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Aulelia // Natural Hair Style Icon

Avatar • Jun 25, 2009


Being natural is … a great buffer from sorting out the troll boys from the keepers. Why waste your time with a man who is too invested in your hair and wants you to have a Naomi Campbell weave so he can run his fingers through? **rolls eyes** DECLINED!


Tower of London. It has been around since the 13th century

Traitors’ Gate at the Tower of London where Anne Boleyn passed on her way to her execution in the 16th century.

BGLH: Where are you from?
AULELIA
: I always say that I am a Tanzanian. Because of my parents jobs, my family has lived all over the world from Russia, Switzerland to Sweden and then my parents sent me to boarding school in the UK. I came here [UK] when I was around 11, and have had my secondary education here. I am on a journalism masters course at the moment in London. So I would say that I live in London, but I am from Tanzania, East Africa woop!

BGLH: What’s interesting about the place where you live?
AULELIA
: I think the most interesting thing about London is what surrounds you. I live in east London, and there are so many quirky things all around. One day, you can be walking down the street in Walthamstow and see a derelict cinema that the local community is trying to save, and then you can come across bustling markets with people vying for your hard earned money. London is a crazy juxtaposition of old and new, fashionable and crumbling, toughness and grit, yet the gloss of the aristocracy is also still visible. It’s a great city to live in if you are interested in history, because the history of the city is literally cracking off the cobbled streets everywhere.

BGLH: What is the natural hair scene like?
AULELIA
: LOL, this is a sensitive topic. I bang on and on about natural hair. I know this will sound controversial, but I think natural hair in London is just coming to the mainstream. I have been natural since ’04 and I can say that only since this year have I seen representations in the press on natural hair. It has always seemed to be an afterthought in black magazines here, and whilst there is some change in the media, I don’t think the natural hair revolution as such has happened in London. Yes, there has been growth and there are natural-headed women, but not to the extent as seen in the United States of America. I’d also like to add that I have noticed a lot more natural headed men who wear big afros etc more so than women in London. This is just from my personal experience, so I don’t know about other women who live in London.

There are a few natural hair salons — there is one in Hackney called eftal or something but they cater more towards people who like locs which is great. I also think it has to be said that, it also depends on where you live in London. I don’t want to make it a postcode issue, but I do live in east London and I must say, I have never seen so many beauty shops that sell relaxers in one area. I do think where you live makes a huge difference as to whether you see relaxers or not. In the more creative, fashionable areas like Shoreditch, Hoxton, I think it would be more likely to see girls with natural hair.

I would not say natural hair is normal though! LOL! That would be going too far. It is still something seen as ‘different’. I was in Sainsburys supermarket the other day in north London and the cashier told me he liked my hair (he was a black man) and he just said how much he liked it. I was flattered as it is always nice to receive compliments. What is odd is that I receive compliments on my hair a lot from white people, and some black people, but definitely more from white people. That is one reaction to natural hair that is surprising, just because on the surface, you’d think black people would give compliments as well.

BGLH: When did you go natural? Did you transition or big chop?
AULELIA
: I transitioned and to be honest, I wish I hadn’t. I do think it slowed down the growth process a great deal for me, because I became so impatient. I remember specifically starting my journey in autumn of 2004. Watching the relaxed strands grow out was bizarre — my hair was half kinky and half straight so I started experimenting with styles a lot, doing ‘Geisha’ style uploads, doing 60s style hairstyles as well. As my hair reverted to its natural state, I started to do Afro styles more and twists. But yes, I wish I had done the big chop and watched it grow organically.

BGLH: Where do you buy your hair products?
AULELIA
: I must be one of the only birds who is not big on products LOL! I don’t use them a lot, but when I do go and buy some, I normally go to one of the beauty shops down the road from where I live. It is crammed with relaxers, but they do have an oil section where I buy West Indian Castor Oil. My hair is really liking it at the moment, and bizarrely, even when it rains and after it rains, it still leaves my hair feeling supple and moist which is wicked. It’s also cheap, less than £2 so it makes sense for me economically.

I used to use a lot of beeswax but that was before I knew what nonsense was inside there! Eek! I also love the IC Hair Polisher.

BGLH: Do you have natural hair ‘meetups’ in your country? Do you think they are necessary for your country?
AULELIA
: I think Cherry Lola does meetups and I must confess, I really want to go to one. L says~Cherry Lola’s site: http://www.cherrylola.com/ I just have never set aside time to do it yet but it is something I should do because it would be great to be around other black women who are naturals and not have to explain myself around the relaxed army all the time! Anything that is a support group for a cause is fantastic so I love the idea of a meetup.

