Growing My Hair Out = The Worst.

I really liked having short hair. It’s easy, chic, and pure. However, a few weeks ago, I saw one of my old YouTube vids and decided I actually REALLY liked my longer curls and needed ‘em back:

I guess I somehow wound up with hair envy of myself and I’m on a quest to grow my hair out so I can get my fun little curlies back for me to play with! Yay!

Thing is, I’m smack dab in the middle of that awkward length where it kind of just looks like my hair is some sort of fuzzy cap sitting on top of my head. Since I’m used to having super precise haircuts, having a non-shaped style is driving me absolutely crazy.

Each and every day, I am tempted to cut it all off. I even went as far as calling Marie to tell her I was having a “hair emergency” and made a last minute appointment. When I walked in she took one look at me and said “THIS is not an emergency. You just need to keep growing it out.”

And she’s absolutely right.

Thing is my curls HAVE grown back a lot and are healthy and thriving, but they’re not short enough to look polished and styled, nor are they long enough do anything with.

I was able to talk Marie into cutting off what I considered to be my curly mullet so my hair could have SOME shape while I grow it out. Check out this Before & After:

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I can’t wait until my hair is out of this awkward adolescent phase of the grow out, but stay tuned because Lola is coming BACK! Woohoo!!!

Me & My Marley Twists!!!

Back in December, I started to get a major case of hair envy  and decided that I wanted to grow Lola out.  However, I quickly realized that without freshly clipped curls, I kinda started to look like Bradley Cooper from American Hustle.  EEP!

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Researching a Protective Style

For months, I’ve been loving the Marley Twist a.k.a. “Havana Twist” look and called up Deedee, The Golden Braider, located in Berkeley, CA to see if she could hook a gal up. After she explained to me that it would take about 4 hours and 6 bags of hair, I was S.O.L.D. (especially considering that normal singles take about 12-15 hours, this new style was a real time saver!).

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28 and Freaking Out.

As a gal in the midst of her 28th year, I’m realizing I’m looking down the barrel at the ol’ 3-0. I know, I know, I know, “20 is the new 30″, which is a trendy and convenient thing to say when you’re in my position, but no matter– I’m kinda starting to freak out.

And apparently it’s…perfectly normal?

I don’t want to get mystical on you guys, but I’m going to get mystical on you guys. Hear me out.

Have you ever heard of Saturn’s Return? According to the astrological world, it takes Saturn 29 years to return to the same place it was at your birth. It’s during this phase of Saturn’s Return that we go through a period of testing, questioning, shifting and evolving that ultimately ends with the dust settling and you emerging with a new perspective, goals and course in life. It’s supposedly this first Saturn Return that is the most difficult because it coincides with the firm end of childhood and entry into adulthood.

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Whether you’re into astrology or not, I think that there is something to be said about this bridge between your 20′s and 30′s and how you navigate that.

I turned 28 several months ago and since then my life has felt a bit unsettled and has thrown some pretty serious ups and downs my way. Coupled with the fact that my body just doesn’t seem as young as it used to in some ways (hangovers!? aches and pains!?!? WTF!?!), I’m pretty darn sure that I’m in the throes of my Saturn’s Return! I’m never too shy about letting you in on what’s going on in my life, so I thought I’d share that things are seemingly a little wonky over in my neck of the woods right now.

I found this great Saturn Return Survival Guide over on Galadarling.com that I thought I’d share with you. While these lessons and learnings seem to be particularly pertinent to me right now, I think we can all appreciate the wisdom they hold.

Never compare yourself to anyone else.

No matter what stage you’re at right now, that is the exact place you should be. We all move, grow & mature at different times, but that doesn’t make any of us better or worse than one another. Someone may have their career all figured out but their relationships are a mess, while you might have your spirituality on lock but haven’t learned to save any money yet. It’s okay. You’ll get there. Take it one day at a time.

Take responsibility for your thoughts & actions.

I say this over & over & over, but now is REALLY the time to put it into action! You will never be in control of your life or your emotions until you start to own up to everything you think & everything you do.

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FINALLY! I’m 100% Natural.

