How to cornrow your hair

Cornrows or canerows (or track braids) is a traditional African braiding technique. Cornrows are made by braiding the hair onto the scalp’s surface, after parting the hair into a design.

  1. Part a section of the hair starting from the hairline to the nape, keeping in mind that the thicker the section the thicker your cornrow will be.

2. Clip the rest of the head of hair to the side or put it in a ponytail holder to keep it out of the way while you cornrow the parted section.

3.  Starting at the hairline, take a small piece of the parted section and split that piece into three equal strands.

TIP: Anchor the right strand of hair in-between the middle finger and ring finger of your right hand; and anchor the left strand of hair in-between the middle finger and ring finger of your left hand, and brace your hands against the head, leaving your thumbs and pointer fingers free to pull the outside strands under the middle strand as you braid.

Try to brace your pinky fingers against the head, and hold the strands as upright as possible, to help you get the right tension!

4.  Start braiding the strands like a regular plait using the underhand method (opposite of a French braid) for about two stitches/notches: using the pointer/index finger and thumb of your left hand to pull the right strand under the middle strand; using the pointer/index finger and thumb of your right hand to pull the left strand under the middle strand; the right strand under the middle strand, and the left strand under the middle strand.

5. Now you will start the cornrow.   As you make the motion of pulling the right strand under the middle strand using the pointer/index finger and thumb of your left hand, pick up extra hair from the right side of the parted section and pull it into the right strand. Pull the right strand with added hair under the middle strand.

6.  Then, do the same thing as you make the motion of pulling the left strand under the middle strand using the pointer/index finger and thumb of your right hand,  pick up extra hair from the left side of the parted section into the left strand.  Pull the left strand with added hair under the middle strand.

TIP: As you pull the right and left strands under the middle strand, run your fingers through to the ends to prevent the free ends from tangling.

TIP: As you cornrow, try to keep your hands at an angle of as close to 90 degrees as possible/upright against the head (as opposed to following the direction in which you are cornrowing). Holding your hands at close to 90 degrees/upright will help you get the right tension to keep the cornrow neat and tight (without yanking the hair).

7.  Continue to cornrow, by repeating Steps 5 and 6: picking up extra hair on each side as you pull the right strand under the middle strand, the left strand under the middle strand, the right strand…until there is no more hair to add from the parted section.

TIP: Try to pick up the same amount of hair on each side to make the stitches/notches of your cornrow neat and even.

8.  Once all of the hair in the parted section is cornrowed against the scalp, continue to braid the free ends like a regular plait using the underhand method.

Keeping the cornrow from unwinding:

9.  Once you get to the end of the plait, if the hair is very curly, the cornrow may hold itself together. If not, you can either spiral the ends around your finger, using a little twisting gel/cream, or you can secure the cornrow with a snag-free/covered elastic band, clip, or barrette.

Finishing the style

10. Unclip or loosen the unbraided hair and repeat Steps 1-9 until the entire head is cornrowed.

TIP: How you part the hair will determine the size and shape/design of your cornrows; so, to keep them even, in Step 1, part the new section the same size and in the same shape as the cornrow beside it.  

Also, keep in mind, if you are cornrowing straight back, as you part the hair, you will have to taper the section toward the nape—the hairline and the crown of the head covers more area than the nape, so if you don’t taper the sections, you will run out of hair to cornrow at the back of the head.

Finally, to keep your cornrows neat, wear a satin/silk scarf or headtie, or use a satin/silk pillowcase when you go to sleep. Depending on how curly your hair is, how small the cornrows are, and whether you tie your hair at nighttime, your cornrowed style could last for a few days or up to a week or so.

Happy cornrowing!

Available Now: What Are You Gonna Do with that Hair?

Everyone knows Zuri as “the girl with the puffy hair.” Her afro is big and fluffy, and not even gravity can keep it down. People often ask her, “What are you gonna do with that hair?” Zuri finds the answer in her cultural hair-itage and shows she can sculpt and shape her curls and coils into beautiful works of African art—braids, ‘locks, bantu knots—in other words, whatever she wants!

