Stop Telling Black Women How to Wear Their Hair, Natural or Not

“Your hair needs to be done. Do you plan on getting it done soon?”

“Why don’t you wear braids? They’d look so much better on you!”

“You always wear the same style. You don’t want to try something new for a change?”

“How about something that looks more natural?”

“Why do you never wear your natural hair?”

“Are you really about to walk out of the house looking like that?”

Sincerely,

The Hair Police

I can’t speak on behalf of everybody’s experience with this topic. I can only speak for myself and voice my own personal experience, but I still want to advocate for others because hair-shaming in the black community has always been an issue. The debate between wearing our natural hair and not wearing our natural hair seems never-ending.

Let me begin by saying that I adore my natural hair and this post is not meant to degrade or shame natural hair in any way. That being said, if you’ve ever experienced hair-shaming as a black woman, you know the frustration that comes with it. Imagine a person being so pressed and stressed about hair that isn’t even attached to their head. That person who’s giving constant unsolicited advice and opinions may or may not have your best interest at heart, but at the end of the day, you’re not obligated to listen. This kind of invasive, judgmental behavior is enough to throw somebody into an identity crisis or develop low self-esteem, and it needs to stop. How are we supposed to express our individuality by constantly listening to people’s opinions and allowing them to change our perception of ourselves?

I personally know several people who have acted and still act like the “hair police.” They see one thing “wrong” or “off” about my hair, whether it’s the color, the texture, or the style, and immediately start with the questions, comments, and concerns. Although I always shut these comments out, it still astounds me that these grown people don’t know how to mind their business. From makeup to clothes to hair, they’ll find anything to comment on. Forget the “sexy bedhead” look because the slightest bit of frizz or lack of attention given to my hair suddenly means that I need to take a trip to the salon ASAP. My extensions are too long? Suddenly I “hate my short, natural hair” and am “whitewashed” because I’m choosing to wear it down my back, which makes no sense because there are plenty of black women out there who are capable of growing out their natural hair. The weight of these remarks once made me feel like I was suffocating in failure within my community, and that’s why I finally chose to stop listening altogether.

As black women, and more importantly, as human beings, we have the right to do what we want, how we want. That includes wearing weaves, extensions, or wigs. A style that appeals to me may not appeal to you, and there’s no problem with that. However, you don’t get to speak on my hair and determine whether or not it’s an acceptable style.

Unless someone asks for hair tips or advice, don’t assume they’re looking for it or are open to listening to what you have to say. If I want to embrace having long, wavy or curly hair, that’s my right. If I want to wear it smooth and straight, I’ll wear it smooth and straight. Just because I choose not to wear it natural doesn’t mean anything, other than I don’t feel like wearing it natural. It’s not a sin to experiment and have fun with other options. Nobody should ever have a say in how we choose to wear our hair.

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8 Things You Shouldn’t Apologize For

1. Pain

Your pain is valid. No matter what caused it or how long it has been, it’s normal to still feel hurt by someone or something. Pain comes and goes. It increases or decreases with time and can be triggered by something affecting your current life. It’s not your fault if you are still hurting from a major or minor experience. Healing isn’t linear, and you shouldn’t be expected to heal in an instant. Never feel guilty about this.

2. Being depressed

It’s so easy to tell someone to move on after something has happened, or to smile when they’re down. If it were that simple, don’t you think they would have been okay by now? Insensitive comments can make depression worse. One of the least effective pieces of advice I’ve been given in regard to my depression was, “Just get up and do something.” Okay . . . then what? What if it doesn’t work? Any more bad advice, Captain Ignorant? We all handle depression differently, some better than others. It’s okay if you have to take a step back from life and focus on your mental health. Don’t let others force you into doing things you’re not ready for. Don’t take their advice on a whim if they seem impatient or unsupportive and just want you to “be normal” again. Finally, don’t apologize for being depressed. There’s nothing wrong with you, and anyone who invalidates your feelings or well-being does not care about you.

3. Having anxiety

Like with depression, anxiety doesn’t mean you’re crazy or paranoid. Focus on what relaxes your mind and body. Billions of people suffer with anxiety, so for those who can’t relate, understand that we get anxious. Sometimes for no reason. It’s our life, so please be respectful and patient. We handle our anxiety as best we can.

