Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Natural Woman's Lament

Hi ladies,
At our friend Emily's birthday party awhile ago, me and friend Shay were having an interesting convo. Shay, who'd recently grown out her relaxer, was trying to understand why her folks at the swanky SoHo restaurant where she works thought it was okay to touch her hair. You know, "ooh, it's so soft!" "Do I look like the star animal in a petting zoo?" she wailed. We got to talking more about her hairdo, her favorite products, and other stuff I thought my SYB Babes would be interested in...especially those of you considering going the au naturel route. So I decided to introduce her to you guys with a Q&A. SYB Babes, Shay. Shay, SYB Babes. Discuss!

TIA: Okay, so tell us why you grew out your relaxer.

SHAY: I'd always admired the natural look. Plus, I got tired of having frizzy, unmanageable hair in the summer, even with a perm.  I got a pixie cut first, so it only took less than a year to grow out.

TIA: Smart girl. So, now that you've been relaxed AND natural, which do you prefer?

SHAY: I definitely prefer my natural hair! I have the best of both worlds.  I can wear it straight for half of the year and I have the option of wearing it curly for the other half.  Also, my hair is so much healthier!

TIA: I hear that. My split ends are so bad, my hair looks like it should be blowing across the American West. What’s your haircare regimen?

SHAY: I'm CONSTANTLY changing it. These days, I wet my hair daily, let it dry a little, and then massage in avocado oil, coconut oil, or olive oil while it is damp. Then, I use Miss Jessie's "scrunch and pull" technique and style with my fingers. My Dominican stylist got me hooked on Emergencia Conditioner ($10) keeps my hair so shiny and healthy. It's my secret weapon! I'm also a huge fan of Ouidad's products.

TIA: They don't call Ouidad the "Queen of Curl" for nothing. So, let's get right down to it. In an effort to keep it from happening again, explain to everyone why strangers petting your hair is weird and annoying.

SHAY: Don't get me wrong, it's flattering that people want to touch my hair! But most folks don't realize that having natural hair takes a lot of effort. It looks like I just woke up and rolled out, but my hair is actually styled. I'm constantly scrunching and pulling to make sure that it looks right. When my hair is straight, no one thinks twice about touching it because they respect the fact that it's been styled, and they don't want to mess it up.

TIA: I feel like next time I see you, you'll be wearing a tee shirt that says "Respect the Natural."


PS...What are your biggest hair pet peeves? Dying to know!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I soooo agree with your friend. People often comment "let me See your hair", with their hand extended. As I explained to my 2yr old you see with your eyes not your hands.

12:51 PM  
Blogger ghettogeisha said...

Frizz, Frizz, Frizz. Frizz is the OTHER F word, lol just with 5 letters. My hair is going through what I like to think is a phase, it's confused about it's identity. It used to be super curly, but now it's straight on the top and ringlet curly on the bottom. To alleviate its confusion I've cut it shorter, to (just hitting the) shoulder length with long layers, but am considering going even shorter.

2:44 PM  
Blogger ljkelly said...

This is a great article, Tia. I am currently growing out my relaxer so it was great to hear her thoughts and the products she uses. Thank you for sharing!

5:19 PM  
Blogger Gemini said...

People touching my hair is a huge one for me also, and my hair accessories. I also want to chime in with a rave for Emergencia - it has really helped with the health of my hair. Love it!

7:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I switch from relaxed to natural and some of my non-brown counterparts say, "Ohhh, you changed your hair. What's different about it?" I have to respond, "I straightened it" Or "I'm wearing it curly." I mean its obvious to me when they straighten their hair. Why is it not obvious to them?

9:07 AM  
Anonymous Nerd Girl said...

Sometimes I tire of being the Ambassador of Dreadlockia. I get tired of explaining how I locked my hair, explaining that I'd rather you not touch my hair, explaining why I locked my hair, explaining that yes, I do wash it....and the list goes on. Most days if you ask me about my hair, I'm glad to tell you, but there are days when I'm just not in the mood!!!

Of course, if I'm in the mood to talk hair, you just might regret asking me - I can go on and on and on! LOL!

10:22 AM  
Blogger Brandi said...

I have to third the touching my hair notion. I've always worn my hair natural and everyone seems to think that whatever works for my hair, will work for theirs. So they are uber ticked when their hair looks nothing like mine after trying my tips.
Being natural isn't necessarily easy. There's a lot of trial and error to find what works.
Can I buy Emergencia in the stores or only online?

11:29 AM  
Blogger tishann said...

when people touch my natural curls when they are still wet and then wipe their hands on my shirt! FOOL you saw that it was wet...why did you touch it!

12:04 PM  
Anonymous tabitha said...

I have to say that since I stopped relaxing (circa 2003), no one has tried to touch my hair-as opposed to when it was long and relaxed, when people thought it was their JOB to touch it. I just cut off 7" of hair, and my pet peeve is all of the black women that tell me it was a mistake to 'cut off all that pretty hair'. It's cute short, too! And besides-IT'S HAIR, people. It's going to grow back. We need to stop equating long hair with femininity. I'm tired of people at work shaking their heads at me as I walk down the hall.

Sorry! Needed to get that out. Happy 4th, SYB Babes!

1:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been natural and relaxed and even locked for 3 years. Right now, I prefer being relaxed but when I was natural I didn't have the knowledge about hair care that I have now so I am considering going natural again as soon as I live in a area with stylists who can help me through the process. (I live in a small town) My pet peeve would be people thinking I have a weave, People whose hair looks horrible giving others advice about hair, and people who subscribe to the good hair/bad hair mentality. When I was natural,People have asked to touch my hair which I really don't get...why would want to touch someone's hair?? It's not so much annoying to me, but just odd.

3:47 PM  
Blogger teeluv said...


also, get so tired of explaining braids to "other" people. yes/no it hurt, it took 4-6 hrs, it lasts 8 honey it's not my real hair...geesh. dang people, pay attention!!

don't yall remember bo derek...hahahah

9:59 PM  
Anonymous coco_fiere said...

I've had to grab people's hands mid-reach to keep them out of my hair. I'm weird about folks and their energy/vibe so I only allow people I know and love to touch it. My honey, my family and a handful of pals are the only ones with the privilege. Men I don't know seem fascinated and want to touch it since it's big, curly and looks soft...I guess they want to see if it really is soft or real or whatever but I don't play that. I'm like a pregnant lady protecting the stomach area, I guess. Strangers get a snatched wrist and a SERIOUS side-eye! LOL

4:40 AM  
Anonymous tabitha said...

I hear you, ladies!

I think another side note would be when people want to know your entire DNA profile-like you need an excuse-EXCUSE-for your hair texture. The other thing is, since I don't relax, people are always saying I'm "brave" to wear my hair like this. Firefighters are brave. Soldiers and political activists are brave. I'm just a person with some hair.

3:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People love to put their hands in our heads. I even wrote to ABC when Barbara Walters touch Tanika Ray and Brandy's hair as if she'd never see a Black person up close before. (Still waiting on their answer!)

10:54 AM  
Anonymous summer said...

Why did this lady in the elevator say to me, "Wow, your hair has gotten so long... well, is that all yours?" all the while extending her hand and eventually tugging on my twist-out. it felt like it was happening in slow motion.

(very excited to see a post about natural hair. always hungry for more knowledge and tips!)

11:54 PM  
Anonymous CC said...

I have grown out my relaxer but I flat iron my hair. It is healthier, I am working through the curls though. A work in progress....

Coconut oil, avocado oil and lavendar are great for the hair.


3:02 PM  

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