Here’s the thing: I absolutely LOVED having colored hair. I thought it enhanced my skintone and eye color and allowed me to show off my unique texture in a really great way. Thing is, over the past few months, I really and I mean really started to miss my natural hair color.

The anxiety started to plague me in my sleep (y’all know I get weird hair anxiety dreams) and I started to think about how gray hair is probably just around the corner for me (le sigh). Each day that passed, I started to hate the little straggling blonde curls and even pulled out the scissors and cut a few off myself. When I saw the damaged ends after my most recent adventure in straightening, I new that it was time to cut it off.

Sitting down in Marie’s chair, I explained that I just wanted the blonde gone.

“You’re going to be able to see your scalp, you know,” she explained.

“I know. Just cut it.”

And cut it she did.

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The result was shorter hair than I’ve EVER had before, but I’m absolutely enamored with my natural texture AND color. As I said earlier, I loved having colored hair, but there’s no question that it is a chemical process that altered the texture and integrity of my curls. I definitely fell off on the care front, for some reason short hair doesn’t seem as though it needs as much deep conditioning and pampering as long curls (although this is probably not at all true.)

Knowing me and my whims of style, I will certainly be back to color sometime in the future, but for now that I’m back to fully natural, my hair is softer and more shiny than I can remember!!

In Which I Straightened My Hair (???????)

If there is one person that shouldn’t go messing around with my hair, it’s DEFINITELY ME. I am absolutely the WORST when it comes to experimentation, but for some reason I just can’t seem to resist it!

Case in point: a few weekends ago, I woke up with a craving to straighten my hair. I mean, it’s been YEARS since I’ve done this myself (and last time I almost broke my neck in the process), so I guess I was due for a bit of adventure.

I rummaged around my natural hair goodies and remembered that Motions had sent me a sample of their new Straight to Finish line! I popped open the box and not only was the whole product set in there, but ALSO a handy-dandy little flat-iron! How serendipitous indeed!

So I washed and conditioned my hair with their products. There’s actually only a leave-in (no conditioner), which made me nervous, but whatever—I was on a M.I.S.S.I.O.N.!

First things first, I sat beneath my hooded dryer and let my hair dry 85% of the way through. Then I dug out my comb attachment for the blow dryer and worked it through my curls.

At this point you might be asking yourself a very, very, important question:

Cass, do you even have enough hair to blow dry it straight!???

The answer is no, not really. But I worked it out.

Well, kinda.

The result was one of the more ridiculous looks I’ve ever, EVER seen on my head.

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So, yea. That happened.

Then I proceeded to smooth on the Motions Straight Finish Sealer, aka heat protectant, a CRUCIAL step. Ever since I had to cut of 10 inches of heat damage once upon a time, we do not mess around without heat protectant!

Then there was the flat-iron. Almost immediately I was ready to be done. It’s that SMELL, ya know??? My hair wasn’t burning or anything, it just smelled…. straightened. It is a scent (stank odor?) I do not miss.

After about 30 minutes, I was through my entire head and the result was………..less than appealing.

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I tried to make it work by adding my side part back and using some styler to hold down the sides, only to realize that the only styler I have is actually for CURLS so almost immediately my hair started to revert back to its natural texture.

Within 30 minutes, I was in the shower washing my hair and getting it’s texture back!

So what did we learn??

  • First of all, the Motions Straight Finish products did a great job. My hair reverted immediately and there was no damage. Thumbs up on the product living up to its promises!
  • Ya girl needed a haircut. BADLY! When I got my last cut, I didn’t want to go TOO short, so the blonde ends were left on. It added a little pepper of color, but honestly it always kind of annoyed me. However, seeing the colored pieces in their straightened form realized just how dry and damaged they were. It was absolutely time for them to go!
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  • I love my natural hair. Simple as that!
  • Welcome back, curls!!  You were missed!

    Welcome back, curls!! You were missed!

The Politics of Being Friends with White People….and Latinos, Blacks, Jews, Indians and Generally Most Other Humans.

