Issa Rae has become a natural hair icon of our generation.
And while Insecure's final season has come and gone, I am all for nostalgically noting the many times Issa Rae's hair philosophy lent itself to her character as an homage to the show's cultural impact. As the multi-hyphenate says, "there’s just nothing like seeing a Black woman who switches her hair like the days of the week." That goes double for Issa Dee.
Read our inaugural cover story on Issa's natural hair journey and see below for the Issa hair transformations that will give you natural hair inspo for days. Preesh, Insecure.
The Tried & True TWA
Classic and understated Issa Dee. In season one, the character was known to rock her TWA (teeny weeny afro) more than anything and seldom switched her hairstyle up from episode to episode.
Blown Out Afro Puff
This traditional afro puff is a classic amongst natural hair girls everywhere. And Issa rocking it in this season one episode served as a great reminder as to why.
Changes in the way she wore her hair started being more apparent in the series' second season. Instead of just a scarf here or a hair tie there, Issa experimented with twists, braids, and adding length in her hairstyles throughout the seasons moving forward.
Sis switched it up and switched it up often, which was a slight nod to the character's growth.
Half Up Half Down
This half-up half-down style with a side bang is the definition of ease without sacrificing any chic.
Flat Twisted Pony With A Bang
A bang is a must in this protective style. Flat twisted at the sides, Issa's hair is pulled into a low ponytail and left out in an afro puff. Mirroring that puff is her bang in the front. The end result is balanced and giving protective style inspo for days.
Flat Twisted Bun
Merie W. Wallace/HBO
For this simple protective style, mini flat twists are created and pulled into a low bun with extensions added to give a bun effect.
The evolution of Issa Dee's hair from a simple TWA to more complex, "elevated" hairstyles was a journey stylist Felicia Leatherwood was intentional about portraying.
In reference to season 4's progression, Leatherwood told NYLON, "This last season, I wanted to make sure that it was an upgrade for Issa Dee, which means that I go talk to the wardrobe and makeup and see what direction they're going in."
Elevated Faux Hawk Updo
Merie W. Wallace/HBO
In the premiere of season 4, Issa's coif was polished in a faux hawk updo. While most of the audience was questioning if they should break up with their "Molly," we were pondering how to add this style to our must-try list.
Slick Down Low Afro Puff Ponytail
Merie W. Wallace/HBO
In the second episode of season 4, Issa wore two variations of the slick down puff ponytail style. This iteration is pulled low instead of up and also features accents by way of gold bobby pins.
Merie W. Wallace/HBO
Flat Twisted Ponytail
Merie W. Wallace/HBO
Jumbo flat twists twisted back into a low ponytail with some hair added is how this easy style is achieved. Leatherwood mentioned about the ease of some of Issa's styles on the show, "I really like to represent the natural hair community well, and that's my first step. How can I make this something that's reasonable for any naturalista to recreate? [That they] can look and say, 'Oh, I could do that,' or to see themselves with that hairstyle in their own natural texture and their own flavor."
Low Ponytail With Mini Braids
Merie W. Wallace/HBO
The classic low ponytail style got an update with the addition of two mini braids placed in the front.
Twisted Curly Updo
Merie W. Wallace/HBO
The curly updo is given a bit of additional flair with the help of four perfectly laid flat twists bringing the style together.
Two Buns Accented With Beaded Braids
Merie W. Wallace/HBO
There's no denying Issa loves her updos. In this particular look, Issa adds two beaded braids on each side, going in the opposite direction of her two buns.
Braided Bun Updo With Curly Bang
In the season five opener, Issa experienced a bout of self-doubt while revisiting her alma mater. But one thing's for certain and two thing's for sure, the braided bun updo with the curly bang was the star of the show.
Two Feed-In Braids
The unveiling of this feed-in braid style gave me the summer vibes my life currently needs.
Two Twists In The Front, Hair Out In The Back
This hairstyle is perfection and feels like an update to the classic half up half down ponytail styles. Instead, the front of Issa's hair is sectioned into two and then twisted to meet in the back, with the rest of her hair left out.
