Reclaiming Nappy

by Jessica C. Andrews

When Rihanna responded to a fan’s critique of her “nappy” hair with the retort “I’m black bitch,” the public was divided in their reactions. Many were appalled by how crass she was on a platform viewed by millions, others celebrated her fiery attitude and quite a few were glad someone finally called her out on her tired hairstyle. All I could think was: “Why is nappy still an insult?”

The fan, whose Twitter handle is @NinaBella, obviously meant to be condescending and Rihanna perceived her comment that way; the pop star immediately went on the offensive. Many of us have felt that sting. It was just as palpable when Don Imus referred to the Rutgers Womens basketball team as “nappy-headed hoes.” Or when Method Man revealed he doesn’t like natural hair because he prefers a woman’s hair done (read: straightened or chemically altered).

It’s clear that in society’s imagination to be nappy is to be unattractive, undesirable and unkempt. It’s a look that is oft rejected by corporate and even popular culture. Rock it and prepare to defend yourself—or be ready to correct it with a flat iron or a relaxer. Yet again, we find our hair tangled in the web of institutionalized racism and sexism in America.

We are one of the few groups of people forced to defend the texture that grows out of our scalps. Though sharp and to the point, Rihanna’s response “I’m black, bitch” is loaded. It captures the ire many of us feel toward the constant attack on black women’s hair. Our naps are inextricably linked to our heritage. Rihanna’s comment makes it resonate for those that seem unable to understand: kinks are a part of who we are. We’re nappy because God made us this way…bitch.

When I decided to go natural, the change I underwent was more about what was inside my head than what was on top of it. I had to relearn, redefine and reclaim beauty on my own terms. Yes, I was beautiful without the security blanket of a long weave or a chemical relaxer. No, I didn’t need to look like a European woman colored in with a brown crayon to be attractive.

Months later, I see the varied and unique beauty of “nappy”-haired women from children with curls coiled as tight as rosebuds to elders with strong, majestic locks with a new sense of adulation and fondness. I am so in love with kinky hair that “nappy,” being used as a derogatory term, is beyond my comprehension. It’s so foreign from the way I’ve come to view and love what’s happening on my scalp.

But is ‘nappy’ a word we can reclaim?

Like most words that have been used to antagonize and demean us, redefining a word marred by hate is walking a tight rope. One gust of wind, or snarl of a comment, and the pain of years of degradation comes flooding back.

Should we retire the word nappy once and for all or can we redefine it by embracing our roots and deciding that they’re beautiful?

  • Alexandra

    Reclaim? Like the word other N-word?
    it really depends on the person. There are a lot of Black people that refer to their hair texture as nappy & dont take offense. And there are many who use it as an insult, as well as non-Blacks.

    Even though I don’t call my hair nappy, it has been described as ‘nappy’.

    It will be hard to reclaim. Because the other N-word debate is still a hot topic and will forever be. Nappy seems to be a go-to insult for people who want to disrespect a Black woman’s hair. The only word that seemed to have been reclaimed with no issue is: Redbone.

    Will Tar baby/Darkie be reclaimed the same way? What about mammy? bootlip?

  • African Mami

    How about we address using the term “bitch” too!

  • Sathyre

    I wear my hair natural. I have for years, but I would get offended if someone ever said my hair was nappy just for the connotations behind the word. Black hair is just curly. It’s a different kind of curl but it’s just curly. Nappy means unkept, or unneat when people use it.

    I don’t believe in relclaiming words or embracing insults in order to turn them around into complements. Just because you are now proud of being “nappy” does not mean that the person calling you nappy is embracing your pride and is “with you”. It’s just like when women refer to themselves as bitches or when our brothers and sisters refer to themselves as the n-word. It’s foolish to personify a degrading insult. It’s like sugar coating it or worse, ignoring it.

    In fact it gives people license to call you out of your name. My name is not nappy just like my friends better not call me the n-word to my face, even “endearingly”.

    And yes, corporate America still fears natural hair. And I press my hair for every interview– but as soon as I sign that W-4 the afro jumps out of the closet like “ha-ha! What you gonna do about it?” I’m proud, but I’m not stupid.

