Friday, 30 October 2009

Hair Lessons: Dry Flaky Scalp

A while back I was trawling through a blog by 'Joyful' (unfortunately I didn't save the link - silly me), when I noticed she had asked a question about dealing with dry scalp. This seems to be an issue raised by many newbies, and I think that is because the SL method advocates 'no oil or grease' on your hair... which for many translates into 'no oil or grease on your scalp' too.

In my humble opinion, IF you are going to have Sisterlocks and NOT use a mild shampoo (like the Sisterlocks starter shampoo) or an SLS free shampoo in your hair, you may (MAY) be contributing to a dry scalp condition which requires a little light oil to rectify. Emphasis on LITTLE and LIGHT!  Bear with me...

Many of our popular shampoos are lovely and sudsy, producing thick, luxurious lathers that have traditionally made us feel like royalty. I mean - you gotta admit that there is something 'uber scrumptious' about rubbing that creamy lather through your precious tresses - I'd even bet some of you have had a 'Herbal Essence' moment or two *grin*! It just feels so good!

However, the flip side of that lather is that the SLS in most of those shampoos (in combination with some of the other ingredients) is actually stripping your hair of all the gunk and environmental 'stuff', product build-up and everyday pollutants that get attracted to and stuck in our hair - along with all your hair and scalp's natural oils.  Hence the need to use moisturising shampoos (or shampoos for dry/damaged hair) coupled with the need for moisturising conditioners or deep conditioning treatments i.e. you need to 'put back' into your hair what the shampoo has stripped out.  Think about it - when did your hair (relaxed or natural) feel better? After you just shampooed and dried or after the shampoo AND conditioner?

It stands to reason therefore, that if you are not using a whole heap of products on your hair, then you also do not need to be stripping your hair to remove product build-up.

I have a friend, young woman with beautiful natural hair which she rocks curly or straight depending on her mood. She hasn't shampooed in years - why? because she is co-washing instead. Now this struck me as odd at first but once you open your mind and think it through - why not? And I can not say that her hair is dirty or smelly or gunky.... quite the opposite; it's light and healthy and I really like it.

For those who don't know - co-washing is a method of washing your hair with conditioner (diluted or in small amounts) instead of shampoo.  Conditioners actually contain a small amount of detergent and so will clean your hair just as well as a shampoo - just less harshly.

For more information about co-washing read these articles:
IMPORTANT - I wouldn't recommend that SLers co-wash their hair unless their locks are fully mature - as you run the risk of softening your hair and causing associated slippage an unravelling.

Sisterlocks Starter Shampoo
I know that quite a few SLers complain that they "don't like the Sisterlocks Starter shampoo" and to be honest I wonder why. I know that most say 'their hair doesn't FEEL clean' after they have used it and I have to wonder (at the risk of being berated online) whether the clean feeling they are expecting is that 'stripped' feeling they have grown accustomed to by using stronger shampoos.  Of course, some may not like it because they just don't like it and I will admit that it is not the best for lifting flakes from the hair  - but if you do have a dry scalp problem and use it with a pre-shampoo like the Stimulating Herbal Cleanser by Taliah Waajid (which is SLS free), it does its job!

So what is my routine now? Well, most days I use the Sisterlocks Shampoo. I have one patch of dry scalp at the front of my head. If I find I have a couple of flakes I will prewash with the Herbal Cleanser first.  If I feel like a bit of a change or want to add some sort of fragrance to my hair - I use one of two shampoo bars I have that were recommended to me by my old consultant, Michelle (girl, you are missed!).

Shampoo Bars?
The shampoo bars are also SLS free and look like regular bars of soap. I bought them from Anita Grant, a small business owner here in the UK who specialises in "all natural hand made Babassu Shampoo Bars" (as well as a number of other products for curly hair like oils and pomades; and whipped butters for the body).  I have one Peppermint bar and one 'Organic Kelp & Ylang' which has a more perfumed smell (on account of the Ylang Ylang). Look out for my review :)

So I've dealt with the washing, which I do every 3-5 days in Summer and every 5-7 days in Winter (although I've been told this may be too frequent for baby locks, so just remember to braid and band ... or braid... before you wash and don't blame me if your hair unravels!)  I've found that if you only have flakes in one spot, you can always just wash that one spot VERY CAREFULLY, thus minimising any disturbance to the rest of your hair. I will say however, that someone else told me that water is GOOD for locking hair, and encourages it to coil and intertwine and therefore lock faster. So it's really up to you...

