by Can­dace of Kiss My Curls

afrowithpic

I was a fresh­man in high school in Mil­wau­kee, WI. My blue-eyed, blonde-haired, straight-strand­ed friend Becky (yes that was her real name) want­ed me to curl her hair for a spe­cial occa­sion that was com­ing up. I said sure! I was a whiz with hair, even back then. I grabbed her curl­ing iron, think­ing, “this is going to be a piece of cake.”

Yeah…not so much.

Even after using the hottest set­ting and spray­ing her hair with the stiffest hair spray, I COULD NOT get Becky’s hair to curl. She end­ed up leav­ing my house with one stiff lock of hair and the rest of it just as straight as when she first came over. I remem­ber think­ing, “for straight hair being praised for being ulti­mate­ly ‘easy’, that was some hard ass work.” Since then, I’ve real­ized that some­one with more expe­ri­ence prob­a­bly could’ve fig­ured out how to get Becky’s hair to curl beau­ti­ful­ly, but I didn’t know the rules, so to ME it was unman­age­able. Because I was UNFAMILIAR with straight hair, straight hair was UNMANAGEABLE. Do you see where I’m going with this?

After watch­ing the Dr. Drew spe­cial and hear­ing the term, “man­age­able” over and over in rela­tion to the term “good hair”, I felt the need to address this. The term “man­age­abil­i­ty” is rel­a­tive, just like the term “good.” Using one word to describe anoth­er does not fur­ther define it. How­ev­er, the fact that there was no con­fu­sion when the def­i­n­i­tion giv­en for “good hair” was “more man­age­able” shows that to many peo­ple, it’s not rel­a­tive. In fact to most, it only means one thing; the straighter your hair is, the eas­i­er it is to deal with.

This belief has to change. The nat­ur­al hair move­ment has made some great strides, but we have yet to deal with our neg­a­tive lan­guage. We still envy oth­er tex­tures and assume that we must describe our kinky hair as “unruly”, “unman­age­able” and “too thick”. Not the case. Yes, when I first went nat­ur­al, my hair was VERY unman­age­able. But that was MY fault, NOT my hair’s. Though my hair has got­ten no clos­er to straight, I can now man­age it very well. Give me a straight-haired per­son though, and it’s Becky all over again. Even curly hair is some­what of a mys­tery to me.

My point is this: Learn your hair and its lim­i­ta­tions. Learn its strengths and build on those. More impor­tant­ly, know that EVERY tex­ture has its lim­i­ta­tions. Every­one has to have SOME kind of dai­ly rou­tine and EVERYONE has to ward off unman­age­abil­i­ty. In the video below I talk (or rant, rather) about some the true roots of our beliefs, these terms and what needs to change. I think that Dr. Drew has start­ed a good thing, and I hope that oth­er talk shows do the same.

 

Can­dace cur­rent­ly lives in Chica­go, IL, where she man­ages www.kissmycurls.com with her sis­ter, Jan­na, who resides in Huntsville, AL. Start­ed three years ago, www.kissmycurls.com strives to encap­su­late the fire, feroc­i­ty, and unique­ness that is nat­ur­al Black beau­ty, and works to empow­er every read­er through tweets, pics, posts, and ran­dom blog blurts. :-) Fol­low Kiss My Curls on Twit­ter:  http://www.twitter.com/kiss­my­curls and like Kiss My Curls on Face­book  http://www.facebook.com/cur­lol­o­gy 

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44 Comments on "What Makes Hair “Manageable?”"

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Onicia Muller

I appre­ci­ate this. Can­dace took me to church. It us all rel­a­tive and we need to switch the stan­dard to what our hair is. This is not say­ing straight is bad but it’s say­ing stay in your Lane and know your min­istry :p

So many quotable. Moment. Thanks for shar­ing

Aliyah
Ugh my hair is Unman­age­able some­times it has been grow­ing alot amd every­time I wake up it’s dry , poofy , and my 4a tight curls just tan­gle on each oth­er ! I have built a sim­ple regime it is beau­ti­ful and mois­tur­ized all day but as soon as I go to sleep and then wake up it’s a mess . It takes me about 15 min­utes it more to get it back to what it is sup­pose to be . And I have short hair too so I can’t do twists or braids and I’m not wear­ing weave again… Read more »
trackback

