Thursday, December 15, 2011

Barbie Goes Natural for the Holidays: That's N.I.C.E.!

 Little black girls are often taught, when given dolls to play with, for the most part, that straight hair is most appealing.  This is implied through one of the most famous dolls, whose name is Barbie.  It is wonderful that there is a Black Barbie, but without addressing her hair texture, there is still a message that natural is not cool enough as far as Barbie is concerned.  So, taking the initiative to change that is the approach that some Natural Divas took on per the link below.  In the spirit of the holidays, N.I.C.E. sends praise to these ladies for recognizing, in their gift giving for the Holidays, that Natural Is Coole Enough, even for Barbie!


Happy Holidays Everyone!

Friday, November 4, 2011

To Tame or Not to Tame?: That is the Question...

    Recently, a young lady asked me what she can do to keep her locks "tame" as she found her hair to be very unweildy and often times, hairs will be out of place.  I advised her that the beauty of natural hair is that there is a sense of freedom and relaxation in the process and it is not necessary to "tame" the hair.  Some locks will grow longer than others, sometimes one or two will break off, causing those locks to  be shorter than others.  If one is simply wearing a natural style that is not necessarily locks perfect neatness  is also not necessary.  Explore a sense of freedom when wearing natural hair styles.  Just let go and be carefree and let your hair serve as a guide to being the true you. If there are hairs out of place or varied lengths, not to worry, just be cool about it.  It is not necessary to tame natural hair because Natural is Cool Enough and That's N.I.C.E!

Monday, October 31, 2011

T.A.N.G.L.E.S: A Natural Hair, Student Organization at Howard University; Now That's N.I.C.E.!

     It seems that natural hair is becoming the rave for Black women again and along with that is a heightened level of consciousness and an educational movement. Black women are not only embracing their natural hair but learning about how to style it, its importance and other key points of interest about the joy of natural hair. For example, Howard University has started (beginning November 2010) a student organization entitled T.A.N.G.L.E.S which embraces natural hair.  Now that is definitely N.I.C.E!
For further information about the organization, visit: https://sites.google.com/site/hutangles/our-company

Transtioners   And   Naturals    Growing    Learning  and     Educating     Students
Tangles Meeting at Howard University

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Beauty: Homage to a N.I.C.E. Couple!

Ossie Davis, who was a fantastic actor and activist, wrote a wonderful poem (see below) that pays homage to the beauty exhibited in remaining true to your natural state, in which he mentions hair. Today, I saw a couple on Facebook, the young lady who I know as a childhood friend, and I immediately thought of this poem.  Seeing the two of them, pictured below, with their natural locks, looking so fabulous together, made me pause and think of that poem and reflect on how this couple is a testament to N.I.C.E. in their natural glory.
Natural Is Cool Enough for this lovely couple!

I find, in being Black,
a thing of "Beauty";
like a joy; a strength;
a secret cup of gladness ...
a native land in neither time nor place ...
               a native land in every Black face! Be loyal to yourselves; your skin; your hair; your lips; your speech; your laughing kinds are Black kingdoms, vast as any other.
n-- Ossie Davis

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Natural is not Considered Cool Enough at the Airport: Another Black Woman Insulted by TSA

Recently, a woman was required, at the airport, to have her natural do checked for explosives by TSA.  She expressed that she was humiliated by this event and understandably so.  You will find her story at the following link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/21/isis-brantley-dallas-woma_n_973787.html

Ms. Isis Brantley, pictured to the right, is a hairdresser and a big part of her work is serving as an advocate for natural hair. Here is another link where she shares her story http://www.flyertalk.com/the-gate/blog/7175-a-hair-raising-experience-at-an-airport-security-checkpoint-2.html

