Friday, January 22, 2010

Why "Nappy"?

I really struggled when trying to find a term to use when describing my daughters' hair to the masses. Words are so powerful, and evoke such strong responses from people. The word nappy has a history of being used negatively. Many people are offended to have their hair identified as nappy. In deference to these feelings, I thought about using kinky, coily, or natural when referencing our hair but these terms mean different things to different people. The term nappy, however, evokes a clear and consistent image. My message is that nothing is wrong with this image. We can learn to care for and appreciate it as much as any other texture. Our struggles largely result from ignoring the unique needs of nappy hair. When our poor methods fail, we blame it on the hair.

For the purpose of our discussion, I define
nappy as the unique hair texture of tightly shrinking coils, curls, and zig zags typically seen on people of African descent. In fully embracing it, I respect it's unique characteristics and modify my behavior to meet its needs. As a result, it behaves beautifully for me.


  1. I'm one of those who never liked the term "nappy hair". It sounds insulting. I know that might just be my hangup but I just prefer other descriptions.
    My favorite is just "natural hair". I know, that can mean anything really but it's quite clear with colored people and I also prefer just calling it big hair or frizzy hair. I also quite like, cause it's cute, when people just call it wool.