This illustrated non-fiction book encourages Black girls to celebrate the beauty and versatility of their natural hair and learn the rich history of natural hairstyles.

 

Get your copy today!

Available in Canada on Amazon.ca: Click here to purchase.

Also available in-store at Knowledge Bookstore: 177 Queen Street West, Brampton, Ontario L6Y 1M5.

Available in the United States on Amazon.com: Click here to purchase.

Every day is a good hair day!

 

What Are You Gonna Do with that Hair? Book Launch

book-launch-collage

Let’s celebrate Black History Month together at the book launch for “What Are You Gonna Do with that Hair?” at Knowledge Bookstore (117 Queen St W, Brampton, Ontario L6Y 1M3) on Saturday, February 25, 2017, at 2pm!

This is a FREE event! Please register on Eventbrite: zurisbeautifulhair.eventbrite.com

For more information, please visit www.knowledgebookstore.com or www.thenaturalhairadvocate.com

Follow us on:
Facebook: The Natural Hair Advocate
Twitter: @TheNHAdvocate
Instagram: @zurisbeautifulhair
#ZurisBeautifulHair

When you wish to wash your cares away…

shower

Going to the hair salon has always been a luxury to me- I’ve been blessed to have a mother and a sister who are both amazing at doing hair (my sister, Sarah, is a gifted natural hairstylist, actually), and I’m not too bad myself; so I’ve never really “needed” to go the salon to get my hair done, except for when I’ve been away from home.

Last week, though, I went to the hairdresser for the first time in over five years (I went to Urban Curls Toronto, to be exact. It was also my first time going to a natural hair salon, and it was wonderful).

hair-salon

I decided I needed to go to a salon to not only get my hair done for the sake of getting it done (it was in desperate need of a professional treatment, as it was dry and breaking a lot), but I also felt like I needed to go just for the experience of being at the hair salon.  I personally needed some T-L-C to soothe what has been a pretty rough start to 2017 with the passing of one of my best friends, my dear Grandma.

Being at the hair salon always feels like the royal treatment to me: someone else is taking care of you, and it feels great.  I especially love having my hair washed by somebody else (though it hasn’t always been this way: as a child, I loathed the process!) With this mass of 4b/4c hair that I’ve got, washing my hair is always a bit of a chore; so it’s nice to get a break! I love the sensation of having my scalp massaged and really feeling like my hair’s getting a deep clean. I love the sound of the water running, as it lulls me into a peaceful catnap.  I find it very therapeutic.

drain

This time, though, I really took in the process of washing my hair.  This time it was symbolic.

This time I was trying to get some serious stuff out of my hair: the stress of 2016, and the end of the year, in particular…

Transitioning from a job.

Struggling to get my book finished.

My Grandma falling ill.  The weeks in the hospital.  The trips to Sunnybrook for radiation.  My last Christmas with her.

That awful Monday morning.

Making the plans. Sending her off in style.

Laying her to rest…

As the water ran through my hair, I paused and reflected on it…a metaphorical attempt to wash my cares away…In that moment I remembered how much my Grandma enjoyed having her hair washed by the nurses at the end of her life. I thought how she too must have found some peace from the water running through her hair, washing the pain away, if only for a few minutesIn that moment I felt close to her.

hair-washingI realized that there is just something that we all love about having our hair washed with gentleness and care.  It comforts us and helps us to forget about everything else- whether at the beginning of life (like this sweet newborn baby: http://www.today.com/parents/watch-blissful-newborn-have-her-hair-washed-first-time-t105333), at any point in the middle, and even at the end.

