Sunday, March 14, 2010

Texture close ups and embracing SHRINKage...

I stay on the web, lurking checking out other hair and style blogs and we just loooove talking about product and defining curls. I also saw an instance where a blogger commended me for showing my hair texture with and without product. It made me realize that I tend to post most often when I HAVE found some product or combo that defines my curls. I do post my regular ole frizzy shrunken hair in all it's glory at times, and in reality I wear it like this far more often than my posts would imply. I decided to post these picts from this past week and weekend as incentive to embrace what our hair does. I only used conditioner and castor oil on my hair, and its soft, coily and tightly shrunken. And yes- I wear it out like this.

I also site my hair's multiple personalities as further evidence that experimentation can lead you anywhere. When I went natural in 2001 (seemingly alone!), I knew I had coils, but did not know they were curls, or that I could wear them out as curls. I didn't expect much out of my hair, and yet it continued to grow and get thicker and respond to more and more "experiments." I accepted it as it is, and then I learned how to manipulate it. It's about what you have and what IT can do, rather than what you want, and how to force what you have.
Click to make the pictures larger.

annnnnnndddd...... (I can't help it)
This is also why I love/hate hair typing. I suppose I'd say I have 3c-4a hair when it's helpful, but it's sooo arguable depending on what day you catch me. I think we can "push" our hair in either direction with product or styling, or even simply drying it a certain way. I think some women want to be kinkier (no pun) and some want to be curlier. One's self proclaimed hair type is always analyzed based on a presumed proclivity to push.

In my case, I'm light skinned with light eyes, so I have often heard people deny that I could have 4a hair, or that their hair could be anything like mine. I think they assume I'm too mixed or somehow conflicted about my heritage thus have a desire to be "blacker" than I am. I even had someone tell me, more or less to my face, that the only reason I went natural was to prove I was African-American. That person went on to claim that they distrust and automatically dislike lightskinned girls with natural hair.

I LOL now, but it was like 2003- and it hurt my feelings then. As we all know (I hope), texture is not inherently linked to skin or eye color, nor is ethnicity. Generalized hair typing can often be a helpful way t o analyze the effect of a product on a coil pattern, but I believe it also provides a worm hole to rot our gorgeous apple/natural hair culture.

I hope one day we can come up with a less stratified way of describing our textures, where all reference to a 1,2,3,a,b,c hierarchy is removed.

That is all :-)


  1. Your texture is LOVELY! and I, too am a fan of shrinkage!!!

  2. thanks! we can switch up our look so easily if we go WITH it.

  3. LOL, I so agree with this statement " One's self proclaimed hair type is always analyzed based on a presumed proclivity to push."

    I have seen SO many vloggers self describe their hair as curlier than it really is, and I know I am not up close and personal in their hair, but I think many people push their hair into a "bracket" that they moreso feel is a "better" description.

  4. Giiirrrrl, you said some mouthfuls here. I'ma try not to blog in the comments. 1. I love your hair in all its states! I have a colleague (white male) who loves to comment on my hair and the fact that I always have a different "hairstyle." It's funny to me how people don't get natural hair - on some random day, I'll get the question - "What did you do different?" I have no good answer, b/c I don't know what they're *seeing* as different. I do "something different" every day, every night. I may have used different products, may have braided rather than bantu'd, may have more shrinkage today than yesterday, etc. And it's so funny how the constantly changing state of my hair is interpreted as "new hairstyles." A white female co-worker answered for me the last time some asked what did I do different. She said, you know, curly hair looks different all the time. Depends on how tightly curled it is that day. Big ups to her. And I had a white "sister" at my last job, very curly chick. I would ask *her* what she did different. Lol. And she would just be like "humidity." Or I woke up and it was like this. I don't know. And we would laugh.

  5. So I lied about blogging in the comments, lol. You lit a fire in me about hair typing, and folks' tendency to correlate hair "type" with skin, eyes, etc. Light skin "goes with" "good" hair and such. I will never forget this chick when I was 22 with a twa who refused to believe it was my natural hair, and badgered me with repeated questions trying to catch me in a lie about whether I permed (texturized) my hair. Yet we are not completely caught up in it - I have also had people believe my jerry curl (yeah i had one) was my natural hair, and some family members and friends still want to believe my hair is completely natural now, saying they can't tell the difference between my roots and the rest of my hair. Was just thinking this a.m. about this very political natural sista who was also published in this anthology I wrote an essay for. At the N.Y. reading, I read from it, about my female cousins, and how our differences don't separate us. There were references to their light skin & curly hair & my dark skin kinky/curly hair, but also talked about different choices in childbearing, etc. Sista's response was to come up to me saying "forget about them, you're beautiful." And my cousin cried when she read it, and asked if she'd ever done anything to make me feel inferior. I must not have done my job in the piece. My whole point was to say that we are one. Not separate. That I never want to "forget about them." They're my sisters. I know their struggles, feel them, even as they are different from my own. I had a dark-skinned friend say why should light-skinned sistas complain, aren't they the "preferred" ones? It hurts me to my heart, b/c I know how my cousins, my friends, my aunts, have suffered. Having people assume they think they're better than. And just b/c your hair is loose curly, doesn't mean you're taught to love it. It's a journey either way. Why can't we respect each other's struggles? And the correlation thing is wack. My fair-skinned, could pass from a distance grandmother's super kinky, wooly hair combined with my dark-skinned, jeri-curl hair looking grandaddy to create my father's kinky/curly mass which he passed on to me. So whatever on that. Did Malcolm X have "good hair?" Who hasn't seen kids his color playing outside with massive kinky red fros? Or that dark-skinned brotha with the Ice-T looking wavy ponytail. Come on. We see all these combinations and still call them flukes. Hair typing is wack. 3c, 4a. Not big enough to contain all the possible types we have. Not one female in my extended family has my exact same hair type. Those categories are just not complex enough to cover the varieties we come in. I can say I'm a 4a or 4b, whichever one is very tight S curls, but there are other 4as or 4bs whose hair is very different from mine. The categories are wack.

