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The Voice of the Black Community

Life and Religion

Dispelling myths about black women and long hair
Author says you can achieve long hair without relying on weaves, wigs and hairpieces
 
Published Thursday, March 7, 2013
by Michaela L. Duckett

There are scores of black women who believe they can only attain long hair by investing thousands of dollars in weaves, wigs and

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Author Sharifa Barnett said her seven-year journey to waist-length hair was more about self discovery and achieving a goal than about the hair itself.

hairpieces.

Some blame heredity, thinking long hair simply doesn’t run in their families.

“The key to hair length retention is your regimen, not your genes,” said Sharifa Barnett, founder and editor-in-chief of the hair blog Kibibihair.com.

Barnett, who describes her texture as extremely kinky and coarse, had accepted the myth that women like her could not grow long hair. She never had it and figured she never would.

“A lot of times we place limitations on ourselves without even realizing it,” Barnett said.

It was not until she was in college that Barnett began challenging her beliefs. She had cut her hair prior to going to school because it was badly damaged and she wanted to grow it healthier. While researching hair care and styling techniques online, she came across dozens of websites with women sharing their hair-growth journeys and what worked for them. Barnett said it was like an “aha moment” where something inside clicked.

“That was the first time that I saw women that had my hair type with long healthy hair,” she said. “Seeing someone else who looked me with healthy long hair made me realize that I can have that also.”

That was when Barnett embarked on her personal hair journey. She set a goal of achieving waist-length hair, which she achieved seven years later – in 2009.

Barnett said the journey was about much more than long hair.

 “For me, it was about how I viewed myself and my ability to achieve a goal,” she said. “Hair goals are just like any other goals we set in life… You create a plan and you execute.”

 Barnett is now on a mission to encourage other women to challenge the myths they believe about women of color and long hair.

 “That is the most empowering thing for me to be able to get women to recognize that how you view your hair is how you view yourself,” she said.

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When Barnett began her hair journey in 2003, her hair it was short, brittle and badly damaged.

Barnett founded Kibibi Hair LLC and launched KibibiHair.com, a website designed to inspire, motivate and assist women who want to grow healthy, long hair. She and her team of bloggers publish online articles and videos about hair care.

 Barnett also penned her first book, “The 5 Hair Archetypes: Your Guide to Growing Long Hair,” which was published in October. The book takes a comprehensive, systematic approach to hair care that teaches readers how to achieve their goals. It includes regimens for natural, relaxed and transitioning hair.

 In addition to challenging beliefs and self-imposed limitations about hair length, the book also encourages women to analyze other areas of their lives where they may be limiting themselves.

As the name implies, the book includes five hair archetypes, or hair personalities defined by Barnett that categorize women based on hair habits and preferences.

Barnett said her purpose was to inspire other women, not only to grow long hair, but to remove self-imposed limitations on goals.

She said hair may just be hair, but it means much more. It’s a means of self-expression and a reflection of individuality.

“How you view your hair is a reflection of how you view yourself and your ability to achieve your goals,” she said.

Barnett is now focusing on building her brand with a line of hair care products, including a wig that will help women retain length by protecting their hair particularly during the winter. The wig is in development and expected to be available for retail in winter 2014.

“I really found my passion for helping other women,” said Barnett, who practices law by day. “There is something about helping other people feel good about themselves… It’s extremely fulfilling and it’s something that I was not feeling from my usual career.”

“The 5 Hair Archetypes” can be purchased at Barnes and Noble or online at Amazon or 5hairarchetypes.com.

Comments

I am a 75 year old woman of African decent, who have had long hair most of my life. Foolishly, people have asked where I've from, as well as if I have Indian heritage. People have also mistakenly put their hands in my hair. I AM SO MUCH MORE THAT HAIR. I am an Africian American woman!
I was taught in college that biologically ALL hair grow a certan length each month. It is the dryness that breaks the hair. Since moving to Charlotte, I've found only two beauticians that condition my hair properly. Between salon visits I wash and condition my own hair.
Additionally, our hard earned money could be used for more than nails and hair! Good Luck to you on your Journey.
Posted on March 10, 2013
 
Quite interesting cause I have given up on my hair and now wear wigs, weaves or braids. Had long hair before but have done everything to it over the years and now that I need it long, it stays the same. I am of African origin and have natural kinky African hair that doesn't grow anymore. Can you advise? I am up there in age also. Thanks
Posted on March 9, 2013
 

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