Reader Question: Why do you use the word Nappy?

NappyQA2.jpgThis doesn’t happen too often, but occasionally I get comments that question my use of the word nappy. Most recently, one of my readers, Mardi, left this comment, which I decided to address here.

Q: Why is it that you call the hair on your head nappy. First you should change your lango and start maybe using the term overy curly hair. When the term over curly is used it puts a different perpestive on the type of hair that we have. People will start to view the texture of their hair differently. The hair used to be nappy when their werent a lot of hair products to moisturise the hair. Their are many, many products available for the over curly hair that any one could purchase over the counter or to their cosmetologist.

My freshly washed, unstyled, product free, dry nappy hair

A: Well personally, I’ve never had a negative reaction to the word nappy. Growing up, I took it to mean texture, not unkempt or dirty. Everyone around me had nappy hair; we all knew it, and I can’t recall people having a problem with that. It wasn’t until I started frequenting hair boards about four years ago coupled with the IMUS Nappy-headed Ho controversy, that I discovered “nappy” was a fightin’ word to some.

So when I use the word nappy, I use it to describe the texture of my hair and others who have kinky/highly textured hair. And I actually use all three of these terms interchangeably.

To me, there’s nothing bad about my nappy texture. With that in mind, ask yourself if someone could have nappy hair that’s unkempt and unclean? If you’re honest, you’d say, “Sure they can.” And then ask yourself, if someone could have beautiful, clean and STYLED and UNSTYLED nappy hair? Again, the answer is yes. So you see, the term nappy is NOT about grooming, it’s about texture. And if you’re on board with that mindset, you take the negative out of nappy.

Styled, nappy hair. Does my texture change just because I've applied product and taken the time to put my hair in a style?

With regard to product selection, as long as you’re not chemically or thermally altering its texture, no product is going to get rid of your naps.

Now, as far as your perferred term of “overly curly” is concerned, that to me suggests an extreme of sorts and comes across as negative. And quite frankly, I don’t consider ink pen sized coils to be curls. And why does calling nappy hair curly seem to make some people feel better about their NAPPY hair. Ok, unless of course you really do have nappy hair that does naturally show and allow some measure of curl definition. If that’s the case, then knock yourself out calling your hair curly, but if you have hair like mine, you’d be hard press to find a curl on your head. And if you do, why is it better to have others perceive your hair as “curly” hair as opposed to nappy? Do you really think that people look at NAPPY hair and see curls? I don’t think so. If someone told me they had curly hair, and halleberry.jpgI couldn’t see them, I wouldn’t picture MY hair. Instead, I would visualize this


Or this.



curlyhair.jpgOr this.



curlyhair3.jpgOr this.




MyMonsterPuff.jpgNOT THIS.

So to me, my hair is not overly anything nor is it curly. And truth be told, I don’t have a lot of coils either. My strands are a combination of irregular loops, bends and some coils that all take a different route that literally create kinks and a whole lot of texture. And geesh, sometimes this all takes place on the same strand. This is true for most nappy heads that I’m familiar with.

Now, if you do personally take issue with the word nappy, then that’s certainly your perogative. However, it’s also your own hang up about the word, not mine.  And if you or anyone else has a problem with the word nappy or with having nappy hair, most likely you’ve got issues with wearing your natural hair no matter the term used to describe it. At the end of the day, it is what it is. Kinky, nappy or highly textured or even eh, overly curly, if you don’t embrace what’s growing out of your head, it won’t matter what you or anyone else calls it.

Because, a nap, by any other name is still a nap.

27 Responses to “Reader Question: Why do you use the word Nappy?”
  1. NEA says:

    Amen…and amen! My hair is NAPPY and I love it!

  2. Mikou says:

    Well said!

  3. Aye Luah says:

    KA-CHOW!! Well said! How can you come into my home and tell me what color to paint my walls? To each its own

  4. Bobbi says:

    Alright now! I’m happy nappy!

    You go girl, you said all the right things a

  5. Lori says:

    Great post! Love your style. You don’t pull any punches or mince any words, lol.

  6. Anna Renee says:

    You betta preach! I use the term nappy because it has some oomph to it! Plus it describes my hair AND my journey to loving it! My hair is like yours Nappy Me, plus it shrinks down to nearly nothing if i let it. One day I was combing out my shrunken hair in front of my 27 year old son and he exclaimed “You’re hair is “hella” nappy!” I turned to him and just smiled because I knew what he meant–You’re hair is way longer than it looks and so thick and beautiful and I’m envious.

