Always Flopping

Feel slightly disheartened today, career wise. Here is the good and the bad.

The Good

  • I spoke to the editor of the local publication and they have printed my Beyonce review, in their paper. Which is great news. I am going to get copies of the local paper this weekend and I will scan it up for the blog

The Bad

  • A few weeks ago, I contacted Leila & Cherry Lola from two of the best natural hair blogs as I wanted to write an article about natural hair in London. Well it was for a competition and both bloggers wrote back to me so nicely. Well, I didn’t get far at all and other people won (which is great for them). I was immediately sad by this because I put a lot of effort and work into that article. I know it is not the end of the world but I was immensely proud that I had written it and it would have been nice to have been shortlisted.

I just feel like I am the worst person (skill wise) in the class and that I never do well in any of these writing things. Blogging is one thing but professional writing is a different beast. I just wish I could be better and get some recognition for that.

I’m licking my wounds today.

Here’s the piece anyway:

The Natural Ascent

In the 1865 novel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the Duchess tires of what she interprets as Alice’s ignorance. She reminds Alice: “You don’t know much and that’s a fact.” In hindsight, I should have told exactly that to a stylist who treated my hair a few years ago. After I asked her to blow dry my hair, I will never forget that look I saw reflected in the salon mirror. It is something I am now used to, but cut deep at the time. She was looking at my natural hair, and judging by how she blow-dried it, I realised that some of the pseudo pillars of the black beauty community do not know much about natural hair and that’s a fact.

Magazines aimed at black women such as Sophisticate’s Black Hair and Pride can be accused of leaving natural hair as an afterthought, with most coverage aimed at women who wear relaxers or weaves. Cherry Lola, a Canadian hair blogger living in London says: “It’s funny you should mention it, because last month’s Pride had a three-page spread about natural hair. Three pages which got all the tips wrong, in my opinion.” These magazines could be under threat from being forgotten about by the natural hair community. Natural hair is not an underground sensation, it is overground – magazines should recognise this in order to serve their readership better. In lieu of this lack of understanding, the explosion of natural hair blogs serve as a means of re-education.

black girl with long hair is a supermodel in the world of hair blogs. It bulges with comments from women worldwide congregating about one thing: natural hair. Leila Noelliste, 23, a Jamaican woman living in Chicago, US is the founder of the blog. A unique feature is the ‘naturals around the world’ series. Leila says: “I started it when I saw a comment on my blog written in broken English, with an apology for the poor grammar. Turns out the woman who wrote it was French and, despite not having a good grasp on English, read the blog almost every night. I realised that the natural movement is global and must be inclusive.” This feature has profiled women from countries like France and Ireland. Leila continues: “Since starting the ‘naturals from around the world’ series, I’ve discovered so many things about naturals in other countries that have been eye-opening. Knowing what other women are going through helps me to position the blog to be a catalyst and support for natural communities everywhere.”

The rise of natural hair in London is mirrored from a business perspective. Grace Kelly is  an organiser of the Afro Hair & Beauty show in London. The event is in its’ 27th year, with over 10,000 people visiting it over the course of a weekend in May. When asked about exhibitors at the event, Kelly said: “There has been a rise of companies making natural products for natural hair”.

A source from the Eftal hair salon in Hackney, who did not want to named, said: “People are finding that their hair is breaking from chemicals. They are going natural and finding that their hair is growing.” The ‘hidden natural look’ has also emerged in some corners of the movement. Grace Kelly explains: “Generally, I think a lot of people are wearing their hair naturally but they are wearing a wig on top of it. Wigs have come a long way.” Celebrities who have publicised this undercover aesthetic include singers like Erykah Badu and Beyoncé, both known for having worn Afro wigs.

One celebrity who has not been hiding underground with her natural look is Shingai Shoniwa, lead singer of The Noisettes, the band behind the infectious No2 hit ‘Don’t Stop The Rhythm (Go Baby Go)’. Cherry Lola, whose YouTube channel on hair has over 150 subscribers, says: “I don’t think the UK has very many naturals, but I don’t feel the US does either. We definitely need more.  Shingai is a wonderful example! Beautiful, trendy, hip, with an attitude that is not normally associated with black women and a style of music that is not normally considered black.”

Black hair advertising from mainly American corporations such as Softsheen Carson are the meat and bones of beauty magazines such as Black Hair. Have these companies been rendered obsolete in the natural hair movement? Leila Noelliste says: “People aren’t really checking for SoftSheen to make products. The vacuum that the major black hair care companies left has been filled by hugely popular start ups like Oyin and Qhemet. Natural products, for example, castor oil are major components of several natural regimens.” The titans of black hair have missed the boat, as customers take their gilded pounds to other docks.

During the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, the Hatter tells Alice: “Your hair wants cutting.” The old school view of natural hair being ‘bad’ no longer applies. People who believe that ‘good hair’ is straight have tried to cut the spirit of natural hair supporters to conform. Changing social mores are reflected in culture from Oprah’s declaration that her hair is 100 per cent natural to the rich array of hair blogs. Natural hair is no longer just a foot note, but the essay itself. No cutting required.


5 thoughts on “Always Flopping

  1. This is my 1st time commenting. I like your blog alot.

    First off, I write this only to encourage and not to further dishearten you. Obviously you’re free to ignore my comments but I only took the time to write this because I feel you have talent, but it needs some work:

    I read your article on hair and my immediate impression was that although the content was sound, you could have presented the piece a lot more skillfully. I like the original idea of referencing Alice in Wonderland. However, the first sentence of your piece doesn’t really ‘grab’ reader. Unless someone has a particular interest in literature, its not the best way to get the reader’s attention. Perhaps you should have started with the quote and explained after.

    Paragraphs 2-4 were well written and it was good that you got interesting quotes from different sources. However, the anonymous quote from Eftal salon was hardly enlightening. it didn’t add anything. Also, the reference to Erykah Badu and Beyonce could have been used differently. Instead of highlighting that they’ve both worn afro wigs, wouldn’t it have been more interesting to comment on the fact that they both have natural hair beneath whatever types of wigs they wear.

    I didn’t see the relevance of the Mad Hatter’s comment towards the end of the piece. I see you tried to tie it to the ‘no cutting required’ but it didn’t work for me.

    Overall I feel that you tried to cram in a lot of information into a short article and consequently didn’t give yourself the opportunity to explain anything in depth.

    ‘People who believe that ‘good hair’ is straight have tried to cut the spirit of natural hair supporters to conform.’ That may be true, but you should explain how and why. It seems like this statement was just thrown in there.

    I could say more, but that might be overkill! My general point is I think you research well but could work on the presentation. And it never hurts to ask people judging your work, why you didn’t win or get shortlisted.


    Did Oprah actually say that her hair was ‘natural’? I only heard her say she doesn’t wear a weave…

    • @Rabia: Thanks for your detailed comment and review of the piece. The competition rules stated we were only allowed up to 1,000 words. So the piece was 875 words – I couldn’t go into more detail even if I had wanted too.

      The only thing I liked was the Alice in Wonderland reference. I would change a lot about the article but that’s the one thing I would definitely not change.

      I know it doesn’t hurt to ask people to judge my work – I always send it to my friends and family and my mum has already seen it and told me why she does not think I didn’t get far.

      I feel much better about it. I have moved on and will do other things.

  2. Hey you’re not always flopping. Just look at this as an learning experience and keep it moving. Just move on to the next thing on your list and you’ll get a break soon when you least expect it. Hoped I helped.

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