  • Afeni_1981

    Just for clarification….are you saying that women who choose to relax their hair are aspiring to look like Europeans?

  • miss get right

    Yes lol. I believe the author said: “Yes, I was beautiful without the security blanket of a long weave or a chemical relaxer. No, I didn’t need to look like a European woman colored in with a brown crayon to be attractive.”

  • Laina

    Reclaim what, get rid of the word. While grandma may still use the word perhaps the mother will stop the madness and not pass it along to her daughter. How is it that we are so accepting of our bodies, almost to the detriment to our health but many of us cannot not deal with our hair? Straight hair and a thin body with no booty are the ideal in this society, yet we reject the thin part and we surely don’t want to be flat in the back. Get rid of the word and perhaps Black women will stop doing so much to their hair that is causing so much hair loss at an early age.

  • Afeni_1981

    Figured as much. I completely disagree with the whole wanting to look European thing….Just because I choose to relax my hair it doesn’t mean that I want to look white or be white or anything of the sort. I think it’s all about choice.

  • miss get right

    While you may not consciously be thinking when you get a relaxer that you are doing it to BE white, since straight/silky hair is a physcial characteristic of every race except African, you must admit that relaxed hair does give one the appearance of looking LESS African. For example when I have my hair flatironed, people ask me questions like “are you mixed?” “are you part Asian?”, but if its pulled back in a kinky bun, then I’m rarely asked such questions. Hair is one of many visual clues to a person’s ethnicity. For example, an Italian woman with hair dyed icy blonde may be mistaken for a Swede.

  • cassidybarrett

    I don’t think she meant that. I think she meant she didn’t need to have straight hair to look attractive. It’s just a poor choice of words :)

  • au napptural

    Genuinely not being confrontational, but if I hear relaxing referred to as a “choice” again I’m going to scream. It is not nor will it ever be an equally valid choice, free of historical stigma. The fact is women straightened their hair to begin with in this country because they were ashamed of their natural hair and were trying to emulate whites. That legacy remains the same. Straightening women can say all day, every day they aren’t trying to look white (and truthfully the situation is more complicated than it was 100 years ago, it isn’t just black/ white anymore) but the fact is people are getting chemical burns, traction alopecia and paying exorbitant fees for maintenance and fake hair, all for a choice? GTFOHWTBS! If it were a take it or leave it choice than people wouldn’t be out here spending hundreds on “virgin indian hair” or w/e else. Stop the madness and the denial. Not to mention black ppl are always first in line to deride natural hair…

    To me the ancient African societies that used hot rocks to straighten hair or mud to stretch it OCCASIONALLY were making a “choice”. Free of outside influences, they were simply creating different looks. But if the media and society mostly hold up white girls painted black as WOC beauty (straight hair, colored eyes, Eurocentric features, “mixed”, etc.), you can’t tell me this is just a “choice”.

  • Afeni_1981

    I still disagree….But I hear what your saying…

  • Afeni_1981

    Well I guess you’ll have to scream…..I’ve had everything done as far as my hair is concerned. I’ve had braids…I’ve had no perm…I’ve had perm…I’ve had color…I’ve had weave (which is not for me)…..Some times I think we as Black people go to far with this trying to be white thing…I could see if I were say….Lil Kim…with blond weave…blue eyes…etc. etc. I’m not running to bed every night dreaming of waking up lighter or with straighter hair….I’m not waking up in the morning praying that when I look in the mirror I look more “acceptable”….I am who I am because that’s what I have chosen…just like people can CHOOSE to go natural people can CHOOSE to straighten or perm their hair. To be frank…I know as soon as I decide to go back to braids (next week) my 81 year old grandmother will rip me a new one for looking like “one of them”….but do I care? because this is MY CHOICE….I’m tired of the perm…tired of my hairstylist too….but the fact still remains that I”m choosing to go natural….and who knows….a year or two from now….I just might choose to relax my hair again….who knows….

  • saronbella

    I’m sorry but I love RiRi’s response to this.