What next? It's time to feed your scalp. I didn't say oil down your hair.... I said "feed your scalp".
Repeat after me: Light oil.... LIGHT oil!
No petroleum or mineral oil ladies - no matter what!  They will clog your sebaceous glands, coat the shafts of your hair and weigh your hair down. Choose a light oil like jojoba, coconut (old favourite in the Caribbean), castor oil (although I find that a lil bit heavy and not too pleasant a fragrance). You can also explore the essential oils like peppermint, tea tree, lavendar, lemon, rosemary and sage each of which are reported to be beneficial in the treatment of dandruff. Since EOs are quite potent, I'd suggest diluting them in a water or vegetable oil base before applying them to your scalp!

The best way to apply your oil is to dab some on your fingers, and then press gently onto the dry spot. Obviously this'll take a couple of dabs depending on the size of your spot(s). Take care not to DRENCH the scalp in whatever oil you have chosen because it will just work its way down the shaft of your hair and create BUILD UP (and then you'll need a strong or clarifying shampoo to get it out of your locks!). Once applied, lightly massage the area with the tips of your fingers and you're good to go.

This takes me about 25 mins from start to finish but I'm one of those people that tend to daydream in the shower (which always leaves me feeling guilty about wasting water, but I do turn the shower off!) Oh, and for me this 25-30 mins includes undo your braids, although you may need to allow extra time to dry your hair as normal (air, towel or dryer).

So in a nutshell:
  • wash your hair with a mild shampoo or co-wash. (pre-wash with a cleanser or your prescribed medicated shampoo if flakes are in your hair or very visible at your scalp). Those with SLs and other baby locks will need to braid and band their hair before washing.
  • squeeze excess water from your hair; blot dry (if you use towels on your hair).
  • apply LIGHT oil to your fingertips, dab onto the affected areas and lightly massage.
  • finish drying your hair/style as normal.
You can trust me on this, with this routine I hardly ever see any flakes these days and I've never had to do an Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) rinse! Of course, you should also do the obvious - eat a balanced diet, get plenty of fresh air and exercise and drink plenty of water. Also, bear in mind that one man's meat is another man's poison so what worked for me may not work for you - but I don't think it could hurt to try. Let me know how you get on if you do.

By the way, this is the hair oil I use on my scalp (Doo Gro Anti itch Growth Oil) and below is copied the comments I left on Joyful's blog.
"Hi Joyful, I feel your 'pain' with the flakes at the base of your locks. I had a similar issue when I first started out - through trial and error I managed to sort it by

  • Washing my hair more frequently, so for e.g. I was washing maybe once every 15 days and I increased it to once every 3-5 days (now I'm back to maybe 5-7 days). 
  • Being careful NOT to use any clarifying shampoos because although they are great for removing build up, they were drying out my scalp way too much and basically making the problem worse. (I could raise my eyebrows after a wash and literally see my scalp crack and flake up!)
  • I started to use a very light hair oil on my scalp, (mostly jojoba) just at the places where I found the flakes seemed most prevalent. Just a few dabs every couple of days was sufficient (I am not saying to go and oil down yuh head hahaha), and only apply to the scalp. 

 This helped sort my head out one time! I hope you find it helpful too. Oh and a small word of caution, one of my consultants had said that frequent washing can lead to 'frizzy' locks so you'll need to decide whether you want to take that chance or not :) Good luck!"

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

When Not To Weave...

Today, I caught a bus for the first time in a looooooooong while. All part of my bid to 'beat the recession' (or at least survive it), old faithful Angela (my car) stayed at home.

So I'm sitting on the bus looking around at everyone else (as you do) and I notice this beautiful elderly lady sitting across the aisle from me. She catches my eye and I nod in acknowledgement, then keep scanning the other passengers. After a while, I looked back at the woman and my eyes - as ever - were drawn to her hair. At this point I was mortified.

Women... why do we do this to ourselves?

This aged lady, had lost significant portions of her crowning glory to traction alopecia. You might ask how I know it was traction alopecia and not cancer or something else... well I don't know for 100% but given the fact that she was still wearing a weave.... well, I think you can forgive me for reaching that conclusion.

The photo above is not of the woman on the bus, I wasn't brazen enough to whip out my mobile phone and take a pic, but trust me when I say the woman in this photo as the same amount of side and front hair as my bus woman.

