By Veronica Wells

When I was first hired on at MadameNoire, I quickly learned that if we needed a traffic boost, all I had to do was write something about hair. It got to the point where I started feeling like I wrote, almost exclusively about hair. And eventually, I got burnt out. As a result, I vowed that I would no longer spend my days writing about something so “trivial.” I pulled a Solange. I said I wasn’t talking about no damn hair no mo only to continue talking about hair; Solange in the single from A Seat At The Table and me by writing for this Black women’s publication that focuses on our hair.

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It’s unavoidable. Not to mention the conversations surrounding our hair are rather fascinating. Like this picture of Shannon Brown and his wife, singer Monica, taken at rapper Gucci and Keyshia Kaoir’s wedding.

Singer Monica and husband Shannon Brown
If you see a beautiful, Black couple in love, you are nothing like the people in The Shade Room who used this series of photos as an opportunity to discuss Shannon’s cornrows. People, mostly women, clowned them, talking about everything from the style being outdated and juvenile to the length of the braids and how he had them tucked under one another.

I didn’t like Shannon’s hair either. But since cornrows were the go-to style of my adolescence, I wasn’t so quick to dismiss it as played out. And I thought the conversation, while hilarious, was a bit mean-spirited. After all, nothing says Black hair across the diaspora like cornrows. It’s unique. It’s ours and I don’t know if we should be so quick to write it off.

Last week, the internet was in an uproar about a J. Crew/Madewell ad featuring Dominican model Mari Henny Pasible. Everyone swore that J.Crew had dropped the ball in their incapability to hire a stylist who knew what to do with Black hair. I mean people were outraged, making jokes about wanting to fight the clothing company for allowing this Black woman to look “bad,” in a nationally disseminated ad campaign.
Model Mari Henny Pasible J. Crew
The whole J. Crew discussion reminded me of another one I had with real friends--or friends of friends rather. In a moment of candid conversation, they asked me my advice on what to do with a friend who was wearing her natural hair in a way they deemed “unkempt.” With genuine concern, they said, “I mean, I’m all for her embracing her natural texture but it needs to be styled differently. Why can’t she do something else with it?”

My response to them was something like the one the J. Crew model eventually offered. Both were looks the friend and the model had readily embraced and were happy to showcase. There is no “right” way to be natural.

We saw a similar discussion play out with Beyoncé and the way she let Blue Ivy wear her hair. We saw it in the comments issued by Isaiah Washington and Tyrese when they encouraged Black women to stop wearing weaves and fake hair, and with the everyday Black men who encouraged one Black woman to put her wig back on.

 
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When I first started thinking about the very story you’re reading right now, it was two separate topics. Why Black women believed cornrows were over and why men like Tyrese and Isaiah felt they had the right to tell us how to wear our hair. But it’s bigger than that.

As a community, we take an almost unhealthy interest and concern in the ways in which other Black people wear their own hair. Rarely, as a community do we stop with “I don’t like her hair” or “I don’t like his hair.” There is an entire dissertation why the way someone has chosen to wear their hair is “not right.” When I was considering the reasons for this phenomenon, I didn’t have to think too hard. For Black folk, there is the burden in the belief that the way we wear our hair says something about not only our personalities but our philosophies. There are thoughts that wearing “fake” hair means you don’t love yourself or embrace your Black features. There are people who will argue that it’s deceptive.

But more than anything, the reason Black folk are so concerned about what other people are doing with their Black hair is largely based on respectability politics. Beyond just a style or a preference, for centuries many Black folk believed that if we didn’t wear our hair in ways that were similar to or appealed to White people we were only going to be allowed to get so far in life. It was the reason my mother told me after I’d gone natural, to buy a wig for job interviews. It’s the reason that Wendy Williams said Viola Davis’ natural hair wasn’t appropriate for the red carpet. It’s the reason HBCUs forbid certain hairstyles in their business schools. And the reason Steve Perry and Steve Harvey applauded a group of young, Black men who made the decision to cut off their locs, braids and fros in favor of a look that was connected to the “aesthetics of success.” Whose aesthetic? Furthermore, what type of success is there to be had when you have to mask your cultural or racial identity to attain it?

There are times when we’re judging, commenting, clowning, and policing one another’s hair for the sake of coolness and style. As a people who invented style and embody cool, that will always be the case. But more concerning are the times when the ownership we take over one another’s hair is clearly our own grappling with fully accepting Black hair. For so many of us there is still hesitancy in accepting Black looks that don’t adhere to certain Eurocentric beauty standards (i.e. perfectly slicked edges, length minimums, texture preferences). The real tragedy in what we’ve been convinced to think of ourselves and our features, whether through images, representation, or oppression, is that even when White folks aren’t even thinking about dismissing or denigrating our hair, we do it to ourselves.