  • SRenda

    Hello! Glad you raised this, African Mami.

    Both the original twitter comment and Rihanna’s response are steeped not only in internalized racism but also internalized sexism. Rihanna’s response represents the pain and humiliation at having one of our sistas denigrate our beauty from a narrow, Eurocentric lens. While on one hand I was kinda like yes, Rihanna, these hating b-words need to stop tripping, I do see your point. I can turn a blind eye to the b-word and even use it both searingly and affectionately with my black girlfriends or say to myself when I’m feeling great and on top of the world, I’m a bad bitch. But in this context, it was to put the woman down who made the offending statement. I don’t think we can reclaim much of anything at least completely unless we address the complexity of the issue.

    How do we as black women define our own beauty, personally? How do we define our strength and our capacity to defend ourselves from constant attacks on our right to exist and also thrive as we are (this is also stereotyped as our bitchiness) I dunno. But it makes me sad, yet hopeful that we can really reach newer levels. Perhaps we need a new black is beautiful movement that truly hits a whole new level. If we somehow really learned to embody the reality of the inherent natural beauty of our female African ancestors coupled with the strength these Queens had to generate (on top of the strength they already had) to bear the horrors of the trans-atlantic slave trade we would think of our gorgeous hair merely as crowns for our beautiful, wise, resourceful black heads.

    What needs to happen most of all is healing. We need to find ways of healing from the pain of the past which continues to affect our present day lives which left unexamined and un-exorcised will in turn affect the lives of our children and their children for more generations to come. I’m not talking about western-based therapy that just helps us cope day to day but real transformational healing though that can help, too but we need far better and deeper tools that speak to our needs as a community to really get at those roots.

  • http://generation-x.net Sargewp

    Black women look better natural!

    Another issue is that every thinks natural is ugly – but all the FINE WOMEN DON’T GO NATURAL. Hair is not what makes u fine. But women think this. They’ll take an ugly woman like Whoopi who is natural and say “LOOK NO ONE WANTS HER”

    But never point out the Jamaican model Nerissa Irving – Google her.

    See that’s the trick! – Then turn around and say – “black men don’t check for natural women”

    How many natural black women look like that? Most natural women seem to always be on some roots mother of the earth tip.

    I’m saying can I get NATURAL FEMININE WITH HEELS AND AN IN SHAPE BODY!

    NO! – I can – see I see the games many of these detractor women try to play.

    Good Topic Jessica.

  • Ashley

    I don’t think RiRi’s comment should have been made on such a public platform but I understand exactly how she felt and where she was coming from with her response. The woman was taking a personal “jab” at Rihanna, most likely jealous. Everyone may not be a fan of Rihanna’s red hair, but when you make rude comments it really shows your level of insecurity. The point that I’m trying to make is that you don’t have to give voice to every thought in your head. It’s all about self control. The same thing goes for Rihanna.
    I am not a fan of the word nappy. I refuse to allow anyone to call my hair nappy. The word was never meant to be used out of love. It was used to degrade and make people of African descent feel bad about their hair. PERIOD. So no, i’m not going to be an advocate for reclaiming the word “nappy”.

  • Emelyne

    Thank you!

  • Emelyne

    You may not be able to get a fine, in-shape, feminine woman (heels and dresses) with natural hair, but my husband did :-D Believe me, we exist in the real world, you’re just looking in the wrong places.

  • A Lo

    I’m happy with Rhianna’s comment and I’m glad she defended herself. With all our hair options as Black women I think the world forgets our true identity. I wore my hair natural for ten years before I decided to relax it again this winter. Why? Because its an option I have. And when I’m ready I will go natural again. Why? Because I can. Its important to teach the world to respect us and our uniqueness. I don’t have a problem with the word nappy but I teach people the true word is kinky which refers to our tightly coiled hair. As a Black Women, I love my hair in any state and I want the world to know it.

  • African Mami

    @ Snreda,

    Thanks for being so ARTICULATE, (where they teach that at?). Basically when I read Riri’s response, I read:

    “cuz I’m black, you female dog!!!!”
    Now say that to a person’s face, and tell me she is going to compliment your MAC makeup.