What made me most angry, was not just that she had clearly lost hair from the sides and front of her head most likely from wearing braids or weaves that were too tight - but she was still persisting with hairstyles that were damaging to her hair!

The little hair she had was scraped back (into corn rows I presume) and onto this was sewn her wine red weave. Thus the weave started from way behind her ears...  remember a while back I was worried that I would end up looking like the Predator due to hair loss? (see previous post) well, this woman had already reached that point.

I just wanted to run over to her and cut that weave out of her hair and massage her scalp with rosemary and jojoba oils, or anything light and nourishing to help her hair recover. I wish I knew her and would have known her years ago - before this damage became permanent(?) or at least this severe, so I could teach her about caring for her natural hair (for her hair was indeed natural).

I totally understand that this woman wanted to look beautiful, given my own experiences with alopecia (alopecia areata) I can sympathise with her pain and embarrasment, her inability to walk out her front door with bald patches... BUT... sewing more tracts into your hair (or even bonding them in) to hide your patches isn't going to help in the long run. A wig (human or synthetic hair) would have been far preferable, under which she could have worn some gentle twists, allowing her hair to rest and recover in the process.

As much as I wanted to shake her or 'save' her from the bad advice she'd obviously been receiving about her hair, mostly I just wanted to reach over and hug her.

"'Auntie', I am sorry for your loss. "
 May your follicles recover and your crowning glory be restored.

To my sisters, my aunties, my daughters - Black Women of all ages, hair types and personal persuasions. PLEASE PLEASE love your hair  - whatever you do to it, just keep it healthy!

Note: final image, copyright; first image, copyright

Friday, 23 October 2009

Hair Stories - A few thoughts...

Further to my posts sharing the clips from Tyra's Hair Show, I wanted to say this...

While I am not an advocate of the mentality that would lynch all women who have been 'so-called brainwashed' into thinking that wearing a relaxer is the only way to be true to yourself in this day and age (in order to fit in in corporate environments for e.g.) I do advocate natural hair...  I also hate the word 'relaxed hair' because it implies that my natural hair is uptight and needs to chill out lol!

If a woman with straightened hair says she wears it that way because 'natural hair looks untidy or unprofessional or locks look dirty' or because 'my hair too hard, too coarse, too picky, too difficult' I'd be annoyed, cos a little TLC could address most of those things and because the perception of not being able to fit in with natural or locked hair or not being respected etc is much deeper seated than the words coming from her mouth.  I'd want her to know that she was beautiful with or without straightened hair - her hair should not define her, as India Arie stated - I am not my hair.

Of course, we do not live in utopia. Perceptions and misconceptions rule our every action. You start to question - did I get passed over for promotion because my accent was too ghetto? Did I not make the shortlist after the interview because my hair was twisted/afro/locked? The opportunities for self-doubt are almost endless.

I don't think these questions are that different to what my European sisters may ask themselves when faced with similar situations: "Are they not taking me seriously because I am too blonde?", "Did my dark hair make me look too goth?", "Did I miss out on that because I sounded too chav?"

Growing up, I thought my hair was 'hard' and difficult to manage but I loved it anyway. It was only after I did my third 'Big Chop' in 2007 that I found my natural hair texture to be soft with a looser curl.  I understand now why it is that when I advocate 'natural hair', some of my friends say :"Well, it's easy for you to say, you have good hair." but honestly, when my hair was dry, crispy and tangled, it didn't feel good... and I didn't think it was 'good hair'.  If I hadn't taken the time to interview my hair and find out who it was and what it liked, I'd probably still be straightening it (and my husband would be very happy).

If a woman says to me - I relaxed my hair cos I like it/cos it best suits my lifestyle etc in such a way that she is genuinely expressing an informed preference, has no underlying issues with her hair texture, doesn't think that natural haired women are 'nappy headed jokers' or 'unprofessional looking' and has actually spent time with her natural hair understanding how it feels, how it coils and how it grows - I HAVE NO ISSUE WITH HER - rock on wid ya bad self my sista because nowhere is it written that we should all look the same. You rock yours straight, I rock mine locked, she rocks hers curly and we all do our thing - in love.

So... you don't tell me my locs look inappropriate for my office, and I won't tell you about your raggedy weave that is all clumped at the back; or your thinning sides ... or the breakage on your collar... and we can all just get along :)


What is Good Hair? -- clips from the Tyra Banks Show.

