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September 5, 2011

A Curl is a Curl: Are 4c Spirals Coveted?

by Antoinette of acurlsbf.com

It is so disheartening to me when I introduce myself and A Curl's Best Friend at an event and the person, usually with 4a-c hair, responds with statements like: "I don't have curly hair", "My hair is nappy not curly", or "I'd wear my hair natural if I had hair like yours". I happen to LOVE 4abc curls. I truly think they are beautiful. I often catch myself wishing my hair was thicker, more full and could hold a style for more than a day. So when those statements are made, in my opinion, they show how much work there is to be done in our community and are the aftermath of years of conditioning and being fed a euro-centric idea of what beauty really is. But it's 2011 ladies! Let's do something different.

Folks, I want to be really clear with what I'm saying. 4a-c curls are CURLS! Celebrate them. I have been reading so many forums, blogs, websites and even product bottles that unlovingly refer to them as naps, kinks, indiscernible curl patterns and so on and so forth. The truth is that 4a-c curls are curls and they are beautiful.

What Are 4a-c Curls?
They are tight, remarkably spiraled curls and for that reason, they require more moisture and gentle styling techniques. 4a-c curls grow, are manageable, strong, and are sexy much like the women who display them. More importantly, this hair type is extremely versatile with styles ranging from: afros, afro updos, braids, braid outs, twists, twist outs, twists pinned-up updos, head wraps, cornrows, and so on and so forth.

Length Retention
Everyone's hair grows. It would be a disservice to yourself to state otherwise. The key to length retention is moisture retention. Finding the leave-in and deep conditioner right for you is crucial. If your hair is not properly moisturized it will break off at the ends and appear as though is not growing. With a little product trail and error your hair will be quenched and growing in no time!

As stated by Shanti, in her 5 Myths About Kinky, Curl Hair post, water is what moisturizes and penetrates the hair strands. Oils and creams are meant to simply lock in that moisture. Water becomes “locked” in the hair strand because oils/creams are molecularly larger than water and keep the moisture sealed on the strand. So when moisturizing hair, remember it is a two step process- first applying water or water- based product followed by an oil/cream sealant. Oils and heavy creams are great for providing shine and lubrication but not moisture.

Accepting Self
Mainstream media's lack of attention to and understanding of 4a-c hair is irresponsible and disturbing. I have heard and read reports of some 4a-c curlies feeling inadequate, invisible and overlooked. There are many reasons for this, some being calculated and some being less calculated. Regardless of that, I want everyone to know that our hair grows and forms the pattern in which it was intended to. Our bodies are smart. Whatever we are in need of 9 times out of 10, it produces. So embrace what your body has given you. It's a gift. It knows what it's doing.

Ways You Can Stop the Cycle and Help Celebrate 4a-c Hair:

*Affirmations
- Giving positive affirmations whether they are to your self or to a stranger is a huge step. A little encouragement goes a long way.

*Watch the Lingo
- Words all have a different weight and meaning to them depending on the context in which they are used. Be sure your jokes or terms of endearment are not offensive or self-loathing. Kinky is kinky as long as it is said and received with love.

*Special Occasion
- Try rocking your natural hair. Do a twist out. Add a flower accessory. There is nothing wrong with wanting a change and straightening your hair but know that you don't have to in order for it to be special.

*Being the Butt of the Joke-
Example: while attending any costume parties, ask yourself before sporting an afro wig unless you are going as something that reflects beauty. Sometimes that can read as "my hair is joke". Be conscience of those around you and whether or not they are laughing with you or at you.

*Reflect
- Ask yourself if you too harbor any feelings of doubt and contempt for textured natural hair. It's a difficult conversation to have but a necessary one.

Now that loose 2-3c curls are becoming more accepted 2-3c curly girls are going natural and celebrating their curl, as they should. But glorifying only that specific texture and further marginalizing women with thicker, curlier textured hair is the last thing we should be doing. Redefine what beauty is. Let's celebrate all our textured tresses and cultivate our curls one coil at a time!


Do you now, or have you ever harbored any feelings of doubt or contempt for highly textured natural hair?

What did you do to get past it? What advice would you give others?

46 Chime in!:

Annabel said...