This is not the first time that N.I.C.E. has shared such a story as this happened to another Black woman recently (See story here: http://naturaliscoolenough.blogspot.com/2011/07/sa-pat-down-of-natural-hair-really.html).  What is the rationale for even remotely considering that a Black woman would have explosives in her hair?  There is no precedent for this mode of thinking in any way shape or form.  It appears that viewing naturally beautiful hair as potentially dangerous in the airport (considering the possibility that something dangerous may be "hidden in it") falls into the notion that if a Black woman's hair is not "relaxed" then it may cause others not to be relaxed.  If this is the case, every person wearing a bun, long curly hair and any other style that is voluminous should also have their hair checked for explosives which would be equally ridiculous.  I am waiting to hear the story of a non-Black woman with curly full hair who is stopped at the airport by TSA because of the possibility of explosives in her hair.
     Furthermore, as explained in my forthcoming book,  Cultural Competency for the Health Professions, to be released in 2012,  What Ms. Isis Brantley experienced is a form of Microagression entitled a Microinsult.
“A Microinuslt is characterized by communications that convey rudeness and insensitivity and demean a person’s racial heritage or identity” (see source below*). The term "micro" does not minimize the humiliation as it is indeed a major problem.
     To that end sisters, do not be dismayed.  Continue to wear your natural hair freely and proudly.  Do not feel demeaned by those around you who do not understand the beauty of your natural hair and can't relax in its presence.  Wear it proudly and with confidence knowing that it is a crown of beauty that exemplifies your connection to your ancestral heritage.  Ms. Isis Brantley expressed her dismay loud and clear and demanded an apology which presumably she received from a TSA Supervisor.  Hopefully, her experience sent a resounding message that no matter where we are and what we are doing, Natural is Cool Enough and that's N.I.C.E.   Ms. Isis Brantley, N.I.C.E. offers a salute to your natural hair!  

*Sue, D.W., Capodilupo, C.M., Torino, G.C., Bucceri, J.M., Holder, A.M.B., Nadal, K.L., & Esquilin, M. (2007). Racial microaggressions in everyday life: Implications for clinical practice. American Psychologist, 62(4), 271-286.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pi Nappa Kappa Natural Hair Sorority: That's Cool Enough for N.I.C.E.!

     When I went to college, the first thing my mother made me agree to was that I would never join a sorority.  She never explained why, but as her obedient daughter, I obeyed her command.  In retrospect, and based on some of her comments, I believe she was concerned about the possibility of hazing.  So, I went through my four years as an undergraduate student, as a non-sorority member and then passed on the same advice to my daughter,  although, with the caveat, of course, that ultimately it was to be her decision.  At that point, I felt that if I had made it through college successfully without joining a Greek organization then perhaps my daughter should follow in my footsteps.  Now I learn that there is a new "Greek" natural Hair Sorority.  Again, as I have done many times, I explored why Black people in America develop and join organizations that have a Greek reference (in terms of the name) rather than African. I have found a number of perspectives on this.  So, here is an article that endeavors to provide a rationale, which is at the very least compelling and that is worthy of sharing.  The title of the article is: Why Blacks Call themselves Greeks and can be found at the following link: http://malikfraternitysheffeyadmin.wikispaces.com/file/view/Page+from+Blackworld,+V.+15,+i.+01+-+19870216.pdf

The Key quote from this article is:

"Greece was a culturally diverse,  pluralistic society  of various ethnic  and  racial groups  - much  like the  United  States today.  However,  the citizens  were  mostly dark-skinned and brown people."

So, my conclusion regarding Pi Nappa Kappa, as it relates to Natural Hair, culminates from a number of perspectives but ultimately from what the sorority actually seems to be about.  It is my understanding that there is no hazing involved. My mother, who is now deceased, would appreciate that.  The term sorority, per Pi Nappa Kappa,  is only used to imply sisterhood and this new sorority promotes natural hair, which aligns with the notion that N.I.C.E.   So, ultimately, the Pledge associated with Pi Nappa Kappa is positive (see below) and the group is in agreement with the perspective that Natural Is Cool Enough.  Conclusion: That's N.I.C.E.!