I don't live in America, so I don't profess to identify with all of the sentiments expressed in these mini clips - I will however acknowledge that some of the comments seem to be universal i.e. the association of nappy hair with lower socio-economic classes; or radicals, rebels and rastas; or 'un'professionalism.  And why is it that all natural hair here is being referred to as NAPPY?

I think that this is a shame.

Anyway, for those of you who don't live in the US or missed the show for whatever reason, here are four clips from the show. It makes for very interesting viewing.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Hair Stories - Lisa Speaks

This week, I've got Lisa in my room. Lisa's my cousin's wife (and mother of 4). Both have locked hair.
This story was so unique - I haven't bothered to edit or add to it, I've just let Lisa speak.

Hey Lily!

I'm privileged that you should ask me! It’s interesting cos I'm coming up to my third anniversary of starting these locks  - and seeing this request has made me remember the reasons I took this route, what it was that God was doing in me at the time etc...So I pulled this old blog from my old blogging days on MySpace from October/November 2006.  Here goes:’s been three weeks today since I twisted my hair with the express intention of just...letting it be! That's right folks, I'm locksin it up (again). I'd been wavering between should I shouldn't I for about two years now, and I've done a myriad of weird, wacky and interesting styles au naturel. My favourite were the cornrows going into a Mohican - until a brother said I looked like Grace Jones HA HA HA!!! LIIIIBBEERRRTIIIEES!!!

Anyway...the main reason I've finally succumbed to the calling, which I believe it is (for me), is that anyone who knows me knows I like to do a billion and one different styles. I've done EVERYTHING - long brown Naomi Campbell weaves that made me look like a man in drag....and who remembers my finger waves? I've done Short n Relaxed sharp cuts, texturisers in various colours, really short baldhead ones, afro kinky braids, Bantu Knots, Mel B fright wigs....and I'm always stressing about it somehow!
Now, in one sense I feel like because its mostly covered these days cos its really not looking all that nice at the mo (loc wearers you know what I mean when you first start out) it is a means to do away with the unhealthy vanity in my life.
It’s also about realising that God gave me my very tightly coiled, spongy texture not to hide away or disguise it somehow. It lends itself better than any other hair type, to matting quickly. I've spent most of my time trying to 'tame' the frizzy nappy edges of my hairline when I've got really intricate or elaborate canerows. But no matter how hard I try, I just can't keep any style looking neat for more than a few days. It ends up being a colossal waste of very valuable resources that I don't really have. I'm sure my hair is happiest when it is just be. No more running back and forth to the hairdressers, tryin to find a babysitter or the money, or to my friends' house urgent 'cos I've got a gig/trip and I've gotta look 'cris' for it. PLEASE! I sooo don't need the stress!!!
I've done Locs before but didn't look after it so well and I kept on twist, twist, twisting away until the roots were too thin to support the weight. I did it during my late teens for just under three years and that was the longest my hair had ever been. I guess now I'm older, more stable cos I'm grounded in Jesus Christ, not just this angry young black girl struggling with identity or the divorce of her parents and the loss of their home. So thank you Jesus for bringing me to this place of acceptance of your best for me!

That was 3 years ago, and though my locks are still only collar length, for me THAT IS A MAJOR ACHIEVEMENT because this is the longest my natural hair has ever been. I grew up in a very White middle-class Home Counties area - the only black girl in the class etc... I'd wear a towel on my head and shake it pretending to have long, flowing, MOVING hair! Many Black British women can identify with this.
Even as an adult who'd tried locks in the past but gave up on them, I used to cry at the state of my hair (ask my husband!) I remember, as a recent convert to Christianity and newly engaged,  standing there with clumps of hair in my hands from another horror session with the comb, asking God if I'd ever have any decent length. And what was I gonna do for my wedding?
For many years as an adult, I felt ashamed of the little hair I had and how see-through and wispy it was. It was dry and over processed and you'd need a ton of products in it to give it some semblance of decency. There was a constant cycle of relax or texturise -->enjoy for a week or two -->endure till it dries out and breaks --> chop it off etc...
Then miraculously through prayer, and steering clear of chemicals, I grew it back to about two or three inches... only to relax it again for my wedding. (I mean you can't have it nappy on your wedding day, right?)
I did relaxers for the first couple of years of marriage then, when my eldest came along 8 years ago I started to go natural again (again), but when it got long enough to 'ketch' I hid my hair away 'neath some goldilocks extensions.
I think I did my last ever relaxer in the months just before my second child was 'showing' - a couple of years after my first son was born. The last chemical process I ever did was a texturise and bleach - that was in 2003. After that, it was short afros or extensions, weaves or wigs. I remember the curly Scary Spice fright weave that became stiff as a board after hours in the birth pool labouring for my daughter!  I paid good money for that weave cos I wanted some decent après-naissance pictures but I ended up looking like Marge Simpson! And because of complications I didn't even get to have the water birth in the end!!
I nearly started locking in 2005 when a local loctitian almost convinced me, but I wasn't ready to handle the 'permanent' aspect of it.
I think I'd come to the end of myself in 2006 and all my burdensome 'works' when I entered the 'rest' of letting my hair be locked. It is like a sigh of relief, it really is. I can honestly say that it is the best thing that has ever happened to my hair. I always wanted length and now I've got a little bit! Hair that swings! Length is a crown of glory God blesses women with as a covering for their heads. It is a sign of my womanhood. God made me a Black woman with tightly coiled Afro hair - which I now love. I'm not afraid of water - I love it now.  Now I hate to hear about women feeling they must always hide or change what they have. It no longer steals my time trying to get it to do things it wasn't designed to do and it is relatively low cost, low maintenance. A couple of trips to the hairdressers a year to treat myself or for a special occasion...that's it, I twist it myself every few weeks. Glory to God for leading me this way!!

