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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Maintaining Your Hair During A Workout

A study conducted by the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, in Winston-Salem, N.C., suggested that 31% of the 103 African-American women surveyed admitted that they exercise less because it may harm their hairstyle, according to a study released in November, 2007. All of the women studied agreed that it is important to lead a healthy life, which includes exercise. Exercise is especially important in the African American community because we are more prone to diabetes, hypertension, and complications due to obesity, including heart disease. Though we face many health concerns that exercise will combat, African American women have a different deterrent from working out; their hair.

Many ethnic women wear their hair straightened whether it’s done chemically or thermally (with a hot tool such as a flat iron). African American women are known to spend more money on their hair than women of any other ethnicity. This explains their apprehension to exercise and undoing their costly hair style. It is not uncommon for an African American woman to go to the salon and spend $100 on her hair service. After spending money on their hair service, many women feel that it would be a waste their money to “sweat out” their hair style at the gym. Any woman who has naturally curly or coarse hair understands the difficulty of keeping their hair straightened, while working up a sweat.

Perspiration causes the hair to become wet and revert back to its naturally curly and/or coarse state. Sweat, which is comprised of water and salts (sodium and potassium), can make the hair appear dry and dull. In order for her to wear her hair in her preferred straightened hair style she would have to repeat the straightening process. That process generally includes shampooing, conditioning, roller setting or blow drying, and flat ironing the hair. This process can take hours. Contrary to popular belief, curly and coarse hair is fragile. The hair cannot be shampooed and thermally styled numerous times per week. Over shampooing the hair will cause it to become dry and break.

taneshaweb3_Fulll If you are going to the gym or for a run try these style savers. For straightened hair, try brushing your hair into a firm ponytail. Make sure to use an elastic holder covered in cloth and a holder without a metal clasp to avoid ripping your hair. Place a sweat band at your hairline, this not only helps to keep sweat out of your eyes, it will keep your edges in place. Once the hair is in a ponytail twist it and secure it with a hairpin. This will allow the hair to retain body and bounce in your post workout hair style.

taneshaprint5_Full If your hair has been curled with a hot curler or roller set, try a pin curls. This is done by taking large sections of the hair, combing each section into one large curl, twisting the curl down onto the scalp and securing the curl with a bobby pin or metal two prong metal clip. Six to ten large pin curls should suffice. After your hair has dried, finger style your hair into place. This preserves your curls and keeps the hair full of body and volume.

taneshaprint2_Full If you are taking part in water sports, wrap your hair around your head in a circular motion using metal duckbill clips to hold the hair in place if necessary. Cover your hair with a satin or silk scarf. Finally, cover the scarf with a latex or silicone swim cap.

There are many convenient hair options for African American women who workout including natural styles. A woman with natural hair does not have any chemicals, such as a relaxer or hair color, in her hair. Sisters who wear their hair in locs, natural curls, braids, twists, and other natural hairstyles are less likely to let their hair stand in the way of a good workout.

Monae Artistry

Sistas, Is Your Beauty In Your Hair?

Solange Once again Solange has caught the media’s attention by committing an act that many would consider a poor decision. She has shaved her hair low. Some people like it, most don’t, including Bow Wow who recently went on a rant on his Twitter about her hair. His response does not shock me as I have heard numerous times from Black men that they would not date a “bald-headed” woman. Solange does not seem to care either way, her being one that always does her. What makes her so cool is that she does her whether she is all alone in the decision or has a whole campaign of followers. A girl after my own heart. Even her sister Beyonce has commented on being envious of Solange’s “ I dare to be different and screw you if you don’t like it attitude”. My question is not whether you like her new hairstyle rather do you see how important something as simple as hair is in the African American community and why? It’s like, if you cut your hair low and you are a Black woman then you are not considered attractive anymore or something dramatic must be going on in your life. “Girl she must be going through something!” Solange claims this is the second time she has cut her hair like this and it is by choice not because she is having a breakdown.

Why do we as Black women spend so much time emphasizing on our hair? It is as if our hair is our strength. I emphasize on the Black community because other ethnicities do not seem to have as much of an obsession with hair as we do. I myself have even been a little obsessive over my hair as well from time to time. This phenomena has been internalized in us all in one way or another. The generalization is that if we don’t spend half our lives in the beauty salon then something is wrong with us. We aren’t considered attractive any longer if we do not keep a well tailored perm in our hair and we must, must keep it done. So when someone like Solange, who the Black community at least considers mildly attractive cuts her hair then there is time for an uproar. Imagine if Beyonce cut all her hair low like that, it would be absolute pandemonium.

I don’t think that we are the only ones to have opinions about women cutting their hair low I just feel that the Black community takes special offense to it. We immediately assume that the woman has lost her mind and we do not view her as being as attractive as she once was. People are even assuming that she simply wants attention. Or she must be trying to be “deep”. One of those hippie chicks. Maybe it is none of those reasons and Solange realizes that it is just hair and feels that she is attractive whether it is long or she is completely bald. Thoughts?

Via: Yeah,