 

I think the hairdresser will be seeing me a lot more often this year…

 

 

 

 

 

2016: The Year of Birthing a Vision

2016.  This year was really something.  This year, I did not do a good job of managing everything—this blog included.  For that, I sincerely apologize.  I was doing a lot.  At times, I felt overwhelmed. I felt like I couldn’t juggle it all. Then I would feel guilty and beat myself up. But I realize now that, sometimes, you just can’t do it all.  Or at least you just can’t do it all well.  And I have come to accept that that’s okay…

2007. Nine years ago, I was tasked with carrying a vision that was bigger than myself: I was commissioned to write a children’s book.  It was something that I had never done before, but for some reason, the people who sought me out thought I was capable.  I worked on that book while I was pursuing my law degree and had gotten to the copy-edit stage (with an expectation to publish in 2012)…

2011. Five years ago, during my articling year (after a long period of silence from the publisher), I found out (in a very roundabout way) that my book deal, along with all others at this publishing house, had been canned because the company had been bought out. So, after a couple of failed attempts to pitch the manuscript to other publishers, I shelved the project.

Maybe I wasn’t a writer, after all, I said to myself.

And, in any case, I had a blossoming legal career that I needed to attend to…

2014. Two years ago, I found myself newly married…and out of work.  As the Type-A person that I am, it wasn’t long before I was going half-crazy with nothing (thought-provoking) to do while spending time at home.  Until I felt God telling me to “go back to the project”.

God, don’t you know I need a JOB?! Who has time to publish a book?

After wrestling with the idea for months, and with the encouragement and support of my husband, I decided to acquiesce: I went back to my manuscript, updated it, and then fielded it for feedback from some authors and teachers…

2015. A year ago, I made the difficult decision to re-write the book, on the advice of a few of my friends who work in education—who did not hesitate to let me know that “the kids aren’t going to read it” (thank God for real friends who will tell you the truth!)—and I also made the equally difficult (at least for me) decision to self-publish.  I then began the process of seeking out the “right” people to help me bring the vision to life, which came with its own set of difficulties and headaches…

2016. This year, nine years later, I gave birth to the vision.

Though I’ve never birthed a child before, I feel like my experience has been what I imagine a pregnant woman must go through (based on the accounts of friends and relatives).

Nine years ago, I was nervous but also curious about what it might mean to write a book. I thought about what it would look in the end and whether people would like it. I knew it was going to be a long process, but I had no idea how long or hard it was going to be.

Sometimes your baby is born earlier than expected, sometimes overdue, but always at his or her appointed time.

During my journey, I learned so many lessons about people and about myself.  I’ve learned that others will not care about your vision in the same way that you do.  I’ve learned that while it is important to devote your everything to your vision, you also have to take care of yourself given that you are the vessel through which it will enter the world; the healthier you are, the safer the delivery will be.  

And then there was the emotional rollercoaster.  There were times throughout this process when I was so excited about the potential of what I was carrying; there were other times when didn’t think I was going to make it and was ready to abort it; there were times when I wanted to jump for joy because things were going great; and other times when I wanted to bawl my eyes out in anger and frustration (and I did—several times). And by the time I got to the end of my “gestation period”, if you will, I was completely exhausted and just ready for the vision to finally be birthed.

So, here she is, my first-born child: 

what-are-you-gonna-do-with-that-hair

What Are You Gonna Do with that Hair? A book by Ndija Anderson-Yantha; Illustrated by Kaela Beals

I didn’t think I was going to make it, but I did.  Thank you, Jesus!

 

If you are carrying a vision of your own, trust and believe that it will come to pass!

If it seems slow in coming, wait. It’s on its way. It will come right on time (Habakkuk 2:3 MSG).

May you birth great things in 2017 and beyond! Happy New Year!

 

Sleeping Beauty

If you’ve ever gone on an overnight trip with a Black girl (or if you’re in a relationship with one), then you know that she’s not hitting the sack until she’s tied her hair up with her beloved hair tie.  As I mentioned in a previous postthe head tie is a Black girl’s most prized possession– for a number of different reasons- one of which is to keep her hairstyle intact while she’s sleeping.  But in case you didn’t know already, wearing a head tie also protects Black hair from breakage caused by tossing and turning on cotton pillowcases.

red_and_blue_bandannasI grew up tying my hair down with a cotton bandanna and/or a nylon stocking cap, which I now know are big natural hair no-nos! Cotton absorbs the moisture and oils from natural hair, leaving it dry, and subject to breakage; while nylon stocking caps can snag your hair if they are too tight, and can also damage your edges. In any case, by the time I got to undergrad, I had graduated to sleeping with a (much more sophisticated) satin-y bonnet (I say “satin-y” because it was actually one of those polyester ones from the Black beauty store). And ever since then, it’s been all about the bonnet (thanks, Spelman sisters!); I only really opt for the head tie when I’m trying to keep my frizzies down for a sleeker look.

