Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Olympics, Naturally: Jasmine Breinburg and Venus Williams are N.I.C.E.!

It was great to see beautiful, natural hair styles at the Olympic Ceremony...so many that it will not be possible to cover them all because if you watched the parade of countries at the end, many of the African women (and beyond) were adorning their natural do's...just beautiful!  I have chosen two N.I.C.E. examples to highlight during Olympic activities thus far:  First, Venus Williams carrying the torch during the torch relay while wearing braids.  I discussed her natural style of braids in a previous post as she also wore them for her recent Doubles win at Wimbledon.  Venus has made it clear that for important moments in her life, Natural Is Cool Enough.  Lovely!

Secondly, there is a new star on the horizon.  During the Olympic Ceremony in London,  there was a young woman who stole the show with her natural do.  Her name is Jasmine Breinburg referred to in the article (per the link below) as "unknown 18 year old dancer girl." As a group of us watched the Opening Ceremony, when Jasmine surfaced, someone asked "who is the girl with the beautiful, natural hair?"  Naturally, my interest peaked immediately and then we also focused on the young man in the scene with her who has either locks or braids, also depicted in the picture below with Jasmine.  His name, I believe, is Henrique Costa.

That scene: Jasmine Breinburg shares a moment with a fellow volunteer as part of their segment, Frankie and June say thanks Tim

In this link, you will find more information about Jasmine.  She made natural hair, along with Henrique, an Olympic highlight and that is definitely N.I.C.E.!

Rising star: Jasmine Breinburg has been a hot topic on Twitter following her performance in the Opening Ceremony

Saturday, July 28, 2012

American Girl Dolls: N.I.C.E.?

Recently, I visited the American Girl store in Chicago, twice.  Once with my husband and the second time with my daughter.  During each visit, as we strolled through the store, we reflected on the fact that when my daughter was very young, my mother-in-law gave her an Addy doll, with the accompanying 6-book set (one set to read and one set to save without opening). My keen interest, in visiting the American Girl Store, was to take a look at the  hair of the Black American Girl dolls, today.  So we begin with Addy.  Since my daughter's doll is an original (made in Germany by Pleasant and Company) rather than in China, where I believe the dolls are made today, she seems slightly different from the dolls in the the store now, in terms of her hair. The original Addy's hair is course, long and authentically natural which was a wonderful thing for my daughter since her hair was also long, course and natural throughout her childhood and when she received her Addy doll.  Although the picture below is not my daughter's actual doll, this is what Addy looks like in terms of her outfit, necklace, etc. and the accompanying books.
Pleasant Company Addy,...
Choose Your Doll
Although Addy and the other that were developed at the time she was created are still found in the store today, what I also found interesting was the "Choose your Doll" section.  There, I found four dolls for consideration.  One was described as "dark skin, curly dark brown hair and brown eyes" another described as "Dark skin, curly dark hair, brown eyes," the next as medium skin,short brown hair, brown eyes," and the last "medium skin, layered brown hair, brown eyes."   The thought provoking aspect of these dolls is that the latter two had very straight hair while the prior two had "curly hair." Here is total collection of  the dolls as displayed in the store:
The dolls discussed above are depicted below:
The conclusion of N.I.C.E., after looking at them very closely is that the 1st doll, of the four above, has the most naturally appearing hair and that the lighter the skin of the doll, the straighter the hair.
The second doll appears as if her hairdo is to imply, straightened and styled with "Shirley Temple Curls" and the implied style for the other two is permed and flat ironed.

Bitty Babies
The next group of dolls that I found really interesting were the Bitty Baby Dolls. These dolls are different from the above in that they are "babies."  I chose two for N.I.C.E. consideration.  The first is described as "dark skin, textured black hair and brown eyes" and the second as "medium skin, dark brown hair and brown eyes" and are depicted below.
The hair of these dolls is very similar, with the exception that one has more than the other, so I am not sure why the first is referred to as textured and for the other that word is left out.  Also, doesn't all hair have texture?  This requires further explanation from my vantage point in order to make any determination.  So perhaps the Bitty Twins are a bit more interesting to explore in terms of a N.I.C.E. assessment of their hair.

The Bitty Twins
Again, I will choose two, in this case, two sets are considered.  The first set are described as "dark skin, textured, black hair, brown eyes," and the other as "medium skin, dark brown hair and brown eyes" and are depicted below:

So it seems that once again, the lighter the skin of the dolls the straighter the hair, in terms of what is presumably the Black/African American dolls, although one can not be certain of the race of the dolls as this is not a category that is  used to describe them.  They are only described as dark or medium skinned by the American Girl Store displays.  So in this case, from a N.I.C.E. vantage point, it appears that the darker skinned dolls, in terms of a presumed categorization of Black/African American, have more natural hair.

