Where are you from?
D: I am from a small town in southern Illinois — I am a military brat, so we were stationed by an Air Force Base out there and never left. I work as a senior administrative coordinator in Baltimore, MD.
Tell us your hair story.
D: When my twin and I were younger, my mother did NOT want us to perm our hair. After years of our African American friends (do not think our “other” friends knew the difference) would ridicule us and call us “young” (only little girls have their hair like that) and nappy…. she finally gave in and around middle she school let us get a perm.
After we graduated high school, we attended Hampton University and my freshman year I was cast in a play. It consumed my life and I did not have time (or money) get my hair permed. Shortly after, I started to date a guy who kept encouraging me to cut off my hair and be natural. All of his friends were natural and they embraced all things natural so the encouragement was all around me. The summer after my freshman year I told my mom I wanted to go natural. She was not a fan. When I came back to Hampton for my sophomore year, guys would come up to me and ask what happened to my hair, said I was prettier with hair, said I should grow my hair out. And I would say “I did not cut my hair off for you”.
Most people loved my short ‘do. I held that hairstyle for 7 years. I started dating a guy who said it would be fun to see what my hair would look like long (he was not a fan of the short hair) so I put in braids once it was long enough because I did not want to watch my hair grow. When I would take my braids out he LOVED it… and so did I! About 2 years later, I was looking for a new job and my sister said “Dawn, you cannot got job hunting like that… perm it” so – almost 10 years later (ouch) I re-permed my hair.
About 2 years after perming, I went back to natural. Permed hair just is not who I am. My twin – yes… For me, never again. So I have been growing my hair out for a solid 4 years… It is healthier than ever!
D: Unfortunately, the only criticisms I have had were from older African Americans in the work force. My old boss LOVED to call me a jigaboo when no one else was around. He would say it like he was joking, but I knew it was not. I would say “I am not going to change my hair for you.” The other people at work loved my hair, so I knew he was “outvoted” in that regard… I was also told “We have made it, you do not have to ‘make a stand’ you do not have to be nappy to show you are black.” I said “I also do not HAVE to perm my hair either just to make you feel better”
D: My mistakes are: heat – never will go back unless I am deep conditioning.
Trying to “try” everything at once to my hair
Greasing my hair is never goot! Yes – I said GOOT! Because that stuff makes me look like I am havin a 12 month Christmas with all of that dandruff!
I colored my hair once – that was a mistake. Left my hair VERY dry.
I have learned to just leave her alone!
What’s the best/most effective thing you do for your hair?
D: I give my hair some love on the DL every day. I massage my hair like we are married. When no one is by my desk I will rub my fingers on my scalp even for a couple of minutes. Keeping that nice blood flow a’goin is very healthy. And I NEVER do anything to my hair unless she is wet. NEVER! I may throw in about 7 two-strands at night, but that is when I rub a bunch of Coconut Oil and Shea Butter leave in conditioner in it.
What do you use in your hair?
D: I try to deep condition every other weekend – I just mixed up a bunch of items that many people use: conditioner, honey, olive oil, Aloe Vera, Shea Butter, coconut oil…
I heard Coconut oil penetrates the hair, so it is the first Item I put on before I do anything. I put that on nightly with a bit of shea butter. I try to keep it simple. I tried to spray my hair with water and such, but my scalp dried out like a raisin on a hot tin roof. It is all so incredibly subjective.
If your hair had a nickname, what would it be?
D: Dawn JR. When I am natural people look relieved and say it is the best reflection of who I am. I married a white man who loves me natural, which makes it fun too. He literally “boos” me when I come home with braids (sometimes I want a break) and when I take my braids out he says “There is Dawn! There’s my wife!”