“How Do You Get Your Hair Like That?”

Yesterday, a young lady (perhaps late teens) at work asks me… “How do you get your hair like that?”

Me:  “Like what?”

Her: “You know…nappy?”

Me:  Thinking… ‘You’re kidding?’ I shake my head slowly and say “I…wash…it.” Now I’m looking at her relaxed hair and I’m incredulous because this child has to be getting a touch up every six to eight weeks so she couldn’t possibly think that her hair grows out straight. Plus, all the boys and young men are runnin’ around sporting braids and afros so how in the heck could she NOT know that nappy hair grows out of your head? And surely, she’s seen children with nappy hair. Not knowing EXACTLY how to further respond, I just say to her… “Uh…you were born with nappy hair…”

Her: She looks at me with a blank stare. Likewise, I’m equally speechless. I don’t know what else to say so I leave missy with her bewilderment to sort things out on her own.

I had to force myself to stop thinking about that encounter and get on with other things. It’s such a darn shamed that we have generations upon generations now that have never experienced their own nappy hair and can’t fathom that chemical-free hair grows NATURALLY from black women’s heads. Relaxing our children’s hair dang near straight from the cradle is literally stripping us collectively of our culture as is strongly evident when young black women have to ask how to get nappy hair or some fool asks me if I actually like the nappy hair that’s growing out of MY head. Yes, that really happened earlier this summer at a gas station as I was paying for my gas. That encounter was so bizzare that I blogged about it here in an entry entitled “I Betcha She Doesn’t Like Her Hair.”

Collectively, we need to reclaim our nappy hair and sport it lovingly and with unabashed pride. Can we just stop the chemical madness…NOW?!!! I feel like running into a salon one day and screaming “WAKE UP!” like Spike Lee did in “School Daze” (remember that final scene?) If you don’t or have never even seen the movie, go find it in the reduced bin somewhere. I got a copy for about $3 at of all places a hardware store. It was a wonderful find especially because I hadn’t seen that movie since it was originally released in 1988. If nothing else, get it for the gem of a dance scene Good and Bad Hair featuring the Wannabes (the light-skindid girls) and the Jiggaboos (the nappy-headed dark-skindid girls) who have been at odds with one another from the start of the movie. I’ve posted it before but it’s always worth another one so you don’t have to go digging for it. So yes indeed, wake up, watch it and enjoy!

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Comments
18 Responses to ““How Do You Get Your Hair Like That?””
  1. kl says:

    you are too funny, I think she knows hair grows nappy [please let her know 🙂 ]-I hope she meant the style you were wearing [smh @ me explaining what SHE means]
    I had a 10 year old boy constantly ask me why I wear my hair “like this” [natural]. I always had the same reply “this is what I like” mind you we have the same hair type, but I realized he has been told his hair is nappy and his sister who is raising him thinks her hair is hard to manage.

  2. Kala777 says:

    Hello 🙂 I just discovered your blog and really like it.

    I couldn’t help but laugh at how stupid that question was by the girl. How does a black person not know that they most likely have nappy hair???? Don’t worry though. Hope is not lost for us young people. I’m 19 and I’m natural. Yay 🙂 I love taking care of it and hope to eventually try new hair styles.

    Oh, also add to the ignorance some black folks have about their hair, I was on Youtube looking at some natural hair vids. I saw a link to this one guys video. He was responding to this one womens answer about IRs and talked about how he likes white women, yada yada yada. I really didn’t care much for all that because I’m all for IR’s. But anyway, towards the end of his video he just goes on this ignorant rant about how he doesn’t understand why black women cut their hair off because he likes women with long hair. And starts to talk about how its in the Bible that women should have long hair and men should have short hair. Mind you this guy is BLACK. I was fuming. LOL.

    I also heard from this one BLACK guy refer to black women as having “cursed” hair. WTF.

    The ignorance is just sad and pathetic.

    And I really liked the School Daze sense. Its sad that it still rings true till this day.

  3. Sharon says:

    I love your website, intelligent and informative, and funny. Well it’s 2008 and people are still chatting rubbish!!! I cannot believe how in this day and age there are still so many negative vibes towards Natural hair. It’s funny, the first thing a person with relaxed hair tells me when they’ve finished staring at my hair is…’I’d like to go natural but I can’t be bothered with all the hassle’ To be honest I think that a lot of black people are just ashamed of their hair and that I think is a result of slavery, and the belief that straight european looking hair is the definition of beauty, anything else is just plain ugly and embarassing. Makes me dig my heels in even more and wear my thick natural hair that I was born with, with pride.