Mini Diary

  • Thursday 5th October 2006 - My locks are born. It's 3am. I've been twisting all night.
  • December 2006 - Baby 'buds'
  • January 2007 – The ends are beginning to matt together but I still have to be very gentle when I wash them and afterwards they need retwisting!
  • February 2007 - Uncontrollable 'teenage phase.' Buds flying in all directions! Apparently, this lasts several months,  and doesn't look nice most days lol.
  • August 2007 - 10 months in - fully locked, beginning to 'hang' not stick up, teen locks maturing
  • October 2007 - 1 year on! Maturing - just scraping my ears now.
  • March 2008 - Pregnancy hormones = growth spurt
  • May 2008 - Really beginning to enjoy my locks now!
  • September 2008 - nearly 2 years in. Thank you Jesus for finally letting me have hair that swings lol!!

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Hair Stories - Paula Walcott

Hair Story - Paula Walcott  

This series of features focuses on people whose hair I found inspirational - locked, natural or relaxed! With their expressed permission, I've used a couple of their own images (at least 2 but no more than 5) to showcase their hair - showing how healthy it looks, their favourite style and/or length.  

I’ve known Paula since we met at Secondary School (around age 11). Funnily enough, this is the same secondary Ruby went to!  Like Ruby, Paula was one of those young ladies who always carried herself ‘well’ i.e. with style and dignity. 

One of five children, Paula was the first daughter (and second child) to go to University. After completing her first degree in Barbados, she pursued her Masters in HR Management by distance learning. 

I like Paula because she comes across as level headed, focused and I have never heard her raise her voice – in a nutshell – this is one cool cat.

Paula is of special significance to my daughter. As an ‘ethnic minority’ in England, I am always on the look out for positive Black female role models. When we used to live in Cambridge, and my child was one of just two Black children in a class of 30, she came home one evening and covered herself in my acne cream and toothpaste telling me she wanted to be White. She was only 3 years old. From then til now (or there to hair) I have been extra vigilant about reinforcing positive images of Black men and women, particularly those with darker skins like my daughter’s. I want her to understand that ‘Black like Me’ doesn't (only) mean incarcerated, drunk, deadbeat, got-no-father or father-gone-away, can’t read-can’t write and don’t care, poor, starving and begging as the media would have you believe. For my daughter, ‘Black like Me’ is Alek Wek, Naomi Campbell, Oprah Winfrey, Martin Luther King, Bishop Desmond Tuto, Kofi Anan, Ussain Bolt, Michelle Obama, Diane Abbot, Akima Paul and Paula Walcott*. 
Thank you Paula for carrying the light.

* This is not an exhaustive list, and you will note that most of the names I have included are people of African descent who have darker complexions. My daughter is aware of  others like Maya Angelou, Rosa Parks, Barak Obama and Malcolm X – the people listed above are ‘Black like ME’ in terms of reference SHE can relate to.

Paula’s Hair Story

I’ve had relaxed hair from primary school, I guess my mother got tired of pressing it, lol, plus my sister used to work at a salon so getting my hair done was easy and hassle free for my mum. I haven't had any real trouble with relaxed hair, so I’ve never given much thought to changing it. On the odd occasion I have considered ‘going natural’ but I think the maintenance is more than relaxed hair so I usually come back to "relaxed reality".