Note: I know many ladies complain about their bonnets falling off at night; so, try to find one that is snug enough to stay on, but not so tight as to damage your hair.

20160914_160131 However, before I got married, I often wondered what my husband was going to think about my beloved bonnet.  After all, a bonnet that makes you look like Mother Goose is not exactly the sexiest thing in the world…but, then again, neither is having damaged hair!  Thankfully, my husband never let the bonnet bother him, lol; but for those times when I’m feeling extra romantic, I have discovered a better alternative: a satin or silk pillowcase (that way, I can protect my tresses and preserve my sexy at the same time!)

For the longest time, I had been using (again) a cheap polyester one from the Black hair store…

 

20160206_110000

Those lint balls alone show how gentle this cheap stuff can be on your hair…

20160206_105935

 

…but I decided to invest in a real silk one (from London Ivy Products), and I don’t think I could ever go back- it feels so good!

20160206_105037 20160206_105308 20160206_105540

Also, apparently, sleeping on silk is not only good for your hair, it’s good for your skin, tooso, double-win!   

I believe every queen should protect her crown! Black hair is fragile and therefore requires tender loving care; so, remember to be gentle with your hair, even when you’re in bed, Sleeping Beauty! Avoid cotton and nylon, and treat yourself to some silk or satin- trust me, your hair (and skin) will thank you!

If you’re looking for real satin bonnets, check out: Earthtones Naturals – Satin Bonnets

Or if you prefer silk pillowcases, check out: London Ivy Products – Silk Pillowcases

How do you preserve your beauty while you sleep?

 

Ode to the wide-toothed comb

the gate - Jamaica

The gate that sealed my fate…

When I was a little girl, I absolutely dreaded combing my hair, especially after having it washed. I have a distinct memory from my first trip to Jamaica when my Mom announced one day that she was going to wash my hair.  A high-speed chase ensued, as I took advantage of the fact that my Grandfather’s house- unlike our apartment in Toronto- had a back door which led around the house to the front courtyard, giving me a chance to make a break for it…Much to my dismay, however, the front gate was locked, which prevented me from running right off the property (to safety).

“Pleeeease just cut it off, pleeeeease, Mommy, cut it off,” I screamed, as my Mom, Dad, and company, chased me around and around the house, til they finally cornered me…and, alas, my fate was sealed…Sadly, my Mom did not cut my hair off that day- she proceeded to wash it- and let’s just say I ended up paying a pretty penny for making her have to exert extra energy to get the job done…

wash day smiles - Jamaica

Me, after the ordeal, with my signature post-wash chiney bumps (aka bantu knots)…my Uncle Geo (middle) and his friend somehow managed to make everything better

Needless to say, I hated washing my hair.  And washing my hair never went down without a fight, which also meant I’d have sudsy water running into my eyes and sometimes even into my nose, which only made the situation worse.

I hated washing my hair because I knew that after the washing and conditioning, came the detangling part, which meant having to endure my Arch-Enemy…the Comb.

fine-tooth comb

My Arch-Enemy for many years

Due to the spiral shape of Black hair, it is prone to getting tangled: the curls end up linking up with each other, forming knots and snarls, which can make combing difficult.  Back when I was a girl, the standard comb was not made with textured-haired girls in mind: the teeth were fine, and therefore couldn’t get past the tangles.  On top of that, in their efforts to “detangle” the hair quickly, our mothers and other caregivers would just yank the comb from the roots, which made for a less than pleasant experience, to say the least, filled with lots of screaming and tears.

