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Message started by Rapunzel on Jul 15th, 2003 at 9:55am

Title: Going natural turns heads Part 1
Post by Rapunzel on Jul 15th, 2003 at 9:55am
[ The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: 7/15/03 ]

Going natural turns heads

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

AJC features writer Charlotte Moore with her new hairstyle.

You know the phenomenon: You get a new car -- let's say a Toyota Tercel -- and suddenly you begin to notice every Toyota Tercel on the road.

That's what happened to me a few weeks ago after I got my new 1970s Afro. When I emerged from the downtown Atlanta beauty salon behind the virtual wheel of my 1-inch, gravity-defying hairdo, I was surprised to find that other African-American women had apparently opted to go the same route.

And why, I wondered, should this surprise me?

Like any other race of women, our natural hairstyles make us feel like natural women. And nature . . . well . . . what could be more appropriate than that? But ever since I've gone to the 'fro, it seems that inquiring minds want to know: Is she making a "black power" statement? Is the '70s disco look coming back? Does she know that the Halle Berry straight flips and the Beyoncé superweaves are all the rage right now?

My 10-year-old daughter, Hayley -- who thinks her Barbie dolls' long, straight tresses are the gold standard for hair appeal -- was also critical of my Afro, dismissing it with a funny frown and a disparaging, "Oh God, Mommy, what did you do to your head?"

The truth is, I got fed up with all the hair appointments -- the foul-smelling, scalp-burning chemical straighteners, the sizzling-hot, ear-charring curling irons, and the exorbitant amounts of time and money it took to keep me resembling a fine-haired woman from Europe when my roots have always been from the kinkiest Africa. No political statements. No bringing back the boogie. Going natural with my hair was simply a matter of convenience and preference.

The look worked 30 years ago when it was deemed va-va-voom sexy on political activist Angela Davis and actress Pam Grier. And some celebrities today -- including recording artists Macy Gray, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and Lauryn Hill and actresses Jada Pinkett Smith and N'Bushe Wright -- have at some recent point gotten fluffy with their hair.

But workaday women like myself who sport natural hairdos have to be prepared to brave societal criticism.

"Believe it or not, I catch hell from black women, particularly older black women," said WSB-TV news anchor Monica Kaufman, whose short, natural cut has been met with an assortment of viewer responses.

"White people tend to say positive things," Kaufman said. "But black women, they'll say, 'You need to put a wig on' or 'Get a weave, girl.' You'd think I'd done the worst thing in the world. But for me, this is just so much easier, and I feel beautiful."

And there's Georgia Supreme Court Presiding Justice Leah Ward Sears. She hasn't had her hair chemically straightened in years and takes great pride in alternately wearing cornrows and a short Afro. "God gave us our hair not as a curse but as something to celebrate," Sears said.

As far back as the early 1900s, black entrepreneur Madame C.J. Walker was pushing utensils she created that enabled African-American women to straighten their kinky hair. Spike Lee's 1988 movie "School Daze" brought the issue to the fore in a comical but poignant look at good black hair -- long, straight, fine, silky or wavy -- vs. bad black hair -- the kinky stuff you'd find on Little Black Sambo or beneath Aunt Jemima's head scarf.

Title: Going natural turns heads Part 2
Post by Rapunzel on Jul 15th, 2003 at 9:56am
Then there was Carolivia Herron's children's book "Nappy Hair," published in 1998, which brought one black community's insecurities to light. The book, about a little black girl with "the nappiest, the curliest, the twistiest hair in the whole family," led to the suspension of a white Brooklyn, N.Y., schoolteacher who read it aloud to her third-grade class. Angry black parents raised a nationally resounding ruckus and suggested that the teacher was ignorant and racist for choosing Herron's tome, despite the book's critical acclaim. More than 135,000 copies have been sold to date.

" 'Nappy Hair' was not written specifically to make people start wearing their hair in a natural way," said Herron, now a Virginia college professor, who sported Afros in the '60s, went to perms after college and began wearing natural styles again 15 years ago. "But I'd hoped black people would start thinking about their hair. And I've noted that over time, black women have started to think natural hair is more beautiful than ever before."

Marietta-based beauty products company Bronner Brothers Cosmetics plays host to the Atlanta Hair Show twice every year at the Georgia World Congress Center. The show, geared largely toward people of color, caters to tens of thousands of visitors from across the country and offers workshops, seminars and training sessions for cosmetologists.