  6. Oh yes I wholeheartedly agree on this post. It always amuses me that I get more comments about how curly my hair is when I just leave it alone. I had someone walk up to me and ask why some days it is 'big and puffy' and other days 'small and sleek'. I really think it depends on what mood I'm in. I also think my hair has split personalities depending on what I do to it. I have argued a friend of mine down about what type she wants to assign to me and I somehow feel like I do try to point at my hair and say 'see' it's not what you think it is. LOL! Anyway great post.

  7. ..."where all reference to a 1,2,3,a,b,c hierarchy is removed."

    Yeah, I totally agree. I am transitioning now after realizing I've been robbing myself of experiencing my TRUE beauty. And, I kept coming across all of this 4b 4a crap and I'm like ?? really? Is it that important? It seems like we black people latch onto all of these stupid things just to put ourselves into this catergory, or that and it saddens me.

    It's like the thousands of Youtube videos about lace front wigs and glycerin oil, and all kinds of crap. I mean, come ON. I dunno, I'm just tired of fads. Anyway, great blog, great hair and keep on being you. My niece who is 1 now, looks a lot like you, but her parents are both dark skinned. I'm sure she'll have a world of obsticles (my sister plans to NEVER relax her hair).

  8. Thanks for all the comments! I have to share this:
    The other day I was getting on the elevator and this woman (older white woman) complimented my hair, and then took a huge step towards me! I just knew she was going to put her hand in my hair, but then she asked- "is it all yours?" I was like "yeah"... and I lifted the back of my puff up to show her "it's just in a ponytail." She was like "well *stepping back*, it's beautiful."

    Anyway, right- I mean my hair has a unique "spongy" backspring coil pattern that is not explained by any hair typing system. Then there are the coils of differing sizes and personalities... I get what hair typing does to help describe the possible sizes of the coils, but not if it curls or NOT, the shape of those curls/coils etc. I mean sure, if you want to walk around with a 1/4 lb of gel in your hair (which I often do- lol) you may see some interesting behavior from any type of hair, but what does abusing products to that end achieve? A modified hair reaction that can "move" your hair type. I wish there was some language instead. Like my hair forms 3/4 inch non-uniform coils. I saw a typing system that uses the words "spongy" somewhere too that seemed to fit me to a T. I'll have to re-post that.

  9. It's just beautiful! Thanks for posting. Do you have a method of preventing knots and split ends or do I have to except them (especially if my overall hair is healthy and growing)?

  10. @ ItVeganAtGenesis I get them too, and I mostly cut them out. I have been able to prevent many of them from forming by being careful not to separate clumps of hair from the top down while detangling or styling and by using oils just on the very ends of my hair very liberally. But I still get them :-/

  11. You have wonderful hair, and I completely agree about the typing thing. It's really confusing to us newly natural/transitioning girls because we're LOST! I wish i would get some more information about what moisturizes as opposed to what defines or what have you.

    Also, I couldn't resist, you have wonderful eyes!

  12. It's just hair right?!... ;o) No but your hair looks very nice and you sport it well. Labeling our hair isn't wise to do but I can see how it would help relate us to each other and find out what works for other women with similar hair as our own to style their hair.

    My best, Lynn
    *swing by my spot and try my all natural conditioner. I know you will like it. You will... :o)

  13. Hair typing is for the birds!..And I appreciate when someone compliments my hair, but what gets on my nerves more than anything is for somebody to say "oh you must have good hair, because my hair would never curl up like that"...or.."You must have xyz hair type"...Honestly I have no clue really what hair type I am, all I know is that on any given day, my kinks, curls, and coils, will do whatever it is that they want to do, unless I intervene with a "1/4 lb of gel" too...LOL...

  14. Hey..great post. It took me forever! and I do mean FOREVER to learn to embrace my shrinkage, especially when I would see others with big hair and wonder why is it my own always shrank down 80% it's real size. Now I have learned to love it. What we can't change, we can embrace and make work for our own good.
    I also have a love/hate relationship with hair typing, only because it's so easy to want to throw your hair into one category only to find out that your hair isn't totally just that one thing. I personally just say my hair is my hair, and go on from there (I believe I am in the 4 family but my hair can act anywhich ways from a 3 to 4 *shrugs* )
    Good post!

  15. I'm way late, but I just want to say kudos on this post. I agree with much of what you said, especially the whole hair typing bit. It is a bit ridiculous, isn't it. What if we did that with our skin. I'm a Z-62, but my sister is a WD-40. Reee-dic-you-luss.

  16. @ shones- OMG what IF they did skin color? The variation is the damn same!

  17. You're hair is gorgeous! I have the same "type" of hair as you, but I don't know what to do with it because there's like 5 different textures. I am not a fan of hair typing either because of the totem pole- heiracrhy factor. It seems like the 4's is what everyone want to either avoid or deny.

    Great post!

  18. I know I am super duper late, but I just found you! You are SO my hair twin it's ri-dic-u-lous lmao! We could not be more opposite in the melanin spectrum or more similar in the follicle spectrum! I have been reading your blog for 2 days "catching up" and getting a feel for your "personality", and I think you're AWESOME! This post resonates so much with me! I do not identify with the typing system at all and have given up on ever trying to do so. When I am researching on natural hair I just look for specific issues I am trying to handle i.e. fairy knots, dryness, split ends, curl definition, and etc. Once I find a suggestion that I deem worthy of trying, I couldn't give a fig about the "hair type" that made it.


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