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Nappy and happy: Taking back the n-word

As I was trolling around my Goo.gle Reader and I came across this article that was featured at Racialicious. This story is the story of so many women who, after years and years of relaxing or texturizing their hair because they were wrongly told they had ‘bad hair’, realize that God blessed them with one of the best things on earth: nappy hair.

An extremely precocious little girl, even under a big hair dryer, I could hear the beautician commenting to her clients, if my mother was out of earshot, “Oooh, that baby’s hair was SO nappy!” The stylist would jokingly wipe her brow as if she had just moved heaven and earth to smooth out my kinks. I retained those observations in my head, but never gave it much consideration, until I was about 12 years old and I heard a beloved aunt remark, “She’s such a pretty girl, but it’s a shame she’s got that nappy-for-no-reason hair.” That was the moment the awful truth was seared into my heart — I have “bad” hair. From that moment on, I dedicated myself to never being caught nappy.

I’ve had experiences like that at hair salons I frequented as a teenager. My hair was never good enough for anything, except for super strength perm and a day of pain. I don’t know if hairdressers realize how damaging talk like that can be to a young girl’s self-esteem. If I could speak to all young Black women, one of the things I’d share with them is how beautiful they are just as they are – nappy and happy. Read the entire article here.

4 thoughts on “Nappy and happy: Taking back the n-word”

  1. That article just made me cry. It was so beautifully written but so sad at the same time. It reinforced in me why I have decided to take this journey because I never want to have “that” conversation with my 2 brown babies. If I have to have it with them it will be because of outside factors not because of me and my straight hair. If anyone ever so dare to tell my little girls when I’m around about there “nappy” hair, watch out world, the rumble from this volcano will be heard in places never heard of before. May 15th was 3 months since my BC and my confidence since then as grown out of the roof. I feel sexier, more beautiful and more contented. I’m no longer comparing my hair with other people’s hair. I still can’t get over the fact that I use to look at White/Indian women and compare my hair with there’s when mine is so fly all on its own. I just hope I’m making a positive impact on all the younger black girls that seems very interested/intrigued with my hair since I’ve begun this natural journey and they too will one day embrace their natural hair instead of all that yaki, that never seems to be done properly on their head.

  2. It is sad that people feel the need to insult their own character. People commenting negatively on “nappy” hair is really truly a lack of education. When one knows how to work with “nappy” hair rather than against it, what is “bad” hair is good.

  3. I don’t think I was scarred as a child growing up. But now that I think of it, family friends had always commented on how much hair I had back then. I did go through getting my first jheri curl in junior high – a horrible process, trying to sneak out of JaneFinch mall, taking the back sidewalks home, because you know a ‘fresh’ curl, always looked horrible! Then getting a relaxer in high school. But I wasn’t so hooked with ‘hair’ – maybe cause I was never one to be big on ‘styling’. I first cut my hair in 12th grade and loved it. But it was relaxed and I lamented the fact that I’d have to keep relaxing it to wear that style of short cut. Then when I was 19, I just decided to cut it off one day. And I had a twa And it was great! It’s more in later years that my self esteem has gotten tied into my hair and my looks.

    1. I was scarred — not by my parents, but by hairdressers. Scarred physically (those perms burned holes in my scalp) and emotionally (my hair was never good enough). The first time I cut off all my hair I was about 20 and I was so happy, but like you I realized that I would have to relax regularly to keep up the look. The second time I cut it off I was about 25 and I didn’t know how to care for my hair, so I texturized after about a year. Two things happened that helped me let go of my hair issues:

      *I grew up and realized that my hair was what it was. No amount of perm/serum/pomade was going to change it. Just like my face or body — I have what I have. Lemme thank God for it and move on.

      *Finding a hair stylist who knew how to care for my hair. Some of the other stylists were only happy putting the strongest perm in my hair. The ladies that I began going to when I moved to Toronto understood hair and nurtured my relaxed hair and always told me my hair was awesome while teaching me how to deal with it.

      Yes, I do remember having to get home with a fresh curl. Never a good look 😉

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