You summarize my sentiments exactly! I think the natural hair community needs to work hard towards celebrating and loving all textures of hair. All curls are beautiful, whether 3b or 4b.
I think after years of adopting a eurocentric view about straight hair being prettier and more presentable. It takes time and lots of dialogue, for us to accept that beautiful is every person, regardless of the ethnicity, rocking the gorgeous hair she or he was born with and loving it!

Anonymous said...

I rarely see 4 type hair in the mainstream, and esp in hair commercials. I have 3b/3c hair, and while I appreciate the commercials because the hair is like mine and can help with product selection or styling ideas, I would like to see the same done for 4 type hair. I like my hair because I can easily WnG, and that's all I have to do. I am not one to do styles and am too lazy anyway. My friend who has 4 type hair can style one time a week and be done. I love how her hair can hold styles. I think there are pros and cons of all hair types.

Anonymous said...

I have 4c hair, I absolutely adore it. It's thick, now it's healthy. It's not short but I have not been great at retaining length cos I never took good care of it. I am learning better how to take care of it, thanks to sites like this. However the versatility cannot be beat. And I've always loved my hair, I never ever thought it was not as good as any other type. I am surprised when other 4a-c beauties express such sentiments. My favorite product lines for now are Qhemets (moisture) and KBB(for shampoo). I think many product lines make products with the 4's in mind. which is great. Oh I call my hair kinky, it's in no way derogatory but yea I don't have curls (not that I can see anyway) but I don't miss them.

socialitedreams said...

Back before going natural, like 10 years ago when my bff went natural, I was not feeling the tighter kinks/coils. Wanted no parts of an afro, craved the multiple styles that I was currently rocking and thought being natural = afro. Boy, was I crazy....can do all sorts of styles with the tighter coiled hair, as I found out when I finally took the plunge myself. I have a wide assortment of patterns on my head, so that's the only issue since it's loose in the front and more coily 4 level hair in the back.

Youtuber Sera is the go-to inspiration that I post for 4a-c curlies who think that they can't grow hair, she's grown waist-length hair with super tight curls! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfN8m38mvUI
isn't her hair awesome? love it

Vonnie of Socialitedreams.com

tianna said...

Thanks Vonnie for the info on Sera!! I also love your page too!! your make-up looks are gorge!!

Anonymous said...

I think the word nappy and kinky is negative if you think of it that way. I think the fact that we lean towards calling 4a-c hair 'curly' or 'highly textured' shows that we're trying to make the description of our hair more palatable...to ourselves. This is the same type of convo our parents had generations ago calling themselves 'colored' and 'negro' before many of them had the self-acceptance to actually call themselves 'Black'(Thank you Malcolm X). I have kinky hair and am damn proud of it. I do not have curly hair.

ACBF said...

Hey ladies! I actually wrote this article. And after we posted it we were meant with a lot of mixed reactions. Both Shanti and myself, writers of a curls best friend, are mixed women with 3a and 3b hair. Many women felt like I had no business discussing hair that was not my own. Some women went on to say that as a woman with 4c hair they felt a little patronized, if not offended that someone like Antoinette(me), with type 3a hair was making light and easy of something that in her opinion is hard work to master both physically and mentally. She compared it to someone with two legs trying to tell someone with 1 leg to get over it and learn to live and love your handicapped life. I understand completely where she is coming from except that I know I was coming from a place of support and celebration and lastly 4a-c hair should not be compared to a handicap. What do you think? Do you agree? Or is this division within our community a problem?

Anonymous said...

I hear that comment often and it makes me uncomfortable. I think it's all about self-love and acceptance. Many Black women are afraid to "enter the unknown" of their natural hair texture. My go-to response to these types of comments is that natural hair is for anyone willing to take the time to get know her own hair and discover what works for her in terms of care and styling. There are many gorgeous styling options for every hair type.

The hair typing system is confusing to me. I guess I have 3c type curls, but my hair is very thick so I usually look to 4a types for styling tips. In other words, I don't get wrapped up in the numbers, I just do what works for me.

Anonymous said...

