Category Archives: Natural Hair News

Another Celeb Showcases their Natural Hair

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Porsha Williams is yet another celebrity to reveal what’s underneath their weave, on Instagram. The Dish Nation and Real Housewives star took a quick selfie with her natural hair, just before installing her trademark waist length weave, captioning it: “Natural for 2.5 sections”. Many commented rightly on how beautiful her hair was and even how healthy her edges looked.  It does make me wonder why many celebrities continue to cover their natural tresses with weaves or wigs of a completely different hair texture. Perhaps their natural afro-textured hair isn’t considered glamorous enough for their world.

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Porsha recently posted this picture on Instagram

Many claim it is simply to ‘protect’ their hair. I understand that weaves and wigs can be a great protective style, and celebrities often manipulate their hair for events, photo shoots etc. However, too much of anything is never good and we have seen the effects of perpetual weaving from such celebrities as Naomi Campbell, Countess Vaughn and Tamar Braxton. The thinning of the hairline or hair in general, can often result, especially if they use chemicals as well. Maybe this is why such celebs take the ‘ real hair’ selfies, to prove that not all of them are balding under their weaves, and they could rock their natural hair if they wanted to. So why don’t they, ever? Of course a person can do whatever they want with their hair, and asking such questions runs the risk of being called a ‘natural hair Nazi’. However I have previously pointed out the benefits of not being over reliant on weaves and wigs and I stand by this.

Tamar Braxton

Tamar Braxton

Porsha currently has her own online business selling weaves called Go Naked Hair – ironically, truly ‘going naked’ would perhaps be to take the weave off – so she obviously has a vested interest in wearing and promoting weaves. Most people would kill to know where their favorite celebrities obtained their weaves! The point is, she is getting paid to wear weaves (it’s her business) and present a certain image of herself.  So it’s understandable why she prefers weaves to her natural hair. Many in the entertainment industry such as Beyoncé and Rihanna are getting paid to dress and present themselves a certain way.

Nikki Minaj may not have received as much attention or been considered controversial had she not worn those elaborate, multi-colored weaves for years. Her real hair also appears to be long and healthy but was never seen until her ‘real hair’ selfie. I hope we can teach our young girls to consider this and not be heavily influenced by pop culture, especially when it comes to their appearance. I’m seeing girls younger and younger with waist length Kim Kardashian-esque weaves. Unfortunately, some of us end up looking like we are in costumes every day, emulating celebrities who wear such weaves to perform in shows and on TV.

Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj

Porsha’s hair looked beautiful, and many accredited it to using the weave as a protective style. It appears to be natural as well. Some celebs use the term ‘natural hair’ when they are showcasing their chemically straightened hair, but that’s another debate entirely.  There are women in the entertainment industry who wear their hair natural, Janelle Monroe, Solange Knowles and Esperanza Spalding for instance. Occasionally we see some of them wear wigs or weaves, including those which match their natural hair texture, but their natural hair is their trademark style. This dispels the myth that we need to rely on weaves to protect our hair, women of other races do not have to do this. It seems to be more to do with image than protective styling.  It would be a shame if a person went most of their adult life, never experiencing their natural hair, other than for ‘2.5 seconds’ just before installing yet another weave. Especially when their natural hair is so beautiful.

Esperanza Spalding

Esperanza Spalding

What do you think of these ‘real hair’ selfies? Share your thoughts below.

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Halle Berry takes ex to court for straightening their daughter’s hair

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It has been reported that Halle Berry has taken Gabriel Aubrey to court, claiming that he has straightened their daughter’s naturally curly hair. Halle is reported to be furious that Gabriel has straightened their six-year-old daughter’s hair and has appeared to have lightened it with highlights.  She is convinced it’s because he does not want their daughter to appear African-American. Court papers also reveal allegations that Aubry made racial slurs towards Halle in the past.

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In court documents, Halle said, as a result, Aubry has caused Nahla ‘potential psychological and physical damage’. It could also cause her to wonder ‘why her natural appearance is not good enough’.  The judge ruled that both parents must allow their daughter’s hair to grow back naturally and are not allowed to change its natural state.2378FE8F00000578-2847893-image-4_1416866316156

The couple split in 2010 and have had various court battles over custody and child support. They have joint custody of Nahla and Halle currently pays Aubry $16 000 a month in child support.

