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Reposted: An Open Letter To Essence: Black Hair Does Not Need A Champion

Saturday, June 26, 2010

***Posted June 24, 2010 by Jc on The Natural Haven *** [Editor’s note: Any errors are Jc’s]

Dear Essence,

It was with much trepidation that I chose to watch the natural hair chat yesterday. I have previously read questionable articles in your publication, the most memorable of which was a hairdresser advising why natural hair does not need hair conditioner. Nonetheless like a hapless moth to the candle flame, I chose to give Essence a second chance and have an open mind convincing myself that perhaps it would be different this time.

Alas, it was not to be. It seems that I was duped and went down in a fiery blaze bombarded with brand name hair products, oh and of course the compulsory mention of frizz.  Dejected, I decided to do some research (I am a scientist after all!).

According to your media kit you claim to have nearly 8 million readers (a staggering figure which means pretty much every black household reads your magazine*). Additionally your aim is to be the spirit of the black woman of every colour, my oh my what a lofty ambition!

Your natural hair chat was truly lacking in spirit. The few serious questions that made it to visibility status were either not answered or worse still given misguided advice. In one breath we had advice that we should embrace natural hair no matter what our spouses think and yet the same person has chemically treated hair because their stylist would not have it any other way. Pot Kettle Black.

However, as critical as this letter is, I do still commend you for the only redeeming quality that I could think of which is giving natural hair a spotlight, dim as it may be. Here are some helpful pointers as to the needs of the natural hair community.

1. Hair products are not magical solutions to poor hair care methods. There are many cheap, mid range and expensive products that work in the same capacity. We do not have to spend our hard earned cash on $30 products when a $2 will do the same (Read the first five ingredients people, many will have identical lists!). I understand that Essence relies on advertising dollars, I simply do not think this is a reason to skimp on information, how about a best buy article feature with products under $5, $10,$20 and over $30. Surely this would cover all bases.Oprah can do it and so can you!

2. Frizz is very low on the priority list to the vast majority of the natural hair community. For a large number of us, our fuzz halos will not be tamed by a spray of any kind. We have already learned to use water or butters or gels and head wraps to smooth our hair. Seriously this is not new or pertinent information.

3. A large number of naturals are interested in growing longer hair. Perhaps one of your writers could get on the web and start tracking down many of our long haired icons and interview them. Essence could be part of destroying the myth that black hair does not grow long!

4. I seriously mean no offence by this statement. Naturally Curly is NOT the go to place for natural hair information (for my white curly readers, this IS the place for you). I have nothing against the forum it is one (if not the only) of the most inclusive forums on the web hence its appeal to me. However, all that said, the black hair section of the forum with quintessential type 4 hair is very underpopulated compared to forums such as longhaircareforum, nappturality and black hair media. Please do not misinform the public and if you are going to cite the last one on the list then surely cite the leading 3! I actually will not pay to join any forum (plus some have policies that would make your eyes water) but I will happily read every thread that is freely available and gleam off what I can.

See more of the article here.


When I saw this post I had to repost it on this blog. This letter thoroughly expresses my frustration with magazines like Essence. If you are going to go to the full article make sure you check through the comments section to see what was discussed there.


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