4. Canceling plans

Things can be rescheduled. The universe won’t suddenly go dark if a lunch date gets canceled. Obligations pile up, and when that happens, stress follows suit. Don’t feel guilty about canceling plans.

5. Taking a mental health day/week

Your mental health should always be your top priority. Step back from the chaos and retreat into your own little peaceful world for a while. It does wonders and can help keep your mind in a more stable place when you return to your busy life. Try not to obsess over technology in the meantime, as that can worsen things.

6. Asking for help

We can’t do everything ourselves. Independence is great, but when you’re overwhelmed, allow someone else to lend a hand. Ease your burdens by balancing your tasks or opening up about your stress. Chances are, there is someone in your life who will be more than willing to help you.

7. Setting boundaries

If you need space, make it known. Never allow someone to get too comfortable in your space or drag you out of it. No one is entitled to your time and attention. Setting boundaries is a crucial part of adult life, and in order to stay sane, sometimes lines must be drawn. Anyone who disrespects this does not deserve to be around you.

8. Saying no

No means what? NO. Plain and simple. Don’t let others argue with you or continuously ask, “why?” Just say no and keep it moving. They don’t need another, more detailed answer. You already spoke your piece.

Stop Gaslighting Yourself

The things you have endured and how they’ve affected you should never hinder you from achieving a healthy lifestyle or loving yourself. If you start giving little credit to your achievements, denying yourself access to things you want or enjoy, denying yourself time to grieve something or someone, saying that your issues are no big deal, or beating yourself up because you can’t get over past trauma, then you need to stop gaslighting yourself.

“Gaslighting” is not a new term, but in recent years, it has become more popular when addressing the topic of mental health. Downplaying someone’s pain, validity, emotions, or trauma counts as gaslighting. When you’re made to feel crazy, dumb, or irrelevant because someone else doesn’t find your issues credible, they tend to gaslight as a rude form of motivating you to get over your troubles. The sad part is that it often works.

But what happens when you gaslight yourself?

The internal battle between the heart and mind is one that can ravage a body to the point of causing a breakdown. If your mind knows something that your heart cannot accept, you risk falling into that trap of gaslighting yourself. Thoughts vs. feelings. It’s an ugly match-up.

The best ways to avoid gaslighting yourself are:

1. Accept what you already know.

The truth is the truth. Your feelings are your feelings. Don’t trick yourself into thinking otherwise, even if it’s uncomfortable.

2. Remember who you are.

You know yourself better than anyone. By allowing another person to create false narratives, belittle you, and change the direction of your thoughts and feelings, you relinquish your power. Hold tight to your beliefs and coping mechanisms. Never change your identity or sculpt yourself into someone you aren’t.

3. Stop internalizing everything.

This can be a big challenge. As someone who has always held her feelings in, I know how hard it is to let go. But when you focus inward too much, you miss out on discovering other ways to cope healthily. Acknowledge that it’s okay to share your feelings. Share things little by little. Remember your worth and value.

4. Stop blaming yourself.

Have you ever blamed yourself for something that literally was not your fault? Like, at all? Yet somehow, you end up putting the blame on yourself anyway. Step back for a minute and re-evaluate the situation. Even if you are involved, it doesn’t mean you have become someone who doesn’t deserve peace or validation. Gaslighting and blaming yourself only increases anxiety and creates unnecessary havoc.

5. Stop excusing the negative behavior of others.

When a selfish person is in the wrong, they will do almost anything to defend themselves, including gaslighting you. This eventually turns into you gaslighting yourself. Don’t let their lack of accountability force you to take it all on when it isn’t your place or job to do so. Hold others accountable for their actions.

14 Major Signs of an Immature Adult

1. Loves to start drama

2. Bullies/belittles others

3. Complains about simple things (ex. someone not texting them back)

4. Seeks attention

5. Relies solely on the opinions of others and never thinks for themselves

6. Throws a fit when things don’t go their way

7. Refuses to change or even acknowledge their negative behavior

8. Never takes accountability or responsibility for anything

9. Chases after people who have left them

10. Makes everything about them

11. Plays the victim card when they’re not the victim

12. Brings up silly things from the past for the purpose of creating drama

13. Can’t communicate alone/always needs a third-person party present to make a statement

14. Minds everyone’s business but theirs

Body-Shaming: A Personal Perspective

All bodies are different. All bodies have flaws but are still uniquely beautiful. Most importantly, all bodies, no matter their appearance, deserve respect. One of my biggest struggles has been accepting the body I was born with.

