably don’t know what the temptation to touch Black women’s hair means in US society – or about the impact if you follow your urge.

The objectification of Black bodies has been part of US culture since slavery, and it’s still going strong as one of our everyday struggles. This behavior affects all Black folks, but for this piece, I’m focusing on racialized sexism against women.

But wait – when you touch Black women’s hair, you don’t have racist or sexist intentions. So how does this relate to racism or sexism?

The answer comes down to the one of our core feminist values, consent – respecting everyone’s agency over their own bodies, including their hair. Having our hair touched is just one of the ways Black women are often denied this agency in our society.

Let’s go through the most common reasons I’ve heard for touching my hair, and how they relate to patriarchal white supremacy.

1. You’re Curious

I went to a writing retreat where a woman was insatiably curious about how my hair feels. She’d never been around hair like mine before, and she stared until I thought her eyes would bulge out of her head.

I finally gave in to letting her touch it before the poor woman had a medical emergency.

She asked the same questions every curious white person asks: “Is it real? How do you get it like that? How do you wash it?”

I understand the curiosity. But do you know why you’re so curious? It’s because the texture of my 4C hair is often invisible in mainstream society.

Eurocentric beauty standards mean that white women are a lot more common in the media than Black women. The Black women who are visible tend to have chemically straightened hair. Even I struggle to find care tips for and images of my hair type. So it makes sense that you haven’t come across those, and I appreciate that you want to correct your lack of information.

But unlike the white people who don’t notice how unusual my hair seems until they feel the urge to touch it, I notice the invisibility of my hair type all the time.

And that invisibility sends the constant message that my hair is unappealing – which is just one of many media messages about Black women’s inferiority. It’s hard to feel good about yourself when popular images of “beauty” don’t look like you.

So if you really want to learn about our hair, find information through research instead of reminding a Black woman that her beauty is rarely celebrated.

If you know a Black woman well, you could respectfully ask how she’d feel about answering questions. Some women don’t mind, but you’re not entitled to her answers. The expectation to educate people can get tiring, so lots of Black women just don’t feel like talking about it anymore.

2. You Find My Hair Fascinating

Sometimes my hair evokes more than curiosity – it fills people, like the woman at my residency, with wonder. Here’s how being fascinating can be a bad thing.

Black women are often “othered” in US society – like being treated as if we don’t exist in the media. Our hair is othered with insults and misunderstandings like the interpretation of braids on Black people as “gang affiliations.

Even when the othering seems “positive,” it doesn’t feel good. It disrupts our efforts to simply exist without being treated like we’re abnormal. At the writing retreat, for instance, I’d hoped for quiet introspection.

Instead, I had a stranger’s hands in my hair. And “compliments” that essentially said, “Wow, you’re different!” And pressure to answer questions that basically covered why I’m so strange.

It was a little dehumanizing, even though she didn’t mean it to be.

When you rarely see Black women in the media, and even “positive” images objectify us, you’re influenced to treat Black women as objects. That’s not a good thing, even if we’re fascinating objects.

My hair is one of the ways I have control over my own image – it’s not just some anomaly for people to touch. Let me reclaim my own beauty and exist without being exotified.

3. You Want to Compliment Me

You may think this is my favorite reason. Who wouldn’t want a compliment?

This is tough, because I appreciate the good intentions – and then I feel bad for rejecting your compliment. Let me explain now so I don’t have to see your disappointment as you realize this is the wrong way to compliment me.

Say you’re at a party and I arrive with my afro combed out, shimmering, and on point. I wouldn’t mind at all if you say how great my hair looks. But then you reach out, telling me my hair is so beautiful and you’d give anything to run your fingers through it – and I have to stop you right there.

You’re shifting from a kind compliment into fascination territory. It’s not flattering to be exotified like some strange creature – even if you mean it in a “good” way.

Besides, if my hair’s looking good, don’t mess it up! I didn’t put time into it just to go around with a dent the shape of your hand.

Imagine a different scenario. You’ve crafted a beautiful, hand-made hat, which you’re proudly wearing at the party. I walk up, eyes wide with fascination, and say, “I like your hat.”

Then, before you can say “thank you,” I reach out and smash it with my palm.

Wouldn’t that be frustrating? Wouldn’t it be even more frustrating if you got upset and I replied, “You should appreciate it! It’s a compliment”?

That’s just rude. So please, respect Black women and stick to verbal compliments about our hair.

