Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Ultimate Guide to Maintaining & Styling Natural Hair

I am printing this partial interview with the permission of blogger Autumn who writes a blog called "The Beheld" which examines beauty concepts.

The interview is Diane DaCosta as she was interviewed by Autumn.

Diane DaCosta—celebrity hair stylist, textured hair guru, product developer, and author—was styling her clients naturally years before naturally textured hair became as popular as it is now. Her book, Textured Tresses: The Ultimate Guide to Maintaining and Styling Natural Hair, educates African American women and other women with textured hair on how to maintain and care for their hair, and shows that glamour need not be synonymous with relaxed hair. Instead, she works with clients' texture to achieve a variety of looks, preserving the health of their hair and paving the way for a natural hair explosion along the way.

Her latest project, Beauty Girl Talk for Teens, aims to educate young women on self-esteem, self-awareness, and proper hair care that will ensure they have hair for years to come (traction alopecia is one of the fallouts of relying exclusively on weaves). We talked about the evolution of African American hair, the role of spirituality in hair care, and why weaves aren't necessarily to be avoided—even in primarily natural care. In her own words:

On the Legacy of African American Hair
African American hair has been an evolution in America. We go through these cycles: In the '50s, we had natural hair, but we would press it and create Marcel waves. In the '60s and '70s it was the big Afros and cornrows; in the '80s we put relaxers in. We were graduating from college, getting jobs in corporate America—as African Americans and as women. In the '80s we were assimilating, and by the '90s we had arrived in corporate America. So now we want our identity back, but how can we do it? As far as hair is concerned, first it was with braids, but very conservative braids. As time went on, after a couple of years we started bringing back our own natural hair in different styles. It's just sort of the evolution of a people identifying themselves and wanting to wear their own hair—and a little rebellion.

On the Conflict of "Natural"
Twenty years ago I would have had a different perception, but now I think African American women are loving and accepting their hair more and more. They're accepting it in its natural state and letting it grow out healthier, and then doing whatever they want to do to it. But there's still an emotional association with self-worth.

Now you have women who are fine with their natural texture—we've established that the natural hair movement is here to stay, and we've accepted the array of styles you can do with natural, textured hair—but it's the length that messes with women's minds. Why not just accept, "Okay, my hair is natural, or relaxed, or whatever—but I want long hair, so I can put a hair piece in it"? There's this conflict: I want to be natural, and I want long hair, but I don't want an extension. It can be a personal, emotional conflict within you.

Not all weaves are bangs or side swept—there are weaves and extensions that mimic natural hairstyles, like braided extensions or textured weaves. There doesn't seem to be as much internal conflict among women about that—maybe because it's a quote-unquote "natural" style, an African style. I mean, it's still not completely your real hair. But it's a conflict that runs deep.

jump over to The Beheld for the rest of the interview

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