By Kanisha Parks

Lurking in the comment sections / dropping shade left and right
Mad at the world / always ready to fight.
They think they run the hair scene / their way or none
Natural Hair Nazis / mad since day one.


Seriously, cheesy poetry aside: Natural Hair Nazism is real and thriving. It’s unfortunate, really, because ultimately, it really is just hair. But Natural Hair Nazis take this hair thing to a wholeee other level. While being natural for seven years, I heard the term “Natural Hair Nazi” thrown around pretty consistently but since returning relaxed, the term instantly became personal. I never knew how much women cared about other women’s hair!

What’s more is, Natural Hair Nazis don’t just discriminate against relaxed ladies—they get mad at the hair choices of other naturals too! They feel as though “being natural” should be conducted a certain way, and anything contrary to their opinion of what it means to be natural is frowned upon.
So the question is (and be real)—are you a Natural Hair Nazi? Let’s find out!

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You don’t like it when naturals define their curls.
You feel like naturals should just let their hair “be,” and that if women prefer their hair defined it means they’re not happy with the way their hair naturally acts. You ride or die for the wash and go, and you mean that literally—not wash, define, and go. You get bothered when you see a natural who invests a lot of time in making sure her hair looks “perfect,” and think she’s doing too much.


You don’t like when naturals straighten their hair.
You think they’re “trying to be European.” (Insert exhausted eye roll). That they think beauty means sleek, straight hair. That they’re trying to “tame” their curls, coils, and kinks instead of embracing them. That they prefer the straight look because society’s beauty standards are still influencing their hair decisions.


You don’t like temporary straightening kits or hair dyes.
Of course if a Natural Hair Nazi is against straightening hair, temporary kits (like the Beautiful Textures Naturally Straight Texture Manageability System) are definitely a big no-no. You can’t stand words like, “tame,” or “manage,” so when you see other naturals gravitating towards those options, your claws come out. You think that anything that somehow alters the hair texture, even temporarily, is off limits. Even hair dyes are a no for you—henna is okay but anything remotely chemical and/or permanent means the person isn’t natural anymore.

You don’t like fake hair of any kind.
Weaves, wigs, extensions. You’re not for women who choose to protective style with weave. Especially straight ones. The only weaves you semi-tolerate are ones that are closest to the person’s natural hair texture. Even then, she better not have it in too long or else that means she’s trying to avoid dealing with her own hair which again, means she’s not comfortable with her natural hair.

You have no tolerance for women who relax their hair.
Last but most definitely not least, you feel like relaxers are ultimate sin. You don’t even want to interact with women who have relaxers and think they’re not “woke,” or aren’t tapped into their African heritage. You think they secretly want to be white and are going to damage their hair beyond belief. You’re ready to stage an intervention.

Sure, I may have exaggerated some of these, but real talk: please stop trying to dictate what another woman should or shouldn’t do with her hair and simply worry about what grows on your own head. That’s all.

Love, your friendly neighborhood former natural.

Serious question, are you a Natural Hair Nazi?
Kanisha is a Christian writer/author based in Augusta, GA. Other than CurlyNikki.com, she has also written for BlackNaps.organd Devozine, and has authored a book of poetry entitled, "Love Letters from the Master." Kanisha can be contacted for business inquiries at [email protected]
Luciana Gilmore: Founder of 'Gilmore Girls Greeting' 
 
By Kanisha Parks
Some mother-daughter relationships form relatively easily and only grow more resilient over time into an unbreakable bond of understanding, love, and respect for one another. But the more common truth is that mother-daughter relationships can be difficult—and that’s an understatement. From infancy to adulthood, entire complicated histories are formed between a mother and her daughter and the truth is: navigating those waters can prove difficult. 

At the heart of almost every mother-daughter issue can be found a lack of healthy communication, often birthed from the false idea that telling a child too much will cause them to become curious and therefore make mistakes. Some mothers simply never learned the delicate art of communicating with their children. Other times, mothers have shame regarding the decisions they’ve made in the past, which prevents them from having the courage to really talk to their daughters. This results in a shared fear of communication that only debilitates the bond between mother and daughter.

These are truths that Luciana Gilmore, founder of Gilmore Girls Greetings, knows all too well. But she has responded with a unique approach by creating greeting cards that seek to bridge the gap of communication that many mothers encounter with their daughters. “Unlike other greeting cards,” Luciana says, “These are more personal and the message isn’t generic. My cards are written from real circumstances I’ve experienced with my daughter or one of my students. They come from a place where a daughter will want to hold on to it.”


