Are You Happy with Nappy?

Written Sylvia Njoki, on the never-ending discussion about nappy hair.

Nappy. A word we people of African-Caribbean descent hear all too often. It is a word that is so context-dependent that it can either offend or reinforces a sense of identity, history, and individuality.


It was once used to describe course, matte wool, specifically the cotton in the fields that were picked by enslaved African people. It then went on to become a common pejorative for the hair texture of these same people. Some argue that the evolution of certain words like “Nappy” has encouraged people of African heritage to find the power, beauty, and pride behind terms that were once used to demean and shame Afro hair types. Whereas, others stand firmly against using such words. For them, nappy hair, regardless of context, is offensive, painful and a reminder of a history of subjugation and humiliation.


For me, the context has been a journey. Every time I entered a black hair shop, I was constantly hoping and praying my hair would end up looking like the little girls on the Dark and Lovely hair relaxer boxes (there weren’t enough prayers in the world because it never did!). I would try to straighten all the beautiful kinks and adorable curls out of my 4C hair until it was almost bone straight before school every evening under the guise of making it “more manageable”.

Photographer: Jeremey Rodney-Hall, sourced from Pinterest

The thought of going to school with my natural stressed me out to the point of not even wanting to go to school. I wanted to avoid any kind of attention from my non-black peers because I knew the questions I would face would be less out of genuine curiosity and more out of judgement and pity.

I was very self-conscious about my hair in my teen years. I didn’t feel comfortable drawing more unwanted attention to myself. My type 4 hair was not long, and sometimes it added to my insecurities. Even though my hair was short, I knew I was cute!

The current standards of beauty have instilled in young girls and women that long hair is a symbol of femininity. If there was one thing a young black girl is conditioned to prioritise, it is the length of her hair – not the strength, health, or vitality – but the length! It’s no surprise that many girls choose to straighten, relax, and hot-comb to feel more beautiful, feminine, and accepted.


Today, nappy hair celebrates afro and curly hair; it’s unique, beautiful, wonderfully complex, and strong, thanks to the natural hair movement in 1960’s America. The movement was the beginning of a new generation shifting the demeaning representation of afro-textured hair to a positive connotation, remember Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Minnie Riperton – they all graced their natural hair, loud and proud!


Nappy hair is not stagnant hair, that is just shrinkage.

Nappy hair is not unmanageable, it takes patience and good technique.

Nappy hair is not unprofessional, it’s versatile and capable in any hairstyle.

Although ignorance, shaming, and the misconception about afro and curly hair still linger, we at Napps are here to reclaim, educate, and celebrate good hair in all kinds of curls.


Our platform exists to shamelessly promote and celebrate the limitless versatility of every natural hair texture so women can love their hair with their heads (and afros!) held high.

Here at Napps, we make room for all kinds of the beauty of natural hair in any hairstyle, whether that’s in braids, weaves, wigs, locs, twists, you name it, we love them all.

We work with professional afro and curly hairstylists who can work with any hair type in any hairstyle.

Meet a few of our UK hairstylists changing perceptions and taking the beauty industry by storm:

Sandra Rule who specialises in braiding

Sandra Webb Hairdressingwho specialises in silk press and afro cuts

Twist Hair Salon who specialises in Curly Cuts

Tabs Francis who specialises in weave installation, colour, silk press Afro cuts

Hair by Cora who specialises in braiding, boys and kid’s hairstyling

Bola’s Place who specialises in braiding

All stylists will be bookable on the Napps App.

Remember, you are still beautiful with or without your extensions, after all…

“It is not a bad thing or a good thing, it’s hair.”

– Maya Angelou


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