Janet Wallace, the company's show manager, has noticed a definite increase in the number and depth of seminars that focus on natural hair care for black women.

"We're offering more classes on natural hairstyles -- twists, braids and Afros," she said. "And, the classrooms are packed. Standing room only. It seems that people are so hungry for this knowledge."

Wallace is not surprised, "because so many women are losing their hair," she said. "And I'm talking about women in their 20s and early 30s. They don't maintain their processed hair properly and are forced to let it grow back into its natural state."

Powder Springs resident Dionka Jones, 35, has been getting her hair relaxed since she was 6 years old. Last year, she said, she decided to listen to her hair.

"It was just so unhealthy," she said. "I took this as a sign of my hair telling me please stop this." Now Jones frequents Deeply Rooted Hair salon in Smyrna where natural stylist Kim Johnson helps her maintain an Afro. She admits the change was an adjustment.

"As black women, our idea of feminine beauty has a lot to do with long, straight, bouncy hair," she said. "If that's not happening with your hairstyle, you can feel as if you've lost your femininity."

Herron says a woman's femininity is not based entirely on a woman's hair, but that a black woman who can proudly wear her hair in a natural style is a beautiful thing.

"I don't need everybody in the world to have their hair like mine," she said, "but I wish I could be there with them at the moment they believe they can wear their hair natural and feel beautiful in today's society."

Atlanta record producer Bobby Wayne Jackson, who wears an Afro and braids, says there's nothing more attractive to him than a black woman with a natural hairstyle.

"It's about heritage," he said. "Heritage and DNA. Can you help that? Your mama, your daddy, your grandparents, your bloodline gave you that hair. It's a very good thing."

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Title: Re: Going natural turns heads Part 1
Post by dwayne on Mar 27th, 2004 at 7:32pm
Great article,

                    Alot of my clients in the salon have opted to go natural. I think that it is a good thing for some clients, and a not so good thing for others. What I have noticed is that, even though natural hairstyles (for today's woman) seem to be a more "healthier choise" for your hair, you need a certain level of self esteem to wear a natural. You will get feedback from co-workers, girlfriends, hairstylists, and even people you don't know! I say good going, and here's wishing you the best,

Publisher Askdwayne.com

Title: Re: Going natural turns heads Part 1
Post by bikerbraid on Mar 28th, 2004 at 6:09am
Thanks for your feedback and WELCOME!

Title: Re: Going natural turns heads Part 1
Post by goofba11 on Aug 11th, 2004 at 11:59pm
I learned that chemicals do not go well with my hair, but I think my daughter's hair will fair better WITH them. She's VERY tender-headed. No matter how gently I detangled her natural hair, no matter how many hours we spent on her hair, she cried. Now, at least, I can comb her hair with no problems. Dwayne is right about that. Natural styles work for some, not for others.

I only decided to put a relaxer in my ten yr old's hair AFTER reading as much as I could on other hair boards about proper hair care. There are a lot of AA women who know how to take very good care of their chemically-treated hair. (You should see their pictures!)

I don't plan to ever chemically treat my hair again. I think my hair type is 3c and I know how to manage it now. People always want to know if I'm mixed with anything when they see my natural waves parted into two braids. (That's such a touchy topic, I'm not even going to go there. ;) )

Ah, well. Different strokes for different folks, right? I do find it disturbing when AA's give each other grief about changing our hair-styles. (That's just one of my little pet peeves.)

Title: Re: Going natural turns heads Part 1
Post by pearce1974 on Aug 16th, 2005 at 12:55pm
Great information!   :D  Thank you all for this site, I look forward to all the great tips and wonderful long haired ladies inspiring me.

Title: Re: Going natural turns heads Part 1
Post by ccmuffingirl on Sep 26th, 2007 at 7:32pm
There's no doubt about it:  Going natural is very acceptable nowadays, and I'm happy that it is.  As for myself, I relax my hair, and I'm happy with that.  I think that whatever a person chooses to do with their hair is exactly that: a choice.  A person shouldn't look down at a black woman that has natural hair or a black woman that has relaxed hair.  Beautiful hair is healthy hair, and as long as you keep your hair moisturized and looking it's best, any hair type is beautiful.  As for you, don't let the people who criticize you about going natural get you down.  I think that there's nothing more attractive than someone who is confident being exactly who they are.

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