Hair CareTips?

  • Hmm, don't go with the myths about the touch up period being too soon at 4 week or 5 weeks, there are relaxer brands that are safe to use in that period. The thing is - you must know your "hair behaviour". At 5 weeks, my hair will start to break if I don't get a touch up, so I get my touch ups at that interval. Also, at some times of the year my hair grows faster- I touch up at 4 week intervals then. Kudos to those who can go for 6-8 weeks or more, my hair texture doesn't allow for that.
  • I also use deep conditioning treatments and get it trimmed often. I pay attention to how it behaves and respond accordingly.
  • I have found that Soft n beautiful and Profectiv relaxers are the best for my hair, it behaves well with them so I pretty much stick with them. People should find a brand that their hair responds well to, and stick with it or alternate between 2 brands if they are lucky.

Paula's images have been used with her kind permission.


Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Hair Stories - Ruby Parker

My family moved to Barbados in the mid-80’s and lived for a while in a rapidly expanding housing development in the Parish of St. Philip. Ruby was one of my neighbours. The other girls in the cul-de-sac always spoke of her with such reverence: her and Gail. These girls had ‘passed for Queen’s College’, one of the top secondary schools on the island. I was only 9 or 10, yet Ruby became my yard stick.  Not only was she academically outstanding, she carried herself with a grace and poise I had rarely seen on someone so young – she was only a few years older than myself.

The thing is – Ruby never knew how much I looked up to her. When people would ask me what secondary I hoped to get into, I would say “Queen’s College… like Ruby” (lol). Looking back it sounds pretty ‘sad’ but back then I thought nothing could be better than ‘turning out’ like Ruby. 

Turns out I was right :P  Ruby went on to launch her own business after graduating from University in 1999.  Not only is she STILL one of my role models, she is STILL a picture of poise and grace and I STILL think she’s the greatest!

Ruby is one of five girls from that cul-de-sac in our old neighbourhood who are not only currently successful professional women but also rocking their natural hair. (I think there were 8 of us altogether).

Here is Ruby’s Hair Story.

The last time I relaxed my hair was for my wedding in 2001. I wore braids for a while after that then I discovered kinky twists.
I think the kinky hair extensions were just beginning to get popular at that time because black women would stop me all the time to ask about my hair and they were so surprised to hear that there was such a thing as KINKY extensions. 

I wore that look for about a year, maybe a year and a half, with the twists styled just above my shoulders.

I actually started my locks from the kinky twists - by leaving the twists in and locking the new growth. As my hair grew, I would cut the ends of the kinky twists until they were eventually all gone.

This picture shows me when my locks were still quite young, I don't think they're as fat now - probably because they're less fluffy and more densely compacted.

I don't remember exactly what triggered my desire to go natural. I think I just got sick and tired of dealing with hair drama. Plus, I really felt like I needed a break from the chemicals because I didn't think my hair was as healthy as it could have been.
I bought a few books on natural hair and tried to do as much research as possible on how to care for it, what products to use, etc (it's a shame I had to learn about my own hair from a book!) When I started going to the natural salon to get my hair braided, I was really inspired by all the girls (and guys) who had thick, beautiful, healthy locs.
I haven't looked back since :)

Ruby's images have been used with her permission. PLEASE DO NOT COPY.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Why Are Women So Quick to 'Cry Down' Other Women?

Of course, some of you will argue that I myself am now guilty of doing the same thing but this is my soap box so I'm going to open my mouth anyway.

I watched X factor tonight, sat down with my kids and everything, couldn't think of a 'better' way to rack up some family time... anyway, the show started well, the first performances were ok (some good) and then I heard something that really got my back up!

Kandy Rain performed. They'd not been my favs thus far and had given me occasion to question their talent more than once; however - tonight's performance was DECENT - actually it was quite good and I enjoyed it. They sang 'Addicted to Love' by Robert Palmer, and I thought they weren't half bad. IMHO they weren't raunchy or OTT and not once did I feel the need to cover my daughter's (or my husbands) eyes! In short, they had vastly improved since I'd seen them last perform at Boot camp.

So imagine my surprise when the first female judge opened her 'critique' by immediately criticising their outfits. Hello? Have you seen Lady Gaga? Madonna? Britney? Beyonce? Pussy Cat dolls? (Anyone catch my drift yet?) Even Kylie has worn unitards and lace cat suits and noone felt the need to say anything then...