Hi ACBF, thank you for posting this article. I have to tell you that as a natural, it took a long time for me to accept my hair, because a lot of people feel that only women like you should go natural.
It took a while, but I can tell you that I felt absolute JOY when I cut off the rest of my permed hair. My head is now full of type 4 kinks/naps and I love them.
As another poster said, I actually prefer naps/kinks to curls, because saying 'oh, I have curls too, they're just really tight', makes me feel like i'm somehow trying to gain acceptance. I have naps, deal with them if you want to deal with me, we are a package.....a beautiful one I might add.
Oh, and as for the type 4 women being upset at you, the only way we're ever going to gain acceptance and move past this good/bad hair issue, is if more women like you join the conversation.

LaMaraVilla said...

The grass is always greener . . .

Lola Falafel said...

Antoinette, read your article and must say I have attended natural hair events where my 3b/3c longish hair was ignored I wasn't told it was pretty (not that I needed the validation, it just would have been nice) but the 4abc kinkier haired girls got way more love than the 3abc curly chicks. Its funny my God sister that attended an event with me had a 4b/c wig on and people stopped her and asked to take pics with her and she got all the love. It kind of pisses me off that their is a natural hair divide...kinky vs. curly, kinda reminds me of the darker skin tone vs. lighter skin tone b.s., but I don't need to go there. Ahhh anyway needed to vent, great article and people will always have something to say, just always make sure you have the info to back up your argument and it looks like you do! Hair is hair is hair,how well you take care of your tresses is what matters, let's all continue to inspire each other, all textures, one strand at a time. :)

Anonymous said...

My first exposure to the natural hair sites when I was looking for help to transition involved women with a looser texture than my 4c and I wasted a lot of money on products and processes that were never going to work for me. After educating myself & trail & error, I understand my 4c hair and roll with it. Braid & twistouts are my styles of choice and now I believe my hair is a thing of beauty :)

Anonymous said...

@ABCF - Yes, hair is a loaded topic within our community and we need everyone's input to put an end to the whole good hair/bad hair nonsense. We all have something to offer on this issue, and for anyone to discount your insights because you have looser curls just feeds into the madness. Comparing hair type to a physical disability? I mean, really? Trust, it ain't that serious!

Anonymous said...

I wish all the time my hair was 4b or 4c, I love that texture, I love my 3b/c curls to but OMG! My twist outs never work, I always end up with a frizz ball in the end, and the definition that you guys get is a thing to be envied lol. You lucky ducks, but hey I know what they tho the grass aint always greener, but still it looks pretty green from here

The Esthetician said...

Exactly. I personally hate the word nappy because until recently (very recently), no one ever said nappy in a loving way. Much like the N-word, I don't see how we can take a racist word and "claim it." A curl is a curl. Some Naturals act like it's a crime to even say that you have curly hair. Like you are running away from black because you refer to your hair as curly, but if it curls, isn't it...curly or are curls reserved for others? The whole issue says that we tell need work.

Anonymous said...

hmmm...

I can see where someone might read condescension in this article. I will admit to reading this article differently on this site than I did on ACBF when I first saw it but hair is by no means a disability and it is exactly because of that mindset why articles like this and sites like this are needed, that notion needs to be over come.

Although I don't know why someone with looser curls would feel that they should be "celebrated." Not the article writer, but the comment earns a little side eye.

And I still can't get behind the hair-typing system because of the source and the way it institutes a hierarchy. But I can second the discomfort with the "nappy" word. For far too long it has been used as a slur and a way to separate. I don't embrace the other N-word for the same reason and I have issue getting behind this one as well.

And my hair does curl. A pen spring has as much curl as a slinky, maybe more. Curls like people come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.

TiAnna Mae said...

I actually think "3c" is the most coveted hair texture, if you will. I know the hair typing system is a jumbled mess, but I think most people love 3c curlies because they have the right amount of curl and just enough kink to hold a style . I think anyone has the right to speak their opinion on hair and shouldn't be persecuted for how they feel. After all, it is THEIR opinion. Having 4c hair is not coveted, especially when worn in an afro style. Trust me, I know. I've been shunned by other black people because my hair is so thick and tight. I don't get any props when I wear my hair in a tight small afro, however, if I do something to stretch it out or I'm wearing it curly, I get TONS of compliments.

tiannamae.blogspot.com

hairscapades said...