  7. nappiejean says:

    Nappy and happy!

  8. latia4u says:


  9. Melissa says:

    I love being Nappy! Being Nappy has revolutionized my life! I never thought that I had curly hair – I believe once a curl goes beyond a certain tightness it then becomes a nap! lol WOW Naps are like fist- Very powerful!
    Thank you for this very well said blog!

  10. My says:

    I love your site. It has definitely brightened and enlightened my day. Thank you. I’m so proud of my naps that I cheese a bit when I talk about my hair or touch it. I have naps and coils but no curls really. I am happily nappily satisfied with the word naps and the ones on ma head.. Love ya thanks again!!

  11. Anna Renee says:

    @Melissa, “naps are like fist, very powerful”
    Girl, I’m stealing that from you! I like that!

  12. CallaLily says:

    Hi nappyme: I think your blog deserves an award and I have nominated you. Please stop by my blog to receive it. Thanks!

  13. SouthernGal says:

    I’m Nappy and I’m Proud! More power to the naps! Great dissertation on Nappy!

  14. Wendy says:

    Hmmn, not keen on “overly curly”, I wouldn’t say black hair is overly anything. Nappy doesn’t bother me, kinky doesn’t bother me. Only terms that suggest there is something wrong with our hair “bad hair ” etc do.

    Nappy and unique.

  15. mssweetiemississippi says:

    It’s amazing what a play of words does to a person’s perception of their hair texture. I knew there was something funny going on when folks kept saying hair was curly because of the coils no matter what the size. Reading your thoughts on nappy vs. curly has been very educational. I have nappy hair and I’m proud!

    Now if I could just get the nerve up to comb it.

  16. ms-gg says:

    Like my pastor says, “If you can’t say amen say ouch!”

  17. Syrel says:

    Well said!! I often say that in the U.S., when we dislike what a word stands for, we villify the word. (Example: our youth-worshipping culture abhors the word old, though it’s an innocent adjective.) I think any word would have had the same effect, because the word points out the difference between afro hair and its straighter counterparts. Whatever the word, it would have been villified.

    • nappyme says:

      Exactly! And that’s the reason I think the word needs to be associated with texture and not some unclean, unkempt state. That’s why I always hate when white people use the word nappy. They mean their hair is a tangled, ratty mess. And that to me is not the same as nappy.

  18. gilroygal says:

    NappyMe, this reminds me of a thread that I started a while ago and it helps me gain a better perspective on my own hair. Thanks so much for this blog and especially this article.

  19. charles says:

    Nappy hair is so beautiful but unfortunately many people and unfortunately black people view it in a negative light due to slavery, jim crow etc.etc…. and it can definitely be clean and nappy or dirty and nappy but it’s still nappy. I’m a black male and I love my nappy headed sistas.

    • nappyme says:

      Glad you stopped by Charles. I don’t think I get very many male readers. It’s nice to know a brotha who appreciates a sistah who choose to wear their hair nappy.

      Take care and stop by again.


  20. Roa Milton says:

    Thanks for the insight-I went to cosmetology school with mostly caucasions and hated the way they used the word nappy, made me feel ashamed to have what I called overly curly hair. I now understand the word nappy for what it is and am no longer afraid to say “Girl my hair is nappy.” Keep on educating:)

    • nappyme says:

      And that’s why I do what I do! I’m so happy that my post was helpful. Our TEXTURE is nothing to be ashamed of — nothing! So you just hold your head up high and the next time someone says your hair is nappy, tell ’em thanks!

  21. kinjee says:

    OOO I Love this post…and I agree there are no other terms out there that reall describe the hair I have on my head…and i’m not about to start using two and three words just to be politically correct…until someone suggests something better to me I’ll be sticking with nappy!

  22. Lisa says:

    I’m just one of those people who is not comfortable with the word Nappy. Heard it a lot as I was growing up and it was always with a negative edge.The connotation to me sounds as if something is wrong is your hair. For me it is also too close to another “N” word that I choose not to use. It is everyone’s choice to describe their hair which best suits them. If you’re happy with nappy, I’m happy for you.

  23. AuNappturale says:

    Love, love, LOVE this post NM. Even when the term nappy is used derogatorily to describe my hair, I say a cheerful, “Thank you!” and keep it moving. I embrace the word all the way.

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