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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45 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 »
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[…] 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.… 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.”

😀

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… 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… 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… 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… 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… 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… 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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