Gilmore Girls Greetings was inspired both by Luciana’s role as an educator for over 15 years and her own experiences as a daughter and mother. Growing up, Luciana admits that she definitely struggled to communicate with her own mother.
“My mother was not very open or transparent about anything she went through as a young girl. Usually when my mother and I ‘talked,’ it was yelling. I didn’t feel like I could come to her. For example, when it comes to friends, my mother’s philosophy was, ‘Nobody’s a friend.’ She didn’t talk me through the qualities I should look for in a friend. It would’ve been helpful to know that I could talk to my mom so that I didn’t have to learn a lot of things on my own.”
After becoming a mother herself, Luciana was determined to change that. She has three children: Asiya (17), Jada (9), and Demetrius (4). After having Asiya, Luciana realized that despite being determined not to repeat the mistakes her mother had made, she hadn’t been as open and honest as she could’ve been with her own daughter.

“I noticed this when Asiya was getting ready to enter the teenage years. She was my only child until she was eight years old, so it was easy to cater to her. Once I had my younger daughter, I was trying to balance having two girls and giving them equal time, attention, and affection. I started noticing changes in Asiya, but something about her being my daughter prevented me from being open and transparent. I was scared because in hindsight, I knew I could’ve and should’ve talked more openly with her. When she turned 17, I asked myself, ‘Did I say this? Did I do this? Did I teach her this?’ Reality hit me that I needed to make sure I had given her the right information. I then became very intentional about things I shared with her.”
Gilmore Girls Greetings was truly born as Luciana and her daughter started writing cards to each other. They began communicating things they never got to say, and how it made them feel when there was a lack of communication. Soon they were able to have insight into each other's thinking, and today, both mother and daughter can talk about anything.

Asiya is now a college student and Luciana even sends her ‘Love Drops,’ which are packages you can order that are custom-made for your daughter’s interests, including all of her favorite sweets and supplies, complete with a message written just for her.

“Even if I don’t talk to Asiya every day, when she receives the package, it assures her that I love her and am thinking about her,” says Luciana.

With these greeting cards, 'Love Drops,' and her new book, “Daughter, Have I Told You Lately,” Luciana is giving mothers a way to ensure that encouragement, support, and love are communicated to their daughters. And just like Luciana did with her daughter, know that it’s never too late to try to correct your mistakes or to begin healing.

Learn more about Gilmore Girls Greetings!

How do you maintain a healthy bond with your daughter?

Kanisha is a Christian writer/author based in Augusta, GA. Other than CurlyNikki.com, she has also written for BlackNaps.organd Devozine, and has authored a book of poetry entitled, "Love Letters from the Master." Kanisha can be contacted for business inquiries at [email protected]

By Kanisha Parks

After reading all of the responses on Facebook to my article, “From Natural to Relaxed: A Growing Trend?” I realized that when it comes to hair, we truly have many dissenting opinions. Some comments were combative, and it made me wonder why we’re willing to sacrifice decency and respect for one another for something as simple and superficial as hair?

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Even though I personally live by the notion that it’s just hair, I also realize that every woman has a different history with her hair, and that shouldn’t be taken for granted. However, I also believe that we are all so much more than the hair that grows out of our head, the hair we chop off, the hair we throw on, curl, color, or relax. We have jobs/careers, businesses, families, friends, social lives, and other interests besides hair. But are we now allowing the very same movement that has united us, divide us? Now that I’m relaxed, have I eliminated my ability to partake in this sisterhood, this community that I have been a part of for so long?

I hope not. But while reading the comments, I couldn’t help but feel the pervading divide between us, as though one is better than the other.

It’s the same notion that society has impressed upon us for so long, but in reverse. The overarching belief has been that straight hair was (and still is, for some) considered “better” than curly/kinky hair in public or the workplace, etc. But after the natural hair movement erupted, women started shunning other women who choose relaxers. It’s still discriminatory—but as a result of those negative experiences, now we’re doing it to ourselves.

Just like the #TeamDarkSkinned vs. #TeamLightSkinned debate, intraracial discrimination (discrimination within a community) is real.