What are your thoughts on this? Many have commented, by saying that the girl is far too young to have her hair straightened or touched with chemicals, in any way. I would have to agree. However, chemical relaxers and heat straightening (remember the hot combs?) are the norm for young girls in the black community. If we are outraged when white people do it, we should be equally outraged when we hear about girls- younger than Nahla- subjected to much more drastic measures, within the black community. All to fit a European standard of beauty.

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Share your thoughts below.

Is the US Military Discriminating against Black Women with Natural Hair?

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Image released by US Army

Pictures 1-3, released by the US Army.

New appearance standards were recently released by the US Army, aimed to standardize and professionalized soldiers. However, some African-American military women have spoken out in criticism against the changes. A White House petition was commissioned and sent to President Barrack Obama. It received more than 11 000 signatures in the hope that these rules will be reviewed.

So which regulations may be considered discriminatory?

Twists

Twists are banned as they are considered faddish. Section 3-2(d) states:

Examples of hairstyles considered to be faddish or exaggerated and thus not authorized for wear while in uniform, or in civilian clothes on duty, include, but are not limited to, locks and twists (not including French rolls/twists or corn rows); hair sculpting (eccentric directional flow, twists, texture, or spiking); buns or braids with loose hair extending at the end; multiple braids not braided in a straight line; hair styles with severe angles; and loose unsecured hair (not to include bangs) when medium and long hair are worn up.

Hence a hairstyle similar to the one in picture 3 will not be permitted.

Cornrows

Cornrows are allowed but must be small, approximately 1/4 inch in diameter and show no more than 1/8 inch of the scalp between cornrows. Cornrows must start at the front of the head and continue in one direction in a straight line.  I suspect this is to prevent variations of styles, the extreme being  zigzags or squiggly lines.

Dreadlocks

Dreadlocks are banned outright under section 3-2 (h) which states:

Dreadlocks are defined as any matted, twisted, or locked coils or ropes of hair (or extensions). Any style of dreadlocks (against the scalp or free-hanging) is not authorized. Braids or cornrows that are unkempt or matted are considered dreadlocks and are not authorized.

Unfortunately they are automatically deemed unsuitable, perhaps this is due to the headgear.  All headgear must fit snugly and comfortably without bulging or distorting the shape of the headgear. Hair should not protrude from under the edges at different angles.  Hairstyles that prevent the headgear from being worn in this manner are banned.  Dreadlocks may simply be considered to look unprofessional.  There is no provision in the regulations to look at each case individually.

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Wigs and hair extensions

Wigs and hair extensions are authorized but must ‘look natural’ and have the same appearance as the person’s natural hair. Does this mean  platinum blond, super silky weaves are banned for most black women? (I hope so).

Braids

These are permitted for medium to long hair. Multiple braids are allowed but must be small (1/4 inch), uniformed and braided tightly for neatness. The hair must also be braided fully and styled according to the medium to long hair guidelines (e.g. neatly fastened or pinned).

In conclusion; some of the essential means of styling natural hair; involving twists and dreadlocks, are banned according to these regulations. Furthermore, section 3-2(c) states that:

No portion of the bulk of the hair, as measured from the scalp, will exceed 2
inches (except a bun, which may extend a maximum of 3 inches from the scalp) and be no wider than the width of the head

For a woman with short to medium length natural hair, who is not allowed to put their hair in twists, this may present a problem. Afro textured hair grows upwards, so the longer it grows the bulkier it becomes.  The good news is braids and cornrows of a particular style are allowed.

African-American women make up a third of the armed forces, some believe they have been singled out by these regulations. “I think it primarily targets black women, and I’m not in agreement with it.  I don’t see how a woman wearing three braids in her hair, how it affects her ability to perform her duty in the military” says Patricia Jackson-Kelley of the National Association of Black Military Women.

