Excuse Me, Are Your Boobs Real?

Phoenyx Austin, M.D.

Ok ladies, the headline of my post was kinda meant to grab your attention. We’re not really talking about boobs today on CurlyNikki- at least not directly. LOL.

So why did I mention boobs? Well let me give you the boob-backstory:

This weekend, while taking time out to celebrating my birthday (yay!) and pondering life questions like - “Man, why couldn’t I have known what I know now at 20?” - I also had the pleasure of winding up in a highly controversial conversation about hair- more specifically whether it’s “rude to ask a woman if her hair is real.”

I've been asked this question a bit- especially after going natural. And a young lady (also natural), who brought up the topic, said that asking someone if their hair is “real” is the equivalent of “walking up to a random stranger and asking if her boobs were real.” Furthermore, she believed the question is sometimes asked not out of genuine curiosity- but rather to embarrass a woman.

So while I would definitely see why the “are your boobs real” question is worthy of a not so gracious response- especially if the question was asked maliciously- I wonder if many others think the “is that your hair” question is always worthy of a “are you serious right now?” type reaction.

And not everyone thinks the question is rude or worthy of an embarrassed reaction. For instance, a girlfriend of mine said women who do wear weave/wigs/extensions should proudly respond to this type of question with: “yeah, it’s mine- I got the receipt for it!”

So do you think it's rude or tacky to ask a woman if her hair is really hers?

Would you be offended if someone asked you if your hair was yours? Have you ever been asked this question? How did you respond?

Liked this article and want to ask Dr. Phoenyx Austin a question or leave a comment? You can find her on Facebook where she offers advice on natural hair and wellness- and you can also find her on Twitter @Dr_Phoenyx!

Social Networking, Scandal, and Stupidity

By Dr. Phoenyx Austin

Ok, so I decided to deviate a bit from the topic of hair today. Why so? Well I want to touch a bit on the topic of social networking, scandal, and stupidity. I’ve been known to drop my two-cents occasionally on relationships and sex- so infidelity and cheating are topics that are very familiar to me.

So yesterday, when the scandal broke about married Rep. Anthony Weiner contacting women via Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites, I became involved in an interesting discussion with one of my male friends about men and cheating. The reality is that infidelity is as old as time. But what’s still relatively new to all of us is this epidemic of using social networking sites to cheat. Did you know that Facebook has been linked to 66 percent of divorces in the U.S. according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML)? Yes folks- it’s that rampant.

Cheating is wrong period. But personally, I’m completely perplexed when married men (especially high profile figures like politicians) use social networking sites to cheat. It seems like every other day we’re having politicians or public figures do press conferences to apologize for their naked bathroom cell phone pics or extramarital children. Is there no longer any shame or sensibility in the cheating game?

What are your thoughts on people using social networking to cheat? And what’s going on with these married politicians sending texts of their goodies to women on Craigslist and Facebook? Why get married?- Or here’s an even better question- Why not do things anonymously if you're going to eCheat?


Share your comments with Dr. Phoenyx on Facebook and Twitter.
Got a question for Dr. Phoenyx Austin? Send an email to [email protected] using 'Dr. Phoenyx' as the subject line.

5 Tips for Healthy and Lovely Curls

By Dr. Phoenyx Austin

Growing and maintaining healthy, gorgeous natural hair is not hard. It just requires making a commitment to certain basic health and lifestyle choices. When some women ask me about my hair and styling regimen, it's kinda funny because it sometimes feels like they want me to reveal some super duper top secret tip about what I do to keep my curls looking healthy and full. I always tell them the same basic things I’m about to tell you. Growing healthy and lovely curls is actually quite simple. And honestly there’s no big secret or magic pill. You just have to be patient and follow these 5 tips. Remember, if you love your hair, it will love you back.

1. Eat Healthy

Your hair is a reflection of your body’s internal state. So if you want good stuff on the outside, you can’t put junk on inside. We all know that eating healthy is often easier said than done. So it’s ok if you slip up occasionally. But if you want healthy and gorgeous natural hair, then you are going to have to make sure maintain a relatively healthy diet.