Some of the most offensive comments I’ve ever heard about my body came from my mother. The worst being, “You don’t want to become like the people on the “600 lb. show.” Others came from bullies at school. I was on the chubbier side growing up and had chubby cheeks, thick hips and thighs, and a big butt. Elementary and middle school weren’t terrible, but some of the comments I received stuck with me after graduating. Even when I lost that “baby fat” and reached a healthy weight, I still had a shape.

As a teenager, my weight was up and down, and high school was when shit hit the fan. I remember being disgusted when eighteen-year-old seniors commented on my fourteen-year-old freshman body. I remember despising swimming in gym glass, crying, and feeling embarrassed about wearing a bathing suit because my butt looked huge. I remember other girls in my grade calling me a “fat slut” and me being afraid of what everyone would say if I accidentally wore something even the slightest bit revealing. I remember wearing ugly, oversized sweaters to cover my butt during the cold months. Lastly, I remember guys telling me that thickness was a good thing, only to get called fat again the next day.

No matter how active I was, losing weight was always hard. I was desperate to change my body and tried crash dieting, not eating, over-exercising, and other unhealthy methods. I lost a few pounds but gained them right back. It took years to find a healthy, balanced routine that worked and the discipline to stick with it. Ultimately, therapy helped me figure out how to deal with these negative feelings about my body and accept myself for who I was and how I looked. I was a curvy girl, and there was nothing wrong with that. I was blessed to have such a beautiful, healthy body. All I had to do was learn to care for it and embrace it.

Staying healthy is important, especially today, with so many viruses plaguing us. However, there are ways to remind people to be healthy without making them feel ashamed of how they look and throwing their weight in their faces. If you don’t know the difference between motivation through tough love and flat-out disrespect, keep your mouth shut. It’s that simple.

Being body confident now, I reflect on several past comments and laugh. Most of the time, when someone insults you, it means they are insecure. It has taken a long time to be able to look in the mirror and feel proud of what I see, and there are days when I still struggle. But no amount of shaming can send me back to a place where I once allowed myself to hate my body the way others did.

If you’ve ever experienced fat-shaming, skinny-shaming, or any other type of body-shaming, know that you are still beautiful. If you need to lose or gain weight, handle it your own way. Take your time. Your body is your temple. Don’t feel pressured by others to fix yourself just because your image doesn’t fit their standards. Do it for you and because you want to improve yourself. Do it to avoid health risks. Do it to get to a point where you, too, can look in the mirror and say, “I feel beautiful,” and actually believe it.

Adulting

Remember back when we were hopeful, starry-eyed kids, thrilled about the possibilities of our futures and ready to be grown? Remember how we thought being grown would be easy, and we would have nothing but freedom all the time?

Yeah, me too.

The sad yet ironic reality is that as awesome as becoming an adult is, having the choice to do whatever we want comes at a cost. Literally. We’re shackled to our responsibilities and must pay for everything, from groceries to bills to consequences.

For many of us, adulthood hit like a freight train. Between school and work, we’ve had little time to prepare for the extra pressures and expectations from our parents. If you’ve been “adulting” long before eighteen, this probably feels all too real. When you’re forced to grow up sooner than expected, you have a different perspective on life. Maybe adulting comes more naturally to you but seems completely foreign to someone else. Family drama, tragedies, pregnancy, tedious work hours, hefty bills, and planning our futures are all some of the heaviest situations to bear.

But that’s life.

Life is fucking hard. It’s not meant to be easy and stress-free. Everybody goes through it differently, and everybody struggles and succeeds differently. Finding a support system is the key to keeping yourself going. Some people prefer to do it all on their own. Others have no choice. Whether you’re more dependent or independent, having at least one person behind you can give you that extra push you never knew you needed.