I'm a former 3b/3c loosened to 3a/3b (henna, love it, but don't love the curl loosening. I'm one of those women always seeking a product that enourages shrinkage). Like anonymous at 10:59 above, I drool over tighter, thicker coils. Hair that stands on it's own, is big, proud and makes luscious twists (like Sera's!!! Or, have you seen Mwedzi??? I fell out my chair looking at her gorgeous Fotki pics and story here on CurlyNikki) is gorgeous to me. I think it is to many others as well. I think that the struggle for many is re-learning how to care for their hair or really, learning for the first time if they've had relaxers since early childhood. Very coily, curly hair is very delicate and requires care, patience and a real understanding that highly textured hair is like fine lace. I think too often that people think that coarser or highly textured hair is "strong" and "hardy." That is a misconception that I think needs to be erased and sites like this and many others are teaching women how to care for their hair and, in the process, really know their hair. Anywho, this is getting long, but in conclusion, I think that we are beginning to make people understand, including ourselves, that healthy hair (no matter the length, texture, color, etc.) is beautiful hair. That is all;).

Shelli

Anonymous said...

ACBF, I appreciate the article you wrote and I am not sure of what stance the person who criticized you expected you to take. In my opinion, you seemed to show admiration for type 4 hair and you offered valuable hair care suggestions to those who were looking. The reality is that some of us with type 4 hair don't really like the texture and want to do whatever we can to change it. We're not oblivious to mainstream's messages: they don't like our hair and many of us don't like our hair. So when someone (with more mainstream preferred natural hair) claims that they like our hair and offers suggestions, it can be met with distrust and resentment. (Attitude: "It's easy for you to say because you don't have to deal with this nappy sh@t.") I mean, people really dislike their own hair so much that it is hard for them to believe someone's praises. Still, I think it does us good to hear other women's praises (no matter what color the woman or type of hair she has) because it all starts with us. We gain so much from building each other up - sincere compliments from other women ultimately hold so much more weight than compliments from men (who aren't our dads). Who on earth knows beauty better than a woman?

SatyaDrolma said...

I love this conversation! I think its great that there is a forum to discuss our hair. Hair is politics and politics are never pretty or easy. That said, I'm really happy to walk into Sears and see 3 black women with 4abc hair in advertisements for a clothing style line that emulates the new afro! I think as more magazines print and publish more natural hair models, as images of beauty and style, that perceptions of OURSELVES will change.

Ladies, we need to love and ACCEPT ourselves. No one else is going to do it. If we keep looking for external approval, external reinforcement we'll never get to that place of power and self-love, and self-acceptance that is needed to be Whole in this society.

Sure, people stare, but once they get my whole look and absorb it and intergrate it, they smile and look at me in a more interesting and elevated light.

By the way, its a much better look that an bad wig, a dried out weave, a fried head of over-processed dead dry relaxed hair! The look I got wearing a curly wig, that was obviously not my hair was distinctly different than wearing my "own hair".

I remember the shame of the taller people of work, looking down and realizing I had a half weave on. Constantly stressed and hiding out from my own skin, my own natural beauty, curl and expression, was costly, and devastaing. I never felt that I was good enough, and that stemmed from my hair and permeated all other aspects of my life.

I also resented having to pay $100 for fake hair, and more to get it intstalled at a braiding salon, in some one's home, etc...
Then dealing with the hair matting and locking hell of taking the microbraids out, and dealing with hair loss, dryness and the expense of having to go to more hair dressers for more hair cuts and treatments do deal with the damage.

Thanks to Curly Niki and the Minimalist Beauty Blog, and Curly Like Me book/blog, I feel like I finally have some great resources for safe nontoxic beauty.
Now, if I can only find hair dressers or hair schools that can help rock the afro textures it would be GREAT! Signing out from Rhode Island!!!

ACBF said...

@tianna Mae How do you think we can change your experience?

I think it is so interesting that some folks can receive the article differently on here then our site. That's really honest. And I appreciate your honesty. Is it because Curly Nikki has already proven herself and her intentions? Everyone trusts her. Shoot I know I do.