Pi Nappa Kappa

As a member of the Pi Nappa Kappa Natural Hair Sorority, I pledge that:
1. I am a smart, special, valuable person! 2. I respect myself and I respect others. 3. My words and actions are kind and honest. 4. I will respect the dignity and essential worth of all individuals. 5. I will promote the diversity of opinions, ideas, hairstyles and backgrounds which is the lifeblood of the sorority. 6. I will promote a culture of respect throughout the natural hair community. 7. I will not tolerate bigotry, discrimination, violence, or intimidation of any kind. 8. I will practice personal integrity and expect it from others. 9. I will always be proud of my natural born hair.10. I accept only my best in all I do.
I am PROUD to be ME!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

N.I.C.E. on Lauryn Hill, Straightened Hair and the Need for a Manifesto

     I’m a bit late on this story  but due to travel and just completing my next book entitled “Cultural Competency for the Health Professions," to be released in 2012 by Jones and Bartlett Publishing I haven’t been able to write for N.I.C.E. but I’m back with a little something to consider. For years, in my courses and in lectures that I have given to audiences by invitation, primarily during African/American Black History month, in one in particular entitled “Getting Down to the Roots,” I mention a number of sisters that I refer to as Natural Divas.  These are Black (using the term Black rather than African American here to be inclusive of all Black women throughout the diaspora) women who, throughout their careers, have maintained their commitment to their natural hair and exhibited a sense of tremendous pride in doing so; who appear to exhibit their hair as a sense of strength and courage.
     India Arie, as an example, is one of them. I understood India Airie when she sought of rebelled against the notion of anyone considering her a “natural hair role model” when she shared with us, her beautiful manifesto of sorts entitled “I love my hair” quoted below:
As a Black American woman, a lot of your integrity is dictated by how you wear your hair,” she explained. “The concept for the song was sparked when I decided to cut my locks, and all the different attitudes people had about it. This is my hair – and it’s my life. I’ll choose how I express myself.”
We  heard you India.  It was clear, but the way she just cut it off, but let it still remain natural to the core was still an indication of her strength and pride in keeping it natural and so her name is maintain on the Natural Diva list and she is held up with pride for her strong appeal to the notion that Natural Is Cool Enough, N.I.C.E.   Even her willingness to write a song about it and basically say, deal with it, was powerful!
     But,  Lauryn Hill, whose music I also cherish, and whose career I have followed, recently  just shook me up a little.  I saw an image of her that caused me to stop in my tracks and say, “Oh no she didn’t.”   Her hair was bone straight.  Some argue that maybe it’s just a flat iron or that she looks beautiful, etc.  With both I agree.  The circumstances of her “straightening” is unknown and she is of course free to do whatever she desires with her hair.  But nevetheless,  seeing her with straightened hair is a blow to the Natural is Cool Enough notion...and also the notion of her being a Natural Diva.   

      Now let me be clear before anyone out there chastises me for bringing this up about our sister Lauryn because I know the love for her and her music runs deep.  I am certain that there are matters of much graver concern to be “shaken up about” such as the financial crisis in America and throughout the globe, unemployment,  extreme weather, wars, famine and “woe is me” for so many  people right now.  It is rough out here and hair is well, let’s just say not at the top of the list of serious concerns!  At the very least, just put a hat on and keep it moving if your core issue is figuring out how to survive or anything remotely close to that.  But, my blog, is about natural hair and writing about it, is one of the many ways that I express myself within these tumultuous times.  I see natural hair, for Black women, as a source of strength and power . When I look in the mirror in the morning or at any other time of the day, I can say, no matter what, I am still holding on to my true, natural self.  I can see it, I can touch it,  I can feel it and I can say to myself, yes, I do love myself naturally, just the way I am.  I feel brave, I feel uncompromised, I feel natural and I know that there are Natural divas out there who have a bigger venue than I have, who are representing, naturally.
    In summary,  Lauryn Hill remains one of my favorite singers, without question. A curling iron, blow dryer, perm, etc. could never change that.  I saw her at a concert not to long ago and she was rocking a big, fabulous afro.  I talked about that during one of my “Getting Down to the Roots” lectures shortly thereafter and I saw the sense of pride and smiles emerge from the faces of many audience members.  Yes, you can see pride.  You can feel it too.  There is a knowing that along with her voice, her hair also exuded power…that she exemplified “Getting Down to the Roots” and those roots are deep.  So in a nutshell,  I have no doubt that she has her reasons for “straightening” the natural locks and that it is her prerogative.  But alll I am asking is  Lauryn, can you at least write us a manifesto or something, in song, so we can understand?   We may not be able to grasp all of the other chaos going on in the world but on behalf of N.I.C.E., we can get this.  Otherwise, blessings to Lauryn Hill and her new baby.  He’s beautiful!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Help for Going Natural: The New York Times Is On It along with N.I.C.E. Advice on Transitioning to Natural Hair...