As Morgan Saraya Howell writes in her thesis for Arizona State University,
“Although there are frequent protests by African Americans against discrimination from other racial/ethnic groups and initiatives for equal treatment both in society and in the workplace, the issue of discrimination primarily regarded as intergroup racial bias, (i.e. discrimination within a culture or group) . . . has typically been ignored”
It’s true. We go in on each other as though we’re enemies, judging each other’s hair decisions just because they don’t agree with our own. I’ve been on both sides, but even while being natural for 7 years, I simply viewed other women’s hair choices as none of my business. But we can’t dismiss the weight of the argument, peep some of these comments:
"All ya’ll I’m about to go back to creamy crack" type of so called naturals were never really natural for the right reasons. You bandwaggonned & hopped on a trend. Leave it to the consciously aware & stop making it look like just 1 of our phases. Thanks. #TeamNaturalForLife"
"I'll always find it ridiculous that black women are the only group of people who say their natural is too much or not right for them. We've got black girls all over the world bleaching and perming trying to achieve a look that is detrimental to them."
"I love my natural hair but it IS work. This ain't no 'brush and go'. I take GREAT care of my hair and I am VERY informed. But it's still a lot more work than when it was relaxed. Please don't pass judgement for what sistahs do with our hair."
I think it’s important for us all to have opinions and be able to share them with one another, but when it comes to having natural or relaxed hair, why are we so quick to judge one another?

GiGi, who runs the Instagram page “naturalorrelaxed,” says:
“My page is for all: Natural, Relaxed/Texlaxed, Transitioning, and also Locs. I do this so that we can all come together as one, give each other advice, and share experiences. Every day I witness discrimination when it comes to hair. It’s very sad to see people bullying one another because they are or are not natural or they are not relaxed. The reason is that ever since the natural hair movement began, a lot of women assume they know everything about every person's hair, which isn't the case.”
Our sense of community should be stronger than this natural vs. relaxed debate. Just like all skin types are beautiful, so are all hair types. We have enough to deal with in our daily lives. The least we can do is support and build each other up, not tear each other down. Let’s put the hair debate to rest once and for all and get to more important things.

Do you believe the community we've built is stronger than our hair?

Kanisha is a Christian writer/author based in Augusta, GA. Other than CurlyNikki.com, she has also written for BlackNaps.organd Devozine, and has authored a book of poetry entitled, "Love Letters from the Master." Kanisha can be contacted for business inquiries at [email protected]
 Ciara Rae
“I just can’t take it anymore.”
These were the six words that came out of my mouth when I finally made the decision to go back to relaxers. It was a decision I’d been turning over in my mind since the beginning of the year and in July, it was settled: after 7 years of being natural, I was officially done.

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Essentially, I felt like a traitor: how could you blog about natural hair for years and then turn around and go back to the creamy crack? Becoming a natural hair blogger was really about this quest to learn how to love my own natural hair. So when I really thought about it, I came to this shocking realization that I don’t love my natural hair. I always wanted to, but I really never did. I spent all of my time keeping it stretched out or in box braids, trying to avoid knots and tangles. I never even attempted a “wash and go,” rarely wore a twist-out, and stopped attempting curly rod sets after humidity reminded me it was not my friend for the last time. I was natural, but my hair was always tucked away. Even after all those years of being told, “Love your natural hair! Rock your fro!” None of it ever stuck.

And when it comes to natural hair, there are several schools of thought. Some believe that if you’re not happy with your natural hair, you’re not happy with or don’t love yourself because that’s the hair the good Lord gave you. That if you don’t have natural hair, you’re not woke. That if you relax your hair, you’re trying to be white. I had allowed the opinions of others to shape how I felt about natural and relaxed hair. It was time to take a step back and decide what was best for me and my lifestyle, without allowing the opinions of society be a factor.

The first time I seriously thought about getting a relaxer was one day shortly after getting my hair flat ironed. It had been about 10 months since the last time I used heat, so I was really looking forward to seeing how much my hair had grown. Long story short, my hair didn’t even last a full day. Looking back, my natural hair never stayed straight beyond a week, and I love my hair straight. So I was constantly disappointed. In fact, all of the styles that I really love on myself—straight and sleek, flexi rods, CurlFormers—never last on my natural hair.