Doris Richardson WWII Veteran US Army 1943-1945

Doris Richardson
WWII Veteran
US Army 1943-1945

There has also been much debate about this in online forums. One of the top comments on Yahoo stated:

Just in case anyone did not notice the first picture, the woman with the three braids, her hair is straight and could belong to a woman of any nationality, including a Caucasian woman. The third hair style, the twists are larger than 1/4 inch and do not lay flat against her head. The twists are not uniform and are raised up towards the crown of her head, which will interfere with the proper fit of her headgear. All three of these hairstyles are inappropriate, do not look neat, professional or natural and were even banned when I was in the military between 1978-1983. – Karen

Some commentators have said it is simply a matter of safety and uniformity, the same reader wrote:

“I’m sure careful thought to safety and years of deliberation went into the formulation of these regulations. I would bet there were numerous accidents that occurred because of improper fitting of headgear due to hairstyles, that led to these changes.”

Whatever the motive behind these changes, they may cause some women with natural hair to wonder if they are at a disadvantage, simply because they embrace their natural hair texture. Many would have considered it professional to put their hair in twists and pin it down, out of the way. But according to the regulations and comments online, it looks unprofessional.   America is a country with a variety of cultures and people, if this is reflected in the Army, they can’t all look the same. However, I understand the need for uniformity and standards.  Women with relaxed hair or those that wear European wigs and weaves  are unlikely to be affected by these changes or labelled unprofessional.

There is still a lot of ignorance about natural hair, simply because society still isn’t used to seeing black woman with their natural hair texture.  Although the number of women going natural is increasing, over 60% of women in American still relax their hair. It is a process that may take decades of education to change.  Speaking up against any form of discrimination is a step in the right direction.

Many argue that  these new army regulations affect different groups of people, not just black women.  The changes also address male haircuts,  body piercings and tattoos. There are also regulations about makeup and jewelry.

I hope black women in the US Army will not resort  to using relaxers for fear of violating these regulations and that any concerns they have are taken seriously.

Do you think these rules are discriminatory against African-American women with natural hair? If you are in the military, do these changes affect you?  Please share your thoughts below.

 

Sources

Army regulations on hair and appearance

http://usarmy.vo.llnwd.net/e2/c/downloads/337951.pdf

Army personal appearance policy

http://1.usa.gov/1ilibHL

 

Are wigs and weaves bad for your health?

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On a recent episode of The Doctors, actress Countess Vaughn spoke about lace front wigs and the damage they caused to her health. She candidly described the result of an allergic reaction she had to the glue used to install her wig.  The Parkers star admits to falling in love with the wigs after her hair stylists introduced her to them in 2004. She said she didn’t consider the health risks and was so excited about wearing them.

Countess Vaughn

Countess Vaughn

Immediately you have a full hairline.  I was wearing it 24/7.  5 years after, the drama came in. The red flag was the oozing, from the ears, from my forehead, the whole nap around my head, the puss. It had a horrible smell. It was painful

Her experience is a strong warning about the potential dangers of constant weaving.  This is not just confined to lace front wigs, which require harsh glues. The tension required for installing weaves and braids can also lead to hair loss.  Some wigs come with comb attachments that can put stress on the hairline.  Unfortunately, many hair stylists prefer to braid and sew tightly for neatness.   Traction alopecia  is more prevalent in females with Afro-textured hair, according to a piece written in the Dermatology Online Journal: The fringe sign for public education on traction alopecia. The study found that the prevalence:

  • Is higher in African schoolgirls than boys (17.1% vs. 0%)
  • Increases with age in girls [8.6% (6-7 years), 15.6% (10-15 years), to 21.7% (17-21 years)]
  • Is higher in girls with relaxed vs. natural hair (22% vs. 5.2%)
  • Is highest in adults (31.7% in women vs. 2.3% in men; with affected males more likely to wear cornrows and dreadlocks)

Countess Vaughn admitted that she now has to draw her hairline with an eyebrow pencil and people have assumed she has vitiligo due to the discoloration caused by a skin reaction to the glue.  Women who have experienced such hair loss are likely to have more of an appreciation for the hair they may have thought wasn’t good enough by itself. Vaughn’s honesty and openness about this topic is commendable.

The damage caused by  an allergic reaction to lace front glue.

The damage caused by an allergic reaction to lace front glue.