2. Take Vitamins

I wrote a post about this last week, so reference it if necessary. Ultimately, healthy hair needs several nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin B12, iron, biotin, zinc, etc. And the easiest way to get most of these nutrients is by taking a good multivitamin.

3. Regularly Deep Condition
If you want healthy, gorgeous curls then deep conditioning should become like a religion. In addition to regular conditioning, I also deep condition once every 2 weeks. Daily conditioners can work great, but often they often don’t have the capability to really penetrate the hair shaft and repair damage like deep conditioners do.

4. Moisturize Daily
The curlier the hair pattern, the drier hair will be. This is why women, particularly Black women with natural hair should make sure we moisturize our hair daily. Moisturizing is very important because it combats dryness, which will ultimately prevent breakage and damage.

5. Keep Things Low Maintenance

Keep things simple with low maintenance and protective styling. All hair goes through normal wear and tear. But the less stress you put on hair by manipulating it with things like combing and heat styling, the less likely it will incur damage that will cause things like split ends and breakage.

And that’s all folks!

What are some other healthy habits naturalistas should adopt for obtaining and maintaining beautiful hair?

Want more hair advice from our writer Dr. Phoenyx Austin? You can find her on Facebook and Twitter. Dr. Phoenyx has been featured in Essence for her gorgeous natural hair. And she is a physician, writer and media personality who discusses hair, love, and life.

Hair Vitamins 101- Natural Hair Info

By Dr. Phoenyx Austin

Most doctors know that a person’s hair, as well as their skin and nails, are a very good indicator of their nutritional state. Healthy hair is a direct reflection of proper nutrition- while deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals will result in stunted hair growth or even hair loss. And the most common vitamin deficiencies that lead to hair loss are deficiencies in B vitamins, especially B6, biotin, inositol and folic acid, as well as deficiencies in the minerals magnesium, sulfur and zinc.

These types of deficiencies are not uncommon because many of us live very busy lives where it’s often hard to eat a balanced diet that is inclusive of all the important vitamins and minerals. That’s why it’s important to take multivitamins and/or supplements.

Many women take supplements for the sole purpose of growing healthy hair, and that’s fine. But you shouldn’t overdo it. When it comes to vitamins and supplements, “more” is not always “better.” And sometimes when you exceed the recommended daily dosage for a vitamin/supplement, the result can be harmful. For example, taking large doses of vitamin A for an extended period of time can actually trigger hair loss!

So when it comes to hair health and vitamins, always take vitamins and supplements as directed. Here’s a list of vitamins and minerals for healthy hair, as well as the daily recommended allowance. Use this list as a reference guide:

  • Vitamin B3 (niacin) - Do not exceed 35mg per day.
  • Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) - Do not exceed manufacturer's dosage.
  • Pyridoxine (vitamin B6) - Do not exceed 100mg per day.
  • Dosage: Do not exceed manufacturer's dosage.
  • Dosage: Do not exceed 3,500mg per day.
Vitamin C
  • Dosage: Do not exceed 2,000mg per day.
Vitamin E
  • Dosage: Do not exceed 1,000mg per day.
  • Dosage: Do not exceed 40mg per day.

Dr. Phoenyx Austin is a physician, writer and media personality who discusses hair, love, and life. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

"The medical information in this article is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-physician relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. Please consult your health care provider before making any healthcare decisions. Dr. Phoenyx Austin and CurlyNikki.com expressly disclaim responsibility, and shall have no liability, for any damages, loss, injury, or liability whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained in this article."

What vitamins are you taking?

Why Black Women Rock!

Why Black Women Rock! My Thoughts That Crazy Psychology Today Article
By Dr. Phoenyx Austin

In case you missed it, the now infamous article titled Why Are Black Women Rated Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women, published yesterday in Psychology Today, set twitter and blogs ablaze. Why? Well if you read what Satoshi Kanazawa (the evolutionary psychologist who wrote the article) had to share about black women, you’d understand why. Basically he hypothesized that our “unattractiveness” could possibly be a function of our greater BMI’s (body mass index), our lower intelligence, our increased load of “genetic mutations,” and even to our higher levels of testosterone. Basically, it was one of the most unscientific and ignorant articles I ever read. And after I finished reading it, all I could think was this: Psychology Today actually published this?! LOL!