[…] great arti­cle came out the oth­er day on BGLH by Can­dace of Kiss My Curls that chal­lenged the notion of what makes hair man­age­able, based on a […]

Lola

I noticed some com­ments about the author of the arti­cle clar­i­fy­ing that the name of the white girl she referred to her in arti­cle was in fact actu­al­ly named Becky. I looked at the video and accord­ing to when it was post­ed, around that time the slang term for a white girl was “Becky”. Seems like a viable rea­son to men­tion it in order to clear up any con­fu­sion.

the gypsy life

Hair is only “unman­age­able” “too thick” “unruly”, when you try to make your hair do some­thing that is unnat­ur­al. Keep it straight, when it’s nat­u­ral­ly coily, or in Becky’s case, attempt­ing to make it curl when it’s nat­u­ral­ly straight. Relax­ing and straight­en­ing hair has become so ingrained in us and in our cul­ture, that we’re taught how to man­age straight/relaxed hair before we are taught how to deal with our nat­ur­al hair. At least we’re hav­ing an open dia­logue about it.

Kita

my hair was unman­age­able this past fri­day. in 40 min­utes my hair went through 5 dif­fer­ent style (all ugly) before i final­ly stopped fight­ing it and wore it in a curly fro…my hair said no to the scarves, the mohawk, my old trusty pin up that i rocked faith­ful­ly all of 2012, a twist­ed updo with the coif in the front, and my flat twists in the front/out in the back. it said NO so i said what­ev­er LOL

Sandi

This arti­cle makes so much sense to me. My hair is 4c and it seems man­age­able to me because it does exa­cly what I want it to do and what I expect of it.

Tyler

For me “man­aga­bil­i­ty” is the ease or dif­fi­cult for hair to become untan­gled and in a pre­sentable style and stay that way. For that rea­son I do view nat­ur­al hair to be “hard to man­age.”

Tyler
http://onelittleblackdress.com

Lolkay

No one is forc­ing you to stay nat­ur­al, if you want the wet, loose curl look like you pre­fer like you men­tioned in your blog, get a relax­er or some­thing.
We hon­est­ly dont need neg­a­tive nat­u­rals in this movement/community.
My curly, kinky frizzy hair is VERY MANAGEABLE cause I know how to deal with it and I am not aim­ing for straight/loose curls white girl hair, which is clear­ly your stan­dard of man­age­able hair.
Relax/texlax your hair, no one is forc­ing you to be nat­ur­al. Shoo.

Emmeaki

My hair is nat­ur­al and to me, relaxed hair that I has to be wrapped at night, flat ironed, and can’t be touched by water is hard to man­age! I can put my hair in a “pre­sentable style” in five min­utes, so it my hair is very easy to man­age! Just as the arti­cle said, man­age­abil­i­ty is rel­a­tive.

LoLoLo
Tyler, your igno­rance is dis­turb­ing. If you weren’t try­ing to force your hair to be sleek, hang, heav­i­ly defined, loose tex­tured, and have that white girl flow,it would be man­age­able, Tyler. Those are are not char­ac­ter­is­tics of Afro-tex­tured hair and nat­ur­al hair will NEVER do that. What the f@#$ is is a pre­sentable style, Tyler. Do you think that your hair has to sleek, flat, over­ly-defined and hang in loose curls to look pre­sentable, Tyler? Just took a look at your blog and your hair is a dead ringer for mine…and my hair is not “hard to man­age”. I noticed… Read more »
Commonsense

Dar­ling, if your hair is “dif­fi­cult” to style and man­age, you are using the wrong sham­poo and con­di­tion­ers. Per­haps you need to find the right prod­ucts for your hair type.

Jasmine

The igno­rance, my good­ness. My nat­ur­al hair isn’t “hard to man­age” at all. I think man­age­abil­i­ty depends on the per­son. What’s man­age­able for me may not be man­age­able for some­one else.