    They both were in the wrong for that….she should have just that let slide, or addressed the issue without having to resort to female dogs and iguanas.

  • African Mami

    * Apologies for having spelled your name wrong*. Meant :SRenda

  • Brina

    I support your POV…and I’ve been natural for 12 yrs.

    There’s a difference between preference and self-hate (which could be said in dating as well). When I went natural, it wasn’t for revolutionary reasons…it was because I got sick of going to the salons spending money/time PLUS it was my stylist suggestion stating that I could blow-dry/flat-iron my hair and get the same results w/o perm.

    I love the versatility of being natural and I can relate to a person who likes to wear different styles via weaves, perms, braids and/or naturals. That’s totally different from a person who hates their natural hair and will do anything to hide i.e. bad perms, bad weaves and matty braids. Besides, it’s about how well your hair is taken care of and I’ve seen some naturals who needs a great deal of conditioning/moisturizing so don’t get it “twisted” with the non-chemical = healthy hair.

    Natural-Nazis are a mess and present a bad look for the rest of us choicemakers.

  • Emelyne

    @Brina: i think it’s a “bad look” to label women with an opinion based on FACT (black people in general do despise their natural hair and that of others and will be the first to criticize it) a “Natural Nazi.” Read a history book a figure out why it’s never acceptable to compare a person to the group of people that committed mass genocide on Jews, Blacks, gypsies, Jehovah’s Witness, homosexuals, etc. I swear, this level of flippant ignorance is ridiculous.

  • SRenda

    Sounds like you’ve probably been over looking a lot of beautiful, decent, sexy black women because in addition to wanting them to wear their hair natural you want them to wear high heels and have no love handles or look like a light-skinned Jamaican model with dreads. That’s your loss.

  • miss get right

    @ Emelyne Well said

  • Naomi

    It also doesn’t sound like she’s speaking for all women who relax their hair but for her own personal experience. People go natural for diff reasons. The author said she was trying to look European by straightening her hair, the next girl might just go natural because she simply likes the look. All the natural vs. relaxed beef people create in their heads is so stupid.

  • quest

    I was taken aback by Riri’s use of the term bitch, but I figured this was a gut reaction. I probably would have reacted the same away. We are always having to defend ourselves because there is no one else to do it. They’re too busy defending/protecting non-Back women.

    On another topic. This relax versus natural debate is getting old. I’ve been perm free since the late 90s and it was one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made. But I’m getting really tired of holier than thou naturals equating women who relax/weave their hair with wanting to look European.

    I don’t think that true for everyone. At the end of the day many women want hair down to their backs, and not just Black women. I don’t know how blogs/forums that I’ve read where naturals are lamenting about their hair growth or seemingly lack thereof. Most women regardless of ethnicity/race are obsess with hair, particularly long hair.

    I’ve always suspected that one of the reasons that locs are so popular now versus 10, 20 years ago is because that’s one way to acquire quick length, all while proclaiming to be natural.

    We already have enough issues dividing us as a people…

  • Brina

    @Emelyne

    First thing first…”Relax” sweetie, LOL

    As a natural, I just feel it’s wrong to tell other non-naturals what to do with their hair and vice-versa. Not only was your comment waay off but it spoke volume of your mentality on this subject.

    Relax! It’s not that deep

  • Emelyne

    @Brina: No one is telling anyone else what to do with their own hair. There are simply some claiming that, because of the colonization of black people’s bodies and minds due to slavery, the social stigma surrounding a black person’s natural hair, and the vehement distaste many blacks show toward natural hair that weaves and chemical alterations are not truly a choice. Your condescending tone and the reality that you choose to remain blinded to the dangers of relaxers as well as the insult behind the term “Nazi” speaks volumes. There’s really nothing else for me to say, other than that, at least in your case, ignorance must be bliss. We don’t all have the luxury of being so conscientiously stupid.

  • Brina

    @emelyne

    Condenscending?? Wow..Conscientiously Stupid?? LMAO

    Like I said honey, RELAX. It’s only a blog.

