Sunday, December 21, 2014

Black Women And Their Hair

I love being a sistah! Like, I love being a black woman in America. We have our struggles but we are so free to be who we want to be here when you compare our lifestyle to some other cultures. I was blessed to be raised by powerful, motivated, black, female entrepreneurs. My mother named me Iyonna Hazel, after my Aunt Hazel, who treated me more like a grandchild than a great niece. My namesake, Aunt Hazel, was a black woman in the 60's who owned a salon. She owned the building and the business. The beauty industry generates billions of dollars in the United States and it was one of the first industries that allowed black women to partake in making millions. Madame C. J. Walker was the FIRST African-American woman millionaire turned philanthropist, self made in the beauty business selling hair products. I digress....

All of my family who lived in Baltimore worked in Aunt Hazel's salon. I think the name of it was Cosmos, but
Mama Fancy in her college days.
1970 something
we all called it "The Shop". Aunt Hazel's daughter worked at The Shop. My mother apprenticed at The Shop. She paid her way through college by working there as a stylist. My older cousins worked at The Shop, cleaning up, doing laundry, and running errands. Even I worked at The Shop, giving little $5 manicures at the tender age of 8 years old in the summers and on the weekends I spent with my beloved Aunt Hazel. So, I know the inner working of a salon. I grew up in one.

Aunt Hazel has since passed. But not before paying cash to build her retirement home from money made in The Shop and selling her business. I never really understood the advantages I had by growing around these things. I learned hustle and entrepreneurship. I got to listen in on mature conversations that taught me life lessons at an early age. My hair was always done. My hair was always healthy. My hair was always kind of long because of these things. It didn't hit me until I stopped relaxing my hair that black women have a "thing" with their hair.

When I was in graduate school, I worked part time in a salon doing natural hair, mostly braiding and loc maintenance. I was the only one. All the others specialized in "regular" hair styling. We had one stylist who was highly sought after for his weave and styling expertise. He was REALLY good and was usually booked. I was appalled when I would hear the receptionist getting cussed out because he did not have any appointments available. It was so crazy to me. I'd think "Is it that serious?" Apparently, it is. I just could never relate. I honestly felt like we have a serious problem in this society if people are enraged when they can't get a hair appointment or a pair of sneakers for that matter.

Styles Salons
One and only weave for my wedding by the
hair weave killah, Dariel
I got a relaxer when I was 11 because all my friends had relaxers and my mom was straightening my hair anyway, so what was the big deal? This made it easier, right? My mom has Indian in her family, literally. She was Pocahontas in her college years. Perfect brown skin and long flow-y hair down her back, no relaxer. Aunt Hazel churned out perfect bouffants and press & curls for years. That's just what black women did. We straightened and styled our hair. It seemed that a large majority of black women wanted long, flow-y hair and would stop at nothing to get it. Enduring chemical burns on the scalp, burned ears from curling iron or hot comb, hours under the dryer, pulling and tugging so much that the hairline recedes from the tension, and let's not forget the MONEY and TIME spent in the salon. Or basement. Or kitchen. All to achieve something that Jehovah never really intended for us.

If I were meant to have a brown complexion, I'd have a brown complexion. Other than tanning in the summer, I don't invest time and effort into making my skin looking like something it's not. If I were meant to be 6 feet tall, I'd be 6 feet tall. Other than wearing heels, which I do for style and not to look taller, I don't invest time and money in to trying to make myself taller. If my hair was meant to be long and flow-y, it would grow long and flow-y from my scalp. Why did I spend so much time trying to make my hair do something it was never intended to do?

As a "natural", I straighten my hair once a year in the winter. Just because. The rest of the year, I style my hair in it's natural texture. I know what styles work for me and my hair. Even with natural hair, I don't look to make my hair look like someone else's natural hair. I don't do much to my hair, I never did. Even when I had a relaxer, I did a wash and roller set once a week, if that roller set turned out kinda janky, oh well, I would have janky hair for the week. Same with my hair now, I style it bi-weekly and I just make adjustments to the hairstyle as the weeks go on. It's so funny to me that when I think my hair looks crazy, I still get compliments.

When I was 21, I told my mother I was going to stop getting a relaxer. She asked me why. I was a dumb 21 year old, I didn't have a legitimate answer other than I wanted big hair. LOL! So I continued to get relaxers
Wash and go "faux hawk"
After a year of transitioning
for 7 more years. Then I had a talk with my husband and we both decided it was time. Wearing my hair in it's natural texture is a personal choice. Even if you choose to wear your hair straight, with modern technology and advances in products, you don't have to straighten your hair with chemicals. We are all in a place of health consciousness. We are eating healthy, clean and organic. Why put chemicals on your body if you're making a conscious effort not to put them in your body? Just something to think about.

