Every other week there's some new hot hair trend, and many even contradict one another to the point that it all becomes annoyingly insane. It's almost like that scene in The Wiz where the leader of Oz keeps changing the "in" color by the minute and the dancers maniacally prance and shift to keep up, causing a sense of brainwashed hysteria.
One minute natural hair is the thing. The next it's straight and wavy wigs and weaves. Then the trend shifts to short cuts and baldies. Locs have even gotten their shine---especially the faux ones. And don't get me started on chemical processes, "top" product ingredients, and coloring.
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I've become so bothered by the contradictory messages regarding which way to go with my hair that I've even come up with crazy songs to illustrate the madness.
Sing it with me, ladies: *Insert Beyonce's "Signs" melody*
Coconut, peanut, grapeseed, sesame, sunflower, mint, and lavender, oh!
Olive, argan, marula, wheat germ!
Please no grease! I love just oil!
Raise your voices and cue Beyonce's " Check Up On It" melody:
Girl why ya gotcha hair lookin' oh so dry?
Won't you come and put some grease up on it!
(Watch me put some grease up on it!)
Go on, put some grease up on it!
(Gon' and slap some grease up on it! )
Grease that scalp and moisturize it.
Grease it up tonight!
We've put our hair--and mental health--through it all. The roller coaster ride goes from "Black Is Beautiful" Afros, to the "good hair, bad hair" debate, to the dreaded creamy crack, to glued-down tracks for body and length, to sew-ins and fold-over installs, to wearing full-on fake scalps and lace frontals. Some of us have done all this in one year! (And I know I'm not the only one! Just take a look at the DMX challenge. I rest my case.)
Even research reflects that black women experience more anxiety about their hair than their white counterparts, are constantly scrutinized and discriminated against due to it, and still face social pressure to straighten it to fit in or advance.
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I mean come on! I'm tired and my hair is, too. Every time I finally get on one hair train, the hair "gurus", "influencers", and "stylists" are already on to the next one.
If you've found yourself experiencing hair loss or damage, spending your last dime at the beauty supply store, crying about your hair every week, throwing a temper tantrum at the salon, or trying to force your hair into styles that are super-uncomfy, you have hair fatigue, sis, and you need to read on.
Let's just do like Fantasia told her man to do back in the early 2000s: Go ahead and free ourselves! Here are five key steps I took in accepting my hair and finding peace:
Turn YouTube Off...For A Bit
I love all my hair influencers and how-to kitchen-ticians, but when I find myself prompted to run to the beauty supply store more than twice a month or I'm forcing my short 3C strands into styles that are damaging (like that super cute, extra-long sleek ponytail that's popular all over the Web), I fast from watching those videos.
I try to stay away from them for at least a week, and I even delete the YouTube app from my phone.
Once I've come down from that high of hair modification (which is really a manic episode of insecurity and probably a symptom of a larger issue), I write down my feelings, why that hairstyle is just not for me (and why that's OK) and go back to my mainstay carefree style: a curly, barely-threw-water-and-conditioner-in-it wash-and-go.
Start Loving--And Accepting---The Hair God Gave You
Some of us won't even let our natural hair do what it do. You want that silky "mixed chick" curl when your hair is full of gloriously thick 4C coils. You want those Lemonade braids or Passion locs when your strands can barely stand the weight of braid extensions. (Yes, that's me.) True, the natural hair movement has ushered in a lot of self-love, but it has also brought comparison syndrome and delusion.
Sis, just go with the flow. If it's humid, let the curls pop and the frizz come. If it's coily and a bit nappy---yep, I said nappy, which is not a bad word---let it be beautifully nappy. If it's loose and stringy, wear those elongated curls with pride.
I've learned to embrace products and styles that work with---not against---my hair texture, and I no longer follow trends that don't accommodate my natural crown. Some slick styles mean I'm constantly going to be re-laying baby hairs that are clearly fighting against the globs of edge control I'm attempting to force upon them. Uh, hello, sis: That's a sign to just let the baby hairs be. (Also, what's this obsession with baby hairs anyway? Some of us don't have them to begin with, but that's a whole other story. I won't digress...today.)
Choose A Fitting Protective Style---And Stick To It
I can't tell you how many times I've ripped an itchy $500 weave out of my head that I had no business getting in the first place. Again, it's all about motives and accepting reality. TBH, I hate fussing with my hair and not being able to touch my scalp. Lesson: If sewn-down wigs or weaves aren't your thing, don't invest in them. Try a protective style that does more protecting than agitating.
And you don't have to wear a wig or weave to "protect" your hair. You can easily just minimize the heat and styling of your hair with bantu knots, natural cornrows, twist-downs, or clip-ins. Add a few satin-lined hats or silky scarves to your wardrobe. Find the protective style that works for your mental health, lifestyle, and schedule, and just get great at making it last for a few weeks at a time.