I guess, evolutionary psychology, or psychology for that matter must’ve gone through some evolutionary change itself that no longer requires its researchers to think or even publish fact. Because interestingly enough, in all his “hypothesizing” about black women, Mr. Kanazawa decided to completely ignore fact, and substitute it with fiction. Furthermore, he chose to even ignore the profound effect of social conditioning on perceptions of attractiveness. Well I’m not a psychologist. But I’m a medical doctor, have a degree in psychology, and that’s something I learned in undergrad Psych 101.

It doesn’t take a psychologist to recognize that our perceptions of beauty are greatly shaped by what we see, hear, etc… When we sit down to watch television, who do we see? Or rather, I should be asking: Who do we not see? It’s common knowledge that black women are not equitably or variably represented in the media. The general public is constantly bombarded with images of “beautiful” fairer skinned, straighter haired women (i.e. women that do not look like us), it ultimately shouldn’t be too surprising when black women are “perceived” as less attractive.

It’s a classic case of social conditioning. And it’s something that Kanazawa, interestingly enough, wanted to omit. The article has since been removed. But the damage has already been done to Kanazawa and Psychology Today’s reputation. And ultimately this article also displayed that being a psychologist, or any doctor for that matter, does not always require the ability to think intelligently and objectively. It also doesn’t require that one not be ignorant. But even through his very transparent attempt to bash black women, Kanazawa made a great misstep and accidentally pointed out one of the most amazing things about us. And what’s that?

Well, Kanazawa wrote this:
It is very interesting to note that, even though black women are objectively less physically attractive than other women, black women (and men) subjectively consider themselves to be far more physically attractive than others.
I don’t know about you, but when I read this I got the biggest kool-aid grin. I smiled because it speaks to our resilience and strength. No matter what, you are not going to break a real black woman’s self-confidence when it comes to comparisons with others. You can’t convince a real black woman that she doesn’t look good, that she weighs too much, that she’s too “manly,” or that men don’t want her. I takes me back to one of the first poems I memorized by one of my inspirations and one of the most phenomenal black women, Dr. Maya Angelou:

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

So let’s keep holding our heads up high ladies. We’re phenomenal and we know it. Rock on sisters… rock on!

Want to leave a question/comment for our writer Dr. Phoenyx Austin? Well head over to her Facebook page and follow her on Twitter. A phenomenal mix of brains and beauty, Dr. Phoenyx is a writer, media personality and physician who’s all about natural hair, health, and happiness. And she has been featured in Essence and has also appeared on popular shows like The Russ Parr Morning Show and The Warren Ballentine Show.


CurlyNikki Says;

***Check out Psychology Today's follow-up article.***

Weigh in!

“Natural Hair’s Not Meant To Be Defined!”

My Run In With A “Militant Naturalista”
By Dr. Phoenyx Austin

An interesting thing happened to me the other day. I was at a salon, asking a few naturalistas for their individual opinions on a couple hair products. More specifically I was asking them to compare and critique Taliah Waajid’s Protective Mist Bodifier vs. Kinky Curly’s Knot Today- two products that I enjoy using for detangling and curl definition.

That’s when a passerby naturalista stopped by our group. She appeared agitated. And without any warning she interjected with this statement: “Look, our natural hair was not meant to be ‘detangled’ and ‘defined.’ It’s meant to be worn ‘as is.’ And doing things to manipulate it with products is no different than women who have identity issues and get relaxers.”


Now I won’t get into how that conversation ended. LOL. Rather, I’d like to take her statement as an opportunity to open up dialogue on this question: “Do you define your curls, or do your curls define you?”

I’m one of the biggest natural hair lovers around. And yes, I’ll fight a sista or stylist to the death before I let them put a relaxer on my head. But I’m far from what I like to refer to as the “militant naturalista.” What do I mean by the “militant naturalista?” Well she’s the naturalista that feels it’s her mission to aggressively “educate” and even chastise women (both relaxed and natural) about what natural hair “means” as well as how it “should be worn.”

I’ve had a few “interesting” run-ins with these types of naturalistas. In fact, a couple months ago I had an encounter with another militant naturalista who steadfastly declared that “if your hair ain’t natural, you don’t love yourself!” Mind you, this woman was also wearing colored contact lenses and acrylic nails.

