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The Nappy Princess

When I was a little girl, I loved to cover my head with a towel, and dance around the house flinging it back, and forth as though I had the longest hair in the world. I wanted hair like Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty. Whether on TV, movies, books, or magazines, I was drawn to long hair that hangs. I thought this was only a little mocha girl thing, but I've observed this behavior in little girls of various ethnicities. Everyone seems to love long flowing hair. It is beautiful.

I'm not against dressing up and playing pretend. It's fun to have a different experience sometimes. We can play with wigs, and weave extensions in our hair on occasion to enjoy something new. Personally, I've never used extensions, weaves, and wigs on my daughters. While I don't condemn mothers who occasionally use braid extensions, I've even stopped using them in my own hair to send my daughters a message. My main concern is that we don't want our girls to cling to these things in an effort to hide what they've been given. We don't want our daughters to believe they are lacking something special, because of the hair they have. We want to give them an accurate understanding of what to expect from their hair, so they'll be able to enjoy its beauty.

Nappy hair may grow long, but it has to grow very long to become heavy enough for the coils to stretch out and
look long in it's natural shrunken state. In fact, nappy hair hides its true length. Depending on the nappy head, you may be surprised by how much stretch you can pull from a shrunken section. I expect about 70% shrinkage when I wash my daughter's hair loose and leave it alone to dry. Check out Mocha Girl Two's hair below. Her true length is hidden well in its shrunken state.

Nappy hair doesn't hang unless we interfere--as I've done above with Mocha Girl Two's hair by stretching it out in braids. Over time and with exposure to moisture her hair will shrink back up. It will twist, coil and zig zag upwards and out. My goal is to teach my daughters to celebrate this unique aspect of their hair. So many people experience intense frustration that their hair won't stay stretched out. Maybe they straightened it for a special occasion, but it poofed before they were ready. Abusing our naps by applying excessive amounts of heat while denying it moisture in an effort to keep it stretched, often results in shorter and damaged hair.

The afro is considered retroactive, and trendy. Some people link it with terminology like
soul, black pride, and black power. I see it as the natural adornment of a nappy princess. Between braids, cornrows, and twisted styles you'll find my daughters running around the house in their afros. The bigger, the better. I tell them they're nappy princesses with hair that blots out the sun. Their strands rise and float wild and free. I think the afro is a beautiful style choice for special occasions. Especially accessorized with pretty clips and colorful head bands. I also love afro puffs.

Healthy nappy hair likes to be left alone sometimes to do what it does. Shrink and rise. I discourage my daughters from only finding beauty in their long stretched hair. The healthiest nappy hair isn't perpetually stretched. I'm sure there are exceptions, but my daughters' hair remained the same length year after year when I was perpetually stretching it. I was fighting dryness and weak brittle hair that snapped easily. I also don't want my daughters abusing hair they know is damaged, but can't accept unless it looks a certain way. I find healthy short hair to be much more beautiful than damaged hair of any length.

Tell me what you think.


  1. I don't know if you'll even get this question b/c I'm reading it from the archives!

    Do you have a post on how you care for your girls' hair when it's loose? I love this look but my daughter's hair gets very mashed-up when she sleeps and I'm not sure how to keep it poofier in a gentle way. When it's loose, what do you use to moisturize?

    Sorry for all the questions but I'm learning so much from your site. I'm so impressed that you care for the hair of more than one girl! One consumes so much of my time! I'm hoping that gets easier once I get the hang of more of this though.

  2. It doesn't matter how old the post is, I get instant notification when you make a comment. Thanks for your question. I typically don't let my younger girls wear their hair loose for long--princess day is mostly what they get. They still roll around on the floor a lot in their play getting all sorts of debris from the floor in their hair--smooshed hair is certain. My oldest daughter HMG (age 12) will occasionally wear her hair in a set style (set the hair into waves by twisting/braiding and removing the twists/braids). She does this for a week at a time. We don't do anything to it because spritzing a set results in the hair puffing out of the set. An oil alone doesn't moisturize. Her hair is always a little dry toward the end of the week she wore it out. This is why we do it rarely. My method has been to moisturize (spritz with water and oil mixture)saturating the old twists, allow it to dry completely before taking the twists down. After that--leave it alone. In general, my experience has been that twists, braids, cornrows and puffs are much easier to manage on little girls.

  3. Hi Natacha, I am struggling with my 7 year old daughter's hair. She was born with a full crown of hair but recently her hair has become tough and rough, shorter and the sides of her head is bald. It pains me to see her hair in that condition but I must say since she started school, I've been doing her hair with accessories that is the same colour to her uniform and at times(most) complained that it been too tight. Today, I've washed her hair and after searching the net for a style for her hair that won't stress I've stumbled upon your blog! I am so happy I've found you because I will be trying the natural oils as well as the Shea butter from here on out!!! I still do need advice on how to braid her hair for school without using accessories! What do you think of the cornrows? Please let me know.. I will really appreciate it

  4. Sending you a cyber hug. I went through breakage with my oldest daughter from poor styling habits and I felt terrible. It took gentleness, and patience to make it through. In time her hair came back. Cornrows are fine. Just take care to do them as loosely as you can without them being so loose the style just looks sloppy. I find cornrows to be the best way to mask uneven hair.

  5. I got a question my 4 month year old daughter funny hair its like straight kind of curly a lil but I Dont know what to really put on it I think I mess it up simply because of trying different products now her hair Dont seem like it want grow anymore...he hair majority the same length as she was two months... Tell me what should I do and hw to better take care of it up and keep it up...

  6. When my babies were that you I put very little product on their hair and nothing on their scalp. Find a very gentle shampoo and natural conditioner or shampoo bar. I would get mine from the natural foods section in the regular supermarket or at a health food store. They really don't need much at that age. Keep it clean but make sure you are not using anything so strong it is drying their hair out. I did really low manipulation styles if anything at all. I used head bands or just left a little fro. Baby hair growth is a matter of patience. I realized I couldn't do anything to make it grow. In fact, doing too much pulled the hair right out.

  7. I have a much finer, looser texture than your daughters. I used to stretch my hair for tangle and frizz control and ended up with a bunch of breakage. Now I am battling breakage big time. Sad because my hair is hip length, or was, now it goes to my rear because I keep having to trim and layer. I have to agree with leaving hair alone. Even washing and conditioning can stress out my hair at this point. I am leaving my hair in a bun all week and only taking down to moisturize and vary the position of my bun.


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