Category Archives: self-image

Inspiring Video Captures the Essence of the Natural Hair Movement [WATCH]

I was tickled by filmmaker Zina Saro-Wiwa’s humor as she describes the uncertain feelings of going natural in her Op-Doc, Transition  This is a terrific video on the New York Times website that sort of summarizes the natural hair movement. The state of going natural is called transitioning–cutting out the relaxed hair and wearing the hair it in its naturally curly or kinky texture.  Zina Saro-Wiwa decided to document her own transition along with that of others. As the stylist shaves her head, she jokingly says, “God, I can just feel myself getting uglier.” The results of her transition completely contradict that statement, for she looks absolutely stunning. Like most women who go natural, I feel like I can really “see” them for the first time.

Zina was identifying with the feelings that many newly naturals have stating,
“I was forced to confront my real hair and doing this changed me. I had unknowingly transitioned” 
As a friend of mine so eloquently stated, “natural hair” is not just a state of hair, it’s a state of mind. For many of us, confronting our real hair challenges our view of beauty and ultimately how we see ourselves as women. “Pretty” takes on a new meaning. Going natural also spurs on a desire to address other body “issues” such what we eat and physical activity or the lack thereof. 
As Zina explained,
“Transitioning changed my relationship with my entire body” Going natural is really an awakening of health consciousness as we rid our bodies of chemical relaxers, unhealthy foods and other toxins.
Though most women do not see the natural hair movement as political and are just enjoying the journey, Zina believes otherwise. She characterizes the movement as a quiet internal shift toward self-acceptance, which in her mind  is “the most potent political act of all.” I would have to agree.
Do you identify with the sentiments in this video? Please share your thoughts about the video in the comment section below.

Embracing Who I Really Am with a Full Afro (Not easy)

This past mother’s day weekend, I found myself in sort of a mess. My kids were sick and I had a ton work to do (both around the house and freelance work). My plan A was to set my hair in twist for a twistout on Saturday night for Mother’s Day. Well, that didn’t work out. Plan B was to get up early on Sunday morning and figure out something cute to do with my hair. I did get up early, but the kids did too. Instead of fussing over my hair and neglecting the kids I decided to enjoy what this day is all about and that is being a mom. So, I played with the children, enjoyed my cards and flowers and moved on to plan C–The Afro. You might ask, why do I say it this way. It takes a lot for me to wear a full afro and I’ll tell you why.

I’ve always admired natural hair icons like Afrobella and Rachel O who seem to be able to rock their signature full afro worry-free and with style. For me, wearing an afro is usually a last resort. I think like many women, you don’t go to the salon and say can you “style” my hair in an afro. Oftentimes, women won’t even wear a full afro. They tend to tie it back with a headband or scarf. There’s something about an afro that sends a strong statement. It often commands attention both positive and negative. The afro is the proverbial “F- you” to society’s standard of beauty.

To this day, it still strikes an unnerving chord in many blacks and whites. For whites it’s an instant reminder of the struggle for blacks to obtain civil rights. For blacks, and black women in particular, it’s a reminder of what lies “beneath”. The afo says, “look at me, I’m on display for the whole world to see how African hair really looks,” There’s also the issue of differences in hair texture. You have the cute fluffy/curly fro and then there is the latter, (which I have) the kinky fro. The kinky fro yells, “I don’t give a ____! Say something else, and I’ll pop you in the mouth…” Okay, maybe not… I’m not trying to turn this into a political or racial  issue. However, for me and lot of women, these are just some of the issues that we have to work through in order to embrace natural hair.

So, back to Mother’s Day. I’m standing in the bathroom mirror, like, “crap. I’m late for church and my hair is a mess.” Then it dawned on me, what better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than to celebrate who I really am? As a mother and a nurturer, I chose to nurture my soul by embracing and displaying the beauty of my hair–in an afro.

Tell us, what do you think of “the afro”? Have you ever struggled to wear one? 
Please use the comment section below, or go to our Facebook page.