Today, I received a link for an article from one of my former students who is considering transitioning to natural hair which I want to share.  After praising this outstanding young lady for her courage and offering advice, I read the article that she sent to me in the link below.  In my advice to her, I shared with her my own process of transitioning which I want to share with all of you along with this fantastic NY Times article:

My Humble Advice on Transitioning to Natural Hair:
     The transition process, in terms of styles, particularly when you have perm in your hair, is a very personal matter.  For me, I let my hair grow from the root, and then cut off the perm, which left me with a tiny boy cut which I wore for about a year allowing for more growth with an occasional trim.   After that, I proceeded to braided extensions (synthetic hair) continuing with my vow never to put perm in my hair again.  After that, I took out the braids, when I had a decent length and went with short locks.  I was in NY so I wore a lot of very cool afrocentric hats, which were popular in NYC at the time.  I continued twisting and letting my locks grow and the rest was history :-).  I never went back and have had locks ever since which is about 20 years now.
Permed Hair on My Wedding Day
After Cutting Off all of the Perm

The Early Stages of My locks
My Locks As they Began to Grow

The End Result

     So, those were my steps. I felt that as I went through those steps, I really came to terms with a deeper part of my natural self which led to eating very healthy, use of herbs for healing, and continuing my physical regimen which was always a big part of my life. I merely expanded to new things such as Yoga, different dance classes and of course, I continued my favorite activity, swimming.   As for hair products, my recommendation is to avoid chemicals as much as possible.  I recommend Aubrey mainly for the swimmer's conditioner but overall, it is a great brand. However, there are other great products too.  Just go to Whole Foods and hang out in the hair section and read ingredients.  I recommend shea butter because I find it to be the best moisturizer, for skin and hair. I haven't found anything better than shea butter and trust me, I have looked throughout the world for options. 

     As for style, my recommendation is to get rid of the perm (let it grow out)  and then look in the mirror each day and decide what looks best for you on that day...Twist, curl, brush, braid and don't be afraid.  Just be natural and confident.  Truly, the key to styling your natural hair is not within You Tube videos (although they can be helpful for ideas) or anywhere else, but in your hands.  You have to sit in a mirror with your hands, your hair, products that you are comfortable with and confidence and then create styles that represent you .  You will be amazed with what you can come up with and how much you will come to love your natural hair and how you look with it.  You will see the true you, naturally. Remember, the word transition refers to a gradual process.  Take your time with this and you will grow as you make progress towards your natural goal.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Dr. Oz Says Natural Is Cool Enough: That's N.I.C.E.!

     Recently, I was watching the Dr. Oz show and I was pleased with what I heard and saw.  Dr. Oz, along with his  guest, were breaking down the ills associated with wearing a perm.  It really was not new information but it was refreshing to see that dialogue regarding the use of dangerous chemicals in one's hair, in order to make it straight, is becoming part of the main stream dialogue.  So, below you will find the video link on this topic.  I think that at the very least, you will find it interesting. The title of the piece is "The Dangers of Hair Straighteners".  The information that is provided about Keratin is also very interesting. Th detail presented in this film fortifies the fact that N.I.C.E.!