@Esthetician I agree with you. I don't say nappy but i know folks who use it and mean it with sincerity. A mother i know calls her daughters hair nappy but with all the love in the world. The young girl has embraced it and sees nothing wrong with the word. Interesting right? Look at the book "happy to be nappy" it is such an effective tool for raising natural babies. But I would feel awkward saying it bc my hair is not considered nappy. You know?

@ anonymous I think all curls, kinky, and coils should be celebrated. In my opinion 4abc curls are not nearly celebrated enough. When I think of the word celebrate I'm thinking of praise, admiration and acceptance. We are all pretty incredible beings.. that alone should be celebrated. why not?

@ lola I appreciate that comment. It's interesting. Do you think it's folks's way on evening the playing field?

Ladies thank you so much for your feedback. I'm going to use all of your responses for a follow up article!

Anonymous said...

There's 3 types of hair in my opinion: straight, tightly curled/coiled, and loosely curled/coiled. Where does nappy fit into any of that? Please kill the word nappy. It's not cute nor necessary. And I agree we need to stop with the hair typing. There's always some type of unnecessary divide and this is one we can choose NOT to embrace.

ACBF said...

I LOVE THE COMMENT ABOVE!

Anonymous said...

Hmm. A lot of people want to go natural but want the KINKU CURLY CURLING CUSTARD LOOK, or the TWIST OUT LOOK. Many frown at naturals who keep their hair moisturized and healthy without manipulaying the curls, for example Esperanza Spalding. I think that only when we can look in the mirror and love our hair in every state, WALK around with it without any "curl enhancers" etc, we've then truly become at peace with our natural selves. It's not an easy process. It takes times. But I believe we'll get there. And for a 3C women writing about type 4 struggles, I'm sure it's possible to sympthasize but I don't think it's possible to understand what exactly someone with maybe a type b or c hair goes through. So to give tips without actually ever having dealt with negative comments or self-doubt about your beauty like many others have, I feel although given with the best intention, kind of eyebrow-raise-worthy.

Tracey said...

Being called nappy headed child all my life I thought all I could do was relax or wear micro braids. That's what I did. In 2009 I did BC and wear my hair in it's natural state. I was picked on and began to loathe my hair all over again. I started wearing a wigs. Until I had more hair to braid. I had no idea what to do with my 4b/c. Youtube came into view and I started watching people do their hair and I read and understood how to care for my tender coils. I now know that my hair loves braids and twist more than it likes to be pressed or worn out. Now I love my hair. It's what GOD gave me and I'm no longer ashamed. Wear my hair proudly. Excellent post thank you for writing it.

Jacqueline Michael Whatley said...

Thank you for this post! This all needed very much to be said!

Anonymous said...

@ACBF. I think you directed a comment meant for me (anon @11:38 to Tiana Marie (and someday I will get a screen name).

I honestly think it was, in part, because I had *just* discovered your blog and didn't know the "tone" of it. I do trust CurlyNikki as a resource but its highly possibly I'll trust ACBF the more I visit it.

And I second, third, and fourth Anon 12:01! Those are the only types of hair and "hair typing" is something that needs to be let go of!

Anonymous said...

@Anon 12:13PM - Your comment seems to imply that only certain women experience negative comments or self-doubt about their beauty.

I think most if not ALL women struggle (or have struggled) with some aspect of our physical appearance, whether it's facial features or hair or weight or skin problems or whatever.

Despite different experiences, we can all learn from each other. In our efforts to love ourselves as women of color, we should be free to share/receive insights with/from one another without "raised eyebrows" as long as the intention comes from a place of lifting up and not putting down.

Anonymous said...

I have type 3 & my daughter has type 4 hair. I love both types. I've been doing her hair her whole life.
Lately as I've educated myself on how to take care of naturally textured hair, her hair is looking even better. In the past i've always struggled with keeping her hair moisturized but I never disliked it. Her hair can make a shirley temple curl that is the bomb! My hair cannot. When properly moisturized her hair is soft & shiny. It can also hold a style way better than mine.
I do think that someone who does not have type 4 hair can comment on it. I diligently work on my daughter loving her type 4 hair. Self-love & confidence goes a long way in displaying your hair. No one can hurt your feelings regarding your hair if you don't have some underlying insecurities.
Every hair type has its own issues. There's nothing wrong with having to focus on keeping your hair moisturized.
I think we have all been brainwashed for a very long time & it will take a long time to correct. I do see some very impressive strides socially in all types of naturally curly hair.