So, when the wide-toothed comb finally came on to the scene (around the time when I was eight or nine years old), I counted it as a blessing from on high; and ever since then, my life has never been the same. My wide-toothed comb has changed my life so much that I wrote it a love poem:

 

Ode to the wide-toothed comb

O wide-toothed comb

When you came into my life,

you removed the pain and strife

of combing through my curls.

 

tail combO wide-toothed comb,

Once I was tender-headed, and

Doing my hair was dreaded

Since the tines were way too fine

 

 

O wide-toothed comb

Using you, I’ve not regretted

And forever I’m indebted

To your wonderful design

 

O wide-toothed comb

Now detangling I’ll survive

And my hair will grow and thrive

‘Cause you’re made for natural girls

~ Ndija Anderson-Yantha

wide tooth comb

 

Pretty corny, I admit, lol! But having suffered through my own terrible experiences with having my hair combed, I know that the detangling process can be one of the most frustrating parts of having natural hair.  However, I also want you to know that your child’s natural hair IS actually manageable- you just have to be armed with the right tools, products, and techniques.  And trust me, having the right type of comb or brush can make all the difference!

Here are some tips for detangling natural hair:

  • Separate the hair into 6-12 sections (depending on the thickness) using your fingers, and hold the sections with butterfly clips or ponytail holders
  • Take a section of hair, and use a spray bottle to spritz with water
  • Apply a water-based moisturizer to the section
  • Use your fingers to gently work through the ends
  • Use a wide-toothed comb or a detangling brush to work through the section, while gripping the section with your other hand to absorb the pull of the comb/brush through the hair
  • Comb through the ends first, and then work your way up to the roots

AVOID

  • Raking through natural hair with a fine-toothed comb- this will not only damage your daughter’s hair by ripping through the curls and causing breakage, but it can also make for a very traumatic experience, resulting in tears and creating negative feelings about her hair
  • Combing through natural hair when it’s completely dry, if at all possible- moist hair makes the detangling process easier, as it allows the comb to glide over the curls easier

Believe it or not, combing natural hair DOES NOT have to be a nightmarish process: with the help of a wide-toothed comb and/or a good detangling brush, combing and styling your daughter’s hair can instead become a time for growing closer, passing on traditions, and creating positive memories that will last a lifetime.

What types of tools and techniques do you use for detangling natural hair?

 

Making Waves: Black Girls Can Swim Too!

Kazan_2015_-_Simone_Manuel copy

Olympic Gold Medalist Simone Manuel (By Chan-Fan – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42503090)

As I’m sure we all can agree, this year’s Olympics in Rio will be a session of the Games that we won’t soon forget! In case you missed it, Simone Manuel made history by becoming the first African-American woman to win a gold medal in an individual event. In doing so, she shattered an age-old belief that Black people- and Black women in particular- don’t swim.  This belief had some validity to it because, for a long time, the notion of #SwimmingwhileBlack was constrained by a number of factors, such as segregated pools, socio-economic status, fear, and of course, hair.

Thanks to the phenomenon of “turning back” or reversion, water was once known as the arch-enemy of kinky-, coily-haired folks (and it still is for some).  A splash of H2O could turn the sleekest press-out back into an afro, and at the very least, crinkle even the finest perm, so many Black girls and women would avoid the pool like the plague.

Although wearing your hair naturally does away with those problems, the chlorine in pool water still presents a threat: chlorinated water can wreak havoc on textured heads because it strips precious oils from our already-prone-to-being-dry hair. As a result, Black hair and the swimming pool have not always been on the best of terms.

After my 1st swimming lesson

My Dad and me in Jamaica after my 1st swimming “lesson”

Though I grew up around Black people who swam (e.g. my parents, aunts, uncles),  it took me a long time to learn how to swim because I was terrified of water.  During my first trip to Jamaica when I was four, my Dad tried to teach me how to swim the same way he learned: by throwing me into the sea.  Sadly, I was not as fast of a learner as he was; I started sinking, and then I panicked, which only led to me inhaling and swallowing a lot of salty sea water.  Needless to say, I left the beach that day traumatized…with a newfound fear…and no desire to learn how to swim.