    Chris Rock covered this detail thoroughly in his film "Good Hair."  However, perhaps getting this information out on a wide scale, through a mainstream, network, popular television program will have a far reaching effect.  At the end of the day, armed with information, better decision making is possible and women can consider the natural approach for managing their hair, seriously.  This has been a very, very hot summer, so some may ask, if not a perm, then what?  Weave perhaps?  I'm not sure how to respond to such  questions because I know that my natural hair (locks) is so hot on my head that for the most part I am wearing it in all kinds of updo's because it is long. I have fun coming up with new ideas to keep it up and it is generating a natural creativeness that I thoroughly enjoy.  If I had a weave on my head, which would feel like I was wearing a wool hat in 90-100 degree weather, I think I would absolutely pass out from the heat.  When I see individuals patting and scratching their heads with whatever they can get their hands on (pencils, pens, letter openers, etc.) I feel absolutely and truly sad.  So, perhaps reflecting on the video above and thinking about the freedom of wearing natural hair without having to use seriously dangerous chemicals or participate in furious scalp patting and scratching, will move all toward the goal of realizing that N.I.C.E.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

TSA Pat Down of Natural Hair: Really?

     Do you Travel Often?  Do you wear your hair naturally? Apparently, if so, you may experience a " natural hair" pat down in the airport because it appears that TSA does not believe that Natural is Cool Enough!  Check out this story at the following link: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/43668412#43668412

When I read this story, my first thought was that this is a perfect example of what I have written about in my book entitled Culturally Competency for Health Services Administration and Public Health http://www.jblearning.com/catalog/9780763761646/ , where I discuss the notion of  cultural incompetency

In my new book, that I am completing now, this is discussed further (as written by one of my Contributing Authors) through additional explanations of cultural and racial indignities, per the use of the term racial microaggressions which “are brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, and environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults to the target person or group” (see source for this quote below).

     As one who enjoys traveling this world, which includes many treks to the airport, as a lock wearing sister, will I now have to look forward to a pat down of my hair, as a security measure, due to the fact that I choose to wear it in its, glorious natural state?  Does one have to perm, process and "relax" her/his hair so that folks in the airport will be relaxed?  Does natural hair pose a threat?  Really? The answer to these questions is a resounding "NO" because there is no doubt that in every venue and in every space and place, Natural Is Cool Enough! 

Source for quote above:

Sue, D.W., Capodilupo, C.M., Torino, G.C., Bucceri, J.M., Holder, A.M.B., Nadal, K.L., &

Esquilin, M. (2007). Racial microaggressions in everyday life: Implications for clinical practice. American Psychologist, 62(4), 271-286.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hair Food: Nutrition for Growth and Strength

   Recently, I read a wonderful article in Natural Awakenings, written by Judith Fertig in which she discusses nutrition and hair in a very thoughtful and detailed way.  So, here, I will summarize the key points because I think it is very useful for N.I.C.E. readers.  First, it is important to understand that what is good for your body is good for your hair. According to Dr. Michael Reed, a dermatologist from NYU "foods that are high in protein and low in carbohydrates with a reduced fat content" work for your hair as well, per the Fertig article. So, what kind of diet is great for scalp and hair.  A N.I.C.E. list is found below  (per Judith Fertig):
1. Vitamin A-  How do you get it?  Green Leafy Vegetables such as Spinach and Swiss Chard. Carrots also provide it.  This will be helpful to the production of Sebum, produced by the scalp and hair's natural conditioner.

2. Vitamin B 12: How do you get it?  Organic eggs, cage-free poultry and grass fed red meat are all good sources. If you are vegan or vegetarian, try nutritional yeast (dried yellow flakes or powder with a cheese-like flavor), Vitamin B-12 fortified soy or rice milk, and similarly fortified breakfast cereal.  According to Registered Dietician Reed Mangels, this vitamin is "needed for cell division and blood formation".

3. Iron: How do you get it? Broccoli and Brewer's Yeast. Women in their reproductive years, according to Samantha Heller, a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist at NYU, per Fertig's article, may have a deficiency of iron that can lead to anemia and hair loss. 
4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids:  How do you get it?  Flaxseed, hemp milk and seeds, walnuts, soy, canola oil and fish.  These are important for total body and skin health, including your scalp according to Samantha Heller, the author of Get Smart: Samantha Heller's Nutrition Prescription for Boosting Brain Power and Optimizing Total Body Health. 