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Consult A Real Expert...A Dermatologist or Licensed Stylist
Again, sorry "influencers", but it's time to give a huge nod to trained experts. One good conversation with a doc or trained (ie. licensed) cosmetologist, and your manic hair-changing days are over. I've found that talking with someone who can specifically discuss my lifestyle, health, habits, scalp, and hair type has helped me choose what's best for my hair in the long run. By doing this, you can keep the same regimen for years with no problems, and it's a bit easier to tune out the noise of trends (and uneducated opinions) when you already know what truly works for you and your hair.
Besides, all those hair-type generalizations can be wasteful banter for someone, for example, who has a mixture of more than one type, is pregnant, lives in a place with dry, hot weather most of the year, and just started a new job. The products and practices that work for that person might not work for the next sis. A great licensed professional who can suggest ingredients or products that meet your current hair and scalp needs is a God-send.
Save The Higher Maintenance Styles For Special Occasions
OK, OK, so I can't just blame influencers and marketers for my manic hair habits. I've also used the excuse that I just like to change my hair so often because I get bored easily and want to keep my hair fresh and laid. The older I get, the less inclined I am to believe that lie. Wasting time and money in a salon only to become frustrated with a style that isn't well-suited for everyday---or even weekly---maintenance just doesn't make much sense anymore.
I still like to feed my creative side---and keep things laid and slayed---but I now save certain styles for weddings, vacations, and stuntin' situations like class reunions. I've stopped trying to live like a celebrity---changing my hairstyle like I have Kim Kimble on speed dial and Beyonce's beauty budget. Instead, I focus on other things that bring me joy and a long-term return on investment like putting money into my budding business, studying for my graduate-level coursework, budgeting for travel adventures, and prioritizing my wellness. Hey, what's a good hairdo worth if the mind under it is all messed up?
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How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.
I’m willing to bet that this is not the first time you’ve seen this couple. Dalen Spratt is a television producer, owner of a tailored men's suit line, and creator of Ghost Brothers: Haunted Houseguests, which is currently streaming on Destination America. Stacey Spratt is also a serial entrepreneur, focusing mostly on events and the nonprofit world, and she is the owner of two award-winning craft beer bars called Harlem Hops. But their accolades are not what united them.
The couple met years ago at their alma mater, Clark Atlanta University, when they were still working to create the life they have now, and if you had told them then that they’d eventually tie the knot, the pair probably would’ve laughed in your face.
Today, they’re new parents, flourishing in their careers, and each others’ “teammates.” When desiring love, Dalen recommends not looking to other couples for advice. And Stacey advises staying true to what you want. “Don’t put age or limitations on love and children. If God could do it for me, why can’t he do it for you?”
Here's How We Met.
How did you meet?
Dalen: We met in 2005 when she was advising the Greek sororities and fraternities in college. She was old as hell in college, and I was a young buck (laughs). Everybody had a crush on her, but I didn’t think much of it. Then, in 2007, we were in the same grad school class, but she still wasn’t trying to see me then either. I had to catch her five years ago; I was very patient.
Stacey: Yeah, everybody in our grad school class called him Young, Fresh to Death because he was always dressed in B-school (what CAU affectionately refers to as business major classes), and we’d just wear sweatpants (laughs).
So, I know Dalen was always attracted to you. But what about you? Did your attraction to him develop over time?
Stacey: So 2006-2008 – all the years went by. I don’t think we were really thinking about each other at all back then. Years later, I had an event in Dallas, and I booked him to be a speaker. Then, a few years ago, Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: "If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you." But I still thought he was too young at the time, and he started pulling receipts. Taraji P. Henson was dating someone young at the time, Gabrielle Union–
Dalen: First of all, I didn’t do that. You did that.
Stacey: Okay, I did. I thought he was a cutie pie, but that age thing was on my mind!
"Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: 'If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you.'"
Talk to me about the first date. How did he change your mind?
Stacey: Our first date was at Tin Lizzy's in Atlanta. During that time, he was living in Dallas, so it was long-distance. But he came into town, and we just had a good time. We talked a lot, which we still do. It wasn’t anything fantastic.
Dalen: Don’t downplay our first date.
Then, walk me through your courtship. How did you get to the next level? What was that conversation like?
Stacey: I think he knew at age 43 or 44 I wasn’t playing around. But also, I think it just naturally progressed.
Dalen: Yeah, it just happened naturally. And I’m going to be honest, I don’t think initially either one of us thought it would be as serious as it was. She thought I was too young and I wasn’t ready for marriage, kids, and all that. I think we both thought we were just hanging out. But after spending so much time together, a lot of stuff started happening. Like, she had to have surgery early on. It wasn’t just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That’s why we still don’t have an anniversary date because we never really asked.
"It wasn't just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That's why we still don't have an anniversary date because we never really asked."
What made you want to commit to each other?
Dalen: The moment I knew Stacey was for me was from a phone call. I don’t really like talking on the phone, and I can be really blunt sometimes. But we were talking, and I said, ‘I don’t really feel like talking anymore.’ And she was just like, okay, and hung up. I wasn’t trying to be rude, and she understood that. It sounds bad, but that’s how I knew she just got me. I felt like she could get my random awkward moments, and she does to this day.