Anon87
What some black women don’t realise is that their hair is “unman­age­able” because it’s being mea­sured up against a stan­dard which is pro­pa­gan­dised as supe­ri­or and ide­al. Of course in this con­text, our hair is “unman­age­able.” But what if we reverse the roles? White women would be stress­ing them­selves because their hair won’t keep in cain­rows, they’d be crav­ing tighter tex­tures so they could have an afro, they’d be frus­trat­ed because their hair couldn’t hold a style or mould into these dif­fer­ent shapes. In oth­er words, their hair would be “unman­age­able.” A lot of women who call their hair unman­age­able… Read more »
JazzWife
I wrote a post on my blog a few years ago on this very sub­ject. So to this day when I hear the unini­ti­at­ed talk about the unman­age­abil­i­ty of their nat­ur­al hair, I whince, cringe and fight the urge to jump up on my soap­box and preach. This notion of man­age­able hair has noth­ing to do with tex­ture at all. It is all about mind­set and reach­ing a lev­el of full under­stand­ing and appre­ci­a­tion for one’s nat­ur­al hair. There is a learn­ing curve … embrace it and get on with tak­ing care of the nat­ur­al hair you have. It is… Read more »
Becky

First of all why is the name Becky any­thing weird!!!? Shani­qua, Latoya, latravia… I rest my case. Sec­ond­ly you black women need to stop dis­cussing hair and your oppres­sion with it and just live your life!!!! The more atten­tion you give to it the big­ger deal it becomes! It is JUST hair. Stop mak­ing it more than it needs to be. You’ve had your healthy hair rev­o­lu­tion, great. Live it and move on!

Chrissa

Around this time the arti­cle was post­ed, the slang term for a white girl was “Becky”. Seems like a viable rea­son to men­tion it in order to clear up any con­fu­sion.

lis

Who was speak­ing to you Becky?

cacey

so.….why’re you here again? (in case i missed it some­where in your irrel­e­vant rant)

Cami

Becky, you are so out of your league in even com­ing to our site, let alone speak­ing to that which does not involve nor con­cern you. And fur­ther­more, your sense of white enti­tle­ment is not want­ed nor is it appre­ci­at­ed here. 

Now please, move on and take your crazy ass rhetoric with you.

Curly53

Becky,

We need to “stop dis­cussing our hair”? You came to a place designed for that pur­pose (where you clear­ly don’t belong) to berate a sub­ject that doesn’t even con­cern you? Does it both­er you that much that we as Black women are rev­el­ing in the beau­ty of the gifts that God has giv­en us? Don’t be afraid; us cel­e­brat­ing us should not make you feel so inse­cure. You lose noth­ing by our gain. Have a seat some­where, please.

Dananana

The name ‘Becky’ wasn’t clar­i­fied as the person’s real name because it was weird, it was clar­i­fied because in cer­tain non-White com­mu­ni­ties, it’s seen as a stereo­typ­i­cal White girl name. The author clar­i­fied it to ensure that her read­ers knew she wasn’t just mak­ing it up. It was humor, and you turned that into an oppor­tu­ni­ty to spout neg­a­tives into a pos­i­tive space. I’ve just about had it with any­one and every­one who tries to tell me that ignor­ing race-relat­ed issues decreas­es their sig­nif­i­cance and impact. It doesn’t. It just makes peo­ple like you more com­fort­able with ignor­ing it.

lablooplah
Ok, the thing I love the most about being nat­ur­al is that I know my hair, it’s no longer a mys­tery to me, where before it was like an alien on my head. Even when its dry, and crun­cy (some­times) even when it does the oppo­site of what i want it to do, like shrink, or stretch and almost look straight after a braid out, I’m not like it’s the end of the world!! I just fig­ure out what to do with it. Some­times I just go with a wash and go (some­times my tiny, real­ly tiny, coils are defined,… Read more »
Jacky

Great post and it’s so true. My Indi­an friends mar­vel at how my hair­styles are so ver­sa­tile and last so long because their hair has to be held with a rub­ber band if put in a braid or twist or it will unrav­el and it also has to be re-styled dai­ly or it will get rough.

MsKat
What makes hair man­age­able? You do! It’s up to you to find a rou­tine that works for you and makes it easy to man­age. I’ve heard over and over, women who say they go to a salon all the time because they can’t man­age their own hair-if they start doing it on their own they fig­ure out how to man­age it. Some hair is more dif­fi­cult than oth­er hair, but once you fig­ure out what works for you, it is offi­cial­ly man­age­able. Everyone’s hair is dif­fer­ent, and a mis­take peo­ple often make is want­i­ng their hair to look or behave… Read more »
Christine

Agreed with this it video 10000000%!!

