I Love This Book!

ilovemyhairIf only I had owned this book when I was little.  I bought I Love My Hair! a few years ago when my eldest daughter was going through her own hair tribulations.  Like the heroine in the book, my little one hated having her hair combed, no matter how gentle I was.  So many of us have hair issues that start when we are still in single digit years.  Sometimes these issues are handed down to us by parents (whether consciously or not), or from our own experience with having our hair combed out.  I remember being in kindergarten and looking at the hair commercials for Flex and Finesse.  They always had some glamorous blond swishing her long, silken tresses.  I would do the same, of course.  This memory is so vivid for me that I guess it must have been a really big deal on some level.  I even remember asking my mom why no one in the commercials looked like us (as in, black people).  Thankfully, I haven’t been traumatized by the media in any way that I can think of; however, I find myself worrying about what my children will swallow from all the junk being fed to them from media’s various sources.  How can a young girl grow into an able, confident woman if she is unable to embrace who she is?  If I could have my way, this next generation of young ladies would be one with poise, intelligence and integrity.  Forget about beauty making the top three.  The truth is, beauty is nice and all, but it doesn’t last and it can’t stand on it’s own.  Besides, since it really is in the eye of the beholder, chances are someone will always find you attractive anyway.  I’m rambling on, it seems, but there is a connection to my ramblings and I Love My Hair!.  The heroine of this book describes her natural hair poetically.  It is compared to fine wool, a forest, wings for her to fly when combed in two.  Her mother has not fed her the all too common rhetoric about needing straight hair or having naps.  Instead, Mama nourishes this child’s spirit and esteem by telling her why her head of hair is so special.  There is also a book written for little boys, Bippity Bop Barbershop.  I have not read this book, but have heard good things about it.  Both books are written by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley.  Also highly recommended is Whoever You Are, by Mem Fox.  It’s a simple book that teaches children that though we all seem different, we really are the same.  The only beauty that will not fade is that of a kind heart.

Love that bruises

abused20black20woman1I swore I wasn’t going to write about this.  Unfortunately, here I am doing what I said I wouldn’t.  I’m talking about the Rihanna-Chris Brown circus, of course.  As of today, the latest is that they are in Miami, staying at P.Diddy/Daddy/Whatever he’s calling himself these days.  I want to be clear on my stance.  I don’t think that Rihanna should make decisions based on her being a ‘role model’ but should make them based on her own personal best interests.  I do not believe that Chris Brown is evil and deserves death threats, either.  That being said, I think Rihanna made the wrong choice, and Chris Brown needs Jesus and some professional help.  I am a big believer that if any man hits you once, he’ll do it again (and again).  Also, rarely do these things come out of the blue.  There’s usually something attached to it: he’s possessive or puts you down or some other negative attribute that should serve as an alarm.  I look at Rihanna and wonder why she has decided that this is what she’s worthy of.  I say this because (again, this is my opinion) if your esteem and self-worth is where it should be, then you are unwilling to put up with an abusive relationship.  You know what is right and healthy for you, and if some clown decides to treat you in an unacceptable way, then it’s “good-bye and good luck.”

The men in the picture worry me.  You have, Chris Brown, who is young and probably can be reformed if he’s serious about it.  This means really making a change.  I don’t get why Rihanna went back when he hasn’t done any type of counselling, program or such.  He hasn’t put in the work.  Sorry just isn’t good enough…well, may be it is, for her.  Rihanna’s father also concerns me.  On one hand, I wonder if he just told the media something some one conjured up and really feels differently.  However, I have to go by what he’s quoted as saying.  I don’t like the fact that her dad thinks it’s okay for her to go back to a guy who battered her.  Never mind she’s an adult, this was dad’s time to say, “She’s made her decision, but I think she deserves better.”  Nope, none of that going on here.  I look at this talented young woman and wonder what I would do if it were my child in that situation.  God willing, I will do a good enough job raising my kids so that they are strong and confident enough to stay away from such destructive behaviour.  However,  if it were to happen, what would I do?  First off, this post would probably be used as evidence against me in court.  There’s no way I’d let a man get away with hitting my girls.  If they couldn’t handle the situation themselves, I’d step in.  I hope that my daughters see the relationship that I have with their father (and the relationship my parents have), and decide not to settle for less than such.  Growing up (and even to this day) my father always told me how much he loved me, how beautiful and intelligent he thought I was.  He was always very proud of his children.  As his only daughter, I received ‘the talk’ more times than I care to remember.  If any man ever touched me in anger, I was to fight like hell and never make an excuse for him.  I learned from watching my dad, that real men sometimes cry, sacrifice a lot for the good of the family (as do real women!), and they never use you for a punching bag or belittle you.  Because my parents lived a great relationship before my eyes, as I grew, I shifted from taking it for granted, to realizing how special and difficult it was to have. I wanted no less than what they had.  It saddens me that there are a lot of  women who think they deserve the terrible treatment they get from their men.  I ask myself if it’s because we don’t think we’re beautiful enough, deserving enough.  Case in point: Why are so many people making excuses for Chris Brown?  What could Rihanna (or any other woman) do to truly justify a beating?  I know in a lot of ways, I’m blessed with my family life.  However, backgrounds aside, a great deal of this is emotion (I love him, he’ll change) versus common sense (He doesn’t love you, he’ll hit you again).  I have to say, in the white community, everyone was pretty horrified and sympathetic toward Rihanna.  For us, it was divided.  Read any message board online for the scoop and you’ll see that there are a lot of numb skulls (pardon the ol’ school term) defending Chris Brown.  What does that say about us?  It’s troubling at best and makes me wonder what things with be like for the generation I am helping to raise.