Braids In The Front, Ponytail In The Back
Forever in love with the way that a lot of Issa's styles are hybrids and seem to create the perfect style. This style from the current and final season features braids in the front pulled into an exaggerated braided pony in the back.
Featured image by Merie Wallace/HBO
Originally published December 13, 2021
How Content Creators Hey Fran Hey And Shameless Maya Embraced The Pivot
This article is in partnership with Meta Elevate.
If you’ve been on the internet at all within the past decade, chances are the names Hey Fran Hey and Shameless Maya (aka Maya Washington) have come across your screen. These content creators have touched every platform on the web, spreading joy to help women everywhere live their best lives. From Fran’s healing natural remedies to Maya’s words of wisdom, both of these content creators have built a loyal following by sharing honest, useful, and vulnerable content. But in search of a life that lends to more creativity, freedom, and space, these digital mavens have moved from their bustling big cities (New York City and Los Angeles respectively) to more remote locations, taking their popular digital brands with them.
Content Creators Hey Fran Hey and Maya Washington Talk "Embracing The Pivot"www.youtube.com
In partnership with Meta Elevate — an online learning platform that provides Black, Hispanic, and Latinx-owned businesses access to 1:1 mentoring, digital skills training, and community — xoNecole teamed up with Franscheska Medina and Maya Washington on IG live recently for a candid conversation about how they’ve embraced the pivot by changing their surroundings to ultimately bring out the best in themselves and their work. Fran, a New York City native, moved from the Big Apple to Portland, Oregon a year ago. Feeling overstimulated by the hustle and bustle of city life, Fran headed to the Pacific Northwest in search of a more easeful life.
Her cross-country move is the backdrop for her new campaign with Meta Elevate— a perfectly-timed commercial that shows how you can level up from wherever you land with the support of free resources like Meta Elevate. Similarly, Maya packed up her life in Los Angeles and moved to Sweden, where she now resides with her husband and adorable daughter. Maya’s life is much more rural and farm-like than it had been in California, but she is thriving in this peaceful new setting while finding her groove as a new mom.
While Maya is steadily building and growing her digital brand as a self-proclaimed “mom coming out of early retirement,” Fran is redefining her own professional grind. “It’s been a year since I moved from New York City to Portland, Oregon,” says Fran. “I think the season I’m in is figuring out how to stay successful while also slowing down.” A slower-paced life has unlocked so many creative possibilities and opportunities for these ladies, and our conversation with them is a well-needed reminder that your success is not tied to your location…especially with the internet at your fingertips. Tapping into a community like Meta Elevate can help Black, Hispanic, and Latinx entrepreneurs and content creators stay connected to like minds and educated on new digital skills and tools that can help scale their businesses.
During a beautiful moment in the conversation, Fran gives Maya her flowers for being an innovator in the digital space. Back when “influencing” was in its infancy and creators were just trying to find their way, Fran says Maya was way ahead of her time. “I give Maya credit for being one of the pioneers in the digital space,” Fran said. “Maya is a one-person machine, and I always tell her she really changed the game on what ads, campaigns, and videos, in general, should look like.”
When asked what advice she’d give content creators, Maya says the key is having faith even when you don’t see the results just yet. “It’s so easy to look at what is, despite you pouring your heart into this thing that may not be giving you the returns that you thought,” she says. “Still operate from a place of love and authenticity. Have faith and do the work. A lot of people are positive thinkers, but that’s the thinking part. You also have to put your faith into work and do the work.”
Fran ultimately encourages content creators and budding entrepreneurs to take full advantage of Meta Elevate’s vast offerings to educate themselves on how to build and grow their businesses online. “It took me ten years to get to the point where I’m making ads at this level,” she says. “I didn’t have those resources in 2010. I love the partnership with Meta Elevate because they’re providing these resources for free. I just think of the people that wouldn’t be able to afford that education and information otherwise. So to amplify a company like this just feels right.”