LBell

Got­ta be honest…this arti­cle AND the com­ments have me cheesin’ right now. And some­where out there I’d like to think that Mar­cus Gar­vey is doing the same.

“Don’t remove the kinks from your hair. Remove them from your HEAD.”

:D

JenniD
Man­age­abil­i­ty to me means what you can real­is­ti­cal­ly han­dle day to day. Our abil­i­ty to man­age and learn our own hair tex­ture was tak­en away from most of us at a young age, both men­tal­ly and phys­i­cal­ly. We didn’t learn on our own that our hair was unman­age­able some one TOLD us it was and we just absorbed the neg­a­tiv­i­ty. Our hair no mat­ter what the tex­ture only real­ly needs to be detan­gled, cleansed, con­di­tioned and styled. You can make this as easy or as com­pli­cat­ed as you like. From what I see on hair boards, blogs, Youtube and real life,… Read more »
lex
True man­age­abil­i­ty to me is being solu­tion ori­ent­ed with your hair. I won’t front when I first went nat­ur­al I thought I could do what oth­er girls did, do what I did with relaxed hair and boy was it a rude awak­en­ing those first three years. lol  Omg, yes the neg­a­tive talk is the worst to get rid of. I’m 5 years in and I’ve learned a lot yet I still do it. My recent strug­gle has been styling my hair as I felt some­times it was too coarse to manip­u­late. So the eas­i­est solu­tion is to think, well my… Read more »
momofIV
This is a sore point for me because I hear/see hair com­mer­cials for either a new detan­gling brush, or a new shampoo/conditioner, or a new device for straight­en­ing hair all the time. They are very clear with the adver­tis­ing of the qual­i­ty (man­age­abil­i­ty) of the hair types: the white girls’ hair is referred to as fine/soft/thin while the black girls’ hair is referred to as coarse/dry/thick (pre­dom­i­nant­ly neg­a­tive adjec­tives). Accord­ing to the adver­tis­ers, the only time the black woman’s hair looks bet­ter is when her nat­ur­al hair state has been altered to appear more cau­casian. I’m tired of white peo­ple… Read more »
cacey

I define man­age­able as being able to wash it and go, with a min­i­mal amount of detan­gling. hair that doesn’t require more than 5 hours out of my week to main­tain. my hair sat­is­fies that qual­i­fi­ca­tion, so to me it is man­age­able. it’s all in how one choos­es to look at it!

divilin
Well hot dam! I’m glad some­one said this because when I was in jail for dri­ving with­out a license,I walk up in the coun­ty jail and there are these white meth head women try­ing to get ya know uh “clean” some of those chicks going down for 40 years had their hair braid­ed up, and of course they ask ME the black girl to do their hair. I said hell no I don’t know how to do no white girls hair? Even though I have rel­a­tives with straight hair, I nev­er fig­ured out how to do their hair. I too… Read more »
Elle
“we have yet to deal with our neg­a­tive lan­guage” This! And neg­a­tive lan­guage still per­sist from the streets, to posts from Style Icons and arti­cles from ‘gurus’. Some exam­ples: -‘aw hell nawl, I can’t be seen with a fro’; -OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE curlformer/twistout DISORDER; -hen­na addic­tion because it ‘loosens the curl’; -style icons hap­pi­ly going nat­ur­al ONLY because they remem­bered ‘what pret­ty curls they had as a child’ (READ: 3A-4A); -tran­si­tion­ing for 8 years because ‘short naps are a no-no’. YES, I know some will nev­er love a fro and some will always love defined curls and the appar­ent mir­a­cles of hen­na. And I… Read more »
the gypsy life
Preach!!! I said this on anoth­er thread. We moved from creamy crack to hav­ing loos­er curl tex­ture. We have got to get to the point of self-accep­tance, and embrace our indi­vid­u­al­i­ty. We have a vari­ety of tex­tures, and no one tex­ture is better/more man­age­able etc., I’ve read so many com­ments about women tran­si­tion­ing for years because they don’t want to part with their length and be seen with “short nap­py hair”. It’s almost as if, hav­ing “nap­py” hair is accept­able as long as it’s bra strap or waist length. And those with medi­um to short hair, are obsessed with keep­ing it… Read more »
anastasia

+1000 Truth!!

anastasia

Truth is in all of these fab com­ments! Y’all mak­ing me wave my hands up high now, lol=)

lablooplah

I dont see any­thing with a puffy fro (like the one pic­tured in the arti­cle) aren’t we jus lim­it­ing our hair in a diff way? Thanks for point­ing that out.

