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Nappy Hair Goes Both Ways

Sunday, January 2, 2011

So I was by a friend…white (ugh I hate that word) nevertheless I cannot tell the story if you don’t know this tidbit. Anyway, her room mate was laughing at another room mate. Ugh seems complicated, let us say Anna was laughing at Beth. Anna was laughing at Beth because Beth had bed hair, it was all mussed up and tangled.

“Haha, Beth look at your hair!”

“What? Oh, haha”

“Haha, Bethyour hair is all nappy,” Anna continues keeling over with laughter, “That’s the nappiest shit I’ve ever seen!”

More still, “Lacey, look! Beth’s hair is nappy as shit!”

Lacey looks my direction, looks back around, laughing a bit uncomfortably it seems because wait there’s a black girl with actual nappy hair sitting in the living room. Of course she didn’t say this, but it was kinda like hmm is this a politically incorrect word?

And so I wonder, God help a white chick that calls my hair nappy,but, does God help a white chick that calls a white chick’s hair nappy in my presence?

Is the term wrong when only applied to me? Or, is it wrong when applied to anything else? Is it simply a bad word like, you know, f-cuk?

You’re never ever supposed to say f-cuk.

So where exactly do I stand?

My analysis is that the word nappy was used to indicated that her hair was tangled. Kinky hair is tangled so technically speaking the word usage is not far off on definition. But, for arguments sake, let’s just say that nappy was used to indicate ugliness, which comes from not having your hair done, does it then matter?

Personally, I don’t care. Whatever floats your boat just don’t use that word with me.

But, I don’t much like the word being used to describe hair to indicate that it looks uncouth. On that note damn you, damn you to hell! Still, in a world where DIFFERENT people will say and think different things..I won’t lose much sleep about it.

Really, I’m not up in arms I just think that it is interesting.

Where do you stand?

Think it over a bit and drop a few words.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Polly Hansen permalink
    Thursday, March 29, 2012 12:52 PM

    So, do you use the word kinky instead? What if you’re writing a novel describing someone who lives in a place where everyone is dark skinned, they have sleek straight black hair, but his is kinky? I could go for more words, like tightly coiled, coarse dark tight curls, but nappy says it all, but only as a physical description, If it’s a word loaded with emotional ties, I don’t want to use it. I’m taking that it is a fraught word like n—–.
    P.S. I’m white. 56 years old. I think. I might be 57, I always forget.

    • Thursday, March 29, 2012 4:51 PM

      LOL! I love your postscript!

      Hi Polly, thank you for stopping by, reading and responding.

      Yes, I’d much rather use the word kinky. Kinky says everything that nappy does without being emotionally loaded. Visually speaking, I think it illustrates tightly coiled hair without perhaps unintentionally or intentionally also implying that the hair looks unkept. In the split second that someone calls hair nappy I have to decode based on context and tone whether they mean that its kinky or whether they mean it simply doesn’t look looked after, or whether they mean it doesn’t look looked after with a derisive tinge to the statement.Especially if people would not perceive you as being a part of their culture they may also have to doubly decode the intent with which you use the word.

      On another note it doesn’t take much to make a word loaded. If used incorrectly the word kinky can very easily be taken over.

  2. Monday, January 3, 2011 6:08 PM

    well dang… this was a good post. It IS something to think about. I still dont think that it’s alright for her to use that word (not making a big deal out it,.. like you, i dont plan on losing sleep over it. just saying). It’s still deroggatory and is by no means used to uplift. I’ve never thought about it, but last week, after watching a youtuber (who made this vid a LOOOOONNNNGGGG time ago, I have changed my views on seeing my own hair as nappy.)

    Oddly, i dont mind my own people saying it to me.. it’s still out of ignorance, and i’m transitioning… they havent seen how beautiful i KNOW my kinky hair will be… so to me, it doesnt phase me… but let SOMEONE ELSE say that mess to me!… it would be ON!

    lol… here’s the vid i saw on youtube.. it was made by MissKrisNew a LONNNG time ago.. just so no one goes confronting her about old stuff. I just thought it was interesting:

    • Monday, January 3, 2011 10:54 PM

      Thanks for you comment..I’m checking the vid out now

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