Interestingly, naturally styled hair for the African American/Black dolls on the American Girl Doll website, is described as curly.  The information provided on how to care for this type of hair is: 

For curly or textured hair, we recommend using the Sparkly Hair Pick to work out tangles. Using a brush on this type of wig can make it frizzy."
The use of a pick is recommended for all of their dolls that have curly hair. Here is the sparkly pick:
American Girl Doll Hair Salon

So, the overall assessment of the American Girl Dolls is that an effort is being made by this company to approach natural hair from a positive vantage point.  However, there is some underlying statement that is being made that the lighter the skin, the straighter the hair which is definitely not necessarily the case in terms of Black/African American people. Furthermore, the use of the term "textured hair," as described above, is confounding because all hair has some type of texture.  However, interestingly, the American Girl Store in Chicago has a Hair Salon for the dolls, so if you have questions, I would say that perhaps, that would be the best place to get the answers.  The line was too long to pursue this when I was there and quite frankly, I had other things that I wanted to do with my time.  However, I did note that their newest feature at the salon is braids (see picture below).  Therefore, N.I.C.E. is ultimately bewildered by whether Natural Is Cool Enough is an accurate  assessment of American Girl Dolls, in terms of their hair, except for my daughter's original Addy and those selected as such above.  Definitely, for the original Addy, N.I.C.E.!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Summer Maintenance and conditioning with Henna: A N.I.C.E. Hair Treatment

So today, as I prepare to celebrate my husband's birthday, bake a key lime pie from scratch and organize for upcoming travel, I am embarking upon  deep conditioning of my locs.  I began by boiling water in my favorite tea pot, getting out my wooden spoon, a ceramic medium sized bowl, and some henna.  My purpose for gathering these ingredients and items was to mix the henna with the hot water, to a creamy smooth texture, and then apply generously to my locs.  Subsequently, I placed a clear plastic cap on my head and went to my patio to enjoy the bay view while allowing my hair to soak in the henna and warm sunlight for deep conditioning.   Then, after leaving the henna in for hours, I will wash my locs with a creamy shampoo, then add a creamy conditioner followed by twisting and braiding (three locs) per braid.  When that is accomplished, I will creatively put my hair up for a creative updo...whatever moves me as I organize my locs in the mirror.  This is not ordinary maintenance for my locs but a treat because I have been swimming frequently and in the sun every day.  My locs were feeling a bit dry today so I wanted to give them a conditioning boost.  I will also rub some shea butter in my hair before twisting and braiding using the gel to hold them in place. I have posted some info. from previous posts to provide you with more insight on the detail above.  Remember, besides conditioning, Henna provides beautiful color too.  The Henna I used is Persian Dark Brown which is basically the color of my natural hair.  Although I have locs, if  you do not have locs, henna should work in your hair beautifully too!  My overall assessment of Henna is that it is a definite plus for those of us who support the notion that N.I.C.E.!
For creative summer updo's see the link below:

For advice on coloring your hair naturally with Henna, see the post below:

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Jada Pinkett Smith, Jaden, Willow and Solange: N.I.C.E. at the BET Awards!

At the BET awards, there was a family that needs to be recognized from the N.I.C.E. vantage point.  Jada Pinkett-Smith wore beautiful braids, along with her daughter and her son released his braids for a seriously gorgeous natural  Hair style.  Presenting themselves in this fashion is so positive on so many levels.  First, it shows a mother that steps forward with her children, indicating to them and the world, that natural is cool enough, in terms of hair, and that braids are beautiful for such an occasion.  Secondly, it enables her daughter, who also chose to wear braids, to know  that her and her mom are fearless about hair as was already indicated by Willow in her "Whip My Hair" video which I wrote about previously in  a post entitled "Willow Smith Gets It Too: Wisdom from the Mouth of Babes!":
(see link: http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=5275931766761393152#editor/target=post;postID=2386309609390715166)  There is no doubt that Willow understands that Natural Is Cool Enough but to see her mother reinforce it through her own natural style at a major event such as the B.E.T. Awards is a beautiful thing.
     As for Jaden, to see his beautiful crown of unfettered natural hair essentially says to the world, that indeed my hair is beautiful. It does not have to be cut and tapered but free and natural, hopefully leading other young boys and men to emulate this natural beauty.  So indeed, it was all about showing that Natural Is Cool Enough at the B.E.T. awards which is without a doubt N.I.C.E.!  Good job mother Jada (and  father Will) for helping your children to appreciate the power of being free to wear your hair naturally which is often a reflection of a consciousness of freedom.

Solange also wore a style of beautiful long braids at the B.E.T. awards, seated next to her sister Beyonce.  Solange really stood out with her natural style, truly exemplifying a sense of beauty that was uniquely different from many of the other female audience members.  Seeing her with her long, beautiful braids, no doubt, brings to mind the fact that the tradition of the simplistic yet long beautiful style of her braids is not a new concept but traditionally African and goes all the way back to antiquity.  For my prior post on traditional African hairstyles entitled
"African Hair In Antiquity: Natural Was Cool Enough!" check out this link: http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=5275931766761393152#editor/target=post;postID=5206655196633774146
So Solange, like the Smith Family, made it clear that N.I.C.E. at the B.E.T. Awards.  Fabulous Solange!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

N.I.C.E. Salutes Serena and Venus Williams: Today they Ruled and Wore Their Crowns, Naturally!

When I saw Serena on the Tennis Court today, I knew that she was going to win.  Besides her amazing skills as a tennis player, I noticed that her hair was looking wildly natural and beautiful. It appeared kinky, natural and free and essentially as a result, along with her fearless tennis skills,  she was able to handle her business on the court, naturally.  So N.I.C.E. salutes Serena for her beautiful natural style today, for the world to see.  
     Beyond the wonderfulness of this win, her sister Venus added to this powerful display of wearing a natural style during the doubles match, taking care of business with braids/twists.  There was a tremendous sense of pride seeing Venus walk away as a Wimbledon winner too, displaying her fantastic skills, in her natural braided glory. Therefore, N.I.C.E. salutes Venus too for wearing her braids/twists for all the world to see. So today, they ruled, and wore their crowns...natural styled, beautiful, kinky hair, which is a clear indication that they both understand that Natural Is Cool Enough. Fantastic!