GSoldier
! !THANK YOU! ! Your on point with your exam­ples. Indeed, this is a move­ment: A move­ment from a relaxed “straight” state if mind to a curl “loos­er” state of mind. A fro’ is not a style, it’s how your hair nat­u­ral­ly grows! Black peo­ple do you know our hair defies the laws of physics! ! Any­where where you can give anoth­er race a run for their mon­ey, Be it appear­ance, music, the arts, our resources, mar­ket­ing skills (look how quick the talk of nat­ur­al grew from Usa all the way to Africa! You let them sh*t all over you will­ing­ly now.… Read more »
Brittany
I couldn’t agree more. Grow­ing up, my fam­i­ly would tell me sto­ries about the thick­ness of my hair. “It was so thick and unman­age­able! We had to put a perm in it!” I was only 2 years old, mind you, and my hair wasn’t even at a point where it had begun to “adjust” itself (for lack of a bet­ter word) to being in the world. I tru­ly think their lack of knowl­edge, impa­tience, and my mother’s choice not to do any­thing with my hair (which prob­a­bly made it 10x hard­er to han­dle when some­one did take the time to… Read more »
Iva
I have actu­al­ly been think­ing about this since the Stop Wish­ing for Long Hair arti­cle and the com­ments (some­one made a very astute com­ment about women becom­ing nat­ur­al sole­ly for long hair and find­ing every­thing in between to be “unman­age­able.”) For me, my hair was “unman­age­able” when I kept try­ing to make it some­thing it wasn’t. I ful­ly intend­ed to be a straight hair nat­ur­al and only deal with the kink on wash day, if then. Except I live in a humid place so the sec­ond I walked out with my bad­ly flatironed hair it was back to fro.  The sec­ond… Read more »
Dananana
This arti­cle is on point. All too often, I see/hear peo­ple with kinki­er tex­tures bemoan­ing the dif­fi­cul­ties of their tex­ture, and while I know it’s most­ly because a lot of us still need to get edu­cat­ed on healthy hair care (it’s a dynam­ic process, I’m con­stant­ly learn­ing new things), I feel like a good por­tion of it is because peo­ple haven’t learned how to love and/or man­age their par­tic­u­lar bou­quet of tex­tures. I have both curli­er hair (4A/3B/3C) and kinki­er hair (4B/4C). Each dif­fer­ent tex­ture has it’s own strug­gle, and I have had to learn how to man­age each one… Read more »
Aree
When peo­ple start talk­ing about main­te­nance, man­age­abil­i­ty, or “good hair”, I just kin­da blank out. Kin­da how peo­ple blank out when they ask me a hair ques­tion, and they find that it’s not a mag­i­cal prod­uct that I am about to bestow upon them. If you can care for your body, then you can care for your hair the way it nat­u­ral­ly comes out of your body.  I don’t under­stand what there is to man­age. Just take care of it. If you’re try­ing to rake a small comb through your nat­ur­al hair then com­mon sense should kick in, like yea…this ain’t hap­pen­ing.… Read more »
Deedeemaha

man­age­able — in the case of hair, it’s dif­fi­cult to con­trol hair when you are try­ing to alter the strands from their orig­i­nal state. Straight -curly Curly-straight = dam­age or beyond dead strands of hair. 

This brings us to man­age­able by who’s stan­dard? I can con­trol my hair in its nat­ur­al state. Only when we try to make the hair con­form to some style that it’s to short or to long to achieve that it becomes unman­age­able. Is that the hair fault? No. The hair is dead.

CuteKinks
I com­plete­ly agree. If you were to ask me “What makes hair man­age­able?” when I was younger, I would say the abil­i­ty to wash your hair, let it air dry and you’re done (so I am not talk­ing about the cur­rent “wash and go” hair­style that takes 45min­utes to an hour to achieve lol.) And to some extent I would say that it’s still my answer, but I know now that I CAN wash my hair and let it air dry and be done with it…I just won’t have the “per­fect” springy curls that are so cov­et­ed. (And that’s anoth­er… Read more »
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