4. You Think It’s Not a Big Deal

Touching my hair is relatively harmless compared to other ways Black women are dehumanized, so I could try to “get over it.” But first, let’s be clear about what I’m “getting over.”

There’s the history of white people’s ownership of Black bodies. The obvious example is slavery, when Black folks were considered property, not people, by law. They had no power over their own bodies – which included being raped by slave owners.

That’s horrendous enough, but there are plenty more examples throughout history. Like the fact that Black people in the mid-1850s were considered such a deviation from the “norm” that they were exhibited in zoos and freak shows.

One woman, Saartjie Baartman, was displayed in a cage, mocked, and gawked at. Even after her death, scientists dissected her body to investigate the difference between the “savage” (Black) woman and the “civilized” (white) woman. Then her genitals and brain were put back on display until 1985.

“Jet-black and woolly was her hair,” a Victorian poet wrote.

Saartjie Baartman wasn’t buried until 2002. Amid racial tensions, her burial site in South Africa was recently defaced.

This is our history as Black women, and it hasn’t just stayed in the past.

White stars like Miley Cyrus and Amy Schumer liberate themselves by using Black women as props. Meanwhile, Black women experience daily microaggressions – including other degrading phrases meant to be compliments, everything from “You’re pretty for a Black girl” to “You’re not like other Black people.”

And while none of these acts alone may seem like a big deal, they don’t happen in a vacuum. They combine to give Black women the constant feeling that our bodies are always up for objectification, judgment, and othering.

By the time you take the seemingly simple action of touching my hair – no matter how well-meaning you are – I’m tired of being an object. It’s not a big deal to you, but it may just be the last straw for me.

5. You Wouldn’t Be Offended If Someone Touched Your Hair

If you treat others like you’d want to be treated, you should respect Black women’s boundaries like you’d want yours respected – even if their boundaries are different from yours.

I have a white friend who once asked me to put her hair in a french braid. She didn’t mind my touch, even though I was terrible at braiding it, because for her, it’s “just hair.” But when she wanted to switch roles and braid my hair, I stopped her.

Because for me and many other Black women, it’s more than “just hair” – it’s a vital source of empowerment.

For many of us, natural hair is a political statement of embracing our beauty instead of the idea that we have to change to be acceptable.

As a result, we’re called “ugly,” discriminated against in the job market, and profiled as criminals. We’ve been told since we were children, often from the women in our families, that something was wrong with our hair, and that the world wouldn’t accept it as is.

So owning and loving our hair is a revolutionary act of reclaiming our worth. It’s an integral part of our cultural experience. A white person touching our hair carries a different context than when you, as a white person whose humanity is affirmed far more often, have someone touch your hair.

This applies to all kinds of situations. People of different races have social conditions affecting them in unique ways. Usually, the question of “Would a white person be offended?” is not an accurate measure of whether or not something is harmful for Black folks.

6. You Have No Idea How Often We Have to Deal With This

Black women deal with people touching our hair a lot. Now you know. Okay, there’s more to it than that: Black women deal with people touching our hair a hell of a lot.

If you approach a Black woman saying “I just have to feel your hair,” it’s pretty safe to assume this isn’t the first time she’s heard that.

Everyone who asks me if they can touch follows a long line of people othering me – including strangers who touch my hair without asking. The psychological impact of having people constantly feel entitled my personal space has worn me down.

If you’re not a Black woman, and you’re doubting that this happens so frequently, consider that…well, that you’re not a Black woman, so you’ve never walked in my shoes, or under my afro.

Do me a favor and take my word for it – or find the many other Black women speaking up and writing about this for more confirmation. Then find some empathy for those of us who so often have our boundaries violated.

7. You Know Someone Else Who Didn’t Mind

Do you know a Black woman who doesn’t mind when people touch her hair? So do I! We all have different preferences, and I don’t claim to be the authority on all Black women’s boundaries.

Even my preferences vary. For instance, I’ve let curious children feel my hair because – unlike adults who should know better – they don’t understand why I wouldn’t want them to. Many Black women’s boundaries include no hair touching, but that’s not even the whole point of why you should keep your hands to yourself.

The point is that everyone deserves to have their personal space respected. As feminists, respect for consent is one of our fundamental values. That should include not assuming that a Black woman consents to touch, even if another woman didn’t mind.

What if you ask for permission? We’re used to consent meaning asking first, and proceeding if you get a “yes.”

