I’m pro natural hair because it’s natural, it’s ours, it’s mine and no one, no standard or beauty or ugliness, no stereotype should dictate what I do with something as defining and as personal as my hair. ~Brianna
BGLH: Where are you from? Are you a native of that country?
Brianna: I’m from Trinidad and Tobago, in the West Indies. Born and raised here.
BGLH: How did your family end up there?
Brianna: I’m a product of people from all over the place; Africa, India, China, Scotland…I can’t really say how I ended up here!
BGLH: Why did you decide to go natural?
Brianna: I was convinced the first time I had my hair relaxed, at 14, that I was destroying it. I was used to having my back length natural hair combed and braided at night. I guess my mother got tired of doing that all the time! I, personally, have never felt complete with relaxed hair. I found it more complicated to deal with than natural hair. I have very sensitive skin and frankly relaxer scared me a bit.
BGLH: When and how did you go natural?
Brianna: Over 3 years ago. [Brianna is now 25.] I just stopped going to the salon. I just stopped relaxing my hair. I didn’t take the warnings about hair damage too seriously. I just told myself it’d work out. And it did, for me. I finally went to a loxologist (a hairdresser specialising in natural hair. That’s what we call them) and cut all the relaxed bits off. I was so pleased after the washing and twisting and drying. I actually felt proud of myself and my totally healthy head of hair.
BGLH: Could you describe your regimen? What products and ingredients do you use?
Brianna: I have a weekly ritual that takes a couple hours. I wash and condition; nothing special — Pantene Relaxed and Natural or Head and Shoulders. Then I sit down and comb the whole thing, divide into thick sections which I braid and let dry. After that, I just undo the braids, run my fingers through and put on a head band. That’s my entire regimen.
BGLH: What mistakes have you made in your natural journey that you’ve learned from?
Brianna: I let myself be talked into texturising my hair!! I did and because my hair is fine and curly-to-wavy, the texturiser just made it go limp and STRAIGHT. I don’t think I have forgiven myself yet. I was so upset, I cut off a year’s worth of hair gradually and started over. I’m not going to touch it again.
BGLH: How does your hair work for your life?
Brianna: I work in Corporate Communications. I’m a university student. I’m also a girl who draws and paint. I haven’t encountered any instances of outright discrimination or negativity in any sphere of my life. At the same time though, there are assumptions associated with being young and Black with natural hair.
BGLH: How is your hair an expression of your personality/inner self?
Brianna: I’m a strong willed person and I loathe dishonesty and insincerity — I think my hair is beginning to express that. I get the “Empress” comment alot — people think it’s regal. I enjoy watching it grow and making sure it’s healthy; much the same way I am about my character and my life and my art. I paint girls with mainly natural hair because I think it should be celebrated.
BGLH: Why do you paint natural women? Is there are philosophy behind that?
Brianna: I have always found women beautiful; the elements that make faces unique. I find strength and dignity beautiful. I think that because my work could be described as being largely self portraits, the women reflect what I am experiencing at this stage in life – loving my natural hair… It was always a personal thing. I’ve only been opening it up to the public for about a year and a half. I do sell now though.
BGLH: Why are you pro natural hair?
Brianna: I see no reason why natural hair, in all its forms, shouldn’t be an accepted and admired thing. I come from a place where, not too long ago, people with dreadlocks weren’t allowed to work in banks. We still have the problem where private schools are discriminating against students with dreadlocks. I think it’s high time we got rid of the negative assumptions about natural hair.
I’m pro natural hair because it’s natural, it’s ours, it’s mine and no one, no standard or beauty or ugliness, no stereotype should dictate what I do with something as defining and as personal as my hair. That being said, I believe that once it doesn’t come out of adhering to what is perceived as beautiful or acceptable or out of self hate, we should be free to do whatever we want with our hair.
BGLH: Is there a fotki or web page where we can find you?
Brianna: Yes, I blog at http://briannamccarthy.blogspot.com. I look forward to seeing you!