What I Learned From: “Going Natural” (And Why I’m Back on the Creamy Crack)

I don’t regret “going natural” 4 years ago. I mainly did so to teach my daughter to love herself as she is.

She’s worn her natural hair all her life. I started “relaxing” since about age 13 for manageability, independent styling (Mom was no longer braiding me as a teen), and to fit in.  20+ years later, I bravely did the big chop.

When I took my daughter to the airport to visit other family members for the summer of ’13, she sternly told me not to cut my hair while she was gone. “You should let it grow back and get long the way it used to be,” she said.

She missed my long straight hair, and honestly, I did too.

Continue reading “What I Learned From: “Going Natural” (And Why I’m Back on the Creamy Crack)”

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Size Matters… If You Let It

woman holding an ugly Christmas sweater
Source: The Gloss

The most hilarious Christmas-themed commercial I’ve seen this season is from the Georgia Lottery about unwanted gifts. Often, these gifts are either clothing or accessories that we know we would never wear.

It’s hard to buy gifts for some people, especially when it comes to style. But what about when you’re unsure of how to best shop or dress for your style, size, and personal preferences.  I find shopping to be exhausting, and my unhappiest shopping memories by have been (and still are) for shoes.  I’ve been wearing a women’s size 11 shoe since I was 11 years old. My feet don’t always look that big (it depends on the shoe style), but they got wider as became an adult. It seems that many retailers (or shoe manufacturers) do not make beautiful, stylish women’s shoes above a certain size. Sometimes it’s the brand or manufacturer. Sometimes the store will only stock a limited number of shoes over size 9. Whatever the case, it’s always been rough. I’ve heard the same kind of complaints from others regarding finding stylish clothes for plus size girls and women. It’s a great opportunity for a designer to get into, because there’s such a void in the fashion market for it.

I realize that I have a lot of plain-jane clothes like one-color hoodies, shirts and ribbed turtlenecks, and they have me in a fashion rut of sorts. Only with my recent weight loss have I started to consider buying new clothes for myself. So I was excited to find out that one of my favorite stylists* and What Not to Wear co-host Stacy London has written another book this year: The Truth About Style  (Viking) goes into depth about some of the psychology of how we dress, indecisiveness, how the way we feel about ourselves and others’ opinions and judgments of us influence how we dress, and why we choose (or refuse to choose) to give weight to those beliefs and opinions. Continue reading “Size Matters… If You Let It”

Thanks-and-Giving: How Much Do Compliments Cost?

Have you ever purposely changed something about your appearance–maybe your hairdo or a special outfit–and wondered if anyone (or a specific person like your partner) would notice?  Since my appearance has started to change from weight loss (17 pounds and counting), I’ve gotten some unexpected compliments from people who I didn’t expect to notice.

Upon arriving to youth ministry service one day about two months ago, I greeted the youth minister and he asked me if I was losing weight. I can’t remember his language verbatim, but he said could tell (the way he said it was complimentary). At that time, I had not noticed a change in my figure, so I was surprised to get the compliment.  Then a week or two later when I served again, his wife hugged me and mentioned that every time she sees me, she sees less and less of me because I’m shrinking (making gestures to indicate that I keep getting smaller).  Note that the youth minister and his wife are a good bit younger than me (I’ll touch on age in a bit).

It feels good to hear stuff like that. I love food, but there’s no food that tastes as good as being smaller feels. Continue reading “Thanks-and-Giving: How Much Do Compliments Cost?”

Happy Nappyversary to Me

Me, Jan. 2010

Do you know what today is?

It’s my “nappyversary.” It was one year ago today that I let go of a whole lot when I chopped all my hair off.

I found two pieces of my straight relaxed hair in one of my Bibles, among all places. That old hair was a symbol of a part of me who always felt self-conscious unless her hair was “done” professionally. I’ve come a long way since then.

