Really good things!
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.
|Singer Monica and husband Shannon Brown|
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.
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?”
|Model Mari Henny Pasible J. Crew|
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.
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.
I scroll through my Facebook news feed admiring the chubby-cheeked faces that my high school classmates post. The happy babies are dressed in toothless grins and two-pieced grownup outfits looking like little men and women. I smile in recognition of the toddlers who are complete miniatures of the people who upload the photos.
“Aww look at her,” I say to myself. “Too cute.”
Then I read the caption. It refers to “my grandbaby.”
Grandchildren? I’m not old enough to be anyone’s Grandma! Am I? But I’m not even a parent yet! Never mind that, I’m 41. And then I start to do the math, which has become an increasingly growing habit these days. I calculate how I could have a high school student right about now. Or a college student. Or (gasp!) a college graduate. Then, yeah, I guess it would be possible to be a grandmother at 41 had I not thrown the proverbial biological clock across the room and postponed motherhood.
The controversy, the convenience, and the cost-effective solutions
By Erickka Sy Savané
Call Dionne Phillips many things: Eyelash expert, celebrity eyelash extension guru, entrepreneur, wife, but stingy with her information? Never. Since launching ‘D’Lashes’ her Beverly Hills-based studio in 2005, prior to that she worked at a top Los Angeles salon, and before that, she was servicing African American and Asian clients in New York City, pre-social media, Dionne has firmly established herself as the queen of eyelashes. Shows like The Doctors, Good Morning America and Extra TV all consult with Dionne, and clients as diverse as Naomi Campbell, Victoria Beckham, Mindy Kaling, and even Steven Tyler, clamor to get an appointment, which you wanna make at least 2-3 weeks in advance. Dionne is in business!
The great thing about this former actress and Toledo native is she wants you to be in business too. Sharing what she knows, better yet, the things no one shared with her, is a part of her higher purpose. So if you’re planning on starting your own business, or you’re already a company owner in need of a few tips, pull out your notebooks for 7 Things No One Tells You About Starting Your Own Business from Dionne Phillips!
- Ask Yourself, ‘Why Not Me?’ Why not? Why not you? Saying these words will open you up and give you the courage and strength to just do it! And that courage and strength that you build from starting your business will carry over into every other aspect of your life. Asking this also helps when you get discouraged.
- Know Your Numbers. Know how much everything is going to cost. Know how much your rent, your lamps and tables are going to cost. Don’t just go out buying stuff because you have some money in the bank or you think you have a lot of money. It’s the reason a lot of small businesses don’t get ahead. Big corporations know their numbers; they bring in a CFO (Chief Financial Officer). If you don’t know your numbers you don’t know your business.
- Watch Marcus Lemonis on CNBC. His show, The Profit, is business 101. It breaks down the key to a successful business into 3 Easy Steps: People, Process and Product. The most important, I believe, is Process. Meaning, if you were to train someone to work for you, what are the 5 steps of running your business? Knowing this is key.
- Know All The Details of Having a Business. For example, the certificates, licenses, inspections, taxes. A lot of people have gone to jail and prison for taxes, but they have a nice car. Ask someone with the same business as you what you need to know. It’ll keep you from having to pay more money in the long run.
- Say Thank you. Send a nice thank you card or get some cards made with your business name on them. We’ve lost the fine art of saying thank you by sending text messages and a quick email. That’s okay, but etiquette is still there. I get an abundance of flow simply by saying thank you.
- Don’t Allow Anyone To Run Your Business. Everyone thinks they need an assistant because they’re so busy. But what happens is if that assistant ends up not being around for a while, say it’s just a summer check for them, they end up running your business into the hole. If you do hire someone, you want them to be smarter than you, but you have to be in the loop with it. Otherwise, you might as well just be an investor.
- Know Why You’re Doing This. People think that by having their own business they’re going to be able to take off and go on vacation all the time, but you end up working more for yourself than you would for another corporation. Know the why because it’s your higher purpose that keeps you going year three, five, and 10. Telling people the things no one told me is a part of my higher purpose. Working with cancer survivors and seeing how confident they feel when they get up from my chair is a part of my bigger purpose. It’s a reminder that I’m not just working for the money.
Are you considering starting a business? If you're a business owner, what tips can you share!