But check my shock grow as the second female judge jumped on the bandwagon and also laid into the girls. They brought up their PAST employment as strippers... Nary a word had yet been said about how well they executed their song! No credit was given for how vastly they had improved over time!

So now I am miffed, actually I am blue vexed. It would seem as though the judges comments were influenced by an underlying prejudice against strippers. Personally, I don't care what these girls did in the past (stripper <> prostitute last time I checked!). SOmetimes people do whatever they have to in order to get by - the thing is they had left that life behind them and were working in various 'reputable' vocations NOW and were giving this X factor thing a shot: it could have been a way out for them; a way to leave that former life behind them..


But the newspapers have been all over the story (tabloids I should add). Fair enough - word gets out, people kiss and tell - newspapers need to sell copies and sex/scandal will do that everytime. Can't hate em for that can I?

What I can be furious about however, is the judges. Why did they feel the need to bring up trash from the past reported in 'newspapers' on national TV... LIVE national TV.

Did Kandy Rain's past affect how they were singing? Nope... Are we here to judge them on 'mistakes' (if you want to call it that) they made in the past? Nope. So why is it that GIRLS ALOUD and the MINOGUE sisters can wear similar outfits on their tours and that's alright but these girls being scantily clad is automatically a reflection of their 'dirty past'? What's that about?

And I am glad that another judge pointed out that both these judges had worn similar outfits.... notice how his comments have been construed as 'Simon Cowell likened Cheryl Cole to a stripper'. Stupse. (

Neither of those judges are saints (nor am I - there I said it), I don't have to agree with everything someone has done to enjoy their music. Did I still buy Whitney's albums after she married (what I considered to be) that buffoon Bobby Brown and when there were rumours of drug addiction afoot? Yes. Do I agree with every decision she has made in her life? No. But she is human - and therefore flawed, like Kandy Rain - she's just a woman trying to be the best she can be the best way she knew how.

The Kandy Rain concept may not be everyone's cup of tea... but neither is Lady Gaga... or the idea of 50 yr old Madge running around in a flesh coloured unitard grinding up against Justin Timberlake! Does that give a judge the right to mention their former/personal/private lives during a competition that is meant to be looking at 'talent'? I don't think so.

You may disagree - but I just thought that was not the place nor time to 'diss' those girls. I am sure they could have taken them aside after the show and as WOMEN speaking to WOMEN respectfully suggest that they may improve their chances of winning/curry the public favour by dressing 'differently' in future - if that's indeed what they believe. Denigrating young women in front of millions was not the way to go. Can't we just uplift our young and reach them without first destroying them?

Stupse. I gone.

ps. In the same vein of inappropriate comments on this particular show. I also think that one of the same judges had no right to open her big mouth and bring up more 'news' from tabloids and humiliate a certain young man later in the show. His sexuality should have as little bearing on whether he performed well on THIS night as Kandy Rain's history. Enough of the games already - we're talking about people's lives here. This is why my child could never go on X factor :P I done now.. fer real.

You can watch the performance yourself here. I felt that one girl (the blonde) was a bit risqué - but that was it.
Lady Cole in similar get-up...

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Hair Stories & Her Stories...

It's October, Black History Month.

In my borough there are a whole series of events and workshops designed to celebrate what it means to be Black (and Black British), to explore our History and to remember the sacrifices of those who have gone before.

My good friend is visiting from Atlanta at the moment, it always surprises me how whenever she breezes back, she brings so many fragrant winds with her. Fragrances of times past - both good and bad; followed by a whole heap of inspiration and always always winds of change.

I've been reflecting on many things lately. Painful relationships I had to cut off, past hurts I had to let go of in order to move on to where I am now. And smiles... plenty of smiles and giggles - from Secondary School and Community College (in Barbados), to University (at Cambridge), to internships and first jobs, promotions... the whole gamut.

Ten years ago - did I think I'd be where I am today? No. Fifteen years ago I didn't even think I'd be alive! But thank God that I am, cos I love who I am now and I am thankful for who I was then, because without the experiences in between I just wouldn't be ME.

I also learned a lot during my 'lock- gate' post concerning latent attitudes and whatnot; and with this in mind I've decided to do a series of  articles on the stories behind different hairstyles/lifestyles. I have interviewed several of my friends and family who have hair(styles) that I admire, and I have combined that with my own take on why I find them inspirational.

I've also decided to throw in a couple of female friends whom I admire but who have no particular Hair Story per se. These are the Her Stories.

