In the Ivory Coast, a fairly new group of woman meet every two months in the capital of Abidjan. The group calls itself “Nappys de Babi,” and the 2,400 odd members share tips on how to maintain their natural hair.
The main goal of “Nappys de Babi” – which is a combination of “natural,” “happy,” and Abidjan’s nickname – is to convince black women to forgo relaxers, extensions, and wigs. However, most of the women haven’t worn natural hair since their teenaged years. Co-founder Miriam Diaby points out the women don’t really know how to care for their virgin hair or even access its needs. One participant asked how does she know if her hair is hydrated.
Diaby also mentions how natural hair isn’t widely accepted, prompting women to go the straight route in the first place. “Society frowns on ‘afro’ hair overflowing all over the place,” she says.
Member Liliana Lambert adds, “People are uncomfortable about it. When they see you wearing natural hair, they look at you like you are a pariah, like there is a problem, when actually, it should be normal.”
And, of course, that often leads to “curiosity” about the texture. Lambert says people “want to touch such hair all the time.”
“It’s just ignorance,” she adds.
It seems natural hair woes are universal.