Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Nappy Head: Can you get a comb through that?

“Your hair is thick and nappy! Can you get a comb through it?” This statement was made by a 10 year old girl I happened to be speaking with one day. She also took the liberty to inform me that she had her “Just For Me” perm touch-up done the day before as she preened herself in the mirror.  Even as I type I’m honestly not sure how I feel about the word nappy in the context of describing hair.  If you follow me on twitter you might have witnessed my confused reaction to this statement. At first *blush* I felt as if the word was disparaging and offensive. I wanted to explain to this young lady that my hair wasn’t “nappy,” but instead was what I would like to call “kinky.” As the words for my rebuttal were beginning to formulate in my mind I paused for a moment and wondered: what was the difference? And more importantly, why was I responding to it so negatively?  My response to her was “…I love my hair the way it is…” and she proceeded to draw a picture of me depicting my “nappy” hair.  After she had gone I felt her words still stinging my ego, so I did what anyone self-respecting kinky haired woman would do, I Googled it! Here are a couple of definitions I found for “nappy” that I found:
  • Miriam Webster Dictionary : (1)chiefly Scottish: Liquor: Specifically: Ale ; (2) a rimless shallow open serving dish; (3)chiefly British Diaper; (4) Kinky
  • The Free Online Dictionary:  (1)Having a nap; fuzzy: a nappy carpet;  (2)Often Offensive Tightly curled or coiled. Used of hair.
The image search proved to be even more interesting with most of the images on page 1 having to do with babies and diapers.  There were, however, about 5 exceptions: an image of Don Imus, an image Lauren Hill and an image of group called Nappy Roots, an image of the book entitled Nappy Hair, and this image:

After I concluded my mini research project, I still cannot say that I fully appreciate the word’s actual connotation. Is it in fact a negative word that us naturals have accepted (like the N-word for  some people of color or perhaps the term “coolie” for some  people of Indian decent). Should I embrace it? Should I defend it? Should I loathe it? Should I correct a person who uses it? I would love to hear from some of my naturals about their thoughts on this… especially those of us in the 4abc category that might be called “nappy-headed” on any given day!

My Portrait ;- )


  1. cute Portrait ;- )
    i see you still a fashionista in the red outfit and done eyelashes
    great post


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