Beauty for what it is.

michelle1 Michelle Obama has an official picture.  Every one has an opinion on it.  I figure Michelle is a great subject to write on for a couple of reasons: 1) My six-year-old chose our first lady as the subject for her project.  While helping my little one write her report, I realized the impact that Mrs. Obama already has on black women old, young and in between.  2) I happen to think that Michelle is a remarkable person.  That doesn’t mean she isn’t human and can’t make mistakes, but she has gone where none of us have gone before.

I think Michelle is beautiful.  I don’t mean beautiful in the movie starlet, traffic stopping sense.  This doesn’t mean that she’s unattractive and I’m just referring to ‘inner beauty’.  I look at her and think that she is definitely an attractive woman, and what I love about her is that she’s a real woman.  She doesn’t look that much different than you or me.  But what makes her so appealing is more than her looks.  This is a woman with a brain, good values and a strong opinion.  I think that many view that combination differently: some admire her for it, some are afraid of her and look at her with contempt.  Me? I think that makes her not only beautiful as a person, but damn sexy too.  I think this because it is so obvious that her husband sees this in her, and loves her because of it.  She’s not just a pretty face- she’s strong, and intelligent.  My daughter looks at Michelle and loves the fact that she is a lawyer, and that she didn’t listen to the advisors who told her not to apply to Princeton and Harvard.  She likes that Michelle looks so ‘stylish’, but that she has also been very helpful to her community.  Don’t think that children are oblivious to the finer points of what we adults are about.  They catch on to soooo much more than they are often willing to admit.

Back to the offical picture.  I have to say my piece on this.  I don’t understand how America can be so hypocritical and not even realize it.  Nudity in all its forms and suggestions is used in every way imaginable in this country.  Television, magazines, just about every type of ad or music video has it.  We, on a whole, think it’s ridiculous, the way that Muslim women cover themselves for modesty sake.  So, why is a photograph of Michelle Obama wearing a sleeveless dress such a big deal?  I could understand if the dress was inappropriate, but it isn’t.  She looks sophisticated and modern. She looks like a first lady for 2009 as opposed to 1909.  One would think people had never seen bare arms in public before!  I think those who criticize need to take a good look in the mirror and find the beauty in themselves instead of engaging in nonsense.

Good Hair

  There’s been quite a bit of talk about Chris Rock’s new movie, GOOD HAIR.  I must admit, I’m interested and look forward to watching it.  It amazes me that though we seem to have come so far we are still hung up on the same negative junk.  No matter how we tell our daughters that they are beautiful and precious, they are still bombarded with someone else’s idea of what beauty should be!  Why can’t we liberate ourselves from the cookie cutter ideal of beauty? 

  A couple of months ago I saw something so beautiful, so amazing, that I had to pause and give her all of my attention.   A black woman I could only really describe in one word as a glamazon (tall, dark skinned and beautiful in every way that defied the euro-centric ideal).  What was amazing was her hair: she was rockin’ the biggest Afro puff I’ve probably ever seen.  She was confident and unapologetic which definitely added to her appeal. 

  I’ve been natural for about four years.  My first return to my roots (pardon any pun), started back in 1999.  I was starting my last year of university in England and my hair was a disaster.  I had entered higher education with long, thick (albeit, relaxed) hair, but quickly discovered that the UK was not exactly hair friendly for black women unless one lived in London.  While home in Toronto during  the summer break, I cut it all off and kept about an inch. 

In 2005, I cut in down to an inch again.  My decision was partially due to the massive amount of hair I was shedding after having  my youngest child.  I did decide, however, that I would never, ever chemically relax my hair again. 

My hair would definitely fall into the “bi-racial” category.  Like most people from the West Indies, I’m pretty mixed up. I’ve struggled and had a love/hate relationship with my tresses for most of my life. My hair is: curly, kinda silky, kinda kinky at the roots.  In my youth, I felt as though there was never quite a perfect fit for me in terms of hair products.  There was just some stuff that ‘worked’.  I guess that’s because my hair wasn’t silky like my dad’s (he  looks as though he’s Indian) and it wasn’t the same texture as my mom’s. 

Anyway, like most ladies I know (a few of us went natural together…great for morale!) going natural the first time is usually a little bit of an eye opener.  You can’t treat your hair the same way or use the same things on it.  Also, I had this crazy idea that natural hair would be naturally healthy and low maintenance.  Not true.  It still takes work, and if you have no idea what you’re doing, it can become so frustrating that the thought of relaxing it will seem like heaven.  My advice would be to look at your hair differently.  Embrace it with love.  This is the hair God gave you, and it’s beautiful.  When I was small, my mother used to say, “This hair is as unruly as its master.”  I always took it as a compliment, meaning that I couldn’t be dominated by anyone.  Why then, was I so intent on ruling my hair and trying to change it? Needless to say, that like me in attitude, my hair decided to rebel and give me trouble when I forced it to conform to something it wasn’t.   

For those of you who need help on how to manage, there are a lot of websites and blogs that can give great insight.  Afrobella is great, as is Tightly Curly. I don’t believe in one answer working for everyone where hair and beauty is concerned.  Some ladies love relaxing their hair and it works for them.  I say, it if works and you’re happy, then great!  However, if it isn’t working, then maybe it’s time to try something new.  Just remember to educate yourself on how to handle your natural ‘do.