Category : Talkin’ Knotty
There I was, staring at a newly “balded” me in the mirror. I had big chopped in a fit of frustration and had immediately regretted the results. Not only did I have barely an inch of hair now, but also that inch was made up of three completely different textures; 4c on the sides, […]
Welcome to vintage Kiss My Curls! These were the very first videos that we ever shot with our gracious friends Curt and Warren, who were more than happy to contribute their opinion about natural hair. See what they have to say!
Warren (Check out his description of his favorite natural hairstyle. Completely adorable.)
Curt (Thinks that all women are artists. His words are TOTS beautiful, guys.)
Looking at Tanika Ray’s lush mane, one would never guess that there were a couple bumps in the road before she became a Curly Hair Queen. Tanika, who has rocked her curly fro and been a source of hair envy for as long as I can remember, does not recount it that way. She chatted* with Kiss My Curls about her hair journey, her career, and why she is proud to be a part of the natural hair community.
Tanika wore her natural texture up until middle school, when her mother convinced her to relax her hair. “I’m an LA girl, so it was very wash and go”, she remembers. Though she never fully relaxed her hair, Tanika did start mildly relaxing her edges by her mom’s hairstylist who insisted on a touch-up about 4 times a year. She recalls wearing her hair this way thru her years at Spelman College and her early 20s. Then Tanika, whose hair had grown 3/4 down her back officially did the “Big Chop”. “I went through a cleansing, a sort of hair purge,” she tells me. This left Tanika with what she describes as a “short, spikey do”.
After rocking it like this for a while, Tanika officially grew tired of the relaxer and went back to her natural curls.
“It was refreshing!” She recounts. But not everyone in her life felt the same way. Her agent flipped out, telling her that she would “never work again.” Tough words for an emerging entertainment personality to hear, but her agent couldn’t have been more wrong. “My career literately took off afterwards! Maybe it was a coincidence, or maybe it was the hair, but I know that suddenly I started getting a lot of calls and making appearances everywhere.”
Aside from the career burst, Tanika loves being a part of the natural hair community. “I was never in a sorority…but there is just something about being a part of a group of women who choose to wear their hair the way God made it, and rock it like a crown.” The natural hair community is indeed a proud one and Tanika is no exception. “I love my hair!” She exclaims. “I believe that it fully expresses my personality, more than any other hairstyle I’ve ever worn.”
If you are struggling with your natural hair and don’t have the nerve to take the plunge, Tanika has advice for you. “You have to find the confidence! And you have to make the decision for you. Don’t just do it because of pressure, or because it is a trend, do it for you! The way you will feel afterwards will be so worth it.”
So how does Tanika maintain her gorgeous mane? “I’ve adopted a new practice, I NEVER comb my hair outside of the shower. I load it with conditioner, detangle in the shower, and don’t touch it with a comb again until after I get out.” Once out of the shower, Tanika treats her hair only with products that moisturize. She avoids alcohol-based potions that leave her hair crunchy and stiff, at all cost. Her mantra’s simple, “Your hair is queen, respect it.”
We at Knotty & Nice could not agree more.
*answers may be paraphrased
back as a sign of relief. Finally I’m free! Free of damaging
chemicals, free of societies depiction of what “beautiful” is, and
free of being anything like anyone else. No matter how I wear my hair,
it will always and forever be MY HAIR.”
C: What caused the start of your natural hair journey?
J: I first decided that I wanted to wear my hair natural in April 2010, a month before graduating from grad school. I was relaxed with a short funky hair cut, and my new growth would surface within about three to four weeks after relaxing. Having that short cut required me to get relaxers and touch-ups way more frequently and it was beginning to get very expensive. When my new growth came in, I would always touch it and play with it. I liked the way the texture felt— a lot!
Let’s back track a bit. As mentioned before, my mother NEVER had the patience to deal with my hair, and at age 12 I got my first relaxer. I liked it. I liked that it was straight, and it was much easier to do my hair on a daily basis. At this age I was doing my own hair for school. I wore NOTHING but gelled back ponytails and buns. After about six months relaxing, I saw a DRASTIC change in my hair. I lost about five inches of hair, the color lightened up, and it wasn’t as thick. I continued getting my hair relaxed because I thought I had to. I’ve been relaxing my hair from age 12 to 24.
After being reunited with my natural texture through playing with my new growth, right then and there I decided that I would not get another relaxer. I hadn’t researched anything, I wasn’t even aware of the new natural movement. I didn’t know what I was going to do with my hair; I just knew that I did NOT want another relaxer in my head. So this is where I began my journey.
C: What obstacles have you faced since going natural?
J: Because of my lack of research prior to my decision to go natural, I did not properly take care of my hair during my transition. I decided to wear sew-ins until my relaxer grew out, but I left out the front, back, and sides of my real hair to cover the tracks. I constantly flat ironed those parts, and as a result they are severely damaged from the heat. #Fail. Now that I am more educated on natural hair care, I’m tempted to BC and start all over, but I’m not sure yet.
Now this next one may not seem like a huge obstacle to others, but for me it’s letting my boyfriend see me in the evening or at night after I have twisted my hair. We all know that the prep-twists the night before aren’t the sexiest of styles, lol, so I’m trying to get comfortable with him seeing me in twists and bonnet. He says he doesn’t care, but its more about how I feel.
C: What’s the best thing about being natural?