5. Protein: How do you get it? Lentils and kidney beans, iron and bioton per Andrea Giancoli, a Registered Dietitian and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. Protein helps with cell building, including hair. 
Caring for our natural hair is a wonderful process.  Eating healthy and ensuring that we get the right foods to nurture us is essential. Finding ways to provide nutrition for strength for our natural hair is part of embracing the understanding that N.I.C.E.!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Stress Relief for your Natural Do: A N.I.C.E. Coaching Response

I received my first N.I.C.E. natural hair Coaching question today, which I am sharing anonymously, so I will provide ideas for your consideration, feedback and thoughts.  Please feel free to chime in and I hope my response is useful/helpful to others including and beyond the person who asked the question.  My N.I.C.E. response is found below the question.


"my hair is falling out at the crown and around edges making a widow's peak, do you know of any product tht i can use to bring it back? None of my parents or grandparents lost their hair so i think it's got something to do with my locks???"

N.I.C.E. Response:

It is possible that your concern has to do with your hairstyle of choice, namely locs (note that I use the term locs and locks, interchangeably).  As a locked sister myself, concerns that I am aware of are traction alopecia or tension hair loss, which I referred to in a previous blog post, which may result from twisting to tight or braiding or tension on the scalp from long dangling locs.   If you have had your locks for a very long time and they are long, the weight from the locks may cause you to experience some hair losss.  My recommendation is simple and all natural because as you know, Natural Is Cool Enough.  So, the first step would be to eliminate all usage of harsh chemicals on your hair and stick to natural products. You may want to visit your local health food store and find shampoos and conditioners that have generally, natural ingredients.  As a person who frequents Whole Foods, my suggestion is Aubrey Organics. It is also very cost effective to by the products on line.  As one who swims, I use their hair products that are designed for  swimmers but they have others as well. 

The Aubrey Organics conditioner is thick so I try other shampooing and conditioning  products as well, that have all natural ingredients. I put Aubrey Organics in my hair before I swim and then again afterwards, after shampooing.  I use other natural conditioners, which I may keep in my hair all day, for intense conditioning.

Recommendation # 2  is to keep your hair naturally moisturized.  Shea Butter is my recommendation for this (in very small amounts so it does not build up in your locs).  If you can find natural, 100% shea butter, that is the best option. Per the link below, you will find information which includes this detail: "Shea butter has been used for centuries in Africa before its beneficial properties was recognized by other countriesShea butter has many benefits some of which includes relieving dry skin...and restoring lost hair luster. Due to the healing properties of shea butter, it has been incorporated into many personal care products such as lotions, shampoos, conditioners, and soaps."
Shea butter link: http://www.prlog.org/11333844-shea-butter-natural-and-safer-moisturizer.html

My 3rd recommendation is that if you are coloring your hair, use only 100% natural coloring.  My recommendation is Henna pictured to the left.  Henna will also serve to condition and thicken your hair and the color will be beautiful.  If you don't like a red tinge then you may not want to use henna, because that may be the outcome.  The color may change a bit also when you are in the sun (a coppery red tinge may surface).   Again, you can find Henna very inexpensively in health food stores, including Whole Foods. Be sure to read the ingredients carefully because some products with Henna on the label have other added harsh chemical ingredients.

My 4th and last recommendation is to try to reduce tension hair loss by wearing your hair up as much as possible, not allowing your long and perhaps heavy locks to pull the hair from the scalp.  Put your hair into a lovely loose ponytail or wrap it in breathable cloth or hat when you can. You can do this in a very stylish way.  Also avoid twisting tightly to avoid traction alopecia.  Here are some examples of how to achieve this:

The bottom line is to be gentle with your locs at all times, particularly when they are fragile.  Occasionally, I will note that a loc or two will break off.  I don't fret but just let it happen and give that one or two that break off the opportunity to grow back from the root. It may lead to my hair being a bit uneven at times but why must it be even?  Just look at the beauty of plants and flowers that grow naturally...rarely do they do so evenly.  You can cut if you must though to achieve that look.  I rarely cut my locs, but go for it if you feel inclined to do so.

