"Those who have experienced Paris have advantage over those who have not. We are the ones who have glimpsed a little bit of heaven, down here on earth." - Deirdre Kelly

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Happy to Be Nappy - The Paris Edition

Rocking my natural curls in Paris

"Don't need a trip to the beauty shop, 'cause I love what I got on top. It's curly and it's brown and it's right up there! You know what I love? That's right, my hair! I really love my hair."
- Joey Mazzarino, Seasame Street

In a recent Jet Magazine interview, Tracee Ellis Ross (the talented and gorgeous daughter of, La Diva, Diana Ross) uttered the most magnificant phrase: "You gotta respect the curls." Ms. Ross wears her gorgeous hair naturally and, in her interview, she talked about how high maintenance natural Black hair is and how she's embraced that fact. While I too have embraced this in theory, I must admit that I was very nervous about dealing with my high maintenance Nappity-Nap in Paris.

I'm with Coco - Le Petit Cler

Turns out that I had nothing to worry about. I had forgotten how, once you learn how to wrangle it, natural Black hair is completely stress free. A few fingertips of Olive Oil and water, a handful of straws and bobby pins, 20 minutes to set - while I putter around rue Pierre Villey in the morning - et voila!

With Mamma fantastique at our beloved Galignani's (also here)

And the best thing I discovered? The longer I let my nap just have it's way the better my hair felt and looked. I read somewhere that letting your nappy hair be nappy confers an intangible freedom - it's true. Years ago my mentor, Dr. Ayana Karanja, told me that a Black woman's natural nap is like a fingerprint. No two strands are the same, the challenge is to accept and respect the curl.

I don't know what it is about Paris and I. 30 years into our love affair and I still cannot adequately describe (in mere words) how 'She' affects me, encourages me to be...me. Maybe it's because when I'm in Paris I know that I'm in my place. A place outside of my daily mom-wife-professor life. In Paris, I can strip away the layers and revel in my inner self, a place that encourages me to continue to create myself. The perfect place to learn how to respect the curl, don't you think? 

In a Tuk Tuk w/ Mr. Gorgeous on a brisk windy Parisian day.

What surprised me was that, while Paris was 'encouraging' me to be happy to be nappy, every single one of the Black women I saw/encountered either chemically treated their hair and/or wore wigs - not a naturally nappy head in sight - sigh. So I really stood out and I wasn't prepared for all of the looks and stares I got - everywhere and anywhere I went. Not rude or hostile, just curious. But then I don't think that I've ever seen a natural nappy head in Paris.

@ rue Pierre Villey

So, I returned from Paris - embracing the nap, fully respecting the curl. And the adventure continues...

Vivre! Rire! Aimer!


Rocking the nap at Musee D'Orsay


  1. YOur hair looks AWESOME! Please explain more about the "straw method" you are using.

  2. Hi Judith,

    Thank you! Since explaining a 'straw set' is kind of hard to do in a comment, I'm going to devote an entire post to it. I'm working on it, as we speak, and will post it in an hour or so. If you have any questions, or I leave something out, please let me know ;-)




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