Luckily for me, I was forced to learn because my middle school had a pool. Eventually, I grew to love swimming, but I hated having to deal with my hair afterward, even though I was a natural teen.   For me, I wasn’t concerned about my hair turning back, but I still had to contend with getting the chlorine out, which meant frequent washing- with shampoos that weren’t made for my hair (i.e. UltraSwimTM)- and constant detangling.  As a result, my hair suffered and I experienced a lot of breakage back in those days.

Fun at the lake

My sister, cousins and me having fun at a lake in Northern Ontario- all armed with our swim caps

Now, as an adult, I really enjoy swimming, and my husband and I often go for a dip at the gym as a full body workout.  I would be lying to you, though, if I said that my hair is no longer a consideration at all.  Sadly, it still is.  If I know I won’t have enough time to invest in proper post-swim maintenance, I just won’t go; but this is something that I’m really working to overcome because I don’t like the idea of feeling trapped because of my hair. (However, I also don’t like the idea of it all breaking off either!)

Black girls can swim too!

Although Black hair may require some extra attention before diving in, it doesn’t mean you have to give up your dreams of becoming an Olympic swimming champion (or simply your aspirations of becoming a regular at your local pool) just yet.  As Simone Manuel has shown the world, It is possible for Black girls to swim- and with a full head of hair too!

Here are some tips for protecting your hair while swimming:

Before your swim:

  • Saturate your hair with coconut oil or leave-in conditioner before diving in– it will serve as protective barrier between your hair and the water
  • If you don’t have coconut oil or conditioner available, at the very least, drench your hair in the shower to minimize the amount of chlorinated water your hair will absorb once you’re in the pool
  • Plait your hair into 2 or more braids to prevent it from getting tangled
  • If you’re not concerned about making a fashion statement, wear a swim cap

After your swim:

  • Wash your hair with a sulfate-free chelating (formulated to remove mineral deposits) shampoo to help cleanse the chlorine from your hair
  • Deep-condition your hair to restore it to its normal moisture levels
  • Moisturize, detangle, and style your hair as normal

For the past couple of years, I have been using these methods whenever I go swimming, and so far, my hair has been faring pretty well.  So, if you have the desire to become the next Simone Manuel, please don’t let your hair get in the way.  Pull it back, slap on a cap, get in the water, and start making some waves– it’s no secret that there are enough obstacles out there, trying to keep us from achieving our dreams- so let’s not make our hair one of them!

Sources: The Science of Black Hair: A Comprehensive Guide to Textured Hair Care by Audrey Davis-Sivasothy, Saja Publishing, 2011

How do you take care of your hair when you go swimming?

Coming soon…

Meet Zuri
Zuri loves her natural hair and all of the amazing things she can do with it!

Zuri -Coming Soon

Follow her throughout history and around the world as she learns about the beauty and versatility of natural hairstyles in What Are You Gonna Do with that Hair? 

Coming soon…

Tress Stress – Pt. III (or “When you want what you don’t have”)

en·vy
/ˈenvē/
 noun
1. the feeling of wanting to have what someone else has.
2. someone or something that causes envy.

 

verb
1. to feel a desire to have what someone else has : to feel envy because of (someone or something).

hair envy
noun
1. the feeling of wanting to have hair like someone else.

 

We always want what we don’t have

Lavinia Lahrese

My fellow lawyer (and YouTube vlogger) Lavinia Lahrese and her beautiful fine natural hair! Check out her channel: www.youtube.com/lavinialahrese

Last week, I was having a conversation with a colleague of mine about Black hair, and she started sharing her experiences with tress stress with me, as a fellow naturalista:

My hair’s so thin! I wish it were thicker, like yours!

I wish my hair was longer! 

When I do my wash-and-go, it doesn’t look like yours!