In closing, all of the above is about prevention.  If you have already lost hair, I think the suggestions above will help.  Hopefully new hair will grow where it has been lost and  all will be fine and that's N.I.C.E.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

This Summer, Free Your Mind, Free Your Hair: N.I.C.E. Natural Hair Transition Coaching

     We are born into this world with our natural hair...all curly/kinky/nappy (whichever term you prefer) knowing nothing else. We have no understanding or experience of our hair otherwise.  As life progresses, gradually and slowly, some individuals are surrounded by others who embrace their natural hair and get creative with it including twisting, braiding, cornrowing, locking or just letting it be wild and free.  Others immediately see natural hair as a negative to be tamed, controlled, subdued, straightened and managed and consequently the need for taking it through "processes" to keep it "straight" without the natural experience of just being. This takes time, energy and of course money and others benefit financially, and from a power perspective, by ensuring that you succumb to this requirement through the use of images in magazines, television, film and beyond and through models, actresses and etc., all telling you that you are not in fashion or beautiful or that to be in your natural state, in terms of your hair, is unmanageable or unattractive.
     Nevertheless, some decide to "transition" to their natural hair which is an interesting term to use as it is the same word that is used when someone moves on from this life.  The fantastically, intellectually minded Professor Cornel West of Princeton University explains, in a talk that he gave at Harvard University, that for one to be truly educated, transition must take place.  Take a moment to listen to the short but vibrant video, where he breaks this down, per this link: http://www.a.com/watch?v=VFddhyHcKFo
     So ladies, if you are ready to "transition" to natural hair...to regain your natural power, that's nice. If you need help doing so, come to this space for support and coaching.  N.I.C.E. is a supportive space for those who are transitioning to natural hair or who are already there.  Is someone telling you not to where your hair naturally? Are you lacking in courage to do so because you don't know how?   Share your experiences with N.I.C.E. and I, and hopefully other members of N.IC.E., will support you with inspiring, positive words and stories of encouragement. To achieve the goal of something that is really meaningful to us often requires a coach.
Confidently Offering Advice for Courageous Hair....That's N.I.C.E.!  This Summer, Free Your Mind, Free your Hair!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Natural Hair as Economic Savvy: Easing the Pain of High Gas Prices!


      As we know, gas prices are extremely high.  Many, who value their hair, spend a great deal of money to keep it looking good because it is important to them.  Often times, people see their hair as a reflection of  their outward personality. However, given a published unemployment rate of 9.1%, high gas prices and an overall tough economy, many people are cutting back financially as a matter of practicality and in some cases, survival.  So, how does natural hair come into play during these tough financial times?  The answer is, beautifully!  The great thing is that maintaining your hair naturally is cost effective.  There is no need to involve any outside parties in taking care of it, thus eliminating the cost for such services.  You can wash and style your own hair, naturally, and look beautiful as a result. I have not allowed anyone to take care of my hair in 20 years and I'm very proud of that.  I wash it, condition it, twist my own locks and I use natural products, with an eye towards keeping the costs low for products, for every occasion.  Truthfully, there is very little fuss in taking care of  my hair.  I find that 100% shea butter is my favorite moisturizer because it keeps it soft and shiny. My only concern, at this time, is too much growth.  As the summer begins to hit us hard, having long locks is some times a bit heavy, literally, but I wouldn't trade my locks for any other hairstyle as it is a mere matter of choice for me and so when the need arises, I just cut them (although rarely).  Mostly, I just twist them and style them accordingly.
      On that note, recently, I was at the gym at the University where I work, minding my own business and sitting in front of a mirror, twisting my hair, since I washed it, after a vigorous swim. There was blow drying going on all around me, spraying of hair from aerosol cans and all kind of hair primping activity.  A woman who was using a curling iron on her mid-length, blonde hair looked over at me and said "you should be careful with those braids because you can get a form of alopecia (a form of hair loss) from constant braiding."  I was a bit taken aback that she had the audacity to enter my peaceful hair twisting process with unsolicited advice and that she was inappropriately considering my hair as braids instead of locks (although I think braids are beautiful too). Nevertheless, I responded politely with a quasi smile and said, "first of all, these are not braids, but locks, and secondly, I have had them for twenty years and I understand how to handle my hair carefully so that I don't twist too hard."  She then proceeded to walk over to me and look closely at my head, presumably to determine if I had braids or locks.  I looked at her, now indignantly, and then said, "by the way, I think you should pay attention to how much you blow dry and curl your hair with that hot curling iron.  It can be very damaging to the hair and  then to add insult to injury, you follow by using a curling iron and then probably hair spray will follow correct? I wonder what you would do if the electricity went off" I added further.  "Well, I do let it dry naturally sometimes" she said rather defensively.  I smiled and said "O.K." with disbelief in my voice.  She walked away and I went back to my peaceful twisting hoping for no further interruptions.  On my next work out day, I saw her as I walked by in a towel, headed to the shower, with my locks hanging down my back."  She was blow drying her hair and averted her eyes so as not to look at me and I just giggled softly.  I know she heard me.
    I recalled the conversation that I had with her and as I showered I thought about how wearing my hair naturally really does allow me to take care of it with care and a  true understanding of what it can take and cannot take, ensuring that I do not twist too hard or put undue strain on it.  I reflected on how I never have to blow dry or use hot electric appliances on my hair and how I search for inexpensive natural products that are gentle to my hair, or make them myself, from natural items that grow from the earth and that do not have a harsh environmental impact. In these rough economic times, keeping my hair natural helps me to keep the costs associated with caring for my hair extremely low, especially as gas prices (and costs for other necessary commodities) continue to increase and that's N.I.C.E....another reason that I know that Natural Is Cool Enough!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Does Excercising Take a Back Seat To the Unnatural Do?

