Must you Love or Hate Natural Hair?

Must you Love or Hate Natural Hair

He said: “For natural hair to look good, it has to be perfect. Even if one hair is out of place it can make it look nappy.”

I would say I was disappointed, but as a woman with natural hair, the things I hear on a week-to-week basis don’t even surprise me anymore. Why does it seem like either people love your natural hair or hate it? Is there no in between?

Love: I’m at an open mic event and three guys compliment my hair saying, “I really love your natural.” One even wanted to touch my curls (kind of weird).

Hate: Over the Christmas break I visit my sister (whom I haven’t seen in months) and her first expression upon seeing my 3-day-old, desperate for moisture pompadour is “Dang, your hair is nappy!”

Love: On my way into Caribou coffee, a girl almost runs me down with her car trying to get my attention to tell me how much she loves my hair, ask me how I did it, and if I think it’ll look good on her.

Hate: Upon seeing my cousin Christmas Day (who, I must point out, I just saw on Thanksgiving) he looks at my hair funny and asks, “What, are you growing dreads?” To answer that for you, my sistas, no I am not.

I honestly never know what I’m going to get anymore but I’ve learned to prepare myself for any and all comments, especially from my family. The funniest thing is, more than when I had relaxed hair, people seem so eager to give me praise or ridicule about my natural hairstyle as if I asked for their opinion!

I digress.

Back to the opening comment, why does natural hair have to be “perfect” to look good? Why is looking nappy a bad thing? Why if I were growing dreads did the idea need to be met with a stank face? What is it about this kinky, coarse thick hair that upsets people so?

Perhaps it’s because of its versatility possessing the ability to look wild and sassy with free flowing curls, transform into an elegant, chic bun with a twist and a hair pin, or still make its wearer the baddest chick in the room even when it’s low cut and barely there?

Or maybe it has to do with its unique texture that easily absorbs moisture and maintains its fabulous style where others might frizz, poof, or shrivel up in the face of humidity?

My guess is because of the freedom it provides as so many women embrace what makes them unique and dare to go against the norm and what society deems as beautiful and rock their God-given locks the way God gave them.

Although this “trend” of natural hair is on the rise, it’s not as prominent as relaxers and weaves. This fluctuates depending on where you reside, but for every one natural girl, you’re bound to see three “long hair, don’t care” natural-is-just-too-much-work girls.

And this is all well and dandy, but just because there is more of something doesn’t make it better than.

My natural is not perfect because I am not perfect, but that doesn’t take away its beauty. Contrary to what some may think, kinky is gorgeous, nappy is beautiful, and one hair out of place, just like one perspective, doesn’t take away from the overall attractiveness of my crown and glory. Love it, hate it or be in between.

Service is her passion, writing is her platform, women and the Black Community are her avenues. Shala Marks is a writer, editor and soon-to-be author. Marks aspires to help make a difference in society through the messages in her writings. She has a B.A. in journalism from Arizona State University. Check her out at:

Want to Have Hair Like Elise Neal?

Aside from her new role in the upcoming TV One comedy “Belles,” actress/singer Elise Neal is also set to launch her own signature collection of hair extensions by the same name. Elise says California Lace Wigs & Weaves tapped her to create something “new and unique” and with that request “Hollywood Belles by Elise Neal” was born. Pieces from Elise’s line will range between $20-$250 and will feature both real and synthetic hair and will be featured prominently on her new show when it airs in January 2013.

FYI: Did you know Elise’s new show also stars “Basketball Wives” resident troublemaker Tami Roman? According to Elise, “No matter what the public may think of Tami, one thing can’t be denied, the girl can act.”

It’s Just Hair, Right?

Hair is a major issue that black women face. What to do with it is always a cause of debate. Many black women have recently joined the natural train and are ditching the creamy crack for a healthier and back-to-our-roots option. The decision to go natural is one that is met with a lot of chagrin from men. Men are, for some reason, fascinated with and drawn to long hair; not that hair can provide them with anything other than aesthetic satisfaction. But the process of going natural can be difficult. When growing your hair natural, sometimes the best options is to do a big chop to get rid of all the relaxed or chemically processed hair. This can be a harrowing experience especially because we as black women are so attached to our hair. Our hair is part of who we are. Or is it? Hair is what you make it. India Arie told us that she is not her hair. When will we learn start believing that we are more than just our hair?