  • Brina

    “On another topic. This relax versus natural debate is getting old. I’ve been perm free since the late 90s and it was one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made. But I’m getting really tired of holier than thou naturals equating women who relax/weave their hair with wanting to look European.”

    Thank you Quest! That’s all I’m saying…

  • BeautyIAM

    Don’t mean to be rude, but this topic is not about naturals vs. relaxers.

    Yes, I’m all for reclaiming the word. I liked that you stated, “we are one of the few groups of people forced to defend the texture that grows out of our scalps.” I think its crazy that those of us who choose to not add dangerous chemicals have to give reason upon reason why we don’t want to.

    No my hair isn’t “nappy” in the way some want to use it. Nappy to me means all the men and women that came before me to make me the person that I am today. I will always appreciate that. So someone saying that my hair is nappy is just helping me realize all those who came before me. All these insults are just water droplets sliding off my back and hitting the floor.

    I just feel like reclaiming would help take some power out of the word. Because what can someone really say when you’re not taking offense to something they wanted to hurt you with? Heck, call me Side Show Bob. His hair is pretty dope! Of course this can’t be done with all words. I just don’t get how I’m supposed to feel sad on the account of someones stupidity.

  • Tenika

    I’m sorry: is this article about natural vs. relaxers? And help me find where the author said ALL women with relaxers are trying to look European? Is that even the point of this piece? As far as the word nappy, I think it can be reclaimed but the internalized racism and sexism needs to cease first.

  • Tomi-chan

    @African Mami

    lmao I agree with you so much.

  • au napptural

    No one is telling anyone what to do with their hair, Brini. I’m just saying don’t piss on me and tell me it’s raining. Women who want to engage in these clearly harmful hair practices either need to read up on the history so they can understand what is shaping their consciousness or own up to why they are doing it. You feel natural hair is {fill in the blank} : unattractive, hard to manage, “nappy”, w//e. But please don’t tell me over 70% of black women in the U.S. are straightening their hair with dangerous chemicals (don’t act like you haven’t been burned), at horrific expense rather than caring for the hair that GROWS from their heads b/c they think straight hair is just a choice. Please.

  • binks

    Call me a cynic but I don’t think any word that has an associated with hurt, pain and used as a discriminatory remark can never be TRULY reclaimed. Like mention by Alexandra if that was the case words like N-word, B**ch, C***, w**b***,etc. could be place on the same table. To some those words doesn’t hold a strong presence over them(depending on the context used) but to others it always does. Personally, I don’t have a problem with the word nappy in and of itself because I and most people I know use the word indifferently but as soon as someone makes a snaky or ill spirited remark indifference will change to “WTF…” in a minute…lol. But I have NEVER personally heard the word nappy used with affection or love.

  • African Mami

    @ EM,

    You goiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing innnnnnnnnnn (said in Lil Wayne’s voice)

  • binks

    I agree! I think a lot of people need to hop off this relaxed vs. natural hair soapbox of thinking the way we personally view hair and the ideology we have about African hair texture is right. When it is just a matter of opinion. Yes, I will agree with there are people who perm their hair or constantly wear it straight may have self hate issues but guess what there are natural hair people with self hate issues as well that we don’t talk about so…women DO have a choice of why they do what they do to their hair that doesn’t have to do with wanting to look white.

  • http://www.testorshia.blogspot.com Tes

    “It’s just hair! As long as it’s clean, smells good, and you know what to do with it, it’s fine by me.” – guy friend George

    What he said took my by surprise because I always thought men had a preference towards what was more “normal;” as it turns out, they like what we like. As a transitioning girl, I will say I do get the “what are you doing?/why are you doing it?” looks and conversations. I’m not a revolutionary trying to grow a fro. I’m not a “tree-hugger” trying to save the earth. I’m just a girl who got tired of burning her scalp for no reason.

    Now for the word nappy…it doesn’t mean much to me. It’s like the n-word, or the b-word; I know I’m neither of those, so what’s it matter if a person who doesn’t know me from Eve calls me that?