I started really doing my research, delving into the world of relaxed hair again, and I discovered that many women went natural because of haunting relaxer experiences, which often happened at the salon. The truth is, it wasn’t that I couldn’t grow long, healthy relaxed hair: I just never learned how. I had been going to stylist after stylist for years, depending on them to make my hair grow and yet it still stayed at neck length. In 2009, I started researching healthy hair care practices and learned basics like staying away from heat and using sulfate-free shampoo. In 3 months’ time, my hair had vastly improved. Shortly thereafter, my cousin suggested that I should go natural, like her. I didn’t even know what “going natural” meant. After looking into it and seeing so many women whose hair seemed to “take off” after they stopped getting relaxers, I was hooked. I would finally have long hair, like I’d always wanted. And to be honest, my hair did thrive, especially in the beginning. I did the big chop in 2010 and within two years, my hair was shoulder length, the longest it had ever been. After a bout with heat damage, I finally reached APL (arm pit length) at year 5, and despite trying everything possible to surpass this growth plateau (scalp massages, protective styling, hair vitamins, healthy eating), my hair has remained there. I attribute the stunt in my hair growth to a constant struggle with dryness that has resulted in an endless cycle of growing and trimming, growing and trimming. When it comes to length retention, the struggle has been real.

In my quest to find other women who had gone from natural to relaxed, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I wasn’t alone. I reached out to four women, and all of them touted some of the same reasons for relaxing as I had.

Caitlynn Collins 
Caitlynn Collins, who was natural for one year before going back relaxed, says, “I made the decision because I went natural without doing my research and that hurt me rather than helped me. I didn't have the knowledge I needed and my natural hair just wasn't flourishing. I love my decision and wouldn’t change anything.” In her video, entitled, “From Natural to Relaxed Hair,” she elaborates further.

Shantel Brooklyn
Shantel Brooklyn, who was natural for four years before relaxing again, also struggled with being natural. In her video “I Relaxed My 4C Hair,” she states:
For me, it was very hard being natural. I had very, very thick, very porous hair. It wouldn’t hold moisture. All the little cute hairstyles I would see other naturals do on YouTube, I would try it and it would look nothing like theirs. It would look so horrible. I was over it!
Shantel also shared with me:
I have been openly judged by complete strangers. My family and friends support my decision because they saw how much I struggled. With me being a YouTuber, a lot of naturals left very long, nasty comments under my video. One lady even went as far to say that all of my hair was going to fall out! I just ignore them because they don't know my story.
 Keshia Pierre
Like me, Keshia Pierre was natural 7 years before relaxing again. “At the time, I had just started my graduate program and was really busy with school, church, social activities, etc. My hair was constantly being thrown up in a puff (neglected) because I simply did not have the time or energy to give it the care it needed and deserved. Who had 3 hours to wash, detangle, and then flat twist some hair JUST to PREP for a style that couldn't be worn until the next day?! Not I says the duck.” See more in her video “I Relaxed My Hair.”

Kanisha Parks (Me)
I relaxed on August 24, 2017 and over the course of the last month, there hasn’t been one second that I’ve regretted my decision. The week before getting a relaxer, I was so worried. I had horror visions of my hair falling out. But from start to finish, I had the best experience. The relaxer took well and did not burn. My hair retained a bit of texture and was not over-processed, and in the end, my hair was straight, sleek, and swingin.’ And the best part of all: it didn’t revert. For the last few weeks, I’ve been wearing CurlFormer sets out like there’s no tomorrow. I honestly feel like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders and only wish I had done it sooner. There’s nothing difficult or cumbersome about maintaining relaxed hair. Wash day took a significant amount of time and dedication when natural. Obviously, it’s easier to get to my scalp now when I wash my hair, and detangling my natural hair took 30-45 minutes while relaxed, it takes 2-3.

I love natural hair—I think it’s so versatile and beautiful. There are so many types, textures, colors, and styles. I love the natural hair movement and I think realistically, that’s what I was so excited to be a part of, this wave of acceptance that gave women such an important gift: the tools and the knowledge to take care of and grow our own hair.

This really isn’t about #teamnatural or #teamrelaxed. It’s about the fact that no one should have to feel bad about doing what’s best for them and their lifestyle, especially when it comes to hair. I witness so much hate on the internet directed at women who choose to get relaxers. It’s just plain wrong. Rather than judge one another, it’d be nice to just have a conversation and offer understanding.


