Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Nappy Hair And Self-Acceptance

Graphic: The cover of Nappy Hair by Carolivia Herron

I Freed Myself When I Embraced My Locks is a Newsweek article by Evette Collins in which she talks about accepting her nappy hair.

If you're not clear what I mean, nappy hair is the natural texture of Afro or sub-Saharan African hair. It's tightly coiled and highly textured. It looks very strong, but is very fragile and breaks quite easily. Also, because of those tight coils once it dries it coils up even tighter (think of the Seinfeld episode dealing with shrinkage.) I remember having to explain to a little Korean girl who asked me about my hair that hers grew out straight and mine grows out in tight little coils.

Although I'd kept my hair natural for years, I hid it under braids. I started wearing my hair natural about a year and a half ago. Previous to that, I honestly had no idea how to work with the natural texture of my hair. Thank goodness for the Internet because I searched around and found I wasn't the only one. The site I frequent most is Nappturality.com. At that site there are women ranging from those just starting out to those who've been natural for a long time.

It's a great place to learn about my hair and learn from the successes or mistakes of others. Also, I can share my experience too. I have to say, like the writer of the article, I won't ever go through the process of altering the texture of my hair ever again. It's beautiful, and, on top of that, it's unique. I can do so many cool things with it from a fun afro to twisty ringlets.
Now that I've worn my hair naturally for two years, I can't imagine putting another relaxer in my hair. Wearing my hair naturally has opened my eyes to my own beauty, and eliminated some major hassles. I don't miss being in the salon from morning till sunset. I don't miss running from rain clouds. Most importantly, I don't miss hair loss.

One day, about five months after I started wearing my natural hair, I was out getting lunch when I heard words that sounded almost foreign to me: "Your hair is so thick and pretty!" The woman who complimented me not only put a smile on my face, she confirmed something I had struggled to convince myself of—that my natural hair was beautiful, too. I'm now proud to wear it, to show other black women that our hair is gorgeous just the way it is. It took me years to get to a peaceful place about my hair, but in the end, I got it all straightened out.
I too got those compliments, and they helped me realize that my hair was beautiful.

Thanks for the great article Ms. Collins, and I hope you all click through and read what she has to say.

Here is a clip from that Seinfeld episode about shrinkage, but this relates to the male anatomy and NOT the texture of my hair ;-):

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