A lot of people say that you “find yourself” in college. I think you find yourself afterward. Adulting teaches you about so many things that school either briefly touches on or doesn’t at all. Seriously, we could use some tax-paying classes and mortgage classes. Parenting classes already exist. Why can’t we add those as well? Anyway, losing friends, disconnecting from toxic family members, moving into your own place, traveling, and even dating are all major parts of adulthood that teach you about finding yourself. You begin to realize what does and doesn’t work for you and develop thoughts and opinions outside of these respected learning institutions. You can make your own choices, influence-free. You figure out how to build a life for yourself. Even if you still have your parents’ assistance, you’re becoming more and more independent by the day. It can be daunting but also empowering.

Adulting is a huge challenge and a rough adjustment for most of us. Asking for help is normal. Feeling afraid, confused, frustrated, or angry are common emotions. There’s no correct way to live life. Every other day, there’s a plot twist. Take things as they come and focus on changing only what you have the power to change.

And don’t forget to have fun whenever you can.

Inside the Mind of a Writer

Writing has saved my life on several occasions. I’m amazed that I’ve managed to turn one of my saving graces into a meaningful way of expressing what my heart and mouth couldn’t for so long. I’m sure that writing books sounds so dreadful, tedious, and unappealing to some people out there, but it has been the most rewarding part of my life thus far.

Being a writer isn’t easy, and that’s what I love about it. It’s a skill I’m proud to have mastered, and in a world of talented, successful scientists, mathematicians, lawyers, and businessmen and women, being able to stand out feels pretty damn awesome. Math and science were my worst subjects in school, and English was always my best. Now, I understand why. I truly believe I was meant to write. This is what I was born to do. Writing about my experiences, and creating new experiences for the characters in my books, has given me the purpose I’ve been longing for since childhood.

People write what they feel to express creativity, clear their minds, or organize their thoughts. I’ve been doing this since kindergarten. It’s a weird feeling to have a million thoughts running through your head one minute, then zero thoughts the next, but a blank mind isn’t an empty mind. The stigma that surrounds writing, stating that it’s boring and difficult, often drives people away from it, even if it’s a desire of theirs. Only when they give it a chance and tap into that hidden ability will they unlock their potential and create their first masterpiece.

My first two novels, A Candle’s Magic and Strength Reborn, include the impact and importance of mental health, my second biggest passion. Throughout my brutal teenage years, books were a way for me to free my mind and allow it to travel through the entertaining pages of other authors’ artwork. I grew to love, appreciate, and admire the growth of fictional characters in some of my favorite novels. Now, seeing my characters evolve through their pain has given me the opportunity to view these real-life situations through a fictional lens, which has been equally as effective and powerful as a nonfictional one.

We all have a purpose. Writing isn’t for everyone, but it can be for anyone. You don’t have to be talented to write something as simple as your feelings. You don’t need a degree to publish a book. All you need is time, patience, and a powerful story.

5 Ways to Deal with Judgmental Parents

1. Try to have a civil conversation with them.

Like young kids and teenagers, parents can be hard-headed sometimes. They obviously think they know best because they raised you, but that’s not always true or fair to say. If a parent doesn’t understand something about you or your life, and they’re unwilling to accept your choices, sit them down and calmly but bluntly explain that you’re just living your life your way, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The more they refuse to listen, the more frustrated you’ll become, which might lead to a yelling match, but if you can, try to avoid it and keep a calm composure.

2. Talk to another trusted family member.

It’s okay to get a sibling, a cousin, a grandparent, or another person to back you up when a parent becomes too difficult to deal with. Make sure you’re honest with your feelings and express how the judgmental things being said are affecting you. Whether you need to vent or get someone else to talk some sense into your parent(s) for you, let this other person know what’s happening. The more reinforcements you have on your side, the better chances you have of being heard.

3. Talk to a therapist.

Parents don’t always realize that the hurtful things they say are extremely damaging to your mental health. Seek professional help if you feel yourself becoming anxious or depressed. Be open and give as much information as possible, so you can receive the proper advice to help you deal with these issues at home. Not every solution offered will be the right one, so be willing to try multiple methods.

4. Use reverse psychology and scenarios.

Ask them how they would feel if you were the parent and they were the child, and you started saying the same disrespectful things to them. It’s common for a person with no filter to speak without thinking or putting themselves in someone else’s shoes. But when they’re faced with a scenario that puts them on the opposite, uncomfortable side, they suddenly become more aware of their toxic behaviors. This doesn’t always work, but it’s worth a try.

