Category Archives: Culture

Afro Puffs and Braids banned, says Ohio School

Standard
Afro Puff

Afro Puff

Check out the story originally posted in BGLH

Horizon Science Academy in Ohio recently released their school policy on dress code. See the letter to parents below and the outline of their dress code policy.  It states that afro puffs and ‘small twisted braids’ are against school policy. It’s clear that this policy directly addresses the  parents of African American girls in the school. It is effectively banning these girls from wearing the equivalent of a ponytail for afro textured hair, or one of the most convenient protective styles. So what is the alternative? This reinforces the myth that straight, relaxed or pressed hair is superior to curly, kinky afro textured hair. In 2013, the misconception of natural afro hair being unkempt still exists. In recent years there has been a 30 per cent increase in the number of African American women wearing their hair natural. The sale of relaxers has decreased also. However clearly, there is still a long way to go before attitudes towards natural hair improve both in the black community and outside.

letter of schoolpolicy

This story is nothing new, last year  Hampton University in Virginia banned braids and dreadlocks in their dress code. But what is particularly upsetting about this story is that it involves young girls of school age.  They are already facing discrimination and being singled out for leaving their hair natural and not succumbing to chemical relaxers or pressing irons at such a young age. This policy reinforces the idea that to be taken seriously and to be seen as professional, your hair must be straight. It’s interesting that one of the reasons cited for the policy was to:  diminish economic and social barriers between students. Well Horizon Science Academy, African American girls should not have to wear their hair straight to fit in with the other students in the school. Wearing their hair in braids or simply putting their hair up in puff does not create social barriers. A negative attitude towards others who are different and discrimination creates social barriers.  Also, singling out African American girls for the way they wear their natural hair doesn’t increase ‘a sense of belonging or pride’ for their school.

Chemically relaxing or  constantly flat ironing a young girl’s hair isn’t healthy. The school’s policy is conflicting as it requests that hair must ‘look natural’.  Making it harder for black girls to wear their hair in its natural state (by banning the main styling options) is simply discrimination. It would be just like banning ‘straight ponytails’. It’s ridiculous and unnecessary.

Please note that Horizon Science Academy is reviewing their dress code policy since being made aware of the reaction to it from the natural hair community.   Check out their Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/theconceptschools

Check out the letter from Horizon School, addressing their ‘draft’ policy.

What do you think about this story? Share your thoughts below.

Advertisements

Natural Hair in Australia

Standard

What is it like to live in a country that doesn’t have an endless supply of black hair care products and numerous salons that cater to black hair?

The City of Adelaide
So I arrived in Adelaide, Australia last month and will be here for the foreseeable future. Adelaide is the capital city of South Australia and the fifth largest city in the country. It isn’t huge but still has all of benefits of a big city, yet maintains a level of calm about it. I did arrive during the festival period which was a lot of fun. There was an African festival across the road from my hotel which had some excellent live performances of traditional African music. One of the first things I observed when I arrived in Australia was how diverse the people are.
In Adelaide there is a wide choice of restaurants, from Asian restaurants in China Town, to Sudanese restaurants in the outskirts of the city. Quite clearly Adelaide has a growing African community which consists of those from countries in East and South Africa. Over the last two decades, Africans have come to Australia either as migrants through Australia‘s skilled and family reunion programs, and as refugees through Australia‘s humanitarian program. Other communities that live in Australia include those from the Polynesian islands such as Samoa, economic migrants and refugees from countries in Asia, and of course the indigenous aboriginal community. Australia is a nation of immigrants, other than the indigenous aboriginal community everyone there is likely to have connections to other parts of the world.

Rymill Park, Adelaide

Rymill Park, Adelaide

Somerton Beach, Glenelg

Somerton Beach, Glenelg

Adelaide Zoo

Adelaide Zoo

Natural hair community?
It is a wonderful country that I cannot wait to explore. I couldn’t wait to interview some of the African women about life in Australia and to find out whether or not they have heard about the natural hair community, that is prevalent on YouTube and on internet blogs or forums. Of course it has taken off in the U.S.A in a big way and continues to grow in the UK as well. One thing I also noticed is that black beauty products are not readily available like they are in the United States; it reminded me of the UK ten years ago. Growing up in London, I had to go to specialist afro hair and beauty shops to purchase beauty products that catered to my hair and skin tone. In the United States they sell these products in regular stores such a Wal-Mart or Target. The availability of products has improved greatly in the UK but in Australia this simply doesn’t exist. For instance they have Target in Australia but when I browsed through the makeup section I noticed that the darkest color available was caramel.  There certainly wasn’t any black hair care products either. I didn’t see any black hair care shops like Paks Cosmetics in the UK. Fortunately, in America you could go to a regular beauty supply like Sally’s and pick up products that cater to afro hair and those specifically for natural hair.