  • African Mami

    Nappy is a term that has evolved and has come to be embraced by black women. However its roots are deeply embedded into racist rhetoric, dating way back into the 18th Century. We need to stop using it! Just like we need to stop using the term NIGGA/NIGGER.

    There is nothing to reclaim other than hurt, pain and a constant disdain from the massa! Check this link out….profound

    http://www.billcasselman.com/wording_room/nappy.htm

    Now onto the conversation about natural hair vs. chemically enhanced hair. do you! Go bald, wear a fro, weave it out, color it red, shut down Shoftseen Carson with your orders, just don’t make it seem as if your worth is on top of your head!

  • d_nicegirl

    Me too!

  • bb

    Sorry for those who took offense to Rihanna’s comment, but I loved it :-)

  • http://codeemphasis.blogspot.com Clarity Jane

    Bloody hell, we still on this natural hair shit again? ‘Reclaiming nappy’… Seriously?? Nappy is the new ‘N’ Word now it seems. It’s not that serious folks…This article was just another attempt for someone with natural hair to justify their hairstyle choice, who cares?

    Rhianna didn’t rock that hairdo with the intention for it to look ‘nappy’, she’s not making a statement or tryna convince people she’s down for her natural textured tresses, she rocked that hair cuz she thought she looked good and ‘edgy’. Her come back was great but she aint flying the flag for ‘nappy’ hair so lets not get excited. Hair doesn’t have to be political so stop using any excuse to make it so…just be happy with your hair choices, no need to justify every minute.

  • Tomi-chan

    lol my Asian guy friend said I had nappier hair than him. He’s known for having the “nappiest hair in all of China”. I don’t think it’s a bad word haha, we both love our kinky textures.

  • Pema

    Call me crazy but I think Rhianna’s response was on point and she used b**** exactly as it should be used, as an insult. She’s not saying all women are b******, etc. As for nappy, I don’t like the word at all and I don’t allow my daughters to use it.

  • Desirree

    To be honest…i would love to put that on a t-shirt- “I’m Black Bitch!!!” and wear it around my college campus

  • chile

    thats how rihanna talks … even in regular situation for example she wished her best friend in barbados happy birthday and said “i miss you *cunt* im gona see after the tour/concert/whatever

    but i think bitch was appropriate for that ignorant statement that chick said

  • chile

    oh girl please relaxing aint all about beauty its also about convenience as much as we all would love to sit in the mirror and do voodoo rituals on our hair to make something happen we can’t. we have something called a life and for some being natural takes alot more time and effort to do every morning and every single night. everything isn’t vanity related. and if that so true then why people in africa with natural textures don’t grow their hair out? but instead cut it all off?

    if relax hair makes people think others want to be white(or like everybody else) then look around you then we must all do.

  • Jess

    I liked her response…Go Rhianna. It would have been even better if she said “Black and beautiful, and you’re not, you ugly bitch!!” That would have been the perfect response.

  • Leah

    4 Real!!! Not to mention that the “nappy” hair of mention is a wig/weave.

  • Quell

    I rarely agree with anything Rihanna does, but I do agree with her response to the female who made that comment. When it comes to a Black womans hair sometimes it seems like the moment you show a little bit of curl that’s not considered the “good curl” it’s a problem, and it’s annoying.

  • Mimi

    Rhianna’s comment would have made more sense if that were actually her hair.

  • African Mami

    @ chile,

    I could give two hoots about Rihanna’s everyday flowery language! Calling another woman a female dog, especially in a situation that could have been diffused with SILENCE is not becoming.

    You can defend your hair/wig/weave/baldness without having to resort to FEMALE DOGS. It irked me!!!! Shoot me!

  • Bren

    I am natural. I like Rihanna’s response. In the neighborhood I live in, it’s rare to see black women with hair like mine. So when my son asks me why my hair “looks like this” (he’s only 5 so I’m not offended), I simply tell him because I was born this way.

  • Tomi-chan

    Yup. You can’t even see her supposed “roots”.

  • http://www.pyramidoftruth.com Kemwer

    Happy to be nappy. It’s what distinguish me from most of the animal world. Thanks for the protein keratin which makes our hair spiral. Why women want to kill their living hair with hot combs and relaxers is a mystery.