LM said...

the word "nappy" is never going to go away (although i think the term is plain ignorant), just like the other n-word is never going to go away only because it's been engraved in the minds of the ppl of this country for centuries. i also adore type 4 hair. their two strand twists and twist outs look amazing! my hair, on the other hand, refuses to hold twists which can be very frustrating when attempting protective styles which i have had NO luck with.

Anonymous said...

Interesting article! I've never been much into hair typing for the simple fact that I don't feel the need to put a label my hair. Other naturals ask me all the time what my hair type is and I simply reply "Type Mine". I say that, not to be a smart behind or anything, but because I accept my hair as a unique and beautiful gift (as all people with curly hair should!). Hopefully my replying "Type Mine" will get another curly to accept her hair as her own as well. I think once we accept our hair (in doing so we accept ourselves) we don't have to worry about everyone else celebrating our hair because we will wear it proudly and celebrate it ourselves. It's not up to the media to celebrate hair types, it’s up to us. Don't let this hair typing stuff stress you out. The only thing stressing and wishing you had another hair type does is lead to self-hating. Affirmations are great and looking in the mirror every morning and knowing that the beautiful mane you're staring at is yours and yours alone is the first step.

Jivelene said...

I love this article! My hair is mostly 3c, with 3b in the back and 4a on the hairline that frames my face. I love all my textures and embrace them all, but I make it known when I talk about my curl pattern that I wish all of it where the straw sized curls I have around my face. Anytime I see a huge fro, I WANT it! Without having to pick it out to a frizz. I want that thickness & volume and they really are lucky to have it. I personally love 4abc textures and I have relaxed friends that also tell me that they would wear their hair natural if they had my texture. They have beautiful texture as well and we as a natural community have to do a better job in embracing the tighter kinks & curl patterns. They ARE beautiful. They are coveted! Affirmation is a great way to get this started but I really believe that 3rd person complementary situations, whether it being a friend that complements you, or having this texture seen as beautiful in the media & fashion world is best fuel to fire up acceptance of the beautiful 4abc patterns. All the 4's of the world, WORK IT YA'LL!!!!

mangomadness said...

I love my tightly coiled hair. I loved it upon first sight (BC: Dec 2008). My hair is lush, fluffy, soft and sheen-y. My hair super malleable and because of that I can do any hairstyle under the sun (this is the perfect match for my creative personality). Last, but not least, my hair is a wonderful gift past down to me from all of my Nigerian ancestors.

My hair is easy to care for and is thriving all because I've taken the time to research (and experiment with) different ways to care for and style it. I am forever greatful for all the awesome natural-haired women that put all the info, videos and pics online for myself and other naturals (as well as aspiring naturals) to study and learn from.

P.S. I'm not a fan of the word "nappy" or "curly" to describe my hair. Why? Because my hair neither of those things. I use words like like "coily", "tightly coiled" and "highly textured" to describe my hair. I feel like they accurately represent the beauty that is my hair.

Also, I do not need to think my hair is "curly" in order to love it. I also do not need to think is coveted or admired by peeople with other looser hair types. Admiration is nice but is not the source of my love for my hair.

GirlGriot said...

Wow, this is a great conversation!

I have crazy-thick, super kinky hair. As nappy as it comes (I actually think 4c isn't curly enough to describe me). And I love every strand of it! I've been natural for 23 years and the first 6 of those I wore a short afro, love-love-loving it. I started to grow my hair out to see how big I could get my afro and then started wearing 2-strand twists. Variations on those two styles were all I did for years (I can rock a great Cleopatra Jones fro these days!) I discovered Curly Nikki earlier this year when I started feeling nostalgic for my little afro and started thinking I’d shave my head. A friend pointed me to CN, and I started playing with new styles. I'm having fun learning some new tricks and my hair is happy to be so well cared for. I've kept my hair about 8-10 inches long for years, but have recently started growing it. We'll see where this leads ...