While no two naturals are the same, I tend to divide naturalistas into the “live and let live” and the “militant” types. And as much as I love and celebrate natural hair, I could never be a “militant.” Why? Because I love versatility and freedom. I define my curls- my curls don’t define me. And quite frankly, I’m too busy ‘doing me” to chastise other women about how they “do them.”

So if you’re a ‘militant naturalista,” or if you know a “militant naturalista,” just tell her to chill a bit. Every naturalista (and woman for that matter) has the freedom to express her natural beauty the way she deems fit- whether it’s via an untamed afro or defined curls.

Because quite honestly ladies, it’s oftentimes hard enough just learning to love ourselves. So we should all encourage and celebrate each other, regardless of how we wear our natural hair. Don’t you agree?

So what are your thoughts ladies- Do you define your curls, or do your curls define you?
Have you ever encountered a “militant naturalista?” How did you handle them?

Want to leave a question/comment for Dr. Phoenyx Austin? Well head over to her Facebook page and follow her on Twitter. A phenomenal mix of brains and beauty, Dr. Phoenyx is a natural hair & relationship expert, as well as a pop culture enthusiast. She has been featured in Essence and has also appeared on popular shows like The Russ Parr Morning Show and The Warren Ballentine Show.

Are You A Mixologist?- Natural Hair Product Recipes

By Dr. Phoenyx Austin

I love mixing stuff! Whether it’s experimenting with ingredients like coconut milk and avocados for delectable hair treatments, or mixing ingredients like essential oils and sugar to make yummy body scrubs- I love mixing things! And today I’d like to focus on hair.

Below is one of my favorite homemade deep conditioning treatments. Here’s the recipe:
  • ¼ cup of Coconut Milk (full fat)
  • ¼ cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 small avocado
Mix all ingredients in blender under low speed until smooth. Then place on hair and allow to sit for 30 minutes. You can do a more intense deep conditioning treatment by using a heat cap.
After time has elapsed, thoroughly rinse hair, and voila! Your hair will be soft, moisturized, and I’ve even found that this recipe also helps elongate my curls!

So ladies, are any of you mixologists?

Do you have any fabulous homemade recipes for your gorgeous tresses? Do share!

Liked this article and want some more tips for stunning hair and skin? Well join Dr. Phoenyx’s Facebook fan page. Known for her gorgeous natural tresses and flawless skin, Dr. Phoenyx has been featured in Essence and loves sharing info on natural hair and skin care. And she also loves gifting her fabulous fans with awesome product giveaways! So get over to her page and showcase your natural beauty for a chance to win! And don’t forget to also follow her on Twitter @Dr_Phoenyx!

How to Transition to Natural Hair with a Weave

By Dr. Phoenyx Austin

When it comes to transitioning from relaxed to natural hair, hair pieces like weaves ,wigs, and hair extensions, can become a girl’s new best friend. I did the big chop, but not all ladies want to go that route and dramatically sacrifice length. They rather do things more gradual. And I can understand and respect that.

That’s where weaves, wigs, and even hair extensions come in as great transitioning tools to aid in protective styling while letting you maintain an incredibly fabulous look. But they have to be worn correctly. Because bad hair pieces can (1) make you look a hot mess while (2) slowly but surely damaging your new natural hair and even, gasp, balding you in the process!

As a doctor, I would advise against wearing any weave or wig that’s uncomfortable or too tight. This will lead to hair breakage and even balding. And if you choose to wear any hair piece, I would also advise that you get it professionally done. Why? Because if going bald isn’t bad enough, some women also add insult to injury when they rock hair pieces that also look a hot mess. We’ve all seen those ratty, bird nest-looking weaves and wigs. Not a good look.

So future naturalistas, if you want to rock a hair piece while transitioning, I say go for it! And current naturalistas, if you want to use hair pieces for protective styling, that’s cool too. Just pay very close attention to maintenance and hair hygiene. Follow my 4 tips, and in no time, you’ll be well on your way to gorgeous natural hair!