Ciara Rae
Ciara Rae, who was natural for 9 years before relaxing says, “I feel judged all the time because I was once that girl. I was a ride or die anti-relaxer advocate. It's insane to think I was because now, I'm all about the perm life. When I created my video, about why I'm relaxed, I wasn't expecting to hear that women all over the world felt the same way I did. Due to that reaction, I want black women to know it's okay to do whatever is best for you! Being natural isn't for everyone and neither is being relaxed. I think it's important for black women to just embrace their hair regardless of their styling choice. We truly do have the best of both worlds!”

Have you thought about going from natural to relaxed?
Kanisha is a Christian writer/author based in Augusta, GA. Other than CurlyNikki.com, she has also written for BlackNaps.organd Devozine, and has authored a book of poetry entitled, "Love Letters from the Master." Kanisha can be contacted for business inquiries at [email protected]
By Kanisha Parks

When I went natural back in 2009, YouTube was the best place to find out how and what to use to maintain my hair. Product reviews were reliable—I wasn’t worried about whether or not I could trust the person’s opinion because brand compensation wasn’t yet a factor. But now it’s 2017 and every time someone suggests a product, the first thing I want to know is, “Were they paid to say this?”


Companies turn to said personalities for various reasons—they’re more relatable than most celebrities, they’re accessible, they post frequently, and they can more actively communicate with the target audience. But let’s face it: social media is already full of false representation. Couple that with compensation, and you have a recipe for skepticism, distrust, and the loss of credibility.

Now I’m sure that brand ambassadors and social media influencers aim to come across as authentic, and don’t want to be seen as though they’re only in it for the money. More often than not, they will attempt to reassure you in the description box that although the video is sponsored, their review is “100% honest.” But is it really, though? When you’re given a product to try for free, it’s easy to say it’s great and it probably is. But would you go out there and pay $50 for it, like the average consumer has to do?

Some YouTubers say, “If I don’t like a product, I’m not going to make a video about it.”
And I’m like, why not? If and why you didn’t like a product can be just as beneficial to a viewer as why you did like a product. If nothing else, it lets your audience know that you don’t like everything. No lie, I am wary of YouTubers who never dislike anything. It makes me feel as though they will accept any deal as long as the money talks.

Many ambassadors and influencers have felt the backlash and are attempting to combat the escalating distrust that’s being presented in the comment sections of their posts. Jasmine Brown, who has over 1.4 million subscribers on YouTube, offered her perspective in this video called 'The Truth About Sponsored Videos:'


One point she makes is that she does this full-time and getting a big sponsor is great for business. “We have to make money somehow,” she says. "Plus a lot of hard work goes into sponsored videos that you don't see."
Don’t get me wrong. On one hand, I love seeing women building their brands, making money, and moving on up. Especially people I’ve been riding with for a long time, it’s like their success is my success. Despite compensation being a factor, they really put their work in and generate some pretty dope videos and images. They work hard and they deserve to be rewarded for that. But when you’re using a certain skincare brand and the next week, you’re using something completely different it makes me wonder if you really use those products at all.

With all of these questions consuming my thoughts, I figured, who better to ask than Nikki herself? She created CurlyNikki.com back in 2008, so as a seasoned blogger she definitely knows a thing or two about marketing and who to trust. She says,

“Marketing is a business enterprise and people should be able to make money from their business. However, your success has a lot to do with the quality of product you produce, and in this case, it’s information. If you can’t find a business model that will pay you and preserve the integrity of your product, you don’t have a business...or you’ll have a short-lived business.”

Good point. If ambassadors endorse sub par products it’s just a matter of time before people catch on and stop following. She continues,

“I’ve been compensated very well thus far, but I’ve also left a lot of money on the table. In 10 years I’ve never endorsed a hair care brand though I’ve been approached countless times. These are specific and contextual decisions that the business owner has to make for themselves, but in my case, my business model has been consumer focused, and the integrity of the information has always been the priority.”
In the end, I believe that most influencers have the best intentions and should be given the benefit of the doubt. But I also think that since their compensation is directly dependent upon their followers, brand ambassadors and influencers should have enough integrity to wisely select brands they actually use and love. So whether you’re a brand ambassador, influencer, or advocate, just keep it 100 percent genuine. After all, your audience is the reason you have a platform in the first place. 

What do you think? Do you trust brand influencers who do sponsored videos?

Kanisha is a Christian writer/author based in Augusta, GA. Other than CurlyNikki.com, she has also written for BlackNaps.organd Devozine, and has authored a book of poetry entitled, "Love Letters from the Master." Kanisha can be contacted for business inquiries at [email protected]