Friday, September 23, 2011

To Those of My Sisters Who Kept Their Naturals

In March I attended the wedding of a friend’s daughter.  (You know you are getting up there when your friends have children who are old enough to marry).  I was struck by the generation gap in hairstyles.  Many of the mature women who had come of age in the sixties and seventies were still wearing their hair in short naturals.  Most of the women under 35 had perms or weaves.  I remember so vividly the cultural and political significance that “going natural” had in those days that it was strange to realize today’s generation sees those hairstyles as a passé fashion. 

The main reason I started making Afro, braided, and dreadlock wigs for dolls is to show young black girls and women that  “Your hair is Celebration in the world!” So in the words of Gwendolyn Brooks, my second wig tutorial is dedicated “To Those of My Sisters Who Kept Their Naturals – Never to Look a Hot Comb in the Teeth.” 

Here is a link to the full text of the poem.

À Bientôt


  1. As I was watching the video, I kept thinking, I can't wait to get some time to make one. Then I remembered years ago I did make a wig with braids. I wonder where that is? Thanks again for reminding us of our natural beauty.

  2. I am having trouble viewing the tutorial. I will try again later.

    I wonder if the mature women described as "those who kept their naturals," actually "kept" them or have merely "reverted back" (no pun intended).

    I ask because when most women reach a certain age of maturity, they no longer care how the world views them because they have learned to love themselves and embrace their own beauty. They do not live by others' standards.

    Being natural is often described as being "free." For some it is; for some it takes work (depending on the length of the natural hair and how product-free it is allowed to be.)

    I look forwarding to viewing the tutorial.

  3. Debbie - I bet most of them reverted back. My mom (67) just cut off all her hair a month ago after sporting a curl for the past umpteen years. Everything with her hair has been about convenience. She has always opted for the get up and go look.

  4. I believe convenience also plays a role in the way a woman wears her hair, Vanessa.

    I was finally able to view the video, which is again, very informative! Question: Is it possible to create a tutorial on how to develop the patience to do this?


  5. DBG - I think if we kidnap all of her doll stuff, we could get her to just make some wigs!

  6. Hi Debbie and Vanessa,

    Thanks for your thoughts on the question of whether the mature women I saw at the wedding had kept their naturals or had reverted back. I run in black cultural nationalist circles so most of those sisters had kept their naturals all this time.

    As for developing patience, there is a kind of zen in making the wigs. I find it very relaxing to braid or twist the strands. I keep wig-making supplies with me and when I have to sit in a meeting, I pull them out. That way at the end of the meeting I always feel that I have accomplished something even if people were just talking in circles. I also twist or braid strands while waiting on the subway train during the warm months and I get a lot done while talking on the phone with friends. I can even twist or braid strands while reading.

  7. You can make wigs yourself? That's great! Do you use wig as well?

  8. Hi Jeannie,

    I don't wear wigs myself except at Halloween. My mother and the women in her family wore lots of wigs, though.

    Thanks for visiting my blog.