What the hell is “Nice Hair” anyway?

I am putting a call out to ask you a massive favour. But before I start with this post, please allow me to sip some tea (I’m lying, it’s wine) and breathe!

I’ve been on my natural hair journey for more than 5 years. Throughout those 5 years I’ve managed to keep politics out of the way. Until today. The reason for this, dear reader, is the fact that no matter how much you want to avoid it, your hair is political. Why, you may ask? Well, let me tell you: Every strand on your head, every kink, every curl, every coil; tells the story of your heritage. Your hair is like a map of your cultural roots (see what I did there?)

The politics of hair

Growing up in South Africa during apartheid we were made to believe that the straighter your hair and the fairer your skin, the more accepted you would be. Accept it or not, this was the absolute norm.

By now I’m sure you’ve all heard of the pencil test performed on people of colour during the apartheid regime. If not, let me get you up to date quickly:

In the pencil test, a pencil is pushed through the person’s hair. How easily it comes out determines whether the person has “passed” or “failed” the test.
This test was used to determine racial identity in South Africa during the apartheidera, distinguishing whites from coloureds and blacks. The test was partially responsible for splitting existing communities and families along perceived racial lines. Its formal authority ended with the end of apartheid in 1994. It remains an important part of South African cultural heritage and a symbol of racism.


Dad & Mom back in the 80’s.
Maurice Carpede aka #InstagramHusband

I need another moment for what I am about to tell you…

Over the weekend Maurice and I were talking about his hair and how his style has changed from when he was younger. I asked him how he wore his hair back then, to which he replied “Always short, but my gran had a good reason for that. She was afraid I may have been reclassified by means of the pencil test.”

My mom has type 1C hair. Her hair was so long that it reached past her bum. At 12 years old, while visiting her aunt, she cut her hair all off and wore it short ever since. As straight as her hair was, Mom still relaxed her hair to straighten the “naughty children” (dry hair) along her edges. The straighter the hair, the more accepted you were.

My dad has type 4Z hair.

Mom did our hair every weekend. She would wash, set and blow out our hair every weekend. Mom or my aunt would relax our hair every third month like clockwork. I can’t remember how old I was, but I was young, when my dad watched us one day and exclaimed “Shame girls, I am really sorry. It’s because of me that you don’t have nice hair”.

That stuck with me for years. I know it was said in jest but to me my dad is perfect. His hair is perfect and his feet are perfect (inside joke, hey daddy!). I had a love/hate relationship with my own hair , but I’ve always seen my hair as the perfect combination of my parents’.

Have you ever lied about your hair?

When I was in my twenties a colleague asked me if I relaxed my hair. I vehemently rebuked her and told her that my hair was naturally straight. Of course she knew I was lying, she must have. Before you judge me for lying, please understand the very different space I was in at that time. I was never happy with my hair or anything Amanda back then. But especially my hair, I always wished it was nicer.

Nice Hair

“Nice Hair”

If you’re still reading this then I am sure you can relate to one of these stories. Somewhere in the story of your life your hair was a topic of discussion. Everyone has a hair story to share.

Most of us queried why we weren’t blessed with “nice hair”. But what the hell is nice hair anyway?

We have moved away from archaic hair policies at high schools. Started embracing our own natural God-given hair textures. We’ve been practicing self-love. We are making changes, right?!

So why is it so difficult to find type 3 and type 4 hair on the internet when you do a search for “Nice Hair”?

Yes, I was just as shocked when I did a random search for “Nice Hair” while searching for inspiration for a post.

Where are the coils, kinks and curls? How do we go about abolishing the hierarchy of hair when this kind of mentality still exists? And don’t get me started on the fact that there is still a hierarchy of hair in the 21st century! What do we do to abolish this mentality?

That favour

I have an idea that may help end hair hate and texture discrimination. It’s a simple idea, but one that has the potential of a snowball effect if we work together. If you’re a kinky, coily or curly girl (or boy); please start tagging every single picture you send out into the interwebs with phrases such as Nice Hair, Good Hair, Professional Hair. 

Use the phrase #HealthyHairIsNiceHair and #NiceHair to show your support.

Let’s teach our kids that their hair is beautiful period!

If you have other ideas to help this campaign please leave a comment down below or tag me in your posts.

The only way we can really change the narrative is when we take a stand together



  1. Roselined
    01/23/2019 / 09:55

    4 me nice hair is being comfy with my bossiekop. And inlove with my healty hair…

  2. 01/23/2019 / 10:07

    Luv this Amanda. I am definitely adding those tags๐Ÿ’•

  3. Claudine
    01/23/2019 / 10:17

    This is going to help soooo many young people. Thanks you Amanda for this. We all need it. Yes to #Healthyhairisnicehair โ˜˜๏ธ

  4. Claudia Arendse
    01/23/2019 / 10:30

    Thank you so much,very much inspiring.I started this journey recently and are teaching my 5 yr old and 10 yr old daughter that their natural hair is part of their beauty.I can count the times that I ever blow out their hair cause I want them to embrace the “Real Makoya”๐Ÿ˜„
    Keep posting ๐Ÿ™‚I love your pics.