So without further adieu, let me begin ....

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Comparisons - 5 months

Throughout this time I haven't really thought that my hair has been growing. Clearly that's silly because, for example, my temples have sprouted new locs (chubbies) so something must be happening - but personally I didn't think I could see much difference.  This is clearly why you should take lots of photos and compare them after a while :)

So this morning, I dug around for an old photo of the back of my head and compared it with one of those I took earlier this week. Lo and behold, I can see a change!  Gone are the wispy fluffy looking things Lisa gave me in April!  Instead my hair looks fuller and happier and there is definitely a lot more bounce to the ounce than those days!

Now I know that Gigglz measured her hair length recently and 'noted' that it seemed to be the same length as when she started (clearly that was an optical illusion I say!). So I was a bit nervous when it came to measuring mine... SHE WAS RIGHT! Hahahahahhaha. I am now measuring 8 inches on top, and 7 around the back and sides - after starting with 9 inches of natural hair. Wow.

Monday, 5 October 2009

I Had A Sisterlocks Moment!

So I've been rumbling around London with this 'hairstyle' for a good few months now.
Not one person has 'recognised' them .... until today! Result! Muhahahahah!

Most days people ask me "Who siddown and plait your hair so small?"

Most people (with natural hair) have asked how much it cost to have it done and how long it took and of course - how I wash it. None of them thought they were locks though.  Several times friends have done a double take - literally! - when I tell them I am growing locks in response to their query about how long it's gonna take me to undo 'all those tiny plaits'. LOL.

Today that all changed. I was leaving the doctor's office when a nurse walked past me, then spun around and thrust her hands into my hair.  "Are these those sister twist things?"

Before I could answer, another nurse had walked over and corrected her "Sisterlocks." (Her hands also went into my hair).

All I could do was hold my notes and nod as a third nurse joined us.

First nurse to the third nurse :"But they don't look like yours"

Third nurse shakes her locks and says "That's because your hair texture determines how they look - everyone's different."

I nod in agreement, personally I thought her locks were lovely.

Second nurse:"Hmmm, you have perm at the ends?"
Me: "No, there is no perm in my hair" - I get tired of that question, can you tell?
First Nurse:"How long have you had them?"
Me: "Five months"

All 3 nurses: "Only 5 months? Wow!" --- this prompted me to go home and compare my month 1 vs month 5 pictures because I hadn't noticed much of a difference.

There were more questions, who installed them, who maintains them; why don't I go to x person in Grove Park instead of y person in Sydenham. Blah blah blah - but most impressively,the first nurse, who had about 12 inches of lovely brown relaxed hair said
"I've been thinking of getting these ever since (Nurse 3) did hers 2 years ago..."

to which both Nurse 3 and I shouted "Just do it!" LOL.

Nurse 3 even high fived me hahahhaha.

What a trip!

Friday, 2 October 2009

My Hair at 5 Months.

Ok, please excuse the razzy eyebrows, I'd just washed my hair and they decided to do their own thing. Besides, you're meant to be looking at the hair on my head not my face lol! Also, His Royal Highness (the husband) wasn't feeling too cooperative so the shots aren't as 'good' as I would have liked in terms of position and angle but you'll get the general idea.

I stretched two front locs to see how far they could reach. If you look carefully, you can see that these have thicker ends (from my eyebrows down). This is from that hair issue I had where I was losing hair from the root but it stayed trapped in the lock.

In this (3rd) image, you can see some of the newly started locs... they look like round fat stumps (at least to me they do). They're my chubby friends. Most of my ends are either open and straight or open and curly. Quite a few at the front have unravelled halfway up the loc (from the ends down), I plait a few of them but for the most part I have just left them open. We'll see what happens.

This last image caused 'bare friction' between myself and HRH (ok it wasn't that bad lol), I had asked him to take a shot of me stretching one of the back locs to see how long it was. This was what he took. He says that if I wanted to actually be able to see the lock at the same time, I should have been more specific. I guess he thought I just wanted to stand in that position to show you guys my watch and rings. LOL.  When we're speaking to eachother again, I'll take another shot but for now trust me when I tell you that the loc I am holding is between my index and middle fingers.

By the way, I am using 'LOC' instead of Lock because my hair isn't locked yet - so I'd feel like a bit of a fraud calling them locks :)
Another razzy eyebrow pic but if you pay attention to the hair you can see it kinda has a layered look about it.



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