I hurt for black women who look at my hair with admiration and say "I wish I could wear my hair like that?" or "I wish I could go natural?" Who told them that they can't? The reasons I hear make me sad. They don't think they can wear their hair like that to work. Their hair is too nappy. They don't have time to style it. If your job has an issue with you wearing your hair the way it grows out of your head, you probably need to consider a new job. And if they fire you or limit your opportunities because of a choice of hairstyle, they know they will have some class action discrimination cases coming their way. What is nappy hair anyway? My hair seems nappy sometimes too. Usually when it's dry. Look at the products you're putting in your hair, there's probably some form of alcohol in it. Alcohol dries your hair out, making you think it's nappy and unmanageable when it's not. For those who really want to go without relaxers, take a good look in the mirror and be honest with yourself. What are you REALLY afraid of? And just how much time do you spend in the salon again? Oh.
Dry Twist Out after 3 years of being "natural"

All I'm saying is, you are beautiful just the way you are. Your hair is beautiful. Long and flow-y. Short and sleek. Loose curls. Tight curls aka *whispers* kinky. It's all beautiful because it's yours. Own it. Jehovah made you that way. Beautiful and in his image. Do what makes you feel beautiful but do it for you. Going through all those changes to alter your hair doesn't make you anymore beautiful than you already are.

Long, short, curly, kinky, or your Fancy Life, embracing who you were meant to be.

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Friday, December 12, 2014

The Allure of "Boss"

Nowadays errybody is claiming they're a "boss chick". No. Seriously. Every. Body. But if everyone is a boss, who is getting bossed and doing the work? Something doesn't add up. LOL! Let's be clear actually being a boss can look glamorous. Who wouldn't want to be the woman in charge who strolls in the office at any time of day then leaves early for a lunch date, mani/pedi, or salon appointment, while wearing tailored suits and designer pumps? Of course that life can be alluring. What most don't see is the dues that were paid to get to the point where these conveniences possible. You have got to pay your dues first. Then you get the boss privileges and can call yourself a "BOSS". 

What does paying your dues mean? When you pay, you get receipts. Receipts can be in the form of a college degree or multiple degrees, certifications, unpaid internships, documentation of past works, etc. These things make for a really impressive resume but are paid for with lots of late nights and plenty of early mornings. In my case, even hair loss and an expensive dental bill because I was so focused on my grind, I neglected my teeth-do not judge me, my smile is perfection now. LOL! You can only accomplish these things with discipline, consistency and accountability. The boss chick can come and go as she pleases because she is the boss and her higher ups or clients know that the job will get done by the agreed upon date whether she is in her office or not. Accountability goes far and she has proven that when it's in her hands that "It's handled." and she is allowed the freedom to come and go as she pleases. She's working even when she's not working. It's not unlikely to see a boss chick responding to emails and taking phone calls even while on vacation or at a get together. A real boss is never complacent. She sets high standards for herself and continuously raises the bar for what her next phase of accomplishments will be. To whom much is given, much is expected. She has worked hard to afford a luxury lifestyle and works harder to maintain it. 

The boss chick has mentors whom she seeks advice from and a mentees whom she is guiding through the "paying dues" stage. Insecure women hate her because they secretly want to be her. Boys know that she is out of their league. Some boys will even try to date her and be that bad boyfriend who ruined her. They only do that because she represents something that they do not deserve. Men want to marry her. A real man is inspired by her work ethic. Men know that anything he brings to her will be multiplied. Their ultimate merger will deem them a "Power Couple". 

No wonder she lives a lifestyle filled with fine dining, tailored fashions, lavish vacations, exclusive outings, and great company. "Opposites attract" is only true for refrigerator magnets. Like attracts like. Iron sharpens iron. True bosses attract boss friends and mates, opportunity, and prosperity. She has her family but a boss chick's close network of boss friends can relate to her struggles. Let's face it, this is a man's world and although a boss chick's significant other understands her grind, only other women can truly relate to what boss chick's have to deal with. They check each other when one is wrong, in career, relationships, and life. They cheer each other on and help maintain focus. They can let their hair down around each other without having to worry about being exposed on the internet.

Yes, studies do show that attractive people have it easier because they're, well, attractive. But a TRUE boss chick has worked hard to get what she has, no matter how attractive she is. She is a goal getter, not a gold digger. Joining forces with a successful mate is just the icing on the cake. She attracted that into her life. She did not chase it down. Please believe the she does NOT have it made. She worked hard for it and works hard to keep it but she makes a point to enjoy the spoils of her labor as often as possible. I mean, why not? She has much to celebrate. Being a boss is no easy feat but the results are worth it. So she enjoys it.

Bosses, continue. Still collecting receipts? Push through. It's worth it in the long run.

If you are a true "boss chick" and are open to joining forces with other positive, successful women to diversify your streams of income, click HERE.