But just like sexual consent includes things like body language and inebriation status, getting consent to touch a Black woman’s hair includes more than just asking. You also have to consider the broader context. Even the fact that you’re curious points to a problem. It means you’ve internalized society’s othering of Black women – and you should work on that before you satisfy your curiosity.

There might be situations when Black women don’t mind touching. But there are also situations like that writing retreat, when I let the woman objectify me because I wanted to avoid any issues. And times when the person who wants to touch me is in a position of power, like an employer – and there’s a lot of pressure to be “nice enough” to let them touch.

So it’s better to err on the side of keeping your hands to yourself – even if you’d give the courtesy of asking before touching.

8. You’re Offended By the Idea of Not Being Able to Touch My Hair

Still think it’s no biggie to ask? Let’s talk about those “issues” that might come up if I say “no.”

Whenever I write about how white people can avoid being oppressive, some white people inevitably object to being told what they “can and can’t do.” You don’t want your freedom limited, but in many cases, this reaction isn’t about freedom. It’s about entitlement.

Touching my hair is the perfect example.

It’s an act that invades my personal space, and if I don’t want that – even if you don’t understand why I don’t – you should respect my choice. I mean, you’re trying to pet me. Even my cat sets her boundaries when she doesn’t want to be petted, so shouldn’t I, as a human being, have my boundaries respected, too?

As a woman, I’m subject to rape culture that says men are entitled to my body. As a Black woman, I’m under even more pressure to be available for other people to touch.

I’ve been called “uptight,” “angry,” and “overreacting,” for saying “no” to having my hair touched. Hopefully you’d never do such a thing. But if you take it personally when a Black woman doesn’t let you touch her hair, it’s time to let the defensiveness go.

Having people feel entitled to our personal space at all times puts us in a vulnerable position. We’re pressured to let you touch us, and then we’re demonized for asserting our boundaries.

So don’t act offended if a Black woman turns down your request to touch her hair – you really have nothing to be offended about.

***

Those are most of the reasons I’ve heard for wanting to touch my hair. Did you catch all the good reasons not to?

With this simple act of self-control, you can help change culture around, you including:

  • Helping Black women feel safer by respecting our personal space.
  • Preserving Black women’s fly hairstyles.
  • Being a more supportive ally.
  • Creating consent culture by respecting Black women’s boundaries.
  • Resisting the influence of white supremacy’s othering of Black bodies.

These goals are worth prioritizing before your curiosity. Next time you’d like to touch a Black woman’s hair, remember how your reasons, no matter how well-meaning, support white supremacy.

And if you see me on the street, feel free to let the compliments flow – I’ll be happy to accept them without your hands in my hair.

 

Maisha Z. Johnson is the Digital Content Associate and Staff Writer of Everyday Feminism. You can find her writing at the intersections and shamelessly indulging in her obsession with pop culture around the web. Maisha’s past work includes Community United Against Violence (CUAV), the nation’s oldest LGBTQ anti-violence organization, and Fired Up!, a program of California Coalition for Women Prisoners. Through her own project, Inkblot ArtsMaisha taps into the creative arts and digital media to amplify the voices of those often silenced. Like her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @mzjwords.

My Updated Hair Care Regimen – Fall 2016

Greetings all!

Since we’re (theoretically) entering a new season  I wanted to take a moment to share with you my latest hair care regimen, fall edition! In the following handy little infographic you will see my current hair care regimen if you’re looking for some insight into my process and the current products that I’m using.  While the process doesn’t change much, there is some variety of products depending on the season. Once winter hits, I’m sure I’ll be updating it.  For now, enjoy the fall regimen below!

It should also be noted that I previously deep conditioned my hair weekly with  Pantene Pro-V Medium-Thick Hair Solutions Intensive Restoration Treatment. I have not been doing this lately so that’s why it’s not including my current regimen. As the weather gets cooler and dryer, I’m sure I’ll be deep conditioning again to take extra special care of my hair.

Click the photo below to enlarge!

hair-care-regimen-fall-2016

My 2 Favorite Products (at the moment!)

paul mitchell dynamic duo

One of the perks about being a grooming blogger, and frankly one of the downfalls, is the ability to try out so many different products on my face and mane to see what yields the best results.  While that doesn’t seem like a problem, it can be daunting to always be trying out new things. In some small way, sometimes I don’t feel satisfied when I find something that works really well as I’m always on the hunt for the new thing.  Call it product-junkieism if you will.  That’s probably how I would describe it!