So does all this information mean that you should stop wearing weaves immediately and go ‘cold turkey’? As with everything, moderation is the key.  Occasional use of wigs and weaves for diversity and protective styling can be beneficial. If you wear weaves and wigs, there are ways to minimize the risks associated with them, whether your hair is relaxed or natural.

Here are some suggestions compiled by Transform Medical Group:

  • Hairstyles should be painless, and if you are experiencing pain, the only solution is to loosen the hair.
  • Traction hairstyles should not be done on relaxed hair until at least two weeks after relaxing.
  • Only new growth should be relaxed. Relaxing hair that has previously been relaxed can increase the risk of damage.
  • Heat treatment (straighteners etc) can damage relaxed hair and should be avoided
  • Weaves, braids  and dreadlocks present greater risk when done on relaxed hair

How many of us endured the pain and headaches associated with tight braids or weaves, instead of taking them out? There is a general belief that the tighter the braids, the longer they last and the neater they look. The pain from tight braids and weaves is only reduced when the hair strands weaken, break and fall out.  Many of us have also made the mistake of coloring our hair soon after relaxing it usually for convenience or because of impatience.

Relaxed hair is hair that has been weakened by harsh chemicals and stripped of its elasticity. So any additional styling or chemical use must take this into consideration. According to Dr Marboor Bhatty of the Transform Medical Group, many of the traction alopecia cases he sees come from people being ‘disrespectful to their hair’.

Naomi Campbell

Naomi Campbell

So respect and look after your hair to avoid these dangers. Do not give more care and attention to your fake weave than your real hair underneath.

Have you had a bad experience with wigs and weaves? How do you minimize the risks associated with them?  Share your experience below.

Sources:

Transform Medical Group

Here is the link to the original article

http://www.transforminglives.co.uk/news-blog/blog/2014/03/hair-extensions-%E2%80%93-reducing-risks/

Dermatology Online Journal

http://escholarship.org/uc/item/1h81c7s1

Faith Christian Academy in Orlando threatens student with expulsion for wearing her natural hair

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‘Here we go again…….’, was my initial thought when I heard this story. Why does this keep happening to the children? Recently, there was the story of the young girl at Deborah Brown Community School in Tulsa, who was told by a black administration, that her dreadlocks were unacceptable, now this.

Faith Christian Academy in Orlando, Florida has reportedly labelled Vanessa VanDyke’s hair a “distraction.” They allegedly said, she must cut and shape it or she will not be allowed to continue her studies. Their dress code policy simply states that; “hair must be a natural color and must not be a distraction.”

Vanessa went to the school for help after experiencing bullying because of her hair, sadly instead of showing Christian compassion towards her, they reinforced the message of the bullies by telling her that her hair was unacceptable and threatened her with expulsion.

Faith Christian Academy is a private school, it seems that sending your child to private school or a school that is predominately black doesn’t necessarily protect them from discrimination. Sadly, in some cases, it may make discrimination more likely.

Vanessa VanDyke is a beautiful young lady who has a great attitude about her natural hair. “It says that I’m unique,” “First of all, it’s puffy and I like it that way; she says.  “I know people will tease me about it because it’s not straight. I don’t fit in.”

In a world where the majority of black women feel the need to chemically straighten their hair, or wear weaves, not as an occasional styling choice, but as a necessity, it is good to see a young lady who is confidently embracing her natural hair texture.  She is simply wearing her hair out, just like a girl with straight hair, wears it down.  Yes natural hair can be worn conservatively away from the face, such as in a bun or puff. However, this young lady has been told that only a hair cut or straight hair would be acceptable.  Reportedly, Vanessa VanDyke, has until the end of the week to adhere to the school’s demands. Unless the girls with long straight hair, who wear their hair down have been given the same ultimatum, this constitutes discrimination.  If a child with ginger hair was being bullied, would the school label their hair a distraction and tell them to dye it?

Natural hair is not a hair style. It is simply leaving your hair the way God made it. Surely as a Christian school; Faith Christian Academy would teach their students that God made no mistakes. Yet they are telling this young lady that her natural hair is a mistake and must be corrected through artificial means.

What are your thoughts on this story? Is the school at fault? Could it be that people still aren’t use to seeing black women with their natural hair texture?