  4. Barb says:

    You are so funny LOL. Anyway my sister tells me that locks look so dirty and unkempt. She is a hair stylist with damaged hair from years of relaxers. Now she is interested in trying miss jessies products (I am speechless) we have really been taught to dislike our hair. Oh! She would like me to try the product as well. For what? So my hair can fall out. I do not have a problem with my kinky hair. I thank you for this website b/c this is where I get my encouragement to stay strong and learn how to take care of my naps.

  5. nappyme says:

    Sharon and Barb thank you! Your kind words warm my heart, and I’m so glad you really enjoy my site.

    Y’all keep coming back and spread the good news on naps either through words or by example. Let’s change the world one nappy head at a time!

    Take care,
    ~Nappyme

  6. ChelB says:

    I just found your blog tonight. I LIKE!!! : ) Your posting was TOO funny! I had a similar experience last year except it was a GROWN woman who was from Africa (Nigeria). I think she was trying to make me feel bad about being natural. I was wearing my hair in two-strand twists without extensions. I didn’t respond to her remarks though. I just simply walked away.

    I do agree with what Sharon wrote there are quite a few African-American people who are ashamed of their hair SADLY this includes my OWN mother! : ( I’ve started the locking process for my hair and she has told me several times she’s opposed to it because she feels locking my hair will “ruin it.” Oh well, life goes on!

  7. nappyme says:

    Hi ChelB,
    Welcome to NPP101!
    Hey, glad you found me! Well sis you know the nappy 411 don’tcha! Hehehe. Good luck on your loc journey and you’re right life does go on!

  8. Stacey says:

    So glad that you have not stopped blogging, I was getting nervous; I just found the site right before the new year. I am natural and have been since since I was little, except for a brief 5-6 yr period (in late teens and early 20’s) in which my hair was relaxed. Before the relaxer mom used to braid it and then in the teens I used to straighten it with the hot comb; after the relaxer (2000) I just wet and added some cream or gel. I have to say that I did not like my hair after the relaxer and I am just starting to like the look and feel of it (7-8 yrs later, lol)….sad I know. Part of it was because I had “silky” looking straightened hair (some people thought I was mixed or something) and everyone loved it, the other part was that it had/has no length because the curls are soooo tight, my hair is shoulder length now but it looks like I have a short afro, lol. In the last 2 yrs, I have learned alot more about how to really take care of my hair and have been finding that people like my hair because I am happier with my hair and myself.

    Just recently I went to visit my grandmother and I asked her if she liked my hair, lol, she simply stated no because it looks nappy. I used to get upset and say my hair is curly (my hair is really soft and easy to manage for the most part, curls are just tight) trying to defend my choice but now Im realizing that its not about what others think its about what I think and I think natural hair is beautiful.
    Now if I could only get it to be thicker! lol

    I am very excited about this site, keep up the good work. 🙂

    Thanks.

    ~S~

    p.s. Sorry for the long post. 🙂

  9. affrodite says:

    400+ years (and even that amount of timing is arguable) of oppression and you have enough time to create a nation of confused black folk. To me, I say do whatever you want with your hair but don’t feign naivety when it comes to what it means to be the real you. You should’ve told…no dared…Sista Girl to go 3 months without a touch-up so she could touch, feel, and embrace a reality check. She might like what she finds. 😉

  10. Oneya says:

    I am just glad that my mother didn’t force me to get a relaxer at five like many African American mothers, I was able to wait until 12(mutual decision), and after the third relaxer I was done. Transitioning was not a big deal for me..however when I was 16 I did get my hair texturized( poor ignorant me)…not sure what to think about that. I feel sad for those black women who feel trapped to the relaxer..darn it I feel sorry for me being trapped to the flat iron. Hopefully my braid out will work well. Don’t judge the woman, she is so used to have having stringy , thin, damaged hair that thick hair seems amazing… in fact i think it’s disturbing when I go to the hair salon (white or black )and people are shocked to see my hair when it ‘s wet( and nappy)..it should not be a shock because..duh I’m African American. They act like they have never seen thick hair that doesn’t have a relaxer. It is irritating.