BGLH: What do you like about being natural in your country?
AULELIA
: This is an interesting question. I think what I love the most about being natural in London is that since I have become natural, hair has not become an obsession for me here. I remember when I was relaxed, I would obsess about my hair — I would think about how long it was getting. When I became natural, I would go jogging not worrying about my hair too much — as long as it looked neat and tidy, I was happy.

Being natural is [for me] also a great buffer from sorting out the troll boys from the keepers. Why waste your time with a man who is too invested in your hair and wants you to have a Naomi Campbell weave so he can run his fingers through? **rolls eyes** DECLINED! Natural hair has helped me sort the men I want to talk to, and the ones who are a waste of time. On the whole, the men who seem like they are interested in personality seem down with my Afro. L says~Amen to this!

BGLH: What would you like to see in your country in terms of natural hair care?
AULELIA
: I’m obsessed with media , so I would like to see UK magazines like Pride and Black Beauty & Hair cover natural hair more. It does get trite reading European magazines, and seeing the hair section where Beyonce is in the ‘Afro’ section — Hello, Bey’s weave is not natural and this is coming from one of the biggest stans! So I would like to see more coverage in the press, because images do have a huge effect on how young girls view their self esteem. Although The Noisettes have blown up, so Shingai Shoniwa is presenting a stunning image of natural hair.

I would also like to see more black-owned natural hair shops. Most beauty shops are owned by Asian people. Nothing wrong with that, but I would like to see more black people owning beauty shops. It is important we grasp what is targeted to us and try and understand it better from a business perspective. L says~Amen again!

BGLH: Anything else you want to add?
AULELIA
: I’m beyond chuffed that you asked me to do this! So thanks Leila — BGLH is a supreme blog to be honest. You should be really proud of yourself. It’s like a congregating space for natural girls, which is wicked. L says~Awww, thanks! 🙂 Final points I’d like to add are for me, I realised that when I started to eat better like eating those dreaded vegetables, my hair has been smiling more. I am on a diet to lose some weight and I am feeling the effects on my hair a lot more, it feels stronger and not as dry and the back of my head, which grows the least fast, is also growth.

As much as I hate to admit it, sometimes going back to basics is what is needed. I think if you try and take care of your insides and body, your hair will follow suit. Products help of course, but diet has been the key for me.

And just quickly, Wakeema Hollis is my natural hair queen. L says~A Wakeema Hollis post is also coming today! Come to think of it Aulelia and Wakeema kind of favor each other. I think her hair is supreme and I love that she is a haute couture model and wears an Afro. She’s wicked. I’ve posted about her on my blog numerous times.

L says~Thanks for the interview Aulelia! You can find more of Aulelia at her blog: http://charcoalink.wordpress.com/

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Lovin' Natural Hair
Lovin' Natural Hair
11 years ago

Fantastic interview, BGLH!! It’s extra exciting to read about Aulelia because I will be visiting London in exactly 3 weeks. I love her “turn of phrase” — she has a very fresh way with words.
I want to just compliment YOU in general for these “Naturals from around the world” features. They are informative, fascinating, and entertaining. Keep ’em coming!

Anonymous
Anonymous
11 years ago

I LOVE HER AFRO. I HAVE A TWA AND HER BIG FRO IS MY GOAL. BIG UP TO HER REPPIN FOR UK. I LIVE IN MARYLAND AND SHE IS REPRESENTING FOR THE NATURALS.

Jc
Jc
11 years ago

Yay TZ!Karibu (which means welcome in Swahili). I liked this interview and the pretty pictures

Anonymous
Anonymous
11 years ago

Just to comment on the U.K, I see a lot of people on your site who pass through the u.k, were not brought up or born here and live and move in isolated areas of England/London then make the comment ‘naturals are near extinct in London/u.k. This is simply not true. There are a lot of naturals in the u.k and it is not looked down upon as I hear it is in the U.S. Many have chosen 24/7 weaves or relaxers as the easy choice because they don’t want to be fussed with hair, that’s their thing and the… Read more »

Anonymous
Anonymous
11 years ago

Hi Charcoal 🙂 it is nice to see you here. Your hair looks healthy and dense and I like it a lot. I live in London as well (south) and I need to agree with you. There is so many shops selling relaxers in this area, but also I see many, many natural heads, mostly among secondary school and high school pupils, but also few adults’ heads.Now I am searching reliable natural hair salon. You have mentioned one but do you know more? The stylist in the typical afro shops knows NOTHING about natural textures and it makes me really… Read more »

Anonymous
Anonymous
11 years ago

I’d say natural hair is still an afterthought for black magazines here also. The mainstream media has been much quicker to approach natural hair. In magazines like Essence and Ebony and some of the black hair magazines, natural hair is treated like some sort of fad. I imagine that some of the older generation of blacks probably wish it was. @anonymous, I feel the urge to defend the US here. Only because there was a tone to your post I didn’t appreciate. if the attitude toward natural hair is it’s for “back whenyou were a kid or not that stylish”, then… Read more »

Alicia
Alicia
11 years ago

Yeah, anonymous, your “UK is superior to US” tone really is unnecessary. Also, I was raised in the USA by Caribbean parents and NEVER received a relaxer. I’ve been natural all my life and this was because my mother refused to let me hate my hair or have a low self-image about my natural self. How can you really compare the UK to the US regarding their “Caribbean mothers”. Please!