I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of the #PMInsiders club which is made up of a group of bloggers, vloggers and influencers who try out some of the best offerings from hair care brand Paul Mitchell. While I’ve liked many of the products that have come across my desk, I think I’ve recently a holy combination!

Let me start by saying that I did a semi-annual hair cut a month ago. Now, the medium to big fro is gone and a little, well-coiffed one is firmly in its place.  This is always a frustrating time for me as depending on the length of the cut, due to way my hair works, I have to wait for a little length until natural curl definition happens. It hasn’t been until the past two weeks that I’ve hit that little magic spot and this has been made clear by a combination of two Paul Mitchell products, The Cream from the softstyle collection and the Tea Tree Firm Hold Gel from the teatree line.

The Cream is a lightweight styling conditioner that applies well on wet hair right out of the shower.  On my short(er) hair I use about a nickel-sized amount.  I rake in the product from root to ends with my fingers. Immediately after that, still with pretty wet hair, I use about a nickel-sized amount of the Tea Tree Firm Hold Gel and rake in using the same method. I let my hair air dry and that’s it!  What that leaves me with is defined (if not a little firm) hair.  The gel helps out by giving a lot of shine and luster which means my hair always looks bright and healthy without a greasy feel when I use it.

This unexpected duo packs a pretty good punch and has been my go-to for a couple of weeks now.  It will definitely stay on the top of my list as we start to transition the cooler fall months.

What’s at the top of your list these days?

Sunne’s Gift Author Ama Yawson Talks Identity and Self-Acceptance

Back in December 2014 I featured a post on Sunne’s Gift by Ama Karikari Yawson, a children’s book that helps promote self-acceptance and healthy self-esteem in young children.

Today, I’m even more excited and happy to share with you Yawson’s Tedx George School talk about the same ideas that she discusses in her book. She is a fantastic storyteller and really brings home a message that we all need to hear.

Check it out!

The Myth of “Perfect Hair”

PERFECT

Why is that when you try your hardest to have your hair look perfectly coiffed that it always looks a mess?

This always happens to me.  I’m trying to make the mane look extra special and defined for some sort of event or meeting that I’m concerned about and without fail, I feel like my hair looks terrible. I get no compliments. No one tries to inappropriately invade my bubble (not wishing, but just saying).

And then there are those days when I basically roll out of bed and think, “Man, the fro looks crazy today!”  What do I get? Adulation. Compliments. Natural hair discussions. Sigh.

I’m not sure what it is about those lax hair care days that prompts people to respond so positively. Maybe there’s the perception that my perfectly imperfect hair equals confidence?  And it’s not all about having highly defined hair either.

I’ve had “high maintenance” days when I wash, deep conditioner, use a leave in and just let it air dry and…nothing.  But, on those days when I basically roll out of bed and feel like my fro is matted and knotted up all over the place…compliments galore. What’s up with that?!

Does anyone else find this to be true for their hair?  Share in the comments section below!

Karen Tappin of Karen’s Body Beautiful Launches Talk Show “Karen Says”

karen tappin karen says loc loosed
Karen Tappin of “Karen Says” at Loc’d & Loosed A Natural Hair Celebration of Unity in 2014.

Natural hair maven Karen Tappin is delving into new territory this evening as she launches her new talk show “Karen Says”.

Karen Tappin is the CEO of Karen’s Body Beautiful which is a widely known brand dedicated to helping women embrace their natural hair. The brand boasts a great collection of high performing products with the amazingly popular, and highly craved, Sweet Ambrosia Leave In Conditioner leading the pack.

Karen will host the show that is expected to focus on topics related to not only natural hair, but also family, career, relationships and of course beauty.

The show’s first episode airs tonight June 1st at 7 PM EST and will feature a monthly segment called The Beauty Bubble, which will feature natural beauty enthusiasts such as Imani Dawson, Editor-in-Chief of A Tribe Called Curl; Natasha Gaspard, CEO of Mane Moves; and Lurie Daniel-Favors, Esq., author of Afro State of Mind.

You can catch the first episode of “Karen Says” on the Karen’s Body Beautiful YouTube channel at YouTube.com/karensbodybeautiful. And feel free to join in on the fun and call in with questions and comments at (800) 628-2210.

Real Talk at #LocdandLoosed

locdandloosedeventbrite

Hi everyone!  Today, I wanted to share with you an upcoming event that I’ll be participating in this upcoming Saturday, December 13!

