My Hair, My Decision My Hair, My Decision

My Hair, My Decision: Why I Straighten

The buzzword is definitely natural hair as of late. From the weekly #NaturalHair Day on Twitter to actress and comedian, Kim Coles, unveiling her transition to natural hair on Afrobella, “going natural” is all the rage, so much so that it’s referred to as the “new black.”

During  #NaturalHair Day, I viewed countless tweets and pictures of women celebrating themselves and their hair. It was beautiful, but after a while, I became annoyed. I couldn’t decide if the trending topic was a celebration or a finger-pointing party, though I hoped for the former. I understood when a fellow writer tweeted, “I can't participate with the (natural hair) hashtag like I deserve to be on a pedestal just because I'm a natural. I still think it's very divisive.”

The trending topic reminded me of a Twitter debate I participated in just days earlier about straightening natural hair. Some women are saying it’s the number one “don’t” per a follower’s Twitter rant:

“I'm having a very annoying conversation with a woman who has natural hair. It turns out that I'm not 'helping out' the natural hair lifestyle by occasionally blowing out my SUPER thick hair and straightening it. Here's what she said: 'If you are going to wear your hair natural that means no blow drying or straightening it to look straight.'”

Give me a break.

Before you give me the side-eye, I, too, am transitioning. I have been relaxer-free for just over a year now. It started as a challenge of how long I could go without a relaxer. I didn’t do it so much for self-discovery or to see how dependent I am on my hair. Thankfully, I’ve never suffered from thin hair, breakage or chemical damage. I did it to see what my hair looks like without a relaxer. And get this: I straighten it…often! *gasp*

I will not be told what to do with my hair by anyone.

After nearly 17 years of relaxing my hair, I’ve almost completely grown out my relaxer, and it took patience and discipline. After accomplishing that, which I consider to be a milestone, I will not have anyone tell me that I have to wear my hair in its natural state. My hair, my decision.

I often hear the phrase, “It’s just hair” thrown around in discussions to promote various schools of thought regarding hair. If it’s, indeed, “just hair,” why shouldn’t I have the freedom to do with it whatever I choose—be it to relax, coil or weave it?

Yes, it’s true that hair is a MAJOR issue for African-American women. To quote interior designer Shelia Bridges, who was featured in Chris Rock’s controversial documentary, Good Hair, “The reason hair is so important is because our self-esteem is wrapped up in it.” If this is so---if hair is such a big part of us, is it really appropriate to treat our hair choices and textures as members-only clubs?

I am in no way suggesting that we shouldn’t celebrate our hair and its versatility. More so, I’m suggesting that no other person has the right to dictate what we do with our own hair, natural or otherwise. The beauty about being a woman is we have an array of options, and that is what we should embrace.

My personal goal is to grow longer hair. Eventually, I’ll wear it “out” or in twist-outs, but when I choose. All of the parts of our bodies, even the hair that grows from our heads should cause us to feel loved, not guilty or judged.

So to the women, like my dear friend, who can rock a ‘fro and twist-out like no other, the women who flat irons her natural hair every two weeks, the ones who let the relaxer sit until it begins to fizzle on her scalp, and the ones who think the longer the Remy, the better, only you know makes you shine. Whether I agree with your methods or not, it’s your hair, not mine. If what we’re really practicing and advocating for is freedom from whatever is entrapping us through our hair, let’s act as such. Live and let live.

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VIBE Vixen's Boss Talk Podcast: Meet Peppermint, The Boss Using Her Gifts For Good

VIBE Vixen's Boss Talk podcast amplifies the voices of women and she/her-identifying individuals in their respective industries as they discuss their journeys toward becoming the bosses we know today. From their demeanor and confidence and persevering through life’s pitfalls to make a name for themselves in their own way, being a boss is much more than 'just running sh*t.'

Miss Peppermint started as a staple in the New York nightlife scene, and after appearing as a contestant on the ninth season of RuPaul's Drag Race, she’s continued to make a name for herself.

Outside of the show, she's traveled the world and is hoping to release her third album, which she hints will be influenced by the '90s, R&B, and neo-soul. She's also planning on re-releasing her debut album, Hardcore Glamour, for its 10-year anniversary.

"I'll be doing a lot in New York this year for World Pride," she explains to Boss Talk's host, J'na Jefferson. Pride takes place throughout June. "The last album I dropped was 2017... I'm excited about that, I'm writing it now. It's just poems, but I'm excited."

Peppermint, who was the first openly transgender contestant on the Emmy Award-winning show, was also the first transgender woman to originate a principal role on Broadway for her role as Pythio in Head Over Heels. 

 

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"On paper, it shouldn't make sense... it's hard to explain what it is," she says of the musical, which combined a loose adaptation of 16th-century piece The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia with the music of the new wave group, The Go-Go's. It closed in late-2018.

"The better way to explain it now that it's over and closed is 'a revolutionary show about dismantling the patriarchy...'" she says about Head Over Heels. "I knew that they wanted to cast a trans actor... I wanted to put as much as I could into it, and try to do our non-binary siblings well and proud... [the show] became something I really believed in."