And yes, I said "nappy." I know there are a lot of people who object to that word. And I object to it, too, when people use it as a put-down. There is nothing wrong with calling your natural hair nappy if that's a word you're comfortable with. There is something wrong with calling natural hair "nasty-nappy," which was said to me by a few relatives early on in my natural days.

When I announced that I was going to cut off my relaxer and wear a short afro, not a soul was in favor of the plan. I was told I'd look like a man, that I didn't "have the face" for short hair, that people would think I was angry or militant or gay. So many passionate responses! But I went ahead and did it anyway and within a fairly short time all those naysayers became fans. The day I cut my hair, my sister took one look and made an appointment to get hers cut the next day! I have to say, I wasn’t happy for the first 3 days. I went from hair below my shoulders to hair about ½ an inch long in a flash, and I needed some time to mourn the loss. My sister’s reaction to seeing me helped, but it still took a couple of days for me to wake up and see myself, see how cute and fabulous my hair was.

I've had people respond unbelievably negatively to my hair (a black woman I worked with actually stopped speaking to me after I cut off my hair in 1988. Seriously.) I've had people say incredibly stupid things to me about my hair and about what must be true about me because I wear my hair natural. I don't let any of that nonsense bother me. I have loved my natural hair from the day I "big chopped" ... though we didn't call it that back then. I wish I'd cut off my relaxer years before I did.

I doubt that my hair is coveted by too many people. A few, sure, but not the majority. I say that only because when you see images of natural hair, you rarely see hair that looks like mine. I get a LOT of compliments on my hair, however, from both men and women. But, while I am flattered by the compliments and don't mind getting them, they hardly matter. What matters is that my hair pleases me and that I am happy with it every single day.

For ladies who struggle with accepting their 4abc/kinky hair, I say tune out the chatter about hair types and "good" hair (someone had the nerve to tell me the other day that I have "coolie" hair!), and focus on yourself, focus on how your hair feels when it's cared for, focus on how beautifully it frames your face. Focus on how great you feel not putting harsh chemicals in it. Give yourself time to get used to it. After years of relaxing, it's a big change to adapt to. Be patient with yourself and kind to your hair. One morning, you're going to get up, look in the mirror and fall. in. love. And there will be no turning back!

Girlgriot

Anonymous said...

It's a natural tendency to want to categorize and identify things but the fact that people go so far as to categorize and sub- categorize "our" curls speaks volumes to me. I never had or wanted to have or thought about having a perm [I and my 4 sisters and mom have always been natural, no second thought about it.] I certainly didn't grow up looking at myself saying "boy, i'm a 4a and my sister is a 4c and my cousin is a 3a"-- so, it's such a strange thing for me to see people struggle with this. The natural hair movement?rebirth?acceptance? has bred new forms of self- hate, rather than acceptance, with people in races to be categorized as a 3c versus a 4a because there's an implication that 4a is just not "curly" enough, and in races to acquire length, even over health. It's interesting to watch-- especially when coming from people who espouse "natural hair acceptance" but who are clearly not fooling anyone. If you truly loved and enjoyed your hair, you'd be able to accept it, work with it, compliment/acknowledge hair different from your own without being envious of it, and you'd be able to look at your or someone else's hair and not immediately equate a healthy, beautiful head of hair with how long or loosely- spiraled it is. and, that's that. I also think that, to a certain degree, if people were as comfortable with their what their hair is, it wouldn't matter what name you give the hair, or how it's "typed"--- it would just be your healthy head of hair [because at the end of the day, 4c hair and the products/treatment for that grouping may be as vastly different from each other as it would be from another hair type all together.]

Anonymous said...

If "curls are curls" then we need to say GOOD-BYE to hair typing. Just know that you have curly hair. Period. And stop putting your "curls are curls" in a category that separates them from other types of curls.

Some people may want to make the argument that they need to know their hair type so that they use the "right" products for their hair type. That's boo-boo. Many of us use hair products like Herbal Essence, Garnier Fructis, VO5, that were made for STRAIGHT haired women...yet they work on our curly hair.

So no excuses, stop typing.

---Shauna

Tiffany said...

Woo-hoo glad there is a cheering section.

Peace, Love and Chocolate,
Tiffany

Miss Ashlee said...