Yesterday Salon published an article titled “The Politics of Being Friends with White People“, which discussed one woman’s journey from childhood to adulthood and the evolution of her friendships through the lens of race.  The author, Brittany Cooper, claims that as a kid she was surrounded by lots of white peers and as such as many white friends, but as she grew older and found herself in more situations with persons of color, that her friendships shifted and she found herself with closer friends who were black.

The article caught my attention because, well, I have white friends.  In fact, I have a lot, of white friends. And many of my best friends are white.  Awhile back I explored my position at the intersection of race as a “black girl living in a white world” with the Harlem Shake Divide example.  This “Friends with White People” article brought up similar themes and caused me to reflect on the fact that I am a black girl who not only grew up with a lot of white friends, but still has a lot of white friends.

I decided that I wanted to craft a response to this article, but in doing so realized that a response wasn’t so —pun intended— black and white.  As I took an initial stock of my group of close friends, I realized that it was a pretty darn diverse group of kids and I realized that I didn’t want to respond to this article about the racial demographics of my friend group alone, I wanted to get my friend’s opinions on it as well!  I mean, hey—if I’m going to put our interracial friendships on blast, then they should have a say in it!

Within hours and after a series of text messages, emails and phone calls, six of my nearest and dearest had agreed to make individual cameos here on NaturalSelectionBlog to explore the ideas of race and friendships.

While the author Brittany Cooper suggests that she spends more time with one group over another, I selected this particular group of friends to feature, because they frequently find themselves at the intersection of two ethnically disparate worlds. Just like me. Which is why we’re probably friends in the first place. See? It all makes sense.

So over the coming weeks, I’m going to be giving the keyboard, and in some instances the microphone,  over to a few of my close friends.  Here, please let me introduce you to them!  In no particular order:

 

Dani

 
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My college roommate, international adventure buddy, and general all around badass. She was born in Argentina, raised in Atlanta and currently lives in Tennessee where she is studying to get her PhD in Educational Policy. After 5 years of working in public schools in DC and Brooklyn, she decided that the system sucks and she needs to change it. She is also a frequent commenter here on the ol’ blog.
 
 

Stephen

 
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Born and raised in the A, Stephen now lives in San Francisco where he manages one of the most popular restaurants in the city. As die-hard advocate of the importance of eating well with an emphasis on quality ingredients, Stephen shares a passion for writing and has started a media empire over here. Okay, real talk: our friendship was cemented because of a poll about whether or not people of color like grapefruit (DO YOU?). Two years later, our friendship is still thriving, only proving to me how impactful these discussions can be.
 
 

Bianca

 
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A college friend and sorority sister who I became extremely close to while studying abroad in France. Bianca was born and raised in Louisville, KY and is the daughter of two India-born parents (whose hospitality and cooking I will never, ever forget). Dr. Bianca is currently in residency at a hospital in Washington DC, which means that she sleeps little, works a lot and is very kind for letting me rope her into this dialogue. Because of her awesome curls, Bianca has also been featured on this blog before so you might recognize her.
 
 

Jeff a.k.a. Bubba

 
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A native San Franciscan, Jeff grew up in a diverse circle of friends that still exists today. As a Criminal Defense Lawyer, he is an outspoken advocate on racial justice issues. For those of you who have been to my events, you have likely seen him there because he has a stellar track record and knows more about natural hair that you might ever expect. Jeff is constantly disappointed in my lack of engagement with hip hop and soul, his two musical passions, and we speak frequently about how we can bridge the gap of our mutual Racial Music Expectations. So far we have honed in on vintage Brazilian and his participation in this project.
 
 

Paloma

 
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Pal and I have been roommates for going on six (!) years now in San Francisco. Growing up half-Brazilian in the suburbs of Boston, Paloma was exposed to both an international network of family and a school demographic seriously lacking in ethnic and economic diversity. As a queer woman, Pal often talks about living within these two worlds and coming to a place of balance between them herself. As a school administrator, Pal is incredibly insightful about diversity within relationships and communities at all levels.
 