Watch the full conversation with the link above, and join the Meta Elevate community to connect with fellow businesses and creatives that are #OnTheRiseTogether.
Featured image courtesy of Shameless Maya and Hey Fran Hey
Jodie Turner-Smith Shares How Her Biracial Daughter Helped Heal Her Wounds With Colorism
Many would often say after having kids, their overall perception of life would change. Although the shift has various reasons, it could mainly just boil down to how individuals raise their children, which happened to actress and model Jodie Turner-Smith.
During an interview withElle Magazine, Smith opened up about how becoming a mother to a biracial child taught her significant lessons about her thoughts on colorism. Smith has been married to actor Joshua Jackson since 2019. The couple would ultimately welcome their daughter Janie Jackson the following year.
Jodie Turner-Smith On Raising a Biracial Daughter With Her Husband
On March 27, the 36-year-old shared that she was forced to make peace with her past regarding the issues of colorism because she realized that her daughter wouldn't encounter the same experiences as her due to the toddler's skin complexion.
"She is going to have a completely different experience in the world than I did, because I have given birth to a mixed-race girl," she said.
Further in the conversation, Smith mentioned that, before having Janie, she was resistant to being a mother. When the Queen & Slimstar finally decided to have kids, she revealed that she wished to have fully Black children to give them the love the world didn't give her because of her darker skin tone.
"It's interesting because I had a lot of resistance to becoming a mother," Smith explained. "Throughout my life, I always said if I were to have children, I wanted to have Black, Black babies so that I could affirm them as children with the love that I felt I needed to have been affirmed with by the outside world."
But as luck would have it, Smith fell in love with Jackson, a white man. As their relationship progressed over the years, the couple discussed having children. The Independent star claimed that despite her past goals of wanting fully Black children, not having a baby with her partner because they were white just seemed "insane."
Smith added that after acknowledging that the pair would take the next step and have a family, it did cause her to think about how her children would "look like" people that she once felt "tormented by."
"Then I fell in love with my husband, and we talked about having kids. To decide not to have a child with somebody you love, just because they're white, was insane to me. But, at the same time, I did have this mini pause where I was like, 'She's going to be walking through the world not only having an experience that I did not have but looking like people that, in a way, I'd always felt a little bit tormented by," Smith said.
The mother of one disclosed that after welcoming her daughter in April 2020, all those thoughts disappeared. Smith also expressed that raising the almost three-year-old was the universe's way of helping her heal with her "own conversations around colorism."
Smith On How She Gained Her Self-Confidence
When asked how she's been able to be confident despite the past struggles she's faced with not being accepted as a standard of beauty, Smith shared it has been an ongoing journey due to the lack of proper representation.
In her response, Smith recounted how the entertainment industry made her question her self-worth while mentioning a 1943 film Stormy Weather. The movie had an entire Black cast, but the two leads were a dark-skinned man named Bill Robinson and Lena Horne, a light-skinned woman.
Smith stated it would appear problematic because women with a darker complexion who never had a proper lead role were often "desexualized" and depicted as the "mammy" character at the time. She went on to say that it fueled the idea that dark-skinned women weren't viewed as beautiful in society.
Smith also shared that these films and shows and not seeing anyone who looked like her being "held up as beautiful" greatly affected her. The Murder Mystery 2 star revealed that she would eventually gain self-confidence by simply "faking it" until it became a reality in her adult life.
"Because you've never seen anybody who looks like you held up as beautiful. That definitely affected my psyche," Smith explained. "Anyone who has known me throughout my life would say, 'Oh, Jodie has very high self-esteem.' But it affected me, I just faked it till I made it. It wasn't until adulthood that I began to come into myself. For a long time, people would even say to me, 'You're so pretty...for a dark-skinned girl.'"
Since then, Smith has been gracing the covers of various high-profile magazines, starred in numerous projects, and has been revered as one of the most beautiful people in the world. Although the actress has dealt with the issues, it brings up an interesting conversation that many need to have, especially in Hollywood.
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Featured image by John Shearer/WireImage