  • Jess

    I seriously doubt Sargewp is interested in any Black woman, natural or relaxed.

  • O’Phylia

    YES.

  • omg

    u would really wear something like that?

    why?

    it’s only cute or funny in a tweet, not on a shirt being worn by someone trying to be college educated. imo.

  • Lady T

    Nappy can never be retired imo. I don’t use it, but it’s just a personal decision. I think nappy is at a cultural crossroads. I’ve heard nappy used positively for natural hair pride and negatively as an insult. I think a closer look at the word nappy and our historical issues with hair are worth examining. Perhaps it will help us define and establish our own ideals of beauty.

    Personal story: A few days ago, I was out of town with some family members. My cousin, who is 15 (and female) talked about how she didn’t have “good hair.” I told her all of our hair is good hair; anything contrary is a lie. This bothers me a great deal. Although I see more people proudly wearing their hair naturally, the “good hair” mindset is still alive.

    I’ve been wearing my hair natural for years. I’ve gotten compliments and support. I’ve also dealt with critical questions from family, friends, and strangers. I’ve had family and friends ask, “Are you going to straighten your hair again? You have such a ‘good grade’ of hair!” What is a “good grade” of hair anyways? I still don’t understand that. Just as I don’t understand why “nappy” is an insult. It’s hair texture. Yet it’s not widely accepted as another form of beauty.

    Regardless, I love my hair in all of its natural glory. It’s right for me, and that’s what matters.

  • Jennifer

    Reclaiming it is a personal choice. I have never fully understood hair politics. I have been ‘natural’ my whole life. It is hair. I think black people have more issues with their hair than any other race.

  • Lynaya

    We cannot “retire” a word. The n words was given a mock funeral by the NAACP..yet it’s still alive and well. And why do we need to reclaim nappy? I don’t remember when we gave it away. Black people are fabulous, always have been, always will be. Just because the media tells us different…and some of us choose to believe the hype, does NOT make it true. I’m more concerned with how we perceive ourselves than how others view us.

  • taylor

    My tshirt would say “CUZ I’m black bitch.” Lol. I thought her response was appropriate. We come this way. We might change our hair, color, straighten, whatever but what comes out of our head naturally and frequently is textured hair. God made us that way. Get over it.

  • PetiteFashionista

    oh please!i didnt even finish reading this article….rihanna was right for doing what she did..point blank..freaking analyze 2 much!you dont we take all of this deep thinking 2 something that’s actually IMPORTANT like political issues or some ish!dang!

  • Kim

    Nappy, like any adjective, can be used as a perjoritive or a compliment. My suggestion would be to respond to each use of it accordingly based on how it is percieved.

    It sounds like Rihanna hit the mark appropriately in her response: my father always said the only stupid question is the one you already know the answer to before you ask.

  • kat

    @petitfashionista why don’t you? Silly.

  • Akuba

    If we can reclaim nigger, we can reclaim Nappy. Lets get it!

    (Re-natural since 8/2010)

  • Isis

    I love her response too. Why do we have to look like them?? I’m glad Rhi shut the chick down.

  • http://offdashoulda.blogspot.com kboug22

    yep @ mimi,

    I agree. The only reason I didn’t back-up Rih Rih’s response is because the “nappy” hair that the lady was talking about was Rih Rih’s wig. So it don’t matter how nappy Rihanna’s hair is because.. its not hers! haha

  • http://offdashoulda.blogspot.com kboug22

    first off, hair is not alive or living.. its dead. secondly relaxing your hair is a style choice… just like when latin/white/ and black women decide to color their hair… thirdly… its just hair!!!

  • tabula rasa

    I’m fine with Nappy. It’s ‘Kinky’ that I hate!
    Kinky makes me think of nots/ kinks in a neckless, and conjures up ‘impossible to manage’ and ‘all messed up’, not to mention that it was nappy that was used in my household anyways. I associate nappy with conversations we have amongst ourselves, but kinky as an unflattering adjective used to describe our hair in conversations that other people have about our hair.