We have been brain washed into believing that anything closer to Caucasian is more appealing. The black women that are the most prevalent in the media are those with straightened and/or chemically treated locks and thousand dollar weaves. Changing the world’s perceptions of beauty and even our own perceptions is not an easy feat. But with time it can and will be done. So many women are rejecting the idea that they cannot wear their hair in its natural state, however kinky or Afro-centric it may be. But some women go so far as to claim that black women who do not wear their hair in its natural state are rejecting their heritage and accepting society’s expectations of beauty. Many of us already know the damaging effects of relaxers on our hair. Once I watched Chris Rock’s movie/documentary Good Hair, I was convinced that I was no longer going to relax my hair. I do have other chemicals in my hair and the main reason is because I cannot bear to part ways with my hair. Going natural would eventually require me to cut all my hair off and start over, which is hard. I may wear a weave or a wig occasionally but not because I am rejecting my black roots; personally fake hair is in a lot of ways easier to maintain than my own hair. When you’re on the go, the quickest styles are the most convenient.

At the end of the day it’s just hair and it’ll grow back. Whether we have the patience to chop it all off and start the natural journey or endure the chemicals to achieve our desired look, we all must accept the fact that we are more than just our hair. Hair is such a trivial thing that does not define us or who we are. Some say it may enhance beauty but beauty to me is something that radiates from within. If you are a good person and have inner beauty, whether you have a long ‘do or an Amber Rose buzz cut, you will exude beauty no matter what.

Janice Gassam is a graduate student currently getting her degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology. To contact Janice her email is
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Weave Care

Even though weaves have become a common way for many women to wear their hair, there is nothing worse than wearing one that looks unnatural, dry and matted.

Once thought to be maintenance free, anyone who has ever worn a weave knows that the opposite is actually true.

Weaves, whether real or synthetic, are prone to dryness, tangling and require just as much time and attention as your natural hair.

This is where Softsheen Carson comes in. The company has created a line of hair care products specifically aimed at wearers of human and synthetic weaves and extensions.

The ‘Weave Care’ collections, which consists of shampoos, conditioners, spritzers and detanglers, offer three layers of protection.

Level one focuses on the scalp and relieves the dryness and itching that often comes with wearing weaves and synthetic hair.

Level two focuses on keeping your own hair healthy and nourished; while level three seeks to prolong the life of your weave by preventing tangling and matting.

To give the products a try for yourself, you can visit your local drugstore or order the products straight from the Softsheen Carson website.

This is not a paid endorsement.

Hate The Natural Hair Community

I mean really, who wouldn’t want to hate us. We’re bold, beautiful and walk around with an “S” on our chest. But has our confident language and lioness manes produced an unwritten, yet very visible “No Trespassing” sign outside our lavish community gates?

Many times when you are in the “in” crowd you can’t see any harm in what you’re doing.
You go through the day hanging out with your friends and label the motives of those against you with one word “HATERS.” We figure “you hate me cause you ain’t me.” The question is: Is the natural hair community any different?

We are the current “cool” kids in the Black online community. Us along with the celebrity gossip/fashion sites. The difference being our community is soley built on top of a foundation of love — the love of natural hair, the love of spreading knowledge and for many of us the newly found self-love. Yet, in this on and off-line community of organic love some people don’t feel welcome and you know who I’m talking about. The relaxed sista. She just can’t seem to feel relaxed in some of our presence. She feels that we have created a community that speaks down to the personal choice they have made to wear their hair straight.

I remember being in middle school and writing a poem about black love. All the white kids started calling me racist and I couldn’t understand why. Because I believed back then as I believe today that preaching black love is not simultaneous to preaching white hate. And I believe this principle can be carried over into the natural black hair community. Preaching natural hair love is not preaching relaxed hair hate.

But how do we explain this to our relaxed hair sista, because its imperative that she be informed.

For years we have read in magazines and people have published numerous books about the hating community of Black women. They claimed we beat each other up with our insensitive words and “what the hell she starring at” eye language. But here in 2010 the natural hair community stands as a force rivaling these beliefs. On and offline we are calling each other beautiful. We are embracing our “natural hair.” We are building a community so strong and large that Big Brother himself has to take a gander at his reflection before trying to barge in and market us his products.

We have a good thing going here and we should let our relaxed sisters in on it. We can’t let them think we are putting them down for being in the same situation we were in a couple of years, months or days ago. So how do we do it? How do we allow all of our sistas to feel welcomed into this community of love? How do we invite them to partake in our conversations about the power of hair, because they have a voice too?

Do you think we should even care? Or just carry on as we were because we didn’t mean any harm?

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