 

Phallon

 
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Phallon and I have been friends literally since the day I was born (she beat me by three days). We grew up together in a small suburb of Minneapolis, MN that the census lists as 94% white. Phallon brings not only this understanding about the ethnic make up in which we grew up, but also the need and ability to establish community of color. After an inspiring 90-minute conversation about this very topic just last night, I’m so excited to welcome her voice to this conversation!
 
 
So there you have it, friends: my friends. As I mentioned, you’ll be seeing a feature from each one of them in the coming weeks as we discuss and explore this conversation of interracial friendships and the roles they’ve played in our lives. Here we go!

Black Hair @ MoAD: Event Wrap Up + Gallery

There was a lot of anticipation for this event, especially on my end as I wanted to do something a very different from anything else I produced.

And I’m glad to say that Black Hair Throughout the Diaspora not only met, but truly exceeded my expectations!

The three stories of the glass-walled and glittering Museum of the African Diaspora were filled with hundreds of attendees from around the Bay Area, some even traveling from as far as New York for the event.

The concept of the event was to produce an artistic celebration of black hair through the lens of the diaspora. I came up with the idea to have “Living Sculptures” or models who each represented a specific location within the African Diaspora. I narrowed these locations down to six places which hold a certain significance for me in terms of my personal natural hair journey: Paris, The Congo, Sub-Saharan Africa (modern day Ethiopia), Brazil, the Caribbean and, of course, San Francisco.

In collaboration with Celebrity Stylist Felicia Leatherwood, our fashion sponsor, Bloomingdales, and make up artist, Tamra Marie Aristry, this vision was brought to life (literally):

The highlight of the evening was a panel that featured Jewels Barron, Creative Director of Shea Moisture; Felicia Leatherwood, Celebrity Stylist and Rhadamés Julian, Director of Follicle. We talked about the importance of hair when it comes to discussing black identity, the role of pop culture when it comes to discussing black identity, and the origins and future of the natural hair movement. It was truly an insightful discussion, one that was filled with themes and topics that are too often glazed over and it was good to facilitate a deeper topic on the subject.

The rest of the evening was spent checking out the MoAD exhibits including the Kinsey exhibit on black hair and adornment (if you’re in the Bay, this is a must-see!), enjoying the delicious eats from Radio Africa, laughing and smiling in the Lightworks Photobooth and grooving to the tunes of DJ DC from KMEL.

It was truly a magical event, one of my favorites I’ve ever done. Going into it I thought it might be my last, but I’ve already got the itch and idea for another in the works… :)

That said, this was truly a group effort and special thanks to the following:

•Shea Moisture for supporting the Bay Area natural hair community and the exploration of these topics.
•Bloomindales, for being such creative collaborators in making this happen (shout outs to Mariama, Cati and Jay!)
•Tamra Marie Artistry, for lending your talents and vision and a wide palette of colors!
•To the MoAD Vanguard, for giving me the platform to do this event. And in particular, Timmie Roach, my true partner in crime in making this event happen. I couldn’t have done it without you!!!!
•To my mom, for hopping on a plane at my insistence to come check out the event.
•And to our partners, Lightworks Photobooth, Moet Chandon, Radio Africa, DJ DC, Glass House Communications and the Parc55 Hotel— THANK YOU!

Now, without further ado, the full gallery from the event!

My 4-Year Blogiversary: THE RETURN

Well hello there! As you may have noticed, I took a bit of a hiatus there from the blog front, and for those who are frequent readers, I apologize for the departure.

The truth is that I had become uninspired by the natural hair world. Sure, there was the constant release of new products and fun parties and mixers to attend, but after four years that whole scene had become stale, empty and in terms of seeking out compelling content, it lacked the true depth I had once found within it.

So I stopped writing.

However, Natural Selection has brought me immense joy and growth, so I knew that it would be back, but that I needed to take time to reflect on where it is I wanted to take this next part of my journey.

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I woke up today and it dawned on me: I needed to take this blog back to it’s origins, to the ORIGINAL reasons I started writing in July of 2009. So I took a trip over to my ORIGINAL blog (there have been three over the years), to see if my very first blog post held any clues. Appropriately titled “New Beginnings: A [Moderately] Brief History of Why I’m Starting a Blog About My Hair“, this post holds it’s intrigue in the opening sentence and closing statement.