Locs Revolution’s Niyya Tenee has helped put together this wonderful natural hair event aimed at connecting the natural hair community and giving us the opportunity to have some fun AND talk about the real issues behind being a part of the community. We’re going to get into some deep issues and you’ll see some demos and other awesome things going on.  It’s definitely not to be missed!

locdandloosed

It’s all going down in NYC on Saturday, and I’ll be featured on a guest panel of creators and natural hair enthusiasts as we delve into “the issues” in the natural hair community.  We’re talking about identity, loc’d hair, fros and all!  I think it’s going to be great and I’m excited to share my perspective as a mental health professional to the conversation.

Tickets are limited so if you’re in the NYC area and looking for something cool to do Saturday then meet us on 27th street in Manhattan at 28 W 27th Street studios.  Only digital tickets are being sold online at locdandloosed.eventbrite.com and cost $20. Tickets are sold online only so don’t miss out.  I hope to see you there!

 

Dealing with Natural Hair Hate

dry afro hair

I recently came across a post on Curly Nikki where a young woman talked  about how people’s hate of her natural hair actually energized her on her journey of returning to her natural hair state. I found it pretty interesting and started to reflect on my own experience of dealing with “natural hair hate” so I thought I’d weigh in a little bit.  Note, the post below may consist of incoherent rambling at times.

First off, let me say that as a culture we are so quick to throw out the term “hater”.  A “hater” isn’t someone who just doesn’t like what you do/how you look.  In my opinion, a “hater” is someone who has nothing constructive or remotely ambivalent to offer you.  A natural hair “hater” won’t comment on how healthy your hair looks.  They won’t say how well maintained or style your hair is.  They simply just won’t have anything positive to offer even if the style isn’t for them. For instance, the man who once yelled “Ewwwww!” at my growing fro (unsolicited I might add)  is probably just a hater.  Whereas someone who engages me in a conversation about my hair and says they don’t prefer it is simply just offering an opinion.  See the difference?

That being said, I’ve run into my share of negative comments, stares and interactions at my hair because my hair didn’t look “how it was supposed to”.  After giving up my decades long love/hate affair with dark Caesars, the fro made me stand out and people definitely took notice.  Truth is, I kind of liked that.  I liked feeling like I was doing something not everyone was doing.  It was nice to know that I didn’t look like a carbon copy of everyone else.

But standing out comes with , well…standing out.  I got a lot of negativity from people thinking my hair looked fake or was even a wig/weave (no, I’m not joking) to people policing my gender and questioning my masculinity because I had a growing fro that I took/take VERY good care of.  At times, it seems like some people want guys to look ragged because in some way that shows that we’re “manly men” who aren’t into that feminine stuff.

But for me, I’m not that guy.  I’m not that guy to be overly concerned with other’s perceptions of me.  But I wasn’t always that way. Actually, the fro helped me cement that lesson and put it into daily practice.  Even now that my hair is much shorter, I occasionally get looks from people, but hey maybe that’s because they just like my face (or don’t!).  Either way, I remind myself just to keep it moving because there’s noting like looking in the mirror at the end of the day and thinking, “I’m good with who I am.”  Trust me, you should try it sometime.

Is there a Natural Hair Generation Gap?

Source: Abouteldercare.org
Source: Abouteldercare.org

During the holidays I was visiting with my mother and we had some discussion about MANE MAN and the whole natural hair community in general. I found that even as a young guy, I have become very connected to the community and I discovered that my mother had not been exposed to a lot of the information that I had about natural hair, transitioning and different product ingredients and their effects.  As we sat there in conversation all I could wonder was, is there a natural hair generation gap?

I think it’s probably fair to say that there have always been women who have worn their hair natural throughout history. However, in the most recent years we’ve seen a huge trend of many more young women embracing not only natural hair, but a more natural lifestyle and this trend has largely been bolstered by the internet and social media.  Just look around on Twitter’s hashtags #naturalhair or #teamnatural and you’ll connect to thousands of folks discussing the phenomenon of natural hair.  Unfortunately, it seems that the lack of exposure to many of these internet based resources has been keeping people like my mother and others in her age group from making more informed decisions about chemical treatments they have used for years.  I spent some time introducing my mother to some quality natural hair care sites in hopes that she will continue her exploration further.  While her initial reaction was strongly receptive, I’m worried that without the regular support of the community she may not take the next step in her journey.  People in my mother’s age group aren’t used to spending hours per day on the computer using Twitter and Facebook to receive new information like we do so my question is, how do we get them involved?