I think my workmate has beautiful hair- a mane to be envied, even (pictured to the right)! In fact, her hair reminds me of my sister’s: it’s very fine; more curly than it is coily; and it has quite a bit of length too!  Ironically, while both of these ladies have expressed their frustrations to me about their fine natural hair, when I was younger, I remember having my own issues with hair envy- wishing that my hair was more like theirs because nobody ever really wanted to comb mine!

 

Why? Because I had (and still do have) a lot of hair.  They used to call me “Bush-Head”, actually, because it was so big.  And not only did (do) I have a lot of hair, in terms of density, but it’s also thick! My sister’s hair, on the other hand, was easier to manage- even when it got wet- and therefore was not a hassle.

 

Wash Day

Wash Day when I, “Bush-Head”, was a toddler (not much has changed since then!)

My sister, Sarah, in SK

My sister, Sarah, in SK

 

Sadly, hair envy is not uncommon. Whether due to external and/or internal influences, we always seem to want what we don’t have: people with curly hair wish they had straight hair; those with straight hair wish it was curly; people with thin hair wish it was thick; and those with thick hair wish it was thinner!

Over the years,  however, I’ve learned that it really doesn’t pay to envy what other people have– whether that’s hair or anything else, for that matter- because:

(a) It doesn’t change what you have, and

(b) It distracts you from recognizing and valuing what you do have!

All envying really does is cause you unnecessary grief!

The answer to hair envy is hair contentment: you have to get to the place where you are content with what you’ve been given!

 

So, when my workmate asked me, “how are you so comfortable now with your natural hair?”, I told her exactly that: “you just have to accept what you have, and then make the most of it!”

Big hair don't care

Accepting what’s mine, and making the most of it!

Overcoming hair envy with hair contentment

Having grown up natural, and dealing with my own experience with hair envy as a child, I get it: it’s hard sometimes to be content with what you have, when everything and everyone seems to be saying to you that your hair isn’t good enough!  

But if you want to reduce the type of stress caused by hair envy, and thus be happy with your own tresses, two things need to happen.  You need to recognize and accept that:
(a) Our hair, African hair, is uniquely ours; and
(b) Your hair, as an individual, is uniquely yours.

 

Uniquely Ours

African/textured hair is uniquely ours: no one has hair like we do!  So instead of focusing on what it supposedly can’t do, focus on what it CAN do– it’s all about perspective!

 

  • Our hair, in its purely natural state, supposedly CAN’T “move” or blow in the wind, BUT our hair CAN stay in place when you style it. (PS- in case you didn’t know, our hair CAN “move”, both when it’s curly or straightened, depending on how you manipulate it.)
  • Our hair supposedly CAN’T lie flat and it’s too frizzy, BUT our hair CAN be shaped and defined, often without the help of any implements. (PS- our hair CAN lie flat and smooth when it’s stretched or straightened, both with/without the help of gel or styling cream.)
  • Our hair supposedly CAN’T get to waist length at the drop of a dime, BUT our hair CAN go from short to long instantaneously- hello, shrinkage! (PS- our hair CAN get to waist length too, with the right amount of care.)
  • Our hair supposedly CAN’T be “managed” because it’s too tangly, BUT our hair CAN keep braids, rolls, and buns, etc without much assistance, for that very same reason! (PS- our hair CAN be “managed” using the right combs and detangling brushes, some water in a spray bottle, and/or a good moisturizer/conditioner to add some slip!)
Uniquely Yours
It’s also important to remember that your hair, as an individual, is uniquely yours! No one has hair exactly like YOU do! As I mentioned earlier, even my sister and I don’t have the same type of hair; and though your mane may be similar to someone else’s (like Sarah’s is to Lavinia’s), nobody’s is exactly like yours! That should make you excited because what it means is that there is at least one specific thing that your tresses can do that no one else’s can; and once you discover what that thing is, you should embrace it and celebrate it!
Sarah & Me

Sarah and me, celebrating our uniqueness (PS- nobody can wear a ‘fro like me!)

Do you struggle with hair envy? If not, how have you learned to be content with your tresses?