Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sisterhood of the Spiraling Strands: Talia

One of the coolest things about being natural is sharing the journey with your sisterfriends. Ever since my curls made their debut in 2001, I've watched a number of my friends go natural too. It's been great, seeing my girls discover their textures, and seeing just how many textures there are! And the best part is that we're all encouraging each other, simply by standing confident in ourselves.

So, friends, I'd like to share these fabulous women with all of you with a series of posts called "Sisterhood of the Spiraling Strands." ...okay, it's silly, but that's part of my charm. :o) First up... Miss Talia from Rhode Island.

Age 25
Newspaper Reporter
Providence, Rhode Island

B&HT: Describe the fabulousness of your hair.
Talia: My hair is the quintessential afro from the 70s - tightly coiled, nearly symetrically shaped and otherwise fantastic. I have major shrinkage if I let it airdry, but stretched or pressed, it hangs about midneck.

What's your favorite thing about your hair?
That it's mine, the way God intended it. I haven't figured out everything about it, or really, how to care for it properly, but sometimes, I feel a little prouder walking into a formal event with my fro at full tilt because it's kinda like I'm giving God a fist pump like, "you did good, Homie." (and yes, I capitalized Homie.)

What about your favorite style?
My favorite style, hands down, is comb twists. I don't rock them often, and don't dare do them myself -- my head is entirely too large, but I love looking in the mirror and seeing the little black coils on my head. Plus, they feel cool when I run my fingers through them. :-)

What's your favorite product? And why is it so great?
Cream of Nature detangling/conditioning shampoo for dry hair. We used to use it when I was younger, so when I first went natural, I washed it using that familiar yellow/green bottle. While I was washing, I could actually run my fingers through my hair (this is before I discovered the need to detangle and properly moisturize). Now that my hair has gotten longer, it still gets the knots out and leaves me with a great base to slather my conditioner atop. Plus, the smell reminds me of childhood. :-)

I'm also a fan of olive and castor oils. Olive was my junk when I first started because 1) I had it on hand, and 2) it seemed to quench my thirsty locs. I recently got put onto castor oil and I'm feeling it as well. I've been using that for the last month, especially because the olive oil seemed to not last as long as it used to. Castor oil is thick and really keeps my hair moisturized. Only thing is, sometimes at the end of the day, I can reach my hand into my afro and it comes out greasy. Still working on adjusting the amount I use, lol.

Honorable mention: Jane Carter Nourish and Shine

How long have you been natural? And how did you get there?
I big chopped on June 24, 2006, so that means I've been natural, goodness, going on three years. Wow. It does not feel like that long at all.

I got here, in part, because I moved to Rhode Island. Prior to that, I had the ill wrap for years, parted on the side and tucked beneath the ear (sigh, oh so safe). I'd literally worn the same hairstyle since high school. In college, only the people with curlier hair let theirs go (and I envied) or the artsy people who had more style in their pinky finger than I will ever have in my entire life. The one exception is my sister -- though she too has a style I envy. She'd been natural ever since I'd known her and I loved how her hair always looked when I saw her. Anyway, fast forward to 2005. I'd graduated and had been in Rhode Island for about a month. I'd gone to a friend's hairdresser - a Dominican salon - and gotten a great blow out. But I didn't trust her to perm my hair and I knew I couldn't just put heat on it every two weeks like that. I got what would turn out to be my last perm that Thanksgiving mostly out of frustration and suspicion. I didn't trust these people with my hair and I couldn't go around looking crazy. So I figured it'd be easier to just cut it off and do it myself.

That winter and spring, I began my transition. I knocked down unruly roots at first with a flat iron. Then hid behind roller sets. Around Easter, I got box braids. Took those out and went back to roller sets, which were becoming harder and harder to keep looking neat with my now two textured hair. That spring, I went to NYC to visit my sister, and by that time I was thorougly frustrated. A lot of my decisions come out of frustration, I see. Anyway, it was raining, my hair was a horrible poofy mess with straggly ends. We headed up to Brooklyn and I got my TWA and my first comb twists, which I fell in love with instantly. Been natural ever since.

Just in case you want some links... here's the story of my big chop, and some pics of it too.

How would you describe your hair's personality?

Ohh! Let me write it as a personal ad:

"Not so TWA seeks major moisture to get through harsh New England winters. Style variety desperately needed. Prefers freedom, but spends most days tightly bound. Regular trims a must."

Yeah. That works.

What have you learned about yourself or your hair?
Well, I'm a shy person anyway, and at times, insecure. When I first BC'd, I was forced to reevaluate the way I saw myself. My hairstyles in the past were very conformist -- no color, no crazy styles, toward the end, my hair was so trained, I could wash my hair and could find the place I normally put my part using only my fingers. Though afros and natural hair are much more mainstream these days, going natural made me feel like a rebel. And it forced me to be more confident as well because I had to -- well, I chose to -- defend my decision to cut my hair. I remember my mom, when she saw my TWA for the first time, scrunched her face up and said she didn't like it. I was slightly hurt, but had peace because I knew it was my decision and I liked it. Months later, when I returned and my hair was maybe an inch or two longer, she said she liked it. I thanked her, but it wouldn't have mattered if she'd said she didn't like it. It was my hair and I was cool with it and the way it made me look. So in a way, I credit my hair for forcing me to become more confident in my own skin and with my own choices (though I slip from time to time, still).

What has surprised you most?
At first, I thought that since my hair was natural, since I didn't use heat on my hair, that I wouldn't have split ends. Ugh. I'm so mad I was wrong about that. I tried to straighten it once in a fit of frustration and it came out nasty. I figured it was just my lack of skills. But when my trusted hairdresser at home pressed me for the first time last Christmas, she exposed my jagged ends. I told her to cut as much as possible and, since, have been trying to stay current on my trims every six weeks. It's made a difference. My hair is less fragile and seems to look much better than it ever did.

What are you still trying to learn?
Man, at times it feels like everything. Still coming up with a set regimen and I desperately need some more styles to add to my arsenal (see personals ad).

And finally, tell us your absolute favorite part about being natural.
I like knowing this is how I was intended to be -- and having the flexibility to wear it as I choose. And really, I like being able to stick pens in it and not having them fall when I whip my head around. *pulls ballpoint out of coils and places it on her desk* Though it can sometimes be embarrassing when I forget they are in there.

On the job, covering the opening of the Hillary Clinton campaign office in Providence.

Primping for the the Follies

Follies cast headshot

Partners in crime, 2008 UNITY conference in Chicago


Raven said...

Sis is working it!!!!

Anonymous said...

What is up with that elbow!? Lolz

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