Stacey: For me, I liked him as a person. Even when times get rough and tough, I could still like him as a human. He is my best friend. We have time. We laugh until we cry, and it’s just always like that. Even when we get pissed at each other, something happens, and we fix it. Also, how he treats his mother. That’s a momma’s boy, but I’m a daddy’s girl – so I get it. I know how I want to be treated, and I see how he is with her and that’s beautiful.
What are some important lessons you’ve learned about yourself through loving your partner in this relationship?
Dalen: I grew up an only child and she grew up with siblings. So, when you have someone who is used to doing things by themselves, there is definitely a learning curve when you get into a serious relationship. It’s funny now, but it was definitely a process.
Stacey: I agree – definitely the only child thing. There’s times I look at him like, did you ever live with anyone else? That comes from being momma's baby, too. I have to say, my “mother-in-love” spoiled him. But also with Axel (their daughter), that brings another level of patience.
Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images
What was the biggest challenge that you had to overcome together?
Dalen: We’ve gone through a lot within the years we’ve been together. We suffered two miscarriages – I’d say that’s the biggest.
Stacey: Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me. I was wondering if I can’t carry [a child] what that looks like for us. We had very real conversations pretty early in our relationship.
"Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me."
What do you fight the most about?
Dalen: Nagging. Stacey nags; she’s a complainer. She’s that momma that will look in a room and just hunt for something to complain about. Like, I’m worried for Axel when she's in high school.
Stacey: It’s because I like things to be in place. He leaves stuff all over the place. I can tell where he’s been in the house because something is left around. So he says I’m nagging – but it’s like, just get your stuff.
What are your love languages?
Dalen: Stacey is gifts all day.
Dalen: We’ve talked about this. xoNecole is about to cause problems in our home (laughs).
Stacey: Obviously I love you. *thinks again* It’s words of affirmation.
Dalen: That’s it.
What’s your favorite thing about each other?
Dalen: I’ve always respected her business-mindedness. That may sound superficial, but it’s not because I’ve never been with someone who thinks like me. It’s one of my most treasured things about her. I remember one day, I was just running through ideas with her, and each time Stacey had a suggestion on how I could make it better. It’s just very comforting. She takes whatever I’m doing and elevates it – including me.
Stacey: I love Dalen’s hustle and creativity. He’s been on multiple shows, and he continues to create, produce, and reinvent himself and the product he’s putting out. I love that we can create together and bounce things off each other. Even though we may be in different arenas, there’s nothing he can’t offer me great advice about. I love that drive.
Finally, how did you know it was love?
Dalen: Well – she said it – first. (laughs)
Stacey: And he looked at me and smiled! He didn’t say it back. We were on a trip, out of the country.
Dalen: We were arguing when she said it, and she just threw it out.
Stacey: But we continue to do that. We’ve spent holidays and everything outside of the country.
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It appears that LeToya Luckett is off the market. The songstress, who got divorced from Tommicus Walker in 2021, surprised her Instagram followers when she uploaded a Reel of how she spent Valentine’s Day. The video was a collage of roses, rose petals in the shape of a heart, dinner, and LeToya walking down a hallway with a man walking behind her. While she didn’t give any further details about who was in the video, she did stop by the Tamron Hall Show and shared that she was in a great place.
“I will say that I am daily, I am spoiled with kindness. I am spoiled with peace. I am spoiled with support. I am spoiled with consistency, love,” she said. “And I have to give it to myself first. But the fact that God saw fit to put it in a form of a man, I won’t complain.”
While we don’t know much else about her new bae, it seems that he is making the mother of two very happy. LeToya went on to share how her new relationship has put her in a blissful state and she finally feels stability.
“You know what, I'm very happy. I have so much peace, y'all. I have so much peace. I'm happy,” she gushed. “And I’ve never really been in this space before because I felt like even since a kid, I've been moving around, trying to figure it out. And then, you know, getting married, having kids, going through a divorce, and moving– it was a lot. You know, and I feel like I'm finally in a place where I'm stable. I'm stable, and I feel good.”
But that’s not all she talked about. The “Torn” singer and Tamron also talked about the importance of having self-esteem and self-worth. LeToya’s Instagram page is filled with stylish photos of the singer, family photos, and positivity. She also has had many exciting career ventures, such as starring in the upcoming BET+ thriller One Night Stay, and most recently hosting TV One’s Urban Honors.
However, when it comes to how she lives her life, she remembers the things her mom taught her, such as turning lemons into lemonade.
“So, you know the world is going to deal you the cards, right? But you have to figure out how you're gonna play them. And it starts with you. It starts with you,” she said.
“I am so glad that I watched my mom do that. And she was the example of that because it taught me that regardless of what happens, what type of lemons life deals you, you've got to turn it into lemonade. You got to make sure your side of the street is clean. Regardless of what everybody else is doing or saying. You got to make sure that you're together, that you believe in yourself. You can't go expecting people to love you, people to respect you, and treat you a certain way. If you don't respect yourself.”
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