I Wasn’t Happy Nappy

Rosalyn Morris
ZORA
Published in
4 min readJan 24, 2024

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Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

I hesitate to write this article, but it’s said that sometimes we should write what we don’t want to write.

Also, I was inspired by NatalieSugabelle and her brilliant take on how Black women are free to wear our hair however we please.

I will start off by saying that I don’t like the word nappy.

It’s one of those words with negative connotations that people have tried to reclaim over the years.

While researching the etymology of the word, it has been a racially derogatory term for over 200 years and is based on the texture of something, a piece of cloth, as this is how the word was used in the fifteenth century.

downy, having an abundance of nap on the surface,” c. 1500, noppi, from nap (n.1) + -y (2). Earlier, of ale, “having a head, foamy” (mid-15c.), hence, in slang, “slightly intoxicated” (1721). Meaning “fuzzy, kinky,” especially used in colloquial or derogatory reference to the hair of black people, is by 1840. It also was used of sheep. Related: Nappiness.

By downy I’m guessing they meant wooly.

I don’t like the word nappy because it’s inaccurate. Afro or Black hair is more accurately described as the excessive curling or coiling of hair. It’s not true that some hair textures “lack a curl pattern.”

I also prefer the term kinky.

So, I guess I should say I wasn’t happy kinky.

Only that’s not true either…

After a decade, I was no longer satisfied being kinky, and it was time to try something different.

There was a problem, however.

Every time I decided to relax my hair again, there was someone to talk me out of it.

*That’s going to be a drastic change; you won’t be happy.

*You don’t want that nasty perm, or creamy crack, back in your hair.

*You’re just bored or frustrated with your hair. Get some braids or a sew-in and you’ll be fine.

Each time I listened. I really did not want to relax my hair and regret it. Especially since I’d had so many nightmares about being relaxed again.

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