5. Ignore them.

If they’re that impossible to deal with, just let their comments go in one ear and out the other. It may be difficult, especially if you’re really sensitive, but it’s necessary. This is YOUR life, not your parents’. Yeah, they brought you into this world, but you didn’t ask to be here. You’re in control now, so make it known. If they’re old-school and don’t understand modern lifestyles, they likely never will, so don’t waste your time arguing. As long as you’re happy with how things are going and are making the most of your goals and relationships, you’re doing fine. Forget about their ridiculous standards and expectations. You’re not here to please anybody, and they’ll just have to deal with that. Don’t be afraid to do you!

It’s Okay to be Happy

It’s okay to be happy when life is going great.

It’s okay to be happy when life isn’t going so great.

It’s okay to be happy when you’re overwhelmed.

It’s okay to be happy when you’re confused.

It’s okay to be happy when you’re progressing.

It’s okay to be happy when you’re stuck.

It’s okay to be happy about the little things.

It’s okay to be happy about the big things.

It’s okay to be happy after being sad for a long period of time.

It’s okay to be happy and single.

It’s okay to be happy and in love.

It’s okay to be happy, even if others aren’t happy for you.

It’s okay to be happy, even if you feel guilty about it.

It’s okay to be happy for absolutely no reason at all.

It’s okay to be happy. Period.

How to Deal with a Jealous Family Member

1. Find out what’s up.

Typically, whenever someone has a problem with you, it’s THEIR problem. How many times have I said this now? Maybe you have something they want or were blessed with a talent they lack. Maybe it’s due to something dumb that happened when you both were young. Whatever the reason for this jealousy, try to talk about it. If they push the whole “nothing’s wrong” tale and are obviously lying, don’t force it out of them. Instead, let it go. If they wanted to discuss it, they would. Jealous people will rarely admit to being jealous, so don’t expect them to. You tried to remain calm and helpful, and that’s all you could do.

2. Ignore them.

This is my preferred and favorite method when dealing with a person with bitter feelings. Your life is too precious and busy to be worried about why someone has negative feelings toward you. You’re too good for arguing or doing detective work to find out why they’re so jealous of you. Kick them out of your circle and move on. Let them sit and fester in their jealousy until they’re so stressed out that their hair turns gray. What else are they going to do? They can’t stop you from winning. They can’t impede you from achieving your goals or being who you want to be. They can’t cancel you for being friends with people whom you admire or dating someone you adore. They have zero control over your life, so continue on your way with the biggest smile on your face. Remember, jealous people HATE to see you happy. Don’t allow them to destroy your mental health.

3. Set solid boundaries.

Keep them at arm’s length, and even further. Block them on every social media app, including email. Avoid them at family gatherings, if possible. If they love to hate-watch or stalk you from afar, and things intensify or reach a scary or dangerous point, get a restraining order. A jealous family member can be as toxic as a jealous ex, sometimes worse. You should never feel unsafe by their creepiness or negativity. Obsession can reach frightening points. Protect yourself and others within your circle.

4. Report them.

Piggy-backing off of the restraining order point, let others in your family or friend group know what’s happening. It can be a little embarrassing to admit you have a stalker, but it’s for the best. Most situations can be handled quickly by simply blocking the person online and staying away from them. But, in more complicated situations, reinforcement is necessary. The more help you have and the more people who can rally behind you, the better your chances are at finding some kind of resolution.

5. Keep thriving.

So a family member is jealous of you. What else is new? You’ve probably had someone else in your life show jealousy toward you at one point—an ex, an ex of a S.O., a co-worker, etc. You’ve clearly got a sparkle and are on a glowing path, ready to achieve great things. You’re handsome, beautiful, talented, intelligent, resilient, positive, and fabulous. Keep that light shining bright and never let ANYONE dim it or drag you down. If you’re loving where you’re at in life right now, good. You should love your life and be proud of your accomplishments. Remember that you don’t owe anyone anything, including explanations for why you’re living your life the way that you are. You also don’t owe anyone any of your time, so don’t waste it on their crybaby feelings. A bitter or jealous person has a lot to work on with themselves, and that work does NOT include or involve you. Don’t try to be the hero because it’s not your job. It’s their issue, so leave them to deal with it. NEVER feel guilty. Admire yourself and your potential. Don’t stop pushing. They can’t end you.