J: The best thing about being natural is standing out and daring to be different. I absolutely hate to blend in. Everyone’s hair texture is different. Although it may be similar to someone else’s texture, no two heads are ever the same. I also like how my hair has a mind of her own and she’s free spirited like I am. I can twist my hair at night and prep for it to come out a certain way, but if it doesn’t want to come out the way I wanted it to, it won’t! But she never fails to naturally fall into a cute style. I’m surprised every morning!
C: What differences have you noticed since going natural?
J: Since going natural, I get so many compliments from random strangers. Men, women, young, old, it doesn’t matter. I was in the nail shop and this white lady said, “I just love your hair”. I thanked her, then she went on to explain that she works in a law firm and how she wished her African American co workers would wear their hair like mine. She said she thinks it’s beautiful!
Based off of my personal experience, white men & women, and black MEN love natural hair. When a black woman compliments me, she’s already a natural or thinking about going natural. Sometimes it seems like it’s #teamnatural vs #teamrelaxed among black women. I love the natural hair movement and I pray it doesn’t create another dividing line between African American women like the dark skin vs. light skin dilemma. Hair texture does not make you more or less of person.
J: For those of you thinking about going natural, please do your research! There are 1000’s of Youtubers, bloggers, vloggers, authors, and stylists out there who can help you and answer any questions you may have about going natural. Just remember, they can help you with the basics, but the real journey begins with you getting to know your hair. You must understand your hair, embrace its flaws, and know its likes and dislikes.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I treat my hair as I would my child. I nourish it, care for it gently, feed it, wash it, and even dress it up! Only you will truly know your hair. Stay positive throughout your journey. You will get frustrated, angry, and maybe even discouraged. Just be patient. Immature people may try to belittle you, joke, or tell you that you are crazy for your decision to go natural. Don’t let them. Never conform! As long as you are confident and true to yourself, nothing else should matter.
Scooch over, BET.
There’s a new brand of underground Black comedy that is becoming increasingly popular. Thanks to Black&Sexy TV productions, short comedies that showcase funny and relatable models of African Americans that are anything but mainstream are available at your fingertips. Reminiscent of UPN in the early nineties, but smarter, more adult, and more fun than ever, YouTube series such as The Couple, The Number, and Hello Cupid entertain and delight viewers weekly with fresh and hilarious material. On top of being entertaining, the female actresses often cast in Black&Sexy Productions are predominately kinky-haired and naturally textured, which makes watching the shows all the more relatable and different from mainstream television.
I know firsthand how great these series are because admittedly, I’m a crazed fan. So much so that I reached out to the creative director of Black&Sexy TV, Dennis Dortch, who graciously agreed to interview with Kiss My Curls. He talks to us about why he loves casting women with natural hair, collaborating with Issa Rae, and how he inadvertently changed the course of future media.*
KMC: Shows like RoomieLoverFriends, The Couple, and That Guy are very different from Black shows that we see on television today. When you first started out, was it your intention to fill a niche in Black entertainment that you thought was missing?
Dortch: Actually this was not my first intention, it just sort of happened like that. I’ve always loved film and I was really just trying to figure out what my contribution was to the world, and this is it. It’s something that I try not to think about, because it adds a lot of pressure.
KMC: Understandable! So I’ve noticed that you showcase a lot of women with natural hair in your webshows. Is there a specific reason for this?
Dortch: This has a lot to do with my personal taste! Women with natural hair are beautiful, and I’ve always been more attracted to natural, real women. Also I am a bit afro-centric, so in a way I am rejecting what Black women are supposed to look like in the media. They don’t all have to be light-skinned with straight hair.
KMC: Agreed. But you are aware that many natural-haired women follow and relate to your webshows because of this.
Dortch: I think that women with natural hair love the webshows because of the actresses I feature, but also because the natural hair movement is mainly taking place online, and so are my shows. Online is like the new underground railroad! We are on the same path of the natural hair vloggers and bloggers, and so our fan bases are bound to mix.
KMC: Speaking of online paths, you and Issa Rae of Awkward Black Girl recently collaborated to create series RoomieLoverFriends. How did that come about?
Dortch: Black&Sexy was not on YouTube for a long time, we had our own website. I initially saw an episode of Awkward Black Girl and was drawn to it. After watching a few more episodes I thought that Issa really had something, and so I reached out to her on Facebook. I didn’t hear anything back, but ironically I ran into her at a fast food joint here in California, and we exchanged information. She was familiar with our work also, and so there was a mutual admiration that made it easy to work together.
KMC: Did collaborating with Issa Rae bring any changes to Black&Sexy, or vice versa?
Dortch: We both benefited in a way from the collaboration; she had a large audience that we definitely wanted to reach out to, and she was looking for something fresh and new. So in the end we both made changes based on each other. We both benefit from each other’s success, and so there is no competition between us.
KMC: Any plans to work with major networks?
Dortch: Absolutely, probably online. We are probably more HBO than ABC because we are less commercial, to be honest, but we would definitely be open to bringing some ideas to and working with larger networks.
I’m crossing my fingers for this. No lie.
Thank you for the interview Dennis! By the way, if you are an aspiring actor or actress in California and want to possibly be featured in a Black&Sexy production, sent a resume and headshot to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
If you haven’t seen the wonderful work of Black&Sexy, have no fear, click here! Be sure to check www.blackandsexy.tv online to keep up with the latest episodes of your favorite shows or to become a fan of some new ones. Most importantly, remember to stay sexy! 😉
*Questions and answers are paraphrased