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Monthly Archives: October 2010

As the saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. My own (and probably common) interpretation of this statement is that beauty is relative. What I may consider beautiful, you may consider repulsive. And what you may find attractive, I may not see it that way. But what factors determine beauty? Is there an unconscious process that humans undergo in determining whether a potential mate is attractive or not? Or is it a very conscious process?

Before I begin to attempt an answer to this question, I want it known that I love my natural hair, and this has been a process. Unfortunately, for many within the black community, hair is a symbol that may represent conformity, non-conformity, afrocentricity, etc. My hair, which in this picture is styled into an afro, is more like an accessory. But I do not live in a vacuum, and recognize that some men (whether they be white, black, Latino, Asian, European, etc.) have a preference for certain types of hair. This is evidenced by the reception I observed during a run to the grocery store. One woman complimented my afro, and others openly stared. To some, my hair in its natural state is their preference. To others, they are turned off by my afro and see it as unkept, wild, or an attempt to revolt. For me, natural hair is beautiful and I find beauty in a person’s individuality. Again, I believe that beauty is relative .

But is that opinion consistent with academic explanations of attraction and beauty? Today, I am only going to briefly summarize two theories from the evolutionary perspective. This perspective encompasses the “good genes” hypothesis and “runaway sexual selection” (See Swami, V., Furnham, A. (2008). The Psychology of Physical Attraction. New York: Routledge). “Good genes” suggests that people are attracted to characteristics that signal good health, such as reproductive health (e.g. fertility). “Runaway sexual selection” essentially is a positive feedback process. It is hypothesized to occur when female preferences for good genes influence mate selection. Initially, a naturally selected trait in males is accompanied by a preference for that trait in females (R.A. Fisher 1958). This theory is commonly discussed in the context of peacocks and other animals. For example, assume that at some point in history male peacocks did not have brightly colored feathers. If at some point, peahens preferred more brightly colored males, the result (according to the theory) is that more brightly colored peacocks would be more likely to find mates. The impact would be that males become more and more bright with each generation.

What other characteristics or features might signal good health? Can healthy hair signal good health? I would argue yes. Lustrous and healthy hair is not accidental. On the contrary, it is the result of a healthy body and healthy eating. You can facilitate healthy hair growth through drinking lots of water, protein, minerals, vitamins, and exercise. My hair is healthy and I choose to use it as a form of self-expression, which is I believe that beauty is in the afro of the beholder.

Over the weekend, I attended a black tie event in Tucker, GA for a school in the Sierra Leone. As the day approached, I became more and more nervous. You see, as long as I’ve been natural (6 years), I have never been to a formal event.I’m too old for proms, and the closest thing I had been to was a few weddings.

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I did not know what to do with my hair, and did not just want to wear twists or a twist-out to the event. I consulted my stylist Nya (formerly of Deeply Rooted), and picked out a loc updo. My stylist assured me that she could do it. We won’t even get into the difference between the loc style and my hair, but I will post pictures of this flat twist updo she did so you can see it. Overall, I like it. But I don’t think that I will keep it in much longer.

My search for products that work well with my natural hair continues. Let me give you a brief history (and succinct review) of all the shampoo/conditioners that I have tried on my natural hair:

1. Pantene Pro-V Relaxed and Natural Shampoo and Conditioner (thumbs-down)
2. Neutrogena Triple Moisture Daily Deep Shampoo and Conditioner (thumbs-down)
3. Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk, Tui Herbal Shampoo, Black Vanilla Hair Smoothie (thumbs-down)
4. Taliah Waajid Black Earth Shampoo and Enhancing Herbal Conditioner (thumbs-up)
5. Jane Carter Moisture Nourishing Shampoo and Nutrient Replenishing Conditioner (thumbs-down)

Throughout my natural journey, I have been unable to find a product that I truly love. That is why when my best friend recommended this Shea Moisture product available at Target, I wanted to try it.