So I was curious to find out where I could go to get my hair done. Fortunately, since going natural and even before, I have learned to do my own hair and I no longer rely on going to the salon. My hair also thrives with basic products such as Shea butter, coconut oil and plain water. I have learned good hair care practices, so the health of my hair is not dependant on product brands. Therefore I wasn’t panicking because I had moved to a country where I couldn’t pick up any Shea Moisture products or any other popular brands that are freely available in the U.S. However, I still wanted to know where the African women in Adelaide go to buy hair products and if there were black hair salons.
Looking around I saw that many of them wore weaves and braid extensions. The first girl I interviewed said that she mainly relied on a family member to do her hair and she visited the salon occasionally. She told me about the areas where the African shops were and reassured me that there were black hair care shops and salons, you just have to know where to go. Surprisingly, she had never heard of the natural hair community on YouTube. She wore weaves a lot and her hair was relaxed, although she didn’t relax it very frequently. There was also a beautiful young lady from Kenya that I interviewed with immaculate braids, again she had never heard of the natural hair community. Only one person I spoke to was aware of it and she had considered going natural but said she loves her weaves. :D. I explained to her that she could still be natural and wear weaves.

I did see a couple of girls with natural hair though. Two had cute TWAs (teeny weenie afros) and another had two-strand twists. So there are women there that wear their hair natural and I’m sure there is some knowledge about natural hair but it is yet to grow in Australia. It doesn’t appear to have taken off here and I couldn’t find any Australian natural hair, YouTube vloggers.  I am use to seeing blogs and vlogs from women in the UK, Nigeria and the US.  If you know of any or have natural hair and live in Australia, please drop by on this blog and let us know about your experience so far.

Check out Miranda's story on BGLH

Click to check out Miranda’s story on BGLH

Update: here is a link to Miranda’s blog: http://www.StyleGallivanter.com

Good hair care practice
If you have recently gone natural, focus on good hair care practice as opposed to products brands. It is good hair care practice that will promote the health of your hair, not necessarily the products you use. You never know when you may no longer have access to your favorite products or may need to save your money at that particular time. Besides, I find that my twists outs come out beautiful by simply using water and Shea butter. In fact some of the products I’ve tried made my hair too frizzy and were not suitable for twist-outs.

Do you live in a country that doesn’t provide much choice for black hair care and beauty products? How have you adapted to this? Share your experiences below.

Models with natural hair!

Standard

In the last couple of years I’ve noticed more black models with natural hair appearing in high profile campaigns. Every time I see one it always puts a smile on my face. I grew up during the time when you only saw Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell in campaigns who both had straight weaves. Now it appears the fashion industry is noticing a need for more diversity in the industry and we are seeing a change, albeit a very slow and gradual change.   These models really stand out on their own and have more than a simple generic look to offer.

Here are a few of models who have really taken the industry by storm recently:

Nur Hellmann

Appeared in campaigns for Benneton


Jessi M’Bengue

She has appeared in campaigns for Urban Outfitters, Diet Coke and Victoria Secrets.

Liya Kebede

This Ethiopian model was the first Ethiopian to be a representative for Estee Lauder.  Her popularity grew when she appeared on the cover of  Spanish Vogue..  She has featured in campaigns for Gap, Yves Saint-Laurent, Dolce & Gabbana and Louis Vuitton to name a few.It good to see that she has been featured with her hair natural in recent campaigns.

It must be difficult in the modelling industry for women with natural hair because they must have their hair manipulated and altered on a regular basis. That’s why I’m sure many of them wear weaves and wigs. However it seems that there is more of a demand for black models with natural hair.  It is refreshingly different and they certainly stand out from the crowd. I certainly like to see this more and although the fashion and beauty industries have a long way to go in representing women of all skin colours and hair textures. This is a step in the right direction. I grew up in a time when there were very few representations of black women in the fashion industry and in the media in general.  There was certainly very few with natural hair.

More natural hair models

                                      

Are you noticing that there are more natural hair models in campaigns? What do you think?

Solange – three years since her big chop!

