BHM Blog Series: Those We Lost in the Natural Hair Movement

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During 2014, we unfortunately lost three important women known for encouraging us to embrace our beauty and accept our curls. They each had their own unique style and way of inspiring us based on their personal experiences as Black women. Without them, 2015 will not be the same.

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BHM Blog Series: National Attention on the Natural Hair Movement

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Last year was a monumental year for the natural hair movement.  I don’t remember seeing as much media attention on natural hair, TV shows focused to the topic, natural hair products in stores, or social events dedicated to natural curls.  Yet, the movement boomed and reached what I believe is a tipping point last year!

Here is how the movement made national headlines in 2014!

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BHM Blog Series: Top 3 Natural Hair Celebrities of 2014!

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It gives me such joy when I can turn on the TV and see women who look like me and have hair like mine, wearing it proudly.  They have such power when they walk into a scene or on the red carpet with the pride that comes with celebrating your true self.  From YouTube series like Hello Cupid, to Olivia Pope and Viola Davis showing their natural curls on prime time, 2014 was a year where women with natural hair become more common on the small and big screen.

Below are some of my favorite celebrity Naturalistas who rocked natural locs in 2014!

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Black History Month Blog Series! Natural Hair History in 2014

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If you have been following this blog you know that one of my goals is to share information about African American HAIRitage and history.  Therefore, every Black History Month, I like to look back at our past and share information on where we’ve come and where we are going on our hair journey to reclaim and rewrite our hair story.  This Black History Month, I want to join other history makers and help write our hair history.  Therefore, I will be doing a month long blog series focused on recapping  the important moments in the natural hair movement during 2014.

Stay tuned as I discuss a variety of topics including natural hair trends, national spotlights on natural hair, whether the movement is “selling out”, and what the movement gained and lost in 2014.  I hope you join me for the series!

 

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Black History Month, Part 7: Today’s Black Hair

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I’d like to end my Black History Month series on African American hair history by briefly writing about Black hair today.  I can’t talk about today’s popular hair styles without mentioning the hair weave.  Many African American women and Black celebrities wear hair weaves.  Beyoncé, Halle Berry, and Janet Jackson are just some.  Tyra Banks even challenged herself to go weave-less for a period to showcase her natural hair.  Chris Rock produced the documentary, “Good Hair,” which was all about African American women’s hair habits, highlighting of course, the weave.  My sister, Margie, is a licensed cosmetologist and according to her, her top selling hairstyle among her African American clients is the sew-in (another name for hair weave).  This style is so popular that she does at least three a week, while only working part-time.

The hair weave has existed for thousands of years and was fashionable throughout history.  It took off in popularity during the 90’s and is still thriving today in the 2000’s.  The human hair import industry was once dominated by Jewish merchants, but today it is mostly Korean immigrants who import and sell hair weave products.  With a network of other Korean business owners who created credit associations in order to provide the start up cash for their partners, more and more Asian storeowners began popping up during the 90’s.  According to the book, Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America, Asian companies represent 50-60 percent of the total distribution of Black hair-care products.

Many people see the hair weave as just another fashion statement, but what I’ve learned during my journey to understand my history is that our hair and how we wear it, is much more than that.  My history has shown me that Black hair is significant.  It has been celebrated, attacked, ridiculed, and upheld as one of the most important signs of beauty.  It has been taken too seriously, and not taken seriously enough.  The Afro came to be seen as a political statement of Black Nationalism.  The relaxer has been seen as a statement of self-hatred.  The natural has been viewed as a statement of radicalism.  They are all statements about meaning and identity.

I challenge my readers to think about what it means to you to wear a weave or chemically straighten your hair.  Further, think about it within the context of our African American history and within the context of a society that still needs to come to terms with Black hair.  When you take all of that into consideration, ask yourself the question again.  So now, what does it mean to wear a weave or chemically straighten your hair?

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Black History Month, Part 6: The Jheri Curl

To me, the funniest moments in the movie Coming to America with Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall include the scene where Daryl’s parents leave oil stains on the sofa from their Jheri Curl!  This was the reality for many people who rocked the Jheri Curl and suffered the consequences of “Jheri Curl Juice”; ruined sofas and stained clothes, all to achieve the slicked and curly look of the Jheri Curl.  I’ll never forget the Soul Glo commercial!

The Jheri Curl became popular in the 80’s after Willie Lee Morrow, developed a process that changed kinky hair to a curly “wet” look.  He was a Black hair expert who also created the first mass-produced plastic Afro pick.  In 1977, Morrow began traveling across the U.S. selling what he called The California Curl to hair stylists.  Eventually it became the Jheri Curl, named after Jheri Redding, a White man who created a similar process initially only for straight hair.  Once the Jheri Curl became popular among the African American community, manufactures began developing their own versions of it.  Soft Sheen created the Care Free Curl relaxer, Pro-Line developed the Curly Kit, and Sta-Sof-Fro create Jheri Curl moisturizers and scalp sprays.

The Jheri Curl required a ton of maintenance including salon visits and various curl activator products that maintained the “wet” look.  During that time, it could cost $80-$100 for the process and additional costs for conditioning products.  It was so profitable in the 80’s that the hair care industry experienced unprecedented profits and salons were booming with customers.

My mother wore a Jheri Curl for over 20 years!  According to her, the Jheri Curl was so popular because it was an easy style to maintain because all she had to do was spray her hair with Sta-Sof-Fro’s Hair and Scalp Spray (which she still uses today), comb it through, part her hair on the side and go.  She also revealed how difficult it was because the curl activator would drip off her hair and onto everything!  She had to constantly buy plastic caps to sleep in at night!  Not surprisingly, the style lost its popularity during the 90’s and was replaced by natural styles, hair weaves, and extensions that didn’t have the messy consequences of “Jheri Curl Juice.”

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