Where are you from?
M: I am from St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands. I am an architect practicing project management at our local transportation agency. I manage our designers, architects and general contractors.
When did you go natural?
M: I went natural in 2005. My last perm was in March 2005. I had been telling myself that I would go natural at 30. For some reason, 30 seemed like a good age to take myself seriously. With that said, it was something that stayed on my heart so I took the plunge and never looked back.
Growing out my hair has taken me about 3 ½ years. I wouldn’t say it has been quick and it certainly hasn’t always been smooth. I would definitely say that it has been fun. I’ve enjoyed it. It’s true what they say – “Time flies when you’re having fun!”
Was it difficult at all?
M: Not at all. Anyone that knows me (well) knows that I have always been obsessed with my hair. When I had a perm, I was at the salon every (and I do mean every) week. I love healthy hair and learning about my natural state was exciting! I was excited to do research! I was excited to experiment! I was excited to seek out professional natural hair care professionals! I wore braids for a year. But, once I grew out about 2 inches of hair, I started to wear my afro out and I played in hair constantly. During those first six months of wearing my afro out, I think I washed and twisted my hair every night. Man I was tired, but I just loved to play with my hair!
What were family and friends’ reactions to your hair?
M: Most of my friends didn’t think I was really going to do it. My biggest surprise came when I told my mother I was going natural. Her exact words were – “Your hair has always been your crown of glory Monifa. Why do you want to cut it all off?” I was crushed! You have to understand – my mother is a classic afro-wearing, alice-walker-black-fisting regal black woman. She has been natural all of her adult life and I just knew she would be my biggest supporter. Her reaction was a big surprise. However, what her reaction did do for me was remind me that as I embarked on this journey, our hair should be our glory. For me, it is (and will always be) just that. I’m proud to say, she is now my hair’s biggest fan!
Have you had any difficulties wearing your hair natural at the office?
M: Goodness, yes! Hahaha. I can’t say I experienced (or noticed) a lot of adverse reaction from my co-workers. I did get one guy that asked me “…how do you sleep on that?…” The longer my hair grew, the bigger the afro and the more nervous I got about wearing my afro to the office. I was a closet hypocrite. I started wearing my hair twisted with a roller set. It took me awhile to realize that as long I’m confident with my hair, whatever adverse effects there may be at the office will fall into the background.
What do you like about being natural?
M: I love the self discovery. I love the versatility. I love the way my hair continues to surprise me. It’s been years and I’m still excited. Mostly, I like that natural hair care has evolved so much. There are so many (great) professional products available and the online support communities have grown so much. Support is a big part of transitioning. I love that being natural is no longer has to be a personal “struggle”.
What is your wish for black women?
M: My wish for black women is to regain self love. We are the most giving and loving women on the planet, but we are also the most self hating and self critical women. I wish to see us regain self respect – the ability to love others AND love ourselves.
The black hair debate (perm-vs-natural) is really about self esteem. Once we regain self love, there is no debate only option. Chris Rock’s movie “Good Hair” was/is a conversation piece because it exposed us. No, it didn’t expose the fact that we spend a lot of money on hair; it exposed that we (black women AND black men) don’t like our natural state. That movie made us look at ourselves again and own up to our lack of self love.
What style do you like to rock?
M: These days I love rocking my twist out. I don’t like hair on my face, so I usually have a little bit of flat twisting at the hair line.
What do you use in your hair?
M: I use a combination of a lot of products. I’ve learned that my hair has “moods”. So I no longer fight against the moods. I use what works well for whatever the mood is.
I use Miss Jessie’s Curly Pudding and Baby Buttercreme for my dry twisting and leave in conditioning. When I need an extra boost of moisturizing, I add raw shea butter. I use Kinky Kurly Curling Custard for my wet sets and I use Castor Oil Soap to cleanse (when I actually shampoo). I mostly do no-poos (no shampoo cleansing). Pure Aloe Vera gel and vegetable glycerin are also staple products.
Can you give us a tutorial for your chunky dry twist-out?
- M: 1.) Section hair out into six sections. Apply a moderate amount of moisturizing curly cream to each section. (Do not try to detangle dry hair!!!)
- 2.) Apply generous amounts of curling cream to one inch sections of hair. Start applying product at the root and carefully pull the hair section to allow the product to spread to the ends. Repeat until there is a noticeable stretch in the curly pattern. You should be able to stretch and spread until the hair section is detangled. (Do not attempt to detangle with a comb!!!)
- 3.) Divide the section into two strands and twist. Add a dab of aloe vera gel at the ends of the twisted section to “close” the twist.
- 4.) Sit under a dryer for 15–30 minutes — depending on your thickness and length. Hair should be completely dry to the touch. (Sorry ladies…the dryer is key to capturing the stretched curl pattern.)
- 5.) Untwist each section. Start by twisting each section in the opposite direction of the twisted pattern from the root.
- 6.) Spritz with hair finishing gloss and loosely massage through your hair.
- 7.) Place your fingertips to the root of your hair and shake it loose!!!!
If your hair had a nickname, what would it be? Why?
M: SIMBA!!!!…I’ts kinda corny but…when I get it blow dried, I’ve been told it looks like a lion’s mane.
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
M: I just started blogging at http://ilandgul-onbeingoutthere.blogspot.com/. I haven’t started a hair blog yet, but I’m a big follower of several blogs and online support communities.