This shampoo did not have the dreaded SLS (Sodium Laureth Sulfate), which is described as a detergent. Here is the list of ingredients: Contains de-ionized water, Decyl Glucoside (sugar beets), African Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea butter) (denotes certified organic ingredients), aloe vera leaf juice, Argan Oil, Panthenol (pro-vitamin B-5, rosemary extract, sea kelp extract, vitamin E, Lonicera Caprifolium (honeysuckle) flower and Lonicera Japonica (Japanese honeysuckle) flower extract.
I’ve been told that SLS is actually what makes your shampoo foam when you use it. Until I started doing research on natural hair care, I always equated suds with cleanliness. But your shampoo does not have to foam in order for it to do its job. If you don’t believe me….I suggest you do your own research. One of the things you will find is that shampoos without SLS tend to be more expensive than those that have it. Just compare Jane Carter’s Moisture Nourishing Shampoo (8 oz for $8.00) versus her Hydrating Invigorating Shampoo SLS-Free (8 oz for $10.00).

Personally, my hair loves shea butter. Shea butter based moisturizers are the only products that seem to really moisturize my hair. This weekend, I will be purchasing and trying this new product and posting a review.

To summarize, Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Moisture Retention Shampoo has the following things going for it:

  • It’s shea butter based (which my hair loves)
  • It’s SLS free
  • It’s available at Target and only costs $9.99 for 12 ounces.
  • The ingredients are certified natural and organic.

 

Buzz has been growing about a skit written recently by a Sesame Street writer called “I love my hair”. When I watched this video, it made me want to melt. It was so innocent and so beautiful, detailing a young black girl’s love for her natural hair. One of my favorite lines in the song is: “I want to make the world aware I love my hair. I wear it up, I wear it down. I wear it twisted all around…I love all the things my hair can do”.

You can watch it here.

I recently attended a Lynkh Up Event here in Atlanta. I was pleasantly surprised to see that all attendees received a complimentary gift bag. When I opened it, I was ecstatic! Free samples of the Jane Carter Solution. I had heard a number of naturals talk about how much they loved it, but I had never given it a try. When it came to wash my hair this past Saturday, I decided to give it a shot. I co-washed my hair with the Nutrient Replenishing Conditioner, deep conditioned my hair, and followed it up with the Revitalizing Leave-In Conditioner. I then used my own homemade shea butter moisturizer on my scalp and hair strands. Initially, my hair was very soft and didn’t have too many tangles. However, as the night went on, my hair became increasingly dry. Even though I watered my hair on Sunday, by Monday it was very very dry. Overall, her product does not work on my hair and I will not be using it again. But it is important to remember that different products work on different textures of hair, and what works for me, may not work for you (and vice versa).

Since I did not feel like washing my hair again, I moisturized my hair again with the shea butter moisturizer, twisted it into about 15 large messy twists, and took them out the next morning. Here are the results:

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Update: Both the Kohl’s Ghetto Fab Wig and the Mississippi Mud Flap Wig have been taken off Kohl’s website.

I am not someone that loses my temper often or quickly. But recently, my sister sent me a link to something that was incredibly problematic. Kohl’s (the “department store”) is offering a Ghetto Fab Wig for Halloween. It is on sale for $19.79 and here is the description:

Dance the night away in Halloween costume wigs. The disco-inspired Afro style of this adult wig makes it perfect for your festive outfit. Shop our full line of wigs and Halloween costumes at Kohls.com.

I’ve included a link so you can check it out for yourselves. Note the appearance of the model. But I ask you this question: where is the “white trash” wig, if we are perpetuating stereotypes? The closest thing to a “white trash” wig is the Mississippi Mud Flap Wig. However, notice the name.

For me, it is reminiscent of the ghetto parties that white frats used to throw (and still do). Just this past February, a white frat “allegedly” threw a Compton Cookout at UCSD (University of California at San Diego). The invite to this party read: “For those of you who are unfamiliar with ghetto chicks — Ghetto chicks usually have gold teeth, start fights and drama, and wear cheap clothes.”

I woke up this morning and wanted to try something new. So I donned my favorite hair accessory (a flower) to work for casual friday. I simply used a small Goody headband and wrapped it twice around the back of my head. A few tendrils of hair slipped out, but I went with it because I didn’t want the style to seem too manufactured. I actually wanted the messy look.