1. Watch your hairline and loosen up
It’s not a good look to wear a wig that looks like its eating your forehead or wear extensions that are so tight that your eyebrows stay raised in a perpetually surprised look. And besides not being a good look, these are also the quickest ways to cause hair loss. Every time you remove that hair piece, you’re stripping hair right out of your follicles- which equals permanent hair loss. So if you want to use a hair piece, avoid tight styles and do not glue anything directly to your hair or hairline.

2) Take vitamins
When you wear a hair piece, it’s important to remember that you should also be paying attention to the health of your own natural hair underneath. There will come the time when you won’t want to wear your weave/wig anymore. So while you’re rocking your cute little hair piece, make sure to eat healthy, drink lots of water, and take vitamins. The thing to remember is that healthy hair starts from the inside out. So take a good multivitamin, biotin, or prenatal vitamins, which are great for optimal hair growth and hair health.

3) Moisturize your natural hair
While you wear your hair piece, you should also make sure you moisturize your natural hair- don’t just forget about it underneath your hair piece. There are tons of hair products options. I'm natural haired, was recently featured in Essence and talked about some of the hair products I use. You will have to experiment with what works for you. There’s bad stuff, good stuff, and great stuff. And when it comes to the bad stuff, I will say that there are a few ingredients that you should definitely limit or avoid. These ingredients are sodium lauryl sulfate, alcohol, petroleum and mineral oil- all of which cause buildup, are drying, pore-clogging and moisture-blocking. Instead use products from reputable brands, as well as products that contain great moisturizers like olive oil and jojoba oil.

4) Regularly shampoo, condition, and style
I cannot stress enough that regular shampooing, conditioning, and styling is a very important part of transitioning/protective styling with a weave or wig. Don’t go longer than 1 week without washing your hair. Buildup of hair products and bacteria, can lead to mild and even serious scalp inflammation and infections, which can also lead to hair loss. And if you’re fortunate not to get an infection, there is the embarrassment of having smelly hair. And nobody wants that. Basically, you can’t just slap on a hair piece and think that’s the end of things. You have to be as meticulous as you would have been without the hair piece. Comb it. Wash it. Style it. Wrap your hair at night. Be good to it. Love it! Even though it’s not your actual hair, it’s still a product that needs to be taken care of and maintained as you transition.

And that’s all folks! Now a few questions….

Are you considering using a weave, wig, or hair extensions to transition to natural hair? Do you currently wear a weave, wig, or hair extensions for protective styling? If so, can you offer any additional tips or advice?

Liked this article and want to know more about our writer Dr. Phoenyx Austin? Well show her some love on her Facebook fan page. A phenomenal mix of brains and beauty, Dr. Phoenyx is a physician, beauty & lifestyle writer, and media personality who encourages all women to be fierce and fabulous! And you can also follow her on Twitter @Dr_Phoenyx!

Should Relaxers Be Used On Children?

By Dr. Phoenyx Austin

Just this past week I was featured in Essence Magazine’s Natural Hair Diary. I was interviewed by Patrice Grell Yursik, the natural-haired beauty known as Afrobella, who asked several questions about my natural hair journey- specifically when I got my first relaxer. I was actually in kindergarten when I got my first relaxer. And I must admit that despite my mother’s best intentions, I don’t believe that it was the best decision to relax my hair at such an early age.

Lots of natural-haired women first started getting relaxers when they were children. It’s something that’s very common- almost like a rite of passage. Oftentimes parents hold certain beliefs about natural hair and ultimately accept relaxers because they think it makes our hair “more manageable,” “socially acceptable,” and “pretty.” So as expected, parents will relax their child’s hair. It’s viewed as normal. But unfortunately, little thought goes into how a parent’s perceptions of natural vs. relaxed hair can negatively shape a child’s self-image and self-esteem.

Personally, I do not believe relaxers should be used on children. Why? My reason is threefold. One, from a professional standpoint, I don’t think relaxers are even healthy for adults, let alone children. Two, I think relaxing a child’s hair to make it “socially acceptable” and “pretty” will ultimately lead a child to reason and believe that their natural hair is something that’s “less acceptable” and “less pretty” without some sort of chemical alteration. And three, it is my belief that the decision to relax a child’s hair is also about a lack of information and knowledge about natural hair care. And considering all the current advancements in hair care, like tons of wonderful natural hair products, online forums such as CurlyNikki, as well as natural hair salons, I think we are at the time where relaxing a child’s hair should be the rare exception and not the rule.