  5. Rene Haruna
    01/23/2019 / 11:01

    Since I have gone natural my # has always been promoting healthy hair period because that is the aim game right? Regardless of “Hair Type” which in my turn is a turn off because some “Hair types” are more preferable and thus we start another ball game all together… so I say yes to #healthyhairIsNiceHair

  6. Zamakhuze
    01/23/2019 / 11:31

    Will definitely do this, something has to give.

  7. Jamie
    01/23/2019 / 13:18

    Hi Amanda. Thank you so much for this. Ever since I have gone natural, it’s been more than 2 years now but because of a recent scalp infection I had to chop all my beautiful fro hair off. This brings to the term “Don’t let anyone touch your hair”. Someone touched my hair literally and told me “she wishes she has hair like mine” and I told her but u too can have hair like mine, stop abusing your hair by relaxing it and just go natural. NOT long after that I started getting terrible and painful sores on my scalp. It is healed nicely now and I am going to grow it back again but what I actually wanted to add was the fact that when I went completely natural and my afro started banging, everyone I came across asked me “whats wrong with your hair?” People still up until today have this perception that beautiful hair is indeed relaxed, blown out and flat-ironed hair. I get so mad when people ask me why my hair looks like this, just because it’s not nice according to them. I love my natural roots. As a child, my mother would religiously take me to the salon to have my hair relaxed as I have always had thick hair. My late father would always compliment me on my afro as he had an afro too. I think natural roots are just beautiful, there are no words to describe it really. Just that it is gorgeous. A person’s real beauty is in their natural beauty, the beauty you were born with, why should we as women go to the extreme lengths of buying hair or having straight hair to be classified as the norm. I salute you!

  8. Trudy Van Wyk
    01/23/2019 / 13:54

    Hi Amanda
    Thanks for your post.
    My daughter and her fiend followed me in the natural hair journey and I was so proud of them. Until the friend visted one day ( Nov 2018) with her hair blowed out and very sad about it. She explained that she is currently doing promotional work at a well known Cell phone company and they insisted/required her hair to be blowdried out to work there.
    These young kids are afraid to stand up for themselves and just do as requested, because they don’t want to loose their jobs.
    It still bothers me that they think kinky, coils or natural hair is “not nice” in this age and time. I encouraged her to stand up against it, but we all know where that will lead to. How do we go about to stop this kind of discrimination? Thanks

  9. Michelle
    01/23/2019 / 14:49

    Wow wow wow, I so needed to read this right now, I posted an old pic of myself on facebook as my profile ( hair blown out and everything) and people have just been saying “oh you look so beautiful” “you need to blow out your hair again” etc. I returned natural in March 2018 and I haven’t regretted it for one moment, yes I had my off days but I’m pushing through and embracing who I am because I’m finding myself on this journey. In this past couple of months I have realised how much my hair played a roll in who I was. I have thin hair and what seems like a bald patch on my head. I have used all sorts of products and remedies but nothing worked until I returned natural. My hair is definitely fuller, the baldish (I can see that the hair is growing there) patch is seemingly less bald and I am loving my hair. So I think I have NICE hair because its nice for me.

  10. 01/23/2019 / 15:40

    Loved what u wrote and all so true. I love my natural journey. Thank you to you Amanda. You are such an inspiration

  11. 01/24/2019 / 11:53

    This post is so relevant and accurate without it being offensive- which is always what I appreciate in writing!
    You look 13 years younger and I want you to know that I love your hair- itโ€™s just a trimming on the beautiful person you are.

  12. Loraine
    01/24/2019 / 19:20

    I love this idea and was nodding my head as I read along,so true so sad.i think good hair is the hair on your head as God intended.lets make this movement happen.

  13. Jessica Meyer
    01/25/2019 / 21:25

    With every sentence I read I was screaming ‘ yaaaas hunny ’cause you captured my narrative so accurately. I also had a love hate relationship with my hair. I hid and manipulated it so much that I started to believe that I had the worst most unruly hair ever. Being mixed,coloured and black people would often ask are you sure there’s colored in that mix cause you’re hair is so black. I took a long long time to get to this point where I wear my nat hair out in public. Now im unapologetic about my hair,I absolutely loved and enjoyed your article. Please write more for us girls living nappily ever after.

  14. Delmare
    02/11/2019 / 09:53

    Good day Amanda

    Can you please tell where in Cape Town I can find a salon that specialises or know how to cut natural hair.
    Both my kids are in need of a haircut.


  15. Angela Gertse
    02/13/2019 / 12:34

    You just hit the nail on its head!!! I’ve been doing braids for more than 10 years and I have very thin and brittle hair. I braided my hair cause I never have time to do my hair or maintain my hair and my hair was just short and struggles with growing and braids was for me just easy. January 2019 I decided to go natural and it felt so good until when I returned to work all the comments I got about my hair and the looks people were giving me like are you going to walk with that hair.

    But then somewhere I saw this quote “Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself” and ever since I feel happy about my hair even when my hair has its off days. So thank you for the inspiring note it really helps a lot.

    I’m in the beginning stage and do the following please advise if on the right track.
    1 Wash with Tresemme Co-Wash
    2. Deep condition – My Natural Hydrating Mask.
    3 Easy Wave Moroccan Oil Moisturize
    4 My natural Strengthening oil or Coconut oil
    5.My natural moisturizing butter
    and at night I plait my hair.

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, I’m Amanda.
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