The Star
The Star
11 years ago

This was a fantastic interview. She has a really down to earth personality. As an English major I loved being able to see actual photos of Anee Boelyn’s execution site on a natural hair blog. That’s what’s up!

eccentricyoruba
eccentricyoruba
11 years ago

i love this interview. Aulelia has very beautiful hair (and is beautiful too). i was in london last week and i did see a lot of women with natural hair (well a lot more compared to where i live). i think there are more naturals in london though i’m not sure if it is accepted or not. 

i agree with the anonymous who said that there are several women rocking natural hair all over the city. though i don’t live in london, i’ve noticed this.

Anonymous
Anonymous
11 years ago

Gorgeous fro. Anyone know how to make wavy hair do a fro? Know what I mean? I’ve tried, but my hair keeps dropping.

G
G
11 years ago

Nice interview. I read Charcoal Ink all the time too. And I LOVE her afro. Beautiful.

thelady
thelady
11 years ago

@ anonymous,
Honestly what you have described about the UK attitude towards natural hair is completely identical to the USA attitude. It is extremely rare for a child under 10 to have a relaxer and generally this is looked down on and considered dangerous. If I were to go around making uniformed statements about the UK you would cry foul so I would appreciate you showing others the same respect you would want them to show you.

Black girl with long hair
Black girl with long hair
11 years ago

Hey guys!
Let’s remember to respect everyone’s cultural upbringing and nationality as we discuss the thing we all love — natural hair.
~L

aulelia
aulelia
11 years ago

Leila, thanks again for this. I am deeply happy to be featured.

Cheers for all your lovely comments everyone.

For Anon who thinks the UK doesn’t have disdain for natural hair, I am speaking of MY personal experience.

I am not saying what I think is the final word for the UK.

jenteel
jenteel
11 years ago

such a pretty woman and lei she does favor hollis!

serenissima
serenissima
11 years ago

What a lovely girl!

Sophie
Sophie
11 years ago

Loving your post and your hair!I am a natural, born and bred in London. I have lived in London for 28 years now. I have found that London is so diverse and as they say ‘anything goes’ in London. I do see some natural heads out there but I think now I am seeing more and more and bigger afros! Oh yes!! I have also noticed that school children are rocking their natural hair more now, so maybe it is getting “fashionable” amongst them. I remember back in the day when I was at school I got teased about my… Read more »

Anonymous
Anonymous
11 years ago

@anon June 25, 2009 9:46 AM Are you trying to say the UK is more segregated than the US? I must be going to the wrong places seeing as I’ve lived in the UK my whole life, so please tell me where the hell we trump the US on segregation?! We don’t have segregated proms like they still do in the US (we don’t have proms in general but we have farewell do’s). American’s have slave-master issues most black’s in the UK should not have because the largest growing black demographic are African’s who come here willingly on planes. OT: London… Read more »

Favoured Girl
Favoured Girl
11 years ago

Lovely post! I’m jealous of Aulelia’s hair, it looks so full, thick and healthy! Maybe one day I can get my hair to look like that — amen! I also live in the UK, and I know for a fact that natural hair is still the exception rather than the norm. When I decided to go natural, I was met by lots of blank stares and questions and comments of “Why natural?”, “So you mean you are never going to relax your hair anymore?” I also agree with the comments about african hair shops. 99% of shops in London stock products… Read more »

oliveoil_DaNewbie
oliveoil_DaNewbie
11 years ago

I flippin’ LOVE her hair!! Even though my hair is poofy, it poofs down.. =/ I love the fact she can rock her hair in a big, lovely and full afro. =]

Amina
Amina
11 years ago

her hair is sooo beautiful!!
Great interview 🙂

maralondon
maralondon
11 years ago

nothing makes me more happy to see black females embracing their natural state of hair. this lady sounds like she is a neighbour of mine i too live in east london. i have to disagree on a few things she has said about naturals in london. 1) you cannot compare the size of london with the size of america so you will probably see more women in the states with natural hair then you would in the capital of england. 2) i don’t think natural hair is mainstream anywhere apart from places like samoa, fiji and some parts of africa.… Read more »

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