Children are very impressionable and need time to develop a positive self-image. And relaxing your child’s hair at an early age, especially before they’ve been taught to appreciate and style their own natural hair, could ultimately lead to hair related self-esteem issues later on in life. Grant it, your child may grow up and ultimately decide that she wants a relaxer. But that decision should be made only AFTER she has been given the opportunity to develop a positive self-image through loving and appreciating her natural hair.

What are your thoughts on relaxers and little girls? Do you think it’s psychologically healthy to relax a child’s hair? And if a child/parent does want a relaxer, when do you think is the most age appropriate time to get a relaxer?

Liked this article and want to know more about our writer Dr. Phoenyx Austin? Well show her some love on her Facebook fan page where she offers advice on beauty and relationships, while encouraging all women to be fierce and fabulous! And follow her on Twitter @Dr_Phoenyx!

Black People Who Don’t Like Natural Hair

A Natural Hair Discussion
by Dr. Phoenyx Austin

I was part of a discussion this past weekend where the hot topic of choice was black people who don’t like natural hair. The discussion was actually initiated after I received a tweet from a beautiful natural haired girl who asked for my opinion on why black men don’t like natural hair.

Now questions like this are often a touchy subject for black women, and black people in general, but I wanted to offer my honest opinion. So what was my response? Basically I responded that it’s been my observation that most of these black men who dislike natural hair actually have a “complex” - most often due to systematic brainwashing. I don’t think it’s as simple as just having a “preference.”

But do I get angry at or bash these black men? No. Not especially when I see how they (and black women) are flooded with images of a certain “standard of beauty.’ And not especially when these same black men even witness so many black women lending validity to this “standard of beauty” when we choose to alter our appearance to look more like our non-black female counterparts.

And for me, the natural hair issue is really no different than the “color complex”- namely where black people have a preference and greater acceptance for lighter skinned individuals. So when it comes to my opinion on black men who dislike natural hair and have other “preferences,” if I were to put myself in these young black man’s shoes and attempt to think like them, my thought process would go something like this: “Why get the generic, imitation doll when what I really want is the Barbie?” Get my drift?

Sometimes we make jokes about these complexes in the black community- think Uncle Ruckus from The Boondocks- but it’s actually a very serious topic. And the issue is not limited to the United States. For instance, I was reading an article in The Grio just yesterday about the growing trend of skin bleaching in Jamaican slums. It appears that despite widespread health warnings, many adult Jamaicans are obsessed with using risky methods to lightening their own and even their children’s skin. The story created much discussion on The Grio’s site, and many black people here were quick to make statements about how “sad” and “mentally enslaved” those poor Jamaicans are. But for me, this growing practice in Jamaica is no different than when black women in the United States continue to relax their own and their 6 year old child’s hair- especially after we’ve all seen the coda can scene in Good Hair.

Will all black people ever come to a point where we’re totally accepting of our natural beauty? I don’t know. The sad truth is that people, not just black people, do harmful things to themselves to look like other people all the time. It’s nothing new. But if anything at all, maybe continuing to have these types of discussions about race and natural hair, no matter how uncomfortable, will be a source of support and enlightenment for the individuals who are truly yearning to come to a place where they can finally accept and love themselves.

What do you think when a black person says they don’t like natural hair? Is it an issue of brainwashing or just plain preference?

Want to know more about Dr. Phoenyx Austin? Then show her some love on her Facebook fan page and follow her on Twitter @Dr_Phoenyx! Dr. Phoenyx is a physician, writer, & media personality- empowering women by providing fun and informative commentary that encourages us all to be fierce and fabulous!

Can Going Natural Really Affect Your Career?

by Dr. Phoenyx Austin

Let me ask a couple questions: Were you afraid of going natural because you were worried what your employer/coworkers would think? Are you thinking about going natural right now, but hesitate because you think it will negatively affect your career?

The issue of “natural hair is unprofessional” was something I also struggled with before doing my big chop. I remember my mother and friends telling me that if I planned on becoming a doctor, I would have to keep my hair relaxed to “look professional.”