Fear of the Unknown

Many Black women are afraid to do the big chop for fear of:

a) what their face will look like without hair framing it

b) what their natural texture looks like

c) what others comments (especially significant others and close family members)

d) learning to care for their natural hair without chemicals

e) any combination of the above

Me and mini-me, Aug. 2010

But not me. Continue reading “Happy Nappyversary to Me”

The Pursuit of Nappyness: Oh My Nappy Hair!

I’m starting what I hope to be a series entitled “The Pursuit of Nappyness,” where I profile people that will enlighten you about natural hair salons, events, and just all-around fly people to watch in the natural hair community. This is my first “natural hair interview,” courtesy of Elaine M. Truesdale, VP of Business Development for Atlanta Natural Hair Care in Atlanta, GA. I have not written many posts about natural hair, but being new to Atlanta and new to the natural hair world (I big chopped last summer), I felt this interview was a great opportunity to learn more about the subject, as well as explore a different part of town!

I talked with Erica Blevins, who manages one of three “Oh My Nappy Hair” (OMNH) salons (they’re in L.A., Oakland, and Atlanta) and founder, Rosario Schuler (her mom). They’ve been in business for 22 years–the first exclusively-natural hair salon on the West Coast! Erica has styled celebrities such as Stevie Wonder and Halle Berry, and took some time from her management duties (and her June wedding planning!) to talk with me about:

  • How the business got started, and feelings about the word “nappy”
  • Why she wears her hair natural
  • The lack of natural hair curriculum in beauty schools
  • Fear of natural hair acceptance from others
  • Natural hair “nazis”

Continue reading “The Pursuit of Nappyness: Oh My Nappy Hair!”

Goal Call (May Edition)

Since my last goal call 2 months ago,  I’ve accomplished a lot.

Accepted!

I have submitted my book to a publisher and it was accepted! The editors at Brown Books Small Press were pleased with my manuscript and followed up with a publishing proposal, which I accepted. I have been requesting endorsements from friends, colleagues, and a few celebrities in the meantime. For those of you who don’t know, my book is a self-esteem/memoir book to empower teen girls to celebrate their uniqueness and use the good sense God gave them. It touches on aspects of every day life for them. Continue reading “Goal Call (May Edition)”

Curls, Cupcakes, and Conversation

One of my meetup groups attended the Curls, Cupcakes, and Conversation event in Atlanta the other day. There, I saw a demo of a new product line for curly-haired tresses, had some yummy cupcakes from Whole Foods, and learned about common foods and dietary supplements that can negatively impact our health and well-being.

Rhian “Rhee” Sharpe says she spent a great chunk of her life wearing weaves. She would faithfully relax her hair, braid it, and re-weave it like clockwork for 18 years. When she had children, the thought occurred to her, “How can I teach my children to embrace and love their natural hair texture when I’m not?” I can totally relate.

She also mentioned that she liked the Kinky Curly products, except for the synthetic preservatives in them. To that end, she developed her own line of products called Curls of the World, using all natural ingredients and preservatives and is free of parabens, silicone, petroleum, plastics, mineral oils, alcohol wax, carbomers, and acrylics. Currently, Curls of the World is comprised of four styling products, but a shampoo and conditioner are in the works, and Rhian said they would be available later this year.

Three hair models demonstrated using the Curls of the World (each with different hair textures of 2, 3, and 4).   I recorded a portion of one model’s twist/twist-out regime with Rhee (see below).

Curls of the World is based in Stockbridge, GA and all orders ship free in the month of April 2011.

After the demos, two natural health experts from Bee Well Life Corporation from Roswell, GA gave us information and answered questions about common mistakes we make when it comes to our diet, vitamins, and supplements. I was familiar with some, but not all of the advice they gave. You can peruse their variety of tips on Twitter by searching the hashtag #curlscupcakesconvo (my Twitter name is @DareeAllen).

**Disclaimer: There are no affiliate links in this post, and I was not asked to write this post by anyone, nor compensated in any way for writing this post. I just like to support good people.**