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Living No Lye: A Natural Hair Journey - Before There Was … It Was – Nappturality.com

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Before There Was … It Was – Nappturality.com

By:  Laquita Thomas-Banks On:  March 23, 2011 3 Comments


Nappturality.com natural hair community was the first online natural hair site that I discovered when I decided to wear my natural hair. Although there are several online natural hair communities in existence today, Nappturality.com was the pioneer.

It’s a place where you can find photos, hair journals, forums and all types of information about natural hair care. Like-minded natural hair wearers and those that are transitioning share tips, product reviews, how-to photos/videos and more. And the community is still going strong today.

I credit Nappturality.com and its creator for not only keeping me on the path in my goal of maintaining healthy natural hair, but for also turning me into a self-proclaimed ‘Natural Hair Ambassador’. Therefore, I am dedicating my very first piece on LNL to Nappturality.

Patricia Gaines aka ‘Dee’ is the mastermind behind Nappturality.com. Below she took time off of her busy schedule to share with LNL readers her hair story and inspiration behind Nappturality.com.

Dee’s hair story …

My hair journey started in 1998 when a too-strong relaxer broke my hair off badly. I had no choice but to wear a wig, then braids and weaves because of the damage to my hair and scalp.
As I was going through this process, I started to question why I felt I *had* to relax my hair. What was wrong with my hair? I hadn’t seen my natural hair in over 20 years, and as I resisted the temptation to relax it I began to discover feelings of shame and fear about my hair.
I had straightened my hair for so long I didn’t feel like I had any other choice but to wear it straight. When I started to question my feelings and delve into my belief systems, I started to rebel against them and eventually overcame my insecurities permanently, on a deep level. But it took years.

Dee’s advice for those contemplating wearing their natural hair…

I would say that a mental transition is as important if not more important than the physical one. What is going on inside your head needs to be worked on as much as what is going on outside it.

We are conditioned to believe straight hair is easier, more desirable, better, prettier, more manageable and we go to extreme and ridiculous lengths to achieve that look, including using dangerous levels of heat and toxic chemicals which end up destroying the hair. We even avoid certain social activities to ensure our hair doesn’t “revert” to its natural texture.

We do it so much that it becomes so ingrained in us we don’t even know why we do it anymore. We just do. All this has a mental basis and the reasons are sometimes extremely difficult to admit to and overcome.

The inspiration behind Nappturality…

Nappturality came into existence in 2002. I had already gone natural and was searching the internet for 2 years, looking for support and help with my hair type. I found some great communities, but many were geared to “curly” hair and of the Black hair websites, they were more focused on how to straighten it than how to encourage us to stay natural.

When I couldn’t find what I needed, I formed Nappturality and invited my group of natural friends to visit and share their hair tips and photo albums. We decided at that point that it would be a nappy haven. No talk about straightening and no obsessing about hair types.

I had set the website up to be a portal to other areas of the internet which could help us but within a short period of time, our small our group of members grew, and Nappturality became the hub.

Dee on Nappturality’s growth …

I am so proud of the wonderful community that has developed through Nappturality. Its early growth was staggering and I went through many teething problems with servers, hosting companies, overusing my traffic allowances on shared servers, but the membership continued to grow because the focus of the website never changed, and it was and still is, unique on the web.

Members have made the community what it is today. I only supplied the neighborhood and services.

What would she do if there wasn’t a Nappturality?

I can’t imagine my life without Nappturality. We are coming up on 9 years now and it has become an integral part of my life. So I have absolutely no idea what I would be doing but I don’t think I would be enjoying it as much as I do Nappturality.

I mentioned to Dee that when I first joined Nappturality, I felt I was a part of an exclusive natural hair club, because it was one of a kind, and when I started to see other sites emerge I would think – hey they are just copying off of “my community” – lol. Here is how she responded.

I think it’s great to hear you say “my community” – that is what makes Nappturality so special. The members are very protective of her and consider themselves guardians. I just LOVE this!

Every member has a part of Nappturality and I believe this is one of the reasons why the site has been so successful for so many years and is continuing to grow at a phenomenal rate. Very early on, an atmosphere of belonging was cultured and this atmosphere has carried through so strongly over the years. It is amazing.

I asked Dee if she considered herself a ‘pioneer’ in the natural hair community.

Well, there are so many women out there whom I admire, who were natural before me, online before me, have written books, launched products… My contribution was creating a supportive, specific web presence for natural hair. In that regard, Nappturality was the first, exclusively natural haircare website, so yes she would be considered a pioneer.

Nappturality has a life of her own.

Dee’s thoughts on the rise of other natural hair communities…

When I started Napputrality.com, I said that the goal of the site was not to be the richest, biggest, most popular haircare website muscling everyone else out of existence. I still feel that way. There will never be another Nappturality, no matter what other websites pop up.

I am happy to see that the seeds planted by Nappturality has led to developments of spin-off websites and a rise in Black women putting down the caustic chemicals, hot combs and Yaki – and leading lives healthier, with better self esteem and confidence in their natural hair and appearance.

On Nappturality’s uniqueness…

We are the largest website that represents exclusively, natural hair. We do not discuss heat straightening appliances, hair relaxing or any other hair-destroying, texture-altering hair practices.

We don’t agree that the European standard of beauty is one we need to aspire to and we encourage women to flaunt their natural-born texture to its maximum effect. No other website does this as well as Nappturality does.

We also have grown into a community which has branched out from only being about hair, into discussions on health, weight loss, current affairs, education, politics, teen life, parenting, genealogy as well as fun things like sports, pets and travel.

Dee’s thoughts on Nappturality being the inspiration behind its members  starting their own natural hair related businesses, books, etc…

I think it’s wonderful. Every time I receive an email from someone who says Nappturality has inspired them to start their own business, I feel wonderful inside. Helping Black women reach their potential and achieve things they never thought possible is something I feel strongly about and I hope more and more sisters embrace their natural talents and turn ideas into careers.

What the future holds for Nappturality …

Nappturality can look forward to a bigger, better website for one!

When asked about having a grand meet-up in her home state of Australia she stated , “ I don’t think we will convene in Australia, but maybe New York in 2012.”

On Nappturality.com products…
There are currently hair products in development and you can look forward to seeing some creative packaging on the shelves when that project is completed. The Nappturality product line is a serious commitment and one I am not rushing into quickly.

Visit and Join Nappturality

Nappturality on Facebook

Nappturality on Twitter

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Add a comment:

  1. Great article :o )

  2. sistasweetpea

    5:34 PM

    I love Nappturality <3

  3. rosalindb

    2:31 PM

    Brilliant article

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