UPDATE: the school has issued a statement saying that they will no longer expel Vanessa because of her hair but they require that she wear it in a more conservative way. Here is the link to the updated story: http://www.clickorlando.com/news/orlando-private-school-wont-expel-africanamerican-girl-over-hair/-/1637132/23173004/-/1hgfb7z/-/index.html

Cruel comments about Blue Ivy’s hair need to stop!

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I was pretty disgusted to see the comments made against a baby on the BGLH (Black Girls with Long Hair) Facebook page, under the post: Blue Ivy is Rocking Twists. This is not the first time this blog has posted pictures of Beyoncé with her 21 month old daughter, Blue Ivy Carter. Each time, people feel the need to make negative comments about the baby’s looks, and hair. ALL of us had natural hair when we were babies, so why the scrutiny? During an interview with Oprah, Solange Knowles spoke about getting her first perm as early as four years old. With the cruelty targeted against her niece’s natural hair, I fear Blue may suffer a similar fate. Examples of these negative comments include ‘ Beyoncé really needs to do something  with her (Blue’s) hair’, ‘Beyoncé really needs to comb that girl’s hair’, ‘She’s a beautiful kid but why does her hair look unkept’, ‘Oh those are twists, I thought they were naps’. I noticed that some of the comments were made by women who appeared to have relaxed hair or weave according to their profile picture.  Such women probably joined that natural hair blog  to cause trouble and make negative comments about natural hair.

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Most of us with natural hair have heard comments like this, especially the usual demand that we comb our hair. People who make such statements have no knowledge of Afro textured hair. They compare it to straight silky hair and its noted differences are simply seen as flaws, rather than unique qualities. It disgusts me that such attitudes still exist in 2013 and people would resort to making such comments about a baby. These were probably the same people who were complaining about Beyoncé not showing any pictures of Blue Ivy for many months after she was born. Now we know exactly why she kept her hidden. These people seem upset that she has her father’s African features. They are upset that Blue Ivy didn’t get the ‘good hair’ but got the African/’nappy’ hair instead.

The majority of African-American women chemically straighten their hair or continuously keep their natural hair covered with other hair textures.  Comedian Cheryl Underwood received a backlash for calling Afro-textured hair ‘nasty’.  Judging by these comments, she was only saying what many African-American women think about their own hair texture. These are the same women who wouldn’t hesitate to put harmful chemicals on the scalps of their little girls.  This gives them the message that; ‘mama really has to do something with your hair because, your natural hair isn’t good enough, or, your natural hair is problematic and has to be fixed!’

FYI, Afro-textured hair is kinky and tightly coiled in nature, it may appear uneven at times because some women have tighter or loser sections. Combing it, doesn’t magically make it sleek or give it an even shape, where every hair is perfectly placed.  Babies especially have uneven hair because it is in the early stages of growth. You often find some babies with bald patches especially at the back of their head which they sleep on. To put the same standards on a baby that you would put on a grown women, is ridiculous!  In general, the use of a comb on Afro-textured hair should be minimized and only used on wet hair.  Finger detangling is just as good,  if not, more effective than a comb. So comments like the ones I read on this blog, only go to show how clueless people are about natural hair.  You often see clueless mothers subjecting their daughters to pain when combing their hair, because they have never learned how  to properly comb, Afro-textured hair in its natural state.

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I am not a  Beyoncé fan,  I’m a fan of natural hair. I am a fan of little black girls knowing that they are beautiful and that their hair is beautiful. I am a fan of young black girls not coming home from school and saying they want hair like the white girls. I’m also a fan of mothers taking the time to learn how to manage their daughter’s natural hair, rather than damaging it with relaxers or excessive heat and, I am certainly a fan of African beauty. If Beyoncé wants to experiment with Blue Ivy’s hair by putting it in braids, great! She’s taking the time to look after her daughter’s  hair, which is beautiful. Blue Ivy is not a natural hair inspiration or a celebrity yet; she’s simply a baby who has just started her life! And already, she is being told that her hair isn’t good enough, not by white people, but by black women with the same type of hair, minus the perms and weaves. Sad!

Have you seen these comments? Check out the blog post here: https://www.facebook.com/blackgirllonghair/posts/10151737920758391

Afro Puffs and Braids banned, says Ohio School

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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.