Why do you believe we 'police' each other's hair so much?

Veronica Wells is the culture editor at MadameNoire.com. She is also the author of “Bettah Days” and the creator of the website NoSugarNoCreamMag. You can follow her on Facebook and on Instagram and Twitter @VDubShrug.
Liv of LiveNaturallyLove
Hi Loves,
This natural hair 4b/4c protective style is perfect for holiday season, winter, graduation, prom, anything! Click to see how I achieved this sleek ponytail look. I hope you enjoy!!!✨
Love,
Liv

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Gabrielle Union 
By Madamenoire
Gabrielle Union is undergoing a major transition career and image wise. In the past year, we’ve seen the actress become an activist and author, speaking out on sexual assault and race matters and publishing her first novel, We’re Going to Need More Wine. The 45-year-old also became an entrepreneur, debuting a line of hair care products under the brand name Flawless. And on that front we also saw Gabby makeover her own mane, ditching the straight styles she’s known for in favor of rocking more natural textures and, in some instances, her own hair.

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Photo: nftips.com
By Mary Wolff

We all want long, healthy hair. When it comes to generating new growth, it can feel like a slow, painful journey. Many naturals turn to supplements as a way to get the results they want with a little more speed. However, a lot of what you read online may just be hype or hearsay, neither of which really do you any good. When it comes to supplements, there are several which are touted as hair miracles. What about zinc? Does zinc help hair grow longer?

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Zinc is a nutrient the body uses in several ways. According to the National Institutes of Health fact sheet on zinc, “It helps the immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses. The body also needs zinc to make proteins and DNA, the genetic material in all cells. During pregnancy, infancy, and childhood, the body needs zinc to grow and develop properly. Zinc also helps wounds heal and is important for proper senses of taste and smell.” While the correlation between this nutrient and health have been long established, the effect it has on helping hair growth is still under investigation. Studies are finding that it looks promising that zinc can help with hair growth. In fact, a pilot study was performed by researchers in Thailand to examine the effects of zinc for hair loss in women. The results were published in a journal called Hair Therapy and Transplantation with the researchers reporting that, “For the patient self-assessment, it showed that 55.5% of patients had significantly improved, 27.7% had moderately improved and 16.7% had minimally improved.” These women also showed signs of hair growth which makes the connection between zinc and hair growth. There are other studies currently being done to continue this line of investigation into the powers of zinc and hair health.

Regardless of the research, we all know a proper diet with all the essential nutrients is key to healthy hair. So, how do you make sure you are getting enough zinc? While everyone is quick to reach for a supplement, it may be smarter to look at your diet. Most nutrients are more powerful when absorbed through diet. Zinc can be found in foods such as beef, lobster, spinach, chickpeas, cashews, and more. Overloading on zinc can lead to health complications so you want to check with your doctor before making any sudden or drastic changes to your diet or adding a supplement to your routine. Getting too much, whether through diet or supplements, can lead to nausea, vomiting, headaches, and other side effects, so you want to be very careful with this one.
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 By Mary Wolff

Choosing your next hairstyle can be tricky. You obviously want something that is stylish and easy to care for, but you probably also want a look that will last a few weeks. When it comes to these 5 inexpensive ways to freshen your hairstyle, make your look go the extra mile without spending a lot of money.

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1. Add a Gloss

One of the easiest ways to change things up is to add a gloss to your hair. This is usually more affordable than a full-on color job and can add new life to your hair. Most last for only a few shampoos so they are also non-committal for those not sure if they will like it. Best of all, you don’t even need a trip to the salon! There are products that let you add gloss to your strands in the comfort of your own home such as John Frieda Clear Shine Luminous Glaze.

2. Get a Trim

This is a great way to freshen up your hair while keeping it healthy and happy. Whether you choose to do a blunt cut style trim, dusting, or step into the salon for a layered trim, cutting your hair is an inexpensive way to give things a new vibe.

3. Add an Accessory

When you are just tired of your hair in general, a great way to bring back the fun is with a stylish hair accessory. From sleek headbands and flower clip ins to elegant head wraps, there are a ton of affordable hair accessories to help set a new style for your hair.

4. Create Bangs

If you have ever wondered how you would look with bangs, but are too scared to take the plunge, create them without ever using the scissors! This look is easy to do and can make you feel like you have a whole new style. Here is a quick tutorial on how to achieve this look, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOOrNzTsjDw

5. Add a Few Highlights

If a full color job is a little too pricey at the moment, adding a few highlights is a more budget-friendly solution that can make your hair feel different and fresh. When choosing this option to freshen up your locks, aim for a few face framing highlights to really create a new look.