I'm around a 4b and I love it. I think 4c hair is beautiful. It's versatile and I just love the texture of it!

Anonymous said...

I love my very curly and still yet, not so curly, hair. I have "I love you" days and "I really don't like you at all" days as every woman does.

But I think diversity of hair textures can begin on such a prominent and popular website as this one, CurlyNikki. I love you site but to be honest, I don't see as much diversity on here as I wish. Usually you see our kind of hair when photos are posted on Friday.

Anonymous said...

Great article and I couldn't agree more! Let's emrace all the textures and get past this notion of good hair and bad hair

Anonymous said...

I love my kinky in the front,curly in the back, tightly coiled in places, super shrinkage all over except one small spot hair. I guess in other terms 4a-c hair. I accept all compliments and let the negative attacks roll off my back(yes attacks but only on FB from friends of friends)I love my picked out fro and my twist especially when they coil up at the end. My twist outs seem to last for upto a week or more if I retwist every night. What can I say I love my hair. I do get a lot of looser curlies compliment my hair styles and always leave a statement at the end of the compliment I wish I could do that or I wish my hair would just stay styled. I loved the article.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Shauna. I'm so tired of this obsession with hair typing. Humans don't seem to be comfortable with anything unless they can categorize it, label it or "type" it. A person's hair is what it is. Learn to love it and learn to take care of it. The end.

Annie L. said...

Why stop there? Let's explore beyond lumping everyone into curly. While I agree with the OP (especially about 'nappy' and to some degree 'kinky') I also realize not all of us have spirals. I've seen naturals with curly, straight and wavy hair, but because it has a fluffy/woolly/cottony surface texture and not a smooth or 'silky' one it isn't considered curly, straight or wavy by some. It seems the catch-all phrase for having not-coils but not White straight or wavy either, is kinky or nappy. This may work for some but not for others.

I think we can separate the idea of hair patterns (straight, coils or waves) from the idea of textures (fine, thick, cottony and fluffy) and learn a lot more about our nuanced hair beyond Andre Walker's system and what some have decided works for them - if for no other reason than out of simple curiosity and continuing to explore all parts of this lye-free journey.

As for my hair doubts, I had to finally see my hair in 2006 after years of extensions to realize it was awesome. I don't rely on the hair typing system, nor really think about pattern or texture but have no problem saying curly, wavy or straight textured hair about any natural without fear of stirring hair culture wars.
And I may not be saying those things in a year anyway. These terms and categories are all just a variety of synonym for the same thing (i.e. curly, coily, springy) that people contextualize to suit their own needs.

I would say to others when in doubt about your textured coils, ripples or straight strands, step back, breathe and push past your comfort level with your hair by asking yourself a lot of questions. Is your issue a dislike of surface texture? Lack of styling time in the morning? Flat, 1B color? Maybe with some soul and forum searching the way to hair nirvana is just around the corner. Great article btw!

Hershe_82 said...

This post stole my heart! We were all made in God's image, I will NOT be defined by the texture, coil, curl, kink, "nap" of my hair, I will be defined as the woman that I am. It doesn't matter my image because NO TWO people are alike, so we all should embrace the individual that we are and not let hair be a Label! I love being naptural irregardless if I may be classified to fall in the 4a-c group, either way I see a beautiful black nubian Queen when I look in the mirror, thats what my mother always told me *Big Smile*!!
Blessings all you Natural Divas!!!

Lauren said...

Wow, I didn't know it was still this deep.

As someone who has had struggles with being one of the very few light-skinned girls in my school and ALWAYS having problems with my 4a/b hair, I didn't take any offense to the article.

If it was a white person or a man, it doesn't matter I understood the message for what is was. Every blog or video blog I've come across has had the same message: support each other.

I used to wish that I had looser curls, because I thought they would be easier to manage, but because everyone has been supporting each other it's been easier to accept my hair.

Now I just need to find as much information as I can on a newly transitioned 4a/b hair!

Sutraraie said...

Lovely,as I always! When I see myself in the mirror,I think "What a gorgeous,natural woman you are,thick tight curls,given to me by my Creator.Living it, loving it,celebrating it and my gift of life. Blessings of Yahweh to you.

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