The opener:

“Since I can remember, my hair has been both my crowning glory and my greatest nemesis.”

A powerful statement, and one that rings true for many women of color, however after four years of being natural, I am proud to say that my hair is a nemesis no longer!

An excerpt from my closing paragraph:

“This blog is not going to just be about hairstyles and products. I’ve come to realize that the story of black hair is a story about cultural and personal identity, health and diet, schools and learning, world history and politics, art and expression, laughter and struggle, and family and friends.”

Four years later, I stand behind this statement still. The natural hair movement, with it’s parades of products and consumerism, has swallowed up the above the true story of black hair and I too have been swept up in it and have deviated from sharing and exploring it. However I truly believe that it’s important to keep these explorations at the forefront. It’s what positively unites us, rather than 3a/4c divides us.

I will admit that it’s funny that I spent so much time and effort worrying about where I should take the future of this blog, when all I had to do was return to the origin for the answer. A lesson for us all.

Get the Part! A Side Part on your TWA that is….

One of the main issues I have (and hear from my readers) is that with a TWA there aren’t a lot of styling options. My first instinct is to say, “well, that’s the point.” But now after a few months of having my own crop, I totally understand the desire to spice a short ‘do up a bit.

Which is why I’ve decided to rock the side part. The side part inspiration came about when I saw Solange do it when she first did her big chop.

the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards

It appears however, that our dearest Miss Knowles cut her part into her hair and while cute, I was reluctant to make such a commitment.

So when I was getting my hair cut and styled last week, I hopped out of the chair and used my fingers and nails to sort of draw in a side part. It worked just okay, but the idea was there.

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The next day I decided to figure out how to get the part going REAL good.  After a few trials and errors, I finally achieved a part that will last for days on end, even through sleeping and second day hair! Here’s how I do it:

1. On freshly washed hair, apply your usual styling product. I’ve been liking gels.

2. Take a comb and place your part. Your hair will want just swallow that part right back up, so try to use the teeth of the comb to gently tame just the roots.

3. Once you have the part, lightly apply some firm hold gel. I’ve been really, really liking the new EDEN Bodyworks Control Edge Glaze. It’s all natural, dries clear, has an AWESOME hold and for $8.99—the price is right!

4. Once the gel is applied, take two duckbill clips and slide them along either side of the part.

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5. Using a blowdryer on medium heat with a nozzle attachment, lightly dry the roots along the part.

6. Carefully slide the clips out and VOILA! You’ve got a solid and straight side part!

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One you chop you just can’t stop

I’ve spent the last month wavering back and forth between the big decision that seems to plague me every couple months: Cut or grow? BAA or TWA? Crop or Crown?

I knew I needed a simple trim so I made a last minute appointment with my stylist Marie of Madusalon in San Francisco. The issue is, last minute appointments don’t work so well for a lady whose signature curly cuts book out a month in advance.

We were crunched for time in a serious way.

As a result, I decided that I simply wanted to go natural.

“Go natural?” you say. Yes, go natural, as in ditch the color and the crazy cuts, I wanted a short cropped do and my own natural color.

The result is just that, a short cropped do featuring Lola au naturel!

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Well, kind of.

The remaining blonde highlights will have to go pretty soon, but you get the point.

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Wanna know the other point? Of course you do.

I LOVE HAVING SHORT HAIR!!!!!

There is just something so simple, chic and pure about having a minimalist ‘do.

Saying that my hair is easy to style is an understatement. It takes a matter of seconds and I’m done! I will say that I am having a bit of a challenge in finding the appropriate combination of products that coax my curls out of hiding. It seems that my hair likes different products at every different length and right now we’re seeing a renaissance of GELS. Stay tuned for how that evolves.

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You may notice that I’ve been rocking a side part with the look, a style note I pinched from my lifelong bestie (and BIRTHDAY GIRL) Phallon, who added one to HER big chop a few months ago. It’s a super simple addition, but one that adds a level of sophistication and refinement to the new crop. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post when I do a tutorial on how I get the part (and make it STAY!)

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