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I have to be honest. I have not picked up an issue of Sister 2 Sister in years. I’d say probably since I was a teenager. But with my new quest to document advertisements featuring natural hair, it was the only magazine that catered to black women in the Barnes N Noble by my job (and I live in Atlanta).

I was really surprised to see the number of ads for hair products in their July 2011 issue catering to women with natural hair and the number of articles featuring women with natural hair. As soon as I picked the magazine up, the first page was a Ford ad.

The concept behind this ad was that we may physically age, but we may still find joy in some things: in this case, riding a bike versus driving. I continued to flip the magazine and found an article entitled “Do What Comes Naturally: Grow, style and maintain healthy natural hair. It gave tips on different ways to wear your natural hair: curly, straight, etc along with product recommendations.

Here is a screenshot of their online version of the article.

Stay tuned, because there’s more to come.

Cosmopolitan surprised me today. Something (I’m not sure what) told me to pick up the July 2011 issue and just see what kind of advertisements they had. I’ve never been a devoted reader of the magazine and just assumed that most of the ads and articles would feature white women. Boy, was I wrong! There were a number (not a majority) of ads and articles that featured black women. I kept flipping through Cosmo and found an article for Daily’s Fabulous Frozen Cocktails that depicted one woman with curly hair. Whether she looks biracial or not, her hair is curly! I don’t know about you, but this ad is pushing my idea of what it means to be natural. Can only African American women be natural? Or can bi-racial women with curly hair be considered natural, too? If so, this model definitely qualifies. If not, she just had curly hair. What do you think?

I was reading Essence magazine recently. No, I did not buy it. I sat in the bookstore and flipped through it to see if it what was worth buying. Even though I didn’t buy it (I know, shame on me), I was happy to see a number of advertisements featuring natural hair. Let me just say one thing, though. I am happy to see positive representations of natural hair in the media. Since I’m new to documenting this trend, it’s hard for me to say exactly what represents a negative representation.

I’ll say this, it’s like porn: I know it when I see it.

That being said, here is a picture of the McDonald’s advertisement that featured a natural hair model.

Think about this: What do you think is a negative representation of natural hair? Is there such a thing? Does it depend on the product being advertised? Or the company advertising the product?

A favorite go-to style for many natural women is the twist-out. I am no exception. I rock a very defined, shrunken twist-out, while others prefer a loose, large twist-out. For work, I think the former works great. Here is my hair care regimen to get twist-outs like the ones you see in these pictures.

Step 1: Wash hair with Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butte Moisture Retention Shampoo
Step 2: Deep condition hair with Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner
Step 3: Detangle hair while conditioner is in. Separate hair into sections, working from the tip to the root, detangling. Do not start from the root. If you want to use the conditioner as a leave-in, go to Step 5. If you want to rinse it out, go to Step 4.
Step 4: Rinse out conditioner, and apply your daily moisturizer, curl definer, etc. Begin twisting hair while wet or damp.
Step 5: Begin parting hair at the back of head. Part into sections about 2 finger-widths wide, or about 1.5 inches wide. While you are parting, make sure to apply moisturizer. I use a homemade whipped shea-butter based recipe (which I will post later) on my scalp and on the hair strands.
Step 6: Make your way from the bottom of the head to the top of the head.
Step 7: When you get to your ears, part from one ear to the other. You are now going to change the direction of your parts, so that you start from the front of your head and go to the new part (stop at your ears). *It’s easiest to start at the side and not top of your head.
Step 8: Finish remaining twists, and wear for 2-3 days. This will allow the hair to dry and establish the desired tight curl pattern.
Step 9: Starting at the back of your head, begin unraveling twists at the root and slowly pull your finger down the twist.
Step 10: Ready for work! *But make sure to sleep on a satin pillowcase or wear a satin scarf at night.

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Can you tell in which pictures I was rocking the smaller versus larger twists before taking them out?

With so many videos trotting out models with $1K weaves and lacefronts, it was refreshing to see Stic.Man and M1 of Dead Prez’ tribute to the natural haired sistas, “The Beauty Within”. It flips B.O.Bs “Nothing on You”, which I’m sure you’ve heard countless times on radio, but shows that despite what we THINK the brothers are looking for in a woman’s appearance, it’s those that display their beauty naturally that get the most second looks.

The media’s acceptance of natural hair as an option for Black women is definitely moving in the right direction with videos like Sesame Street’s “I Love My Hair” which I posted here, and more natural haired models being featured in ad campaigns by the likes of companies such as American Appparel. With natural hair getting a coveted cosign from mainstream American media, will this open the door for more sisters to go natural in their day to day? Do you think if a major celebrity, say a Beyonce or JHud came out the “hair closet” some folks would think twice about their next hair appointment? Does the media even have an effect on how you or others view their beauty regimen? Let’s talk about it….Spin the video again, but don’t expect to see it on MTV anytime soon. Ciao!!

Dead Prez “The Beauty Within” from kinetikcinematix on Vimeo.

This is scary. I found this article in Time magazine about the dangers of getting a Brazilian Blowout. Apparently, high (and potentially dangerous) levels of formaldehyde were discovered by U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in salons using “some hair smoothing and straightening products, including the Brazilian Blowout brand. (Formaldehyde helps bind keratin to hair, straightening it.)” According to the article, several startling reactions were reported by both clients and salon staff, including hair loss, allergic reactions, nosebleeds, eye irritations to the release of formaldehyde by these products. Brazilian Blowout, and other similar products, have already been pulled off the shelves in Canada!

Read more

Friday morning, I woke up and my twist-out had run its course. If I was a better stylist, I could have done something really cool and funky. Unfortunately, my hairstyling ability is limited. So I chose to wear a wig. That’s right, a wig. And I picked a wig that was so far from my look, that I became a totally different person. I purchased my wig for $25 from a local beauty supply store, braided my hair, put a wig cap on, and went to work. Even though I don’t wear wigs often, it is sometimes fun to put on a wig and temporarily transform yourself. However, I will always be 100% natural!