Essence Magazine’s Natural Hair “Faux Pas” – How It Should Have Been Said

For those of you who may not have seen the January 2012 issue of Essence magazine, natural hair advice is provided to transitioners. But, there has been some Internet chatter about how this blurb was a diss to natural hair bloggers and vloggers.

After reading the statement over, I get it. I actually get both sides. On the one hand, it’s great that Essence is finally giving natural hair the attention it deserves. Too little too late? You be the judge. On the other hand, the Essence magazine writer did gloss over the contributions of the online natural hair community.

In this vein, I present to you…….what the Essence “article” said, and what it should have said.

Original Version
Be selective about using the information you get from the Internet. “A lot of times YouTubers are speaking about their texture, which may not be yours”, says Martin. Instead, join natural hair communities like those at ESSENCE.com and naturallycurly.com, which are designed to help you learn your hair type and texture. A plus: You can connect with other women who are transitioning.

Remixed Version

There are lots of online resources for women transitioning from relaxed to natural hair. You can find many YouTube pages or blogs with videos on product reviews, hairstyles, and general advice/support. Plus, there are many online communities for women with natural hair. Try ESSENCE.com, curlynikkiforums.com, naturallycurly.com, blackgirllonghairforum.com, and longhaircareforum.com (insert other sites here).

 Once you become natural, check out blogs, YouTube pages, and online forums to help learn about your hair texture and what works for you. But, be selective about using any information you get from the Internet. Gather information, evaluate, and decide.

A plus to online resources: You can connect with other women who are transitioning.

Note: Yes, my version is longer. But can you see why……?


Your thoughts? Is the original statement a diss? Or just a poorly worded attempt at promoting Essence’s online hair community?

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12 thoughts on “Essence Magazine’s Natural Hair “Faux Pas” – How It Should Have Been Said

  1. Of course…this should go without being said. But I’m going to say it anyway! Online resources are great for supporting a newbie’s path to natural hair. *Pause* But how can any resource help you “learn your hair type and texture” if you’re not fully natural yet? When I transitioned, I couldn’t tell what my hair type was going to be like. And I’m not sure that anyone could eyeball it and guess that I would have 4c hair. It was only when I cut my permed hair that I was able to see my natural hair. With that being said, I don’t know that the message in Essence magazine should have been directed at this particular audience (transitioners).

    • I tend to agree. I read through a lot of comments about this website, and people made some great points. In other areas, it seems that Essence is promoting and celebrating natural hair vloggers and bloggers. But not this time. Maybe because it was a different writer this time? I don’t know much about magazines and editing, but it would make more sense if the message about natural hair vloggers and bloggers was consistent and not confusing.

      • So, I have a confession to make. Until 2009, I wasn’t a subscriber to any magazine, let alone Essence. Because of this, my knowledge of Essence magazine’s past representation, treatment, and support of natural hair is very limited. I’ve been doing even more research, and have found lots of criticism of Essence. It leads me to wonder: who reads it anymore?

        I read it (and subscribe), but really for my blog. My suggestion to Essence is to pick a point of view on natural hair resources, and stick to it. Are natural hair vloggers/bloggers a resource for developing a Holiday Shopping List (http://www.essence.com/2011/12/01/the-ultimate-natural-hair-holiday-gift-guide/), but not a place to go to hair advice? Or, like Essence writer Tia Williams said, are they more influential than ever (http://www.essence.com/2011/06/10/natural-hair-vloggers-are-more-influential-than-ever/)?

        But it may be oversimplifying to suggest that Essence picks a side and sticks to it. What do ya’ll think?

  2. your version was amazing! Great job! I keep going back and forth on going natural but I check out the natural sites ALL the time. I love your version and they should give you kudos for it!

    Jen
    commecoco.com

    • Thank you, Jen. As I mentioned, there are so many resources for women who are considering going natural. One of the most challenging things I faced when I transitioned was what some call that awkward in-between phase. Nowadays, there are so many bloggers and bloggers that demonstrate really cute (and simple) hairstyles for those who are transitioning. Another fab resource that some people may not know about is Facebook and Meetup.com (probably depends on your neighborhood). This way, you can meet up and talk in person with other naturalists.

  3. A straight up diss! I bought the issue too and marvelled at that! Also, Essence has been too little, too late with covering natural hair. I guess they jumped on the bandwagon now that they see the mainstream media embracing natural hair models with open arms. I will be writing a post on natural hair in the media on my blog. It will be published on Saturday. Please check it out when you can. Bye and keep up the great work!

    • Thank for your comment. I’ve heard a number of people talk about Essence and it’s short history with covering natural hair. I have to be honest, I’ve never really read it until I started this blog so I definitely can’t weigh in on that.

      But I’ll be sure to check out your blog post. I want to keep the conversation going about the representation of natural hair in the media, and get some of my unanswered questions addressed.

  4. Well said!!! I too have weighed in on this topic. I feel the publication should use discretion in mentions about natural hair bloggers/vloggers. We are a driving forces that encourages readership of their publication which as a result a vehicle to increases in advertising dollars from the hair care industry. This should not be taking lightly. I would like for Essence to be more proactive in including natural hair bloggers.

    I also think it is interesting because the same statement can be made in response to natural hair stylist or “texture specialist”. They are not created equal and many women have been giving conflicting or bias information from so called professionals. This should also be addressed in my opinion maybe from a blogger featured in the publication.

    • Thank you for your comment, Tamara! It would be great for Essence to have a series, or permanent feature in their magazine. I know Curly Nikki is a consultant for Essence online, but I would like to see something similar in the print version of the magazine. I have definitely gone to stylists who claimed to be able to do natural hair, and been disappointed. Some are very knowledgeable, and others….not so much. In the state of Georgia, there is no cosmetology license for natural hair. Maybe it’s time to consider it? It would be interesting to know if there are any required courses that master cosmetologists must take.

  5. Ok, I know I’m a year late but I NEVER read that! I must say that Essence may be a little biased (Essence.com or naturallycurly.com???). From what I understand, CurlyNikki.com is a great resource, but isn’t that website owned by naturallycurly.com??? And doesn’t CurlyNikki contribute to Essence??? I won’t anyone’s hustle, but it’s all co-mingled somehow…I don’t feel like they are really trying to hear anyone else’s voice…Sigh.

    • Hi Adrienne!
      Okay. I had to do a little research before I replied. You’re right, CurlyNikki is now apart of naturallycurly.com. And CurlyNikki became Essence’s featured natural hair blogger in September 2011. In the January 2012 issue of Essence, the CurlyNikki site was upheld as a great resource for natural women. Interesting timing. Am I denying that it’s very informative and helpful? Absolutely not.

      On another note, I think the statements in Essence flew under the radar b/c only a few people with a following tweeted about it or posted on it. I follow AfricanExport on Twitter, which is how I heard about it. And I thought it was interesting enough to post about.

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