Tuesday, June 10, 2008

From Myrfabru

I was 17 years old when I had my first perm. My mother forced me into it because I looked way younger than my age. I hated washing my permed hair because it felt weird. So, nine months later I cut my hair to fro. It looked pretty cute. A year later, I had another perm because my dad threatened not to let me go to church with my natural hair. I kept yoyoing between going natural and peming until 2001 when I had my last perm. I had a texturizer in 2004, that was a disaster. Since then, I have not experimented with chemicals. I try quite a few styles: extensions, cornrow, twists. I stay away from the fro as much as possible because it makes me look like a lollipop. Lately, I have been using organic instead of mineral oils. They smell good, and my hair loves it. I also search the internet for ideas. What people think about my hair, I don't know. And I don't care because I am comfortable with who I am whether people like it or not. Until next time,


Monday, June 9, 2008

My fair lady

In the Friday issue of this weekend, an article by Ritu Raizada, entitled My Fair Lady, talks about the obsession of Eastern women with fair complexion. The author writes: “While a high percentage of westerners are spending hours in the sun to acquire a tan, a large number of people in the East are slapping on creams and lotions hoping to become fair and look young.”
The authors continues to say :

If you think this obsession with light, spot and blemish-free skin is restricted to a vain few, think again. The vast selection of pills, lotions and creams is testament to an industry that is flourishing. Women in Japan, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea and Taiwan all know the secret of pale beauty. Now, using a skin-whitening cream has become the ‘in-thing’ in the Middle East too.

Pale, sport-free skin is being aggressively marketed across the region as synonymous with beauty and health. The result: women are willing to go to any extreme to change their complexions little realizing that it could be bordering on the dangerous.

The craze for skin whitening has a long history, dating back to the days of yore in Asia, where the saying ‘one white covers up three ugliness’ was passed on from one generation to the next.

The article then concludes on how to choose the safest skin whitening products. “It is absolutely not necessary to spend on expensive luxury products, the trick is to find a properly researched and trustworthy brand.”

If you are after clear skin, buying every other cream off the shelf will not help you. It is all about a healthy lifestyle, diet regular exercise, protected exposure to the sun and no smoking. …There is only so much that a cosmetic beauty cream can help you achieve. No matter what you use thereafter, no cream can turn back the age clock.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

More stories

My friend Myrfabru has been relaxer-free for a long time. She’s still learning how to manage her hair, but, in the meantime, she’s having fun.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Of the fairy tales that filled up my childhood, Beauty and the Beast was the one I enjoyed the most. In part, it was because it somehow reminded me of the Hunchback of Notre-Dame. In part, it was because, unlike the other stories where the princess waited passively to be rescued by some prince charming, Belle was the one who rescued the Beast. She rescued him from a miserable life of loneliness and despair, and brought out the most beautiful aspect of his spirit.

While it was difficult—for a child in the developing world—to picture a princess's life, I could easily see Belle in the micro-entrepreneur who is up at dawn every morning to fight another war for survival for herself and her children. I could see her in the peasant who has to walk 3 miles to the village springs to fetch water for her household. I could see her in the engineer who has to manage the impossible task of balancing work and family. I could see her in every woman who, without knowing it, is the pillar of strength that supports the dreams and aspirations that are constantly threatened by a present filled with uncertainty.

Beauty and the Beast spoke to me the most of what a woman should be: beautiful, compassionate, strong, and intelligent. Qualities that all women—regardless of their race, color, background—have in common.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

More hair stories

My friend Rosie, a gorgeous lady from the Dominican Republic who lives in the U.S., went home to visit her family. She doesn’t like to have to straighten her hair all the time; therefore, she went home with her untamed curls, but her family couldn’t believe that her hair looked like that. So, she was taken to the hair salon to have it fixed. Above are the before and after pictures, plus two more pictures of her and her beautiful niece.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

women of strentgh


A man buys a lottery ticket and tells his 10-year old son about it.

“if I win the jackpot, it will be Paris, beautiful women, and caviar”

“what if you lose, dad?

“if I lose, it will be Haiti and your mother”

That is, of course, a very sad and demeaning joke. Nonetheless it points out a pessimistic reality. A reality made out of bleaching products, relaxers, dangerous dieting tricks that women—especially women of color—have to go through in order to fit in and to please their men.


I wasn’t expecting any reactions to my decision at the beginning. I was too into getting accustomed to my new hair. It was only when some friends and relatives thought it was time for me to “get real” that I realized how profound the damage of two centuries of slavery had been.

The comments range from “are you crazy? How can you walk around looking like this?”, “you can afford to do this because you are already married; so, don’t need to look good” to “you are taking risk with your marriage”, “kinky beauty, what’s an oxymoron!”

I was shocked to realize how people’s perception of beauty had been distorted. Although we had been independent for over two hundred years, it was sad to see that we were still enslaved at so many levels. So, the woman with the most prominent African features (kinky hair, flat nose, thick lips, fuller hips, darker skin) was the least attractive. The one who resembles the most the European colonist was the most sought after.

Then I understood that that meaningless decision was well beyond hairstyle. It was about breaking free from that subtle conditioning that has alienated women all over the world for centuries, appreciating our differences and similarities, taking control of our beautiful selves, and just being happy to be women of strength.

Monday, June 2, 2008


My hair, my statement

About 4 years ago, I made the decision to no longer relax my hair and to let it grow as it was intended to grow: nappy, natural, lustrous, and healthy. Four years later, I am still learning about my hair: how to take care of it, how to be comfortable with it, how to master the different natural hairstyles, and how to let it speak about freedom, pride, uniqueness, and self-confidence. What puzzles me is that apparently simple decision to stay away from chemicals had, indeed, very little to do with hair; for, my whole perception of glamour, womanhood, and beauty has evolved into a degree of emancipation that I had never experienced before.