  11. doree says:

    wow 🙂 that is priceless, yet pathetically sad =\

  12. Micheli says:

    Look, blacks have only been free about 15o years. We gonna need 250 more to even out the damage! lol
    But you know what breaks my heart? Listening to children speak so disparaging about their hair. I did a play with a young 14 boy who hated his hair. His hair was so thick and soft and kinky. And absolutely divine! I was glad I was portraying his character’s mother, so I had an excuse to rub his head every night without coming off like a perve. But all I could think was his parents were doing him a great deservice by not drumming into his brain how beautiful his hair really was. It really was sad.

  13. nappyme says:

    ^^^I hear ya girl…I hear ya!

  14. charisa says:

    You know, when I first began to read you blog I thought maybe you lived in an area where natural hair wasn’t really a big thing and that’s why you were having so many encounters. But as I began to go out more after becoming natural I realized that I was getting a lot of the same responses and questions. Sometimes it’s a bit disheartening but not for me. I feel a bit sorry for those that I encounter. Of course there’s nothing better than running into another natural and chatting in up about hair; or even a potential natural that’s viewing your hair as a muse. But, for the individuals that I talk to that look at my hair and me as if I’m a fool for walking around with “my head lookin’ like that,” I bare a sort of sorrow for them because they don’t know the beauty of what God gave us. Just this past weekend my mother came down to visit and she brought my nephew. He’s all of eight. The last time he saw me I had my hair in a puff and he just sort of looked at it. “I think he thought it was a phony puff.” But this past time I had my hair in twists and the first thing he said to me is, ” Why do you have your hair like that it’s ugly!” and I told him it was because I liked it like this and here’s the kicker his response was this, “Well, I thought you were going to have your hair NORMAL like it used to be when it was real, real long. Not like that, it’s ugly!” and he continued to tell my how ugly my hair was and how much I needed to straighten it for the rest of the weekend. Of course it didn’t hurt my feelings or anything. But it just amazed me that this boy has been here for eight years and has yet to see a woman wear her hair in it’s natural state, to the point that for me to do so is abnormal. Things like that reaffirm my decision to be natural not only for myself but for my daughter. So that she can see and know that she doesn’t have to have straight hair to have beautiful hair.

  15. nappyme says:

    ^^^Ha! Ya did huh? Well yes and no. I’ve only been a loose-haired nappy since moving back to my home town. Actually, I was still wearing micros for the fist two years I was here and I finally came out of those for good two years ago. When I started wearing my natural hair out, that’s when the comments started. But my home town is no different than a lot of places. That is to say that natural STYLES with fake hair are very common, real natural hair is not. And for whatever reason, nappy hair makes compelling conversation on all levels of the good, bad and ugly scale.

    I also tend to wear my hair in a variety of styles that really shows off my nappiness, which no matter what’s going on, showing your naps is not necessarily the thing to do. You also have to consider that since I frequent hair boards and write about my encounters as a hobby, it’s easy for me to muse about my life situations as it relates to hair.

    Also consider that hair is a big thing to most women in whatever form one happens to choose to wear it. Since I’m always on the lookout for a good story, I don’t really have to try hard to find one cause they actually seem to find me with ease.

    About your nephew, I’d have had to check lil man cause I don’t think I could have taken his rudeness all weekend. While he’s entitled to his little eight-year-old opinion, he was being rude and ill-mannered. You can’t always say what you think about someone and if he gets away with saying it to you, then you can only imagine what he’s going to put some other child through when he encounters her with nappy hair. He’ll be rude and obnoxious and will no doubt hurt someone’s feelings. Totally uncalled for. I hope the next time you encounter his rudness you check it and have a talk with his mother about this as well.

  16. RobinA says:

    It just goes to show you how early this nonsense is ingrained into our minds. I am biracial, and my hair is naturally curly, but Caucasion. My 9yo daughter’s hair is 3c/4a. I am constantly showing her pics of little girls who have curly hair just like hers – there are plenty of clothing catalogs that feature them these days. I want her to love her hair texture as it is. It seems that kinky hair is now more accepted in the white community than in our own. Now that’s a shame. I will never put a relaxer in my daughter’s hair, and I hope that when she is old enough to make that decision for herself, she will not succumb to the pressure to do it.

  17. nappyme says:

    Robin A good for you!

  18. poetess says:

    Natural hair is hard to manage when you never learned. I relax my hair because frankly I don’t know how to braid and twist and all that to make it look interesting. When I used to have natural hair I always wore it in two french braids because that’s all I could do with it and I was bored. I’ve also worn the twa only to be propositioned by lesbians again and again. LOL.

    I really would rather wear my hair natural. But I need a hair dresser and I live out west and not in Cali so good luck finding salons that cater to natural hair.

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