Thursday, September 29, 2011

Natural Beauty: Amy

I'm so excited about my first Natural Beauty interview. What better way to start than with my sister, Amy!

In Wrightsville Beach, NC
September 2011
What lessons did you learn about hair and beauty when you were a child?
Growing up I remember wanting what I didn't have; the straight flowy hair like my barbies and the girls at my predominately white school/neighborhood had. I would constantly ask my mom, to the point where I think I exasperated her, to tell me what color skin I had and expecting, wanting…maybe even pressuring her to tell me "golden brown"…not black and not just brown it had to be golden brown…and why I couldn't have hair like theirs. There are pictures of me with really long hair when I was 5/6 years old, and that was my natural hair pressed. What's funny is that I don't remember having that long hair at that age but I do remember when it all got cut off because I was devastated! Mom eventually took me to get a perm so that it was easier for her to take care of, and I believe that is what broke my hair off from being really long to really short...I felt robbed. I felt very ugly growing up.

August 2009

How has your perspective about hair and beauty changed over time? 
My perspective has done a complete 180 ever since I quit relaxing my hair in 2009. For years I did the weaves and extensions and spent (I say spent...I feel more like I wasted) time and money in the salon and it got to the point in 2009 that I finally got sick of I was just done. How many more times was I going to make an appointment, show up only to have to sit and wait an hour or two or three until the hairstylist was finally ready to see me, and then spend another 3 or 4 hours getting my hair done while she was also trying to finish up or squeeze in clients in between! Then she’d bump the ends of my hair even though I said I didn't want them bumped but she'd insist on doing it anyways and I'd just go along with it because at that point I was just ready to get out of there. So I'd get home or in my car away from the salon and be fixing it a way that I really wanted and here I just spent all this money and time! Then I'd worry about sweating out my perm or messing up my hair…so for me, just about every salon visit was a very unsatisfying, uncomfortable experience all around. Ultimately, I was sick of spending so much time getting my hair done. I realized I wanted to be doing other things with my time.
You introduced me to Curly Nikki and BGLH shortly after I decided to quit relaxing and that's when my perspective on beauty started to change. That was the first time I saw African-American beauty being celebrated and honored and I was like a sponge soaking it all in...all the pictures, styles, tutorials, products and clothes (OMG the clothes, the style!). It was overwhelming yes, but I welcomed it all.
I see so much more beauty in our culture and myself now than I ever have before and I am incredibly thankful for this change in perspective. It has really helped me to grow as a person.
When and how did you decide to go natural? 
When I decided to quit relaxing, I didn't have a plan and I wasn't ready to embrace my natural texture yet, so up until the time I decided I was going to loc my hair I just maintained it on my own. I would wash it, condition it, use my flat iron and I bought some clip in extensions from Sally's or wore clip in extensions I made myself using left over hair I had purchased before for weaves so I could still get that length I liked. Then I started wearing wigs...the cheap ones at that. At some point I remember discussing my options with you in regards with what to do with my hair and you suggested I consider getting locs because it would fit my lifestyle and personality and that resonated with me. So I started researching locs on nappturality and the net…it took me a while to decide when and how I was going to get them. I got my locs installed in April 2010 via two strand twist extensions (human hair) because at that time, I only had about an inch or two of natural hair and I didn’t want to do the big chop, but I also knew without a doubt I wanted to loc so extensions seemed like a good idea. But they only lasted about 2 months; I think a week after I had them installed two of them had already slipped out and from there more went along with them so I ditched the extensions and went from there.
What three hair products/tools are must-haves for you?
clarifying shampoo
bobby pins - my saving grace for styling
some type of moisturizer - I'm experiencing with leave in conditioners (Oyin's juices, Jane Carter leave in, Oyin shine and define/whipped pudding, Taliah Waajid leave in, hot oil treatments (I don't rinse them out)
Where do you go for natural hair inspiration or advice?
Nappturality's loc forum
You Tube: bronzegoddess01, chescalocs, eloiseTV, barbaydian261, tbey82, qochemist, quotidianlight to name a few. 
I also like blogs: irocklocs, chescalocs, lecoil, lockrocker, queennaturalbeauty, naturallybeautifulhair, naturaleza, thenaturalhaven, flygirls, curlynikki, bglh, dreadenvy, locluv and then there's Loc'd life magazine...
I’m a junkie when it comes to researching natural hair online. I love it.

September 2011
What are the best aspects of being natural? The most challenging aspects?
To me, the best aspect of being natural is the freedom from what society deems is beautiful and what you have to do to look beautiful. You don't have to look European, you don't have to spend gobs of money on services and products to achieve awesome hair and if anyone tries to tell you otherwise you (now) know they are dead wrong! That is so liberating to me. Another positive aspect of being natural is that I’ve become more comfortable in experimenting with fashion, and it’s created another avenue for creativity when it comes to styling my hair on my own, since I don’t go to the salon, and these are things that I didn't realize would come along with the journey. I'm so inspired by the different hair and fashion styles that we put together as everyday's bliss!
The most challenging aspects would be learning about your hair, but I think it's challenging in a fun way with moments of frustration…but to me such is life, there are ups and downs. It does take time to learn about it, to learn to listen to what your hair is telling you rather than hanging on to old methods of taking care of your hair. You have to learn what products work, what techniques work and if you’re going about it on your own then you know…there’s a huge learning curve. And There is definitely a mental transition as well.
What's the best compliment you ever received regarding your natural hair/beauty?
That it fits me, it's thick, and I have nice cheekbones.
In closing, please share anything on your mind regarding natural hair. 
Research! If you’re interested in going natural, there is so much info available to you on the internet it’s ridiculous! At the same time, there IS so much info it can get overwhelming trying to filter through all of the information (and misinformation) and apply it to you and your hair. Understand it’s a process and be patient with yourself and with it. And have fun with it! Yes hair can make a big statement and it can directly affect your confidence, but inner confidence will shine no matter how bad of a hair day you’re having.
And yes you can have locs and work in the corporate world. I work for a major defense contractor…’nuff said.

Amy, thank you so much for sharing your story and being my first interview. I love you, sissypoo, and you are gorgeous!

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