Peppermint continues to share her love of performing all over the world and is also an activist, who aims to promote the importance of LGBTQIA representation and advancement. She has worked and supported organizations such as The Point Foundation, which aims to help LGBTQIA students attend college. 

"People are just starting to catch on that having queer voices is essential and inevitable," she says of further representation of LGBTQIA individuals in media and entertainment. She praises Pose creator Ryan Murphy for showcasing trans people of color both in front of the camera and behind-the-scenes.

"Giving [trans people] the power to speak for themselves, rather than slapping the community with stereotypes or archetypes... we're past that," she continues. "We're not in the phase where they're feeling comfortable to be who they are, but I think we're getting close."

Listen to the full episode below.

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Kush & Splendor: 5 CBD Beauty Products That’ll Take Your Self-Care Routine From 0 To 100

Lotions, creams, and salves—oh my! With cannabidiol (CBD) popping up in just about every product you can imagine, the cannabis-infused beauty industry is clearly on the come-up. In fact, analysts predict that the “wellness” movement—as well as the legalization of Mary Jane across the world—will help rake in $25 billion globally in the next 10 years, according to Business Insider. That’s 15 percent of the $167 billion skincare market.

And what better way to up the ante on one’s wellness routine than with all-natural CBD? Just ask Dr. Lana Butner, naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist at NYC’s Modrn Sanctuary, who incorporates CBD in her treatments.

“CBD is a fantastic addition to acupuncture sessions for both its relaxation and anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving effects,” Butner shares with Vixen. “The calming effects of CBD allows for patients to deeply relax into the treatment and really tap into the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest, digestion and muscle repair/regeneration.”

She adds that CBD’s pain-relieving effects are “far-reaching,” from muscular and joint pains to migraines and arthritis—and even IBS and indigestion.

The magic lies in CBD’s ability to impact endocannabinoid receptor activity in our bodies. Without getting too wordy, our bodies come equipped with a system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is the HBIC over our sleep, appetite, pain and immune system response. Also known as cannabidiol, CBD teams up with this system to help reduce inflammation and interact with neurotransmitters. According to Healthline, CBD has also been scientifically shown to impact the brain’s receptors for serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating our mood and social behavior.

All that said, it’s important to note that not all CBD products are created equal. Many brands cashing in on the green beauty wave use hemp seed oil, sometimes referred to as cannabis sativa seed oil, in place of CBD... which doesn’t make them any less great! Hemp seed oil is actually high in antioxidants, amino acids, and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids—all of which are thebomb.com for your skin.

“It’s generally viewed as a superfood and is great for adding nutritional value to your diet,” Ashley Lewis, co-founder of Fleur Marché, told Well and Good last month. “In terms of skin care, it’s known as a powerful moisturizer and skin softener that doesn’t clog pores or contribute to oily skin.”

However, when companies start marketing CBD and hemp oil as one-in-the-same, that’s when things get a bit tricky.

“The biggest issue is that hemp seed oil and CBD are two totally different compounds that come from different parts of the hemp plant, have different makeups, and different benefits,” Lewis added. “Marketing them as the same thing just isn’t accurate and does a disservice to consumers who are expecting certain benefits that they won’t get from hemp seed oil and who are often paying more for what they think is CBD.”

So if you’re looking to benefit from the perks specifically attributed to CBD, make sure you’re reading labels before buying, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Hell, ask for a product’s test results, while you’re at it. It never hurts to be sure.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, are you ready to see what all the hype is about? For this 4/20, we rounded up a few CBD (and hemp!)-infused products to help give your self-care routine a bit of a boost. Looks like your holiday just got that much kushier. You’re welcome!

Note: Data and regulations surrounding CBD and its use are still in development. That said, please don’t take anything written in this post as medical or legal advice, and definitely double check the laws in your state. Also, please do your body a favor and hit up your doctor before trying any new supplements. We’re just tryna look out for you. Okay? Okay. Read on.

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Vivica A. Fox Explains Past Hesitance Behind 'Two Can Play That Game' Script

In a new interview with Essence, actress Vivica A. Fox discussed how she initially turned down her role in Two Can Play That Game based on the script. The established entertainer said it's her mission to ensure that black people are positively portrayed onscreen, and noticed the aforementioned film's prose didn't live up to those standards.

"I think the reason why—no I know the reason why—I've been doing this for such a long time is that I fight," Fox said. "When we did Two Can Play That Game, I fought for the way we talked, walked, the way we loved each other." The Set It Off actress continued to state that she consistently declined Two Can Play That Game before signing on to play the lead role. "Because the script, when I first got it, I turned it down three times because it just wasn't a good representation of African-Americans, so I fought them on everything," she noted. "I want to make sure that the images of African-Americans are as positive and as true as they can possibly be."

In 2001, the romantic comedy debuted to fanfare, boasting an all-star cast of Morris Chestnut, Mo'Nique, Anthony Anderson, Bobby Brown, Gabrielle Union, Wendy Raquel Robinson, and more. Directed by Mark Brown (Barbershop, Iverson, How To Be A Player), Fox plays a career driven person named Shante Smith who navigates a curveball when her boyfriend Keith Fenton (Chestnut) cheats on her with a co-worker.

After its release, Two Can Play That Game raked in over $22 million at the box office.

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