Despite their good intentions, fortunately my mother and friends were wrong. My natural hair has never caused an issue with employment or questions of professionalism. And interestingly enough, since going natural I constantly get approached by professional black women that are also interested in transitioning to natural hair. They are often surprised that I’m a doctor and that my hair has never been an issue. And while giving my opinion and advice on going natural, I tell them to answer this one question as honestly as they can: Do you really think that your employer/coworker will have an issue, or is it just that YOU have an issue with natural hair.

I ask this question because I’ve noticed an interesting trend in the whole “natural hair is unprofessional” perspective. I’ve found many times that a black woman’s perceptions of how natural hair might be perceived are oftentimes not reality, but just a reflection and projection of her own insecurities. Moreover, when I went natural it was interesting to observe that the only criticisms of unprofessionalism that I received were from a handful of other black people— non-black people didn’t seem to care. And it’s all of these experiences that led me to have the strong opinion that whether fellow black people, or people of other races like it or not, this is our hair and they should get used to it. No one should feel forced to put a relaxer on their hair and scalp, just to be “accepted” or to make other people more comfortable.

It’s true that certain industries require a more conservative look. But I ultimately still encourage women to transition to natural if they really want to. Why? Because it is possible to have a conservative look with natural hair. People that claim natural hair is unprofessional are just uneducated on how to care for and/or style natural hair. Basically when it comes to hair, natural or relaxed, neatness and maintenance are key. And when it comes to professionalism, how you carry yourself is even more important than how you wear your hair.

Want to know more about Dr. Phoenyx Austin? Then show her some love on her Facebook fan page! Dr. Phoenyx is a physician, writer, & media personality- empowering women by providing fun and informative commentary that encourages us all to be free and be beautiful.

War and Peace: A Hair Story

by Dr. Phoenyx Austin

Hi, my name is Phoenyx and I’m so excited to be guest blogger on CurlyNikki.com! I’ve watched CurlyNikki grow through the years and it’s such a joy to see so many beautiful, natural-haired women on this site! I definitely look forward to sharing future posts with all of you. And since this is my first post, I thought it would be best to get better acquainted by sharing my hair story. So here it goes…

I got my first relaxer in kindergarten. And if I had to describe the experience, I would say it was a full on indoctrination. I didn’t know why it was being done- but I was told that the process was making my hair “more manageable.” Every 6-8 weeks of new growth was instantly met with relaxer. That was the protocol. And that’s the way things continued until I later became fully conscious of the constant conundrum of wanting to look good (as most budding young women do), but being in a constant state of hair vigilance. Sweat, water, wind (actually all the elements) were my biggest hair adversaries, and I did everything possible to avoid them- even to the detriment of my own enjoyment.

I didn’t realize it then, but I had become a prisoner to my hair. On occasion, I would wonder what it would be like to be free of the relaxer ritual. But that wasn’t enough to ignore the social and psychological stigma of natural hair. I was very fearful. And though my chemically-processed hair was literally driving me up a wall, I still felt safer with a perm. I’m sure many of you ladies can relate.

That’s the way things continued until one hot, humid and hell-ish hair day in the summer of 2005. I was in front of the bathroom mirror desperately trying to once again make something of my chemically-damaged mess. That’s when I finally stopped cursing my hair and instead forced myself to answer a really hard question: ‘Why am I doing this to myself?’ It was a profound moment for me and after I honestly answered the question, I made the decision to go natural right then and there.

It’s so wild to now look in the mirror, style my hair, smile, and see a totally different person than who existed almost 6 years ago. Since going natural, even a ‘bad hair day” is a “fab hair day.” I love my hair- kinks, curls, coils and all. And I love the feeling of freedom and inner peace that comes from finally embracing the hair that I was born to rock.

What do you think of my hair story? Was it similar to yours?

If you want to know more about our writer, Dr. Phoenyx Austin, show her some love on her Facebook fan page! In addition to being a natural hair enthusiast, Dr. Phoenyx is a physician, writer, & media personality. And she loves empowering women by providing witty, thought-provoking commentary and advice on love, relationships and sex.

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