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A High Price to Pay

We know who they are: Beautiful Black women in the spotlight at the peak of their careers who have inspired us with their beauty, talent and strength throughout their careers. 

Naomi wearing the long, straight and silky which became her trademark style and Brandy, her long box braids encouraged so many of us to go out to the nearest salon to copy her style. There are others, many others... we see them, never wearing their own hair but only wearing extension, weave, wig... brightly colored and straight, bleached blond, jet black or subtle and curly. And we sometimes woncer about what is going on underneath.

Knowing Black actors has given me a little insight into the Hollywood Hair wars and what Black actresses have to to do conform and get roles in tv and film. Conforming sometimes means the directors want straight hair. to get the rold you do what you gotta do! Also, being under bright lights and in outdoor circimstances promotes many actors to protect their real hair under wigs and weaves in order to minimize damage. A wise decision.

Back in the late-eighties, early 90's when I was still relaxing my hair, I was a client of Michael Jackson’s hairdresser on LaBrea in Los Angeles. He was a very personable guy, like most hairdressers are, and rarely talked about his famous clients. Until one day... he told me he had refused to put another chemical through Michael’s hair – his hair had been burned off around the hairline and he was balding. Michael by this time had resorted to “magic marker hairline” and "hair in a spray can" techniques to try and create some semblance of a hairline.

He said he had warned Michael that the Jheri curl chemicals he was using was melting his hair off and offered him some alternatives to prevent the destruction of his hair and scalp while still maintaining the look, but Michael wouldn’t hear of it and moved on to another hairdresser who would do to him what he wanted done--- regardless of the consequences of doing so. In the end it was this attitude of Michael’s that killed him. But I digress...

naomisadAlopecia takes many forms, but these two are the ones I am talking about: TRACTION ALOPECIA from wearing too-tight braids and CHEMICAL ALOPECIA from relaxers. Once you notice it happening, what would you do? Most cover it up with wigs or weave (if they can afford it) until it grows back, then continue to use relaxers. It’s that difficult to break the cycle when your conditioned mind, or worse, your family and loved ones, tell you your natural hair is ugly.

Do we know better? Obviously not most of us.

After all these decades, generations of hair loss. Putting up with the burning, scabbing, balding, scarring effects of chemical relaxers and the use of excessive heat just to end up with a limp and thinning crown with see-through ends and a hairline that marches back with every application. The burned foreheads, ears and napes of millions of our daughters are still being used as some kind of tribal rite of passage.

I am hopeful that with education, we can lead our sons and daughters to a better future, by learning to love and accept their whole selves – their shade, their features, their hair, from day 1. And some day natural hair and healthier bodies will be the norm.

Until then I will keep moving forward with Nappturality and bringing attention to what needs attention.

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Last modified on Friday, 22 November 2013 00:35

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  • About 15 years ago, my now 92 year-old mother decided to get a relaxer on her long beautiful hair. Sadly, the relaxer took out 75% of her hair from the front to the mid back of her head. She has tried so many products to get her hair to grow. Only some peach fuzz grow has popped up on the top of her head. Please, help us find a product to help her hair to grow.

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  • That's so sad for her. If your mother is on any medication, that could be the reason the relaxer did such a job on her hair. With the elderly it is so important to limit the use of hair chemicals due to drug interactions. That said, any medication she is on could also be messing with her hair growth. At her age I think it would be best for her to consult with her doctor to work out which way would be best for her to regrow her hair. Whether it is laser treatment or a topical solution.

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  • We can only overcome the mindset that something is wrong with our natural hair through self-love. We must learn to love and accept ourselves as we are, as your site motto says, "worn as born." This negative mindset towards our hair was ingrained in our ancestors during slavery times and has been p***ed down ever since. Plus, in American society, anything that is closer to white features is always revered as most beautiful, long straight hair, fair skin, slim noses, etc. Sites like Nappturality are great because they show the beauty in natural and provide support for those who are struggling with that self-acceptance. It's important for black women to know that beauty come in all shades and hair textures! Thanks for all you do!

    -Keshia
    www.queenlifeblog.com

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