     It ia hard to believe, but the issue of hair for Black women often leads to exercise taking a back seat to unnatural  hair styles, namely perms, pressing, weaves and beyond.  Maxine Leeds Craig in her book entitled Ain't I a Beauty Queen (pg. 27), discusses one of the steps taken to maintain the eurocentric ideal of straight hair:

"No contact with moisture or straightening would be gone (used plastic rain scarves, no swimming, washed hair every two weeks), “You know the bane of all little black girls is the water”

 In describing black women's dilemma about hair vs. exercise, the following was stated in a recent article in the Miami Herald:

"She found herself facing a dilemma common to African-American women: Her expensive, time-consuming hairstyle was at odds with her fitness routine. It’s a juncture where First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” mantra collides with the cultural ideal documented in Chris Rock’s 2009 film Good Hair."

For a video which provides more detail on this issue and to read more, visit:

     My solution to this situation is simple as I have found that exercise is another reason that Natural is Cool Enough.  I have no concerns with moisture, rain, sweat from exercising, etc., as it relates to my hair, as  I embrace my natural hair texture.  I have no qualms with kink because I believe that as my hair emerges from the follicles in its natural, curly, kinky tecture, it is beautiful!  I love the fact that when I go to the gym after a vigorous swim or work out on the treadmill, or whatever exercise I choose, after washing my hair following my workout (when I want to wash my hair after working out as it is not always imperative), I don't need to plug anything into the wall to deal with my  hair. I don't need a blow dryer or curling iron, chemicals in spray bottles, etc.  If the electricity goes off, there is no panic for me because I can't  blow dry, use a flat iron or  curling iron.  I can still walk out of the locker room rocking my natural hair with pride.  I exercise, shower, wash my hair if I plan to do so that day, pull my shea butter out of my cosmetic bag, twist my locks that are in need of twisting, brush my hair a bit with a soft bristled brush and organize my locks in the style of the day and move on.  My only concern, since I love to swim, is the impact of chlorine on my hair in the swimming pool.  I try to minimize the effect by conditioning, wearing a swimming cap and varying my workout so that swimming in a chlorinated pool is not my only option, although swimming laps is my favorite exercise. 
     So, another thing that is absolutely wonderful about  natural hair...Exercise never has to take a back seat to your Natural do.  That's N.I.C.E !

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Raven Symone Showing the World that N.I.C.E.!

After speaking very strongly about the joy of weave in Chris Rock's film Good Hair, Raven Symone goes natural! http://www.theybf.com/2011/03/07/pics-raven-symone-flaunts-her-natural-hair

This is a big step for the now grown up little girl that many of us loved during her stint on the Cosby show. So Raven, we salute you for staying true to your natural and letting the world know that...N.I.C.E.!