  • Dawn

    Oh good gosh. Our hair is nappy, whats the problem. We need to stop being so damn sensitive about stupid crap. How do you feel about Niki Minaj’s song with her using the phrase Nappy Headed Hoe’s? Our hair is different from every race out their. We may have people from other countries whose skin is darker than ours, but the hair is either straight or large shiny curls. Our hair; black-american, Africans… we have coarse hair, it’s unique. The word nappy is meaningless to me just like the N-word.

  • http://noirmuse.com/ Caribbelle

    Here’s one of her other tweets about Rihanna:

    “@ballisticZz @iZulie I ain’t mad at her fame, Im mad at her nappy ass wig.”

    I rest my case, so what if Rihanna wants to wear a kinky wig/weave or what have you. Because its not straight its a problem. The ignorance of some people is insurmountable!

  • http://noirmuse.com/ Caribbelle

    I also wanted to add that the term nappy was always negative: it referenced the breakdown of fabrics when they start to pill. It was always used as an insult. With that said, the people who want nothing to do with the term are within their rights, same as the people who refuse to use the n-word. A person can reclaim a word for their own personal reassurance but they shouldn’t force it on anyone who shares the same levels of melanin with tightly coiled hair. We’re not a monolith and we all don’t share the same values, period.

  • Kema

    She is beautiful… Cant wait til my locks are flowing like that!

  • Simone

    I’m happy being nappy…..kinky, coily, natural…whatever……having natural hair is NOTHING to be apologetic about.

  • datgidigirl

    I’m 100% African, I have nappy hair but its not coarse, its pretty soft and fine…not everyone has coarse hair, actually. I wish I did but my hair doesnt hold a proper fro. never has. I hate the assumption that everyone has the same hair texture. Its like saying all Africans are pitch black when we come in different shades just like African Americans…

  • au napptural

    Convenient, huh? All those hours in the beauty salon are convenient, is that it? And those prices, b/c this recession is imaginary, right? Please. I guess the real convenience will start when that perm has taken out all the hair, so the woman can just throw on a wig in the morning! No woman would give up what she thought was beautiful for convenience. I mean, not wearing make-up and not shopping would save scads of money and time for us all but we aren’t going to do it. So no I don’t believe these women would just love to have natural hair but don’t have enough time. And that time thing is a misconception anyways. Now if someone is trying to make their hair something it isn’t (read: wavy when it isn’t), yea it’ll take all day and all night with product after product. If you are satisfied with your texture, then cleanse, moisturize, and style the same as anyone else would.

    I wish people would stop acting brand new and just say “I hate the hair God gave me. I think it’s ugly.” So much more convenient than talking around and around the issue.

  • Emelyne

    @Au napptural: Thank you! It’s strange that everyone who relaxes/texturizes or wears straight Remi and Yaki weaves does it for convenience; they all love their natural hair! It’s just so hard to deal with!

  • http://twitter.com/isjoyreal Joi

    Nappy is a beautiful term describing one aspect of a beautiful people. Those of us who can’t accept the term have yet to denounce the internal racism within our own community that they themselves believe.

  • chelsea

    Ahhhh who cares who she offended! She was straight to the point lol I love Rihanna <3 oh yeah in response to the question, yeah…..we can't retire nappy because it's here to stay. I rather say my hair is kinky because that's what it is, why nappy, we have naturally wavy, and curly hair. Nappy sounds like a bunch of cotton balls to me smh

  • http://www.facebook.com/inkamichelle Inka

    I am DARN happy to be nappy!! I describe my hair as nappy, kinky, coily, thick, textured, whatever; I know my hair is everything BUT straight. And I adore Rihanna’s response, it’s pretty much the same response I have to give to family, friends, and inquisitive strangers when they ask why I don’t ‘fix’ or straighten my hair… ‘fix’ my hair… pshhhhhhhhh, to the LEFT with that nonsense. I might be a light-skinned afro-latina (also with some European and Native American blood, too!), but whenever someone asks me why my hair is ‘nappy’, it’s because “I’m black bitch!!!” <3

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