Standard

Recent pictures have emerged of Solange in an issue of InStyle Magazine with a new ‘box cut’ hairstyle. I couldn’t help but notice that she has become a style icon in her own right and has adopted a style that is very different from other celebrities in the music and entertainment industry.  It appears to be a style that says like it or hate it, I don’t care. Now I’m not saying that having natural hair means you have to wear beads and animal print! But it is nice to see someone who is confident about their style and not afraid to be different.  Being in the music industry must come with many pressures to look a certain way. Hence, the majority of black female  singers usually sport a weave or have hair that is relaxed and very much in line with a more commercial look.  So it was surprising to many that someone in the entertainment industry who is usually compared to her sister  Beyonce, would decide to cut her hair off.   Cutting her hair received more attention on Twitter than the Iran election in 2009. This actually prompted Solange to post a message on Twitter about how unnecessary the attention was. She said:

Shortly after she cut her hair

Stupid paps took pic.  I’ve had my hair cut like this for two weeks I was NOT inspired by anyone but myself. I have done this twice in my life, I was 16, I was 18, did not care about your opinion then don’t care now.  Don’t need your attention or your co-sign I am #3 trending topic  before IRAN & some of you can’t even locate it on a map. It’s sad.  Don’t want an edge up or a perm because i’m not trying to make this “a style” or a statement. 

I just wanted to be free from the bondage that black women sometimes put on themselves with hair. This phase of my life I want to spend the time, the energy and the money on something else, not in the hair salon. ONLY reason I responded to this    is because I was disappointed to see my name more talked about than (the) Iran election. We gotta do better people”.

Solange with her sister Beyonce

The attention she received shows just how obsessed people are with hair and many could not understand why she would choose to have short natural hair instead of long cascading locks like Beyonce. They even compared her to Britney Spears who had a breakdown and shaved her head not long before.   Solange’s Twitter statement was well written and many of us can relate to the reason she gave for her ‘big chop’. The immediate sense of freedom from conformity was a definite reality for me when I cut my hair off.  She said on Oprah that she would spend up to $50 000 dollars a year on her hair! Now I certainly couldn’t afford that but the money I was spending to get my hair weaved etc could have been used for more important things or for activities that were more fun. Instead of spending all Saturday at the hairdressers!

It was funny how going natural also coincided with my decision to go travelling to South East Asia. I certainly wouldn’t have had the money for this if I was spending a lot of my funds on hair.  It was nice going scuba diving and not worrying about my hair getting wet. Most importantly there was a sense of freedom from no longer having to conform to the world’s standards of beauty. You can experience this to an extent if your hair is relaxed. I went through a stage when I decided to stop wearing weave and accept that my hair was a lot shorter and that others would simply have to get used to my real length. But being natural is 100% non dependence on chemicals and weaves.

Is it any wonder that Solange made an underground song called ‘F*** the music industry’ (not the best title)?  It included lyrics such as:

Jennifer Lopez

I’ll never be picture perfect Beyonce
Fly like J-Lo
Or singing baby like ‘Shanti
I barely comb my hair
Yea that’s on a good day
I don’t care what the hood say
I ain’t street like Keyshia
Ain’t never tried to be
And I got soul in my soul
But not quite like Mary
Ain’t nothing really R&B about me

I’m sure we have all felt the pressures to look a certain way, especially when the above women are heralded for their beauty in magazines, music videos and on TV daily. I can’t imagine the numerous comparisons Solange has faced being Beyonce’s younger sister. When you really think about it, what do these women have to do to maintain their look?  The weaves and lace-fronts, the makeup, the clothes and some have even had surgery in order to stay competitive in the industry that they’re in. Let’s not forget the airbrushing and the fact that Loreal hired Beyonce to advertise their products, not with her real hair but with a weave.

I suppose this comes along with trying to appeal to the masses, which happens when you want to sell millions of records. Isn’t it nice to have people who you love and respect tell you that you are beautiful rather than trying to appeal to the general standard of beauty.  The above mentioned ladies all have a similar look that goes with being in that industry. I’d rather be myself and stand out as different as we don’t all look the same and we have our own unique beauty that some may like and others may not. Most importantly it’s your character that matters.

What do you think of Solange’s new look? Leave a comment below.

Relaxed or natural? Jill Scott

Standard

Jill Scott has been an inspiration for naturals over the years.  However, did she assume this role or was it pushed upon her?  Her new relaxed look was met with criticism from some people in the natural hair community.    Many of us feel strongly about this subject and speak passionately about it.  However, everything needs a healthy balance and at times we need to remember that our hair is only a small aspect of who we are. I personally prefer the natural look on Jill but that’s simply my opinion. She is free to do with her hair whatever she likes.  She did say in an  interview with Afrobella last year that she was never trying to be a spokeswoman for natural hair. It’s important to remember that.  She can go back to being natural anytime and I’m sure she hasn’t ruled it out.

What do you think? Relaxed or natural? Do you think the criticism she faced was warranted?