Is the Natural Hair Community Too Sensitive?

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As many times that I’ve said I’m going to break away from the natural hair community, I still love you all. I swear, I do. When I first decided to grow my hair out natural, I received so much support from women with curly hair. I was annoying. I asked endless questions. I wanted everyone to analyze my curl pattern because I thought that was the end-all be-all of hair care (I was wrong).

But something that was always clear as day to me was that no one could ever say anything negative about natural hair. It doesn’t matter how the hair looked, if it looked liked it needed all the moisture in the world or the fro looked like it was rolling around a cotton pillowcase like there was no tomorrow. Natural hair is and would always be natural hair, and all of it was beautiful, especially when it came to those outside of the “community.”

There was a recent controversy about Solange Knowles’ hair being compared to a dog, and several people commented that it was racist because it would never happen to a white person. I considered this, but I remember seeing the same kind of comparison before. For some (dumb) reason, comparing curly and straight hair to dogs is some kind of trendy thing – no, it’s not racist. Although, I do think it is tasteless and given society’s perception of black women, one (media outlet or otherwise) should know better. Someone challenged me to find the same comparison with a white person, and in less than three minutes I saw Harry Styles being compared to a poodle. I personally would never want to be compared to a dog, but it’s a cute thing, I guess.

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This was not the first time that the natural hair community potentially overreacted, and it certainly won’t be the last. But at the same time, who can blame us? The historical implications of natural hair kind of give us a pass to always be on guard with society, and yes, even those who love us. “When are you going to straighten those naps?” “You looked so pretty with straight hair.” To us, these declarations are not simple suggestions, but attacks to how we choose to wear our born hair. And that sucks. A few years ago, one of my coworkers saw me for the first time in about sixth months and had that eyes wide “wow” reaction. At the time, I felt that it was because I didn’t have relaxed hair anymore, and I was offended.

But…it could have easily been that I had bright red hair (thanks henna) or that my hair was super short. I’m not saying this to defend people or discount the courage that it still takes to wear your natural hair, but sometimes our natural hair is not that big of a deal to others. However it often is a big deal to us. I’m asking a lot of questions here because at the end of the day, natural hair (even if you aren’t political about it), is important. I don’t consider myself political about my hair at all (I went natural due to the weather and hey, I liked my hair), but it’s plain as day that some of us can’t even wear our natural hair to work. It’s been so beaten, bruised, and downright insulted that we feel as if it’s something that we hold sacred and will protect. I don’t even think that’s militant. It’s just true.

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All I’m asking is that the next time you think someone is attacking natural hair, consider their intentions and try to assess the reality of the situation rather than instantly accuse them of hating black women and our hair. Everyone may not be out to get us all the time. And if they are, well…as a community, we have a voice. And we shouldn’t take that kind of blatant disrespect.

Do you think that the natural hair community is too sensitive or defensive? Do you think it’s warranted?

**This post also appears on Black Girl with Long Hair**

Titi Branch, Co-Owner of Miss Jessie’s, Passes Away

titibranchWhether you are a fan of Miss Jessie’s products or not, there is no debate that the company is a pioneer in the natural hair movement. I first discovered natural hair products and decided to stop relaxing my hair when a friend told me about Miss Jessie’s products and praised the Curly Pudding for enhancing her curl.

Last night, one of my curlfriends shared a video with me that was a compilation of pictures of Titi Branch in memory, titled “My Titi,” and now the validity of the video’s content has been confirmed. It brought me great sadness to learn that Titi passed away earlier this month, apparently as a result of suicide. She was only 45 years old.

Miko Branch (Titi’s co-owner and sister) and the official Miss Jessie’s Twitter accounts also posted tweets in her memory.

Since I posted the video last night, some of my viewers have shared their own stories of depression and suicide. If you are hurting, please do not hesitate to speak with someone. You may feel alone, but I promise you, you are not alone. Often in the black community, therapy is seen as something “for white people” or we are ashamed to seek help. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness, but one of strength. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or chat with a counselor online at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/. Please take care of yourselves. My thoughts are with the Branch family – losing a family member to suicide is one of the most painful things imaginable.

Be well. xoxo

3 Hair Accessories You Can Easily Rock With Thick Natural Hair

We often see hair vitamins and treatments that claim to increase hair thickness, but sometimes, thick hair isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I can’t tell you how many headbands, combs and brushes my hair has broken. I tried a HairZing and it was an absolute disaster (seriously, I almost had to cut it out of my hair) and other decorative combs are pointless for styling. I have a vintage-style headwrap that I love, that I also can’t fit over my hair. It’s kind of a bummer to see so many pretty hair accessories that simply don’t work for your hair. Fear not, my thick-haired sisters, these accessories can handle our manes. Check ‘em out!

Bun Pins

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Bun pins are my absolute latest obsession. These nifty little decorations are meant to be placed in the front of your buns, kind of like a crown, but so not a crown. They’re a great way to dress up an updo for a night out (no boring buns here) or pick one that’s not as glitzy for a more casual look. Bonus – if your hair is thick enough, the comb will totally stay in your hair even without a bun.

Hair Sticks

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When I got my first set of hair sticks as a gift, I doubted the ability of a little, 2-prong stick to hold my hair up. But hey, when I’m wrong, I’m wrong. These have become a staple in my hair styling routine, especially when I need to work out and don’t want to ruin my wash and go with dents from elastics. If you want to get fancy with it, check out online tutorials for cool ways to style your sticks. I personally stick to buns and rolls because I’m style challenged.

Bonus: hair sticks can also help stretch your wash and go (it’s totally my pet peeve when I get back from the gym, but hey, stretched hair is way better than dented hair).

Metal Headbands & Hair Chains

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My biggest issue with headbands is that I always break them because my hair is big. Metal headbands seem kind of scary at first, but they’re a lot sturdier than regular headbands and you can’t stretch them out. Hair chains are also awesome because all you need to do is clip them in your hair and BAM! Instaglam.

So where do you find all these fun accessories? My fave sites to add some pizzazz to my hair are ASOS, Crystal Mood (for hair sticks), Kitsch (for bun pins), and Luv AJ. And remember, you definitely don’t need to have thick hair to wear these accessories.

Do you have any favorite hair accessories?

Note: In some of the comments to this post, it seems that some people are upset about the prices of some of these products – these are simply examples, you do not have to buy these specific items linked and I have seen several that are less expensive. But, I did post links to my favorites, so if you are interested in me doing a post on “Lux Hair Accessories on a Budget” leave me a comment and I’ll be happy to do one. Also, I frequently post random beauty finds on my Facebook page (and have posted some other accessories on there, partly why I didn’t re-post them in my article), so check ‘em out in the pic section! xoxo

This post also appears on Black Girl with Long Hair.