Commit to a Happier, Healthier You: Take the Wellness Week Pledge

One day, after a grueling few hours at work on top all the things good and not-so-good going on in my life, I felt a bit overwhelmed. So, in the middle of the day, I decided to take a much needed break. Sitting under a tree eating a banana and cashews while listening to the birds chirp, my mind was able to empty out. I began to refocus and feel a real sense of calm. It was a moment where it was all about me, and nourishing my mind, body and soul. This week, March 19-25 is National Wellness Week presented by SpaFinder. Take charge of your mental and physical health. Discover simple, inexpensive ways you can take those “you” moments. Also, get amazing deals on spa, fitness and wellness services this week.
The Wellness Week Pledge 
I pledge to take charge of my health by taking these simple yet vital steps toward a happier and healthier life. By committing to achieve at least one of these activities each day of Wellness Week, I will make taking care of myself a priority, enabling me to do more, stay healthy, and live a longer, more vibrant and meaningful life. I pledge to:

  • Change my breakfast. I will kick off my day with a healthy meal that includes foods like oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, seeds, nuts, and whole grain cereals and toast. 
  • Choose to move. I will walk more by taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking further from the store or taking a desk break to go for a five-minute stroll. 
  • Hydrate. I will drink a glass of water before breakfast, lunch or dinner. 
  • Make my sleep a priority. I will build boundaries around my sleep by sticking to a set bedtime, and by not eating or working in bed. 
  • Embrace the power of touch. I will recharge myself and others through the simple act of giving or receiving a hug, foot rub or five-minute massage. 
  • Give myself the gift of silence. I will find 10 minutes a day away from screens of any type – phone, TV or computer and enjoy the quiet. 
  • Connect with nature. I will walk outside, breath more deeply and enjoy the outdoors for a few minutes each day. 

Get Amazing Deals on Spa Services
All week long, hundreds of spas, fitness and wellness centers are offering exclusive deals and 50% off prices. Take advantage of this opportunity to recharge by visiting to find out more about Wellness Week 2012 and deals in your area. Give a gift certificate to friend who needs to “them” moment as well.

What steps will you take this week to commit to a happier, healthier you? Please share your comments below.

Natural Hair and Your Career [VIDEO]

Are you thinking about going natural, but not sure how doing so will impact your career? Are you looking to go on a job interview, but unsure of how your natural hair will be perceived? Many women, especially those in the corporate world feel pressured to stay relaxed because of the stigmas associated with natural hair. The CNN video below contrasts two women, both are natural (one is transitioning). One woman is a marketing exec who chooses to wear her hair in its kinky state, the other woman is a financial exec who chooses to wear it straightened.

In the video, each woman talks about the perceptions people have about natural hair. Ivy, the marketing exec who chose to wear her hair kinky, notes that it’s not really her fellow White co-workers, but fellow Blacks who give her the most flack over wearing kinky hair. They usually have all these perceptions about natural hair and want to know if it’s damaging to your career. Many are surprised to learn that Ivy has been natural for 12 years. Being natural has not stopped her from moving up the corporate ladder into more senior roles.

Natural Hair Perceptions
“People might think I’m earthy and “granola” (i.e. you’d rather hug a tree than a human)”
“People might think I’m agressive and a know-it-all”
“People might think I’m unkempt or unclean”
“People might think I’m lazy”
“People might think I’m uneducated”
“People might think I’m Afrocentic (not saying that’s bad)”
“People might think I’m___________________”

All these perceptions begin with the phrase, “People might think” True. They might think those things. However your interview, your resume, your interactions and actions speak for themselves.

Getting over the “hair” conversation
Michelle, the financial exec who wears her hair straightened, expressed that one difficult thing to get over is the initial reaction people have when they see you are natural. She retold the story of a co-worker who wore her afro to work and everyone looked at her strange. I think one of the most hassling things about wearing natural hair to work is the questions. Whites and Blacks alike who do not have curly/kinky hair tend to ask some of the same questions like: How did you get your hair like that? Does it just grow like that? Have you ever thought about straightening your hair? Does it itch?

I mean, really? Do I really want to feel like some exhibit at the zoo? In my experience, the questions will eventually subside. If you don’t make your hair a big deal, others won’t either. People may perceive you one way based on you hair, but once they get to know you, they realize that you actually know what you are talking about. I would hope that people think that I am a smart, free-thinking and conscientiousness person because I have natural hair. But then again, who cares what people think?

Please share your thoughts and experiences, and reactions to the video in the comment section below.