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JinakiSweetness // Natural Hair Style Icon

Avatar • Feb 2, 2010

Photo 347
Where are you from?
J:
I’m originally from the Midwest, attended a historically Black college in the South and currently live in the D.C Metro area. At present I’m a college psychology professor. In addition to teaching, my passion is improving the mental health of the Black community and I have been involved in community mental health with children and families for the past 10 years.

Tell us your hair story.
J:
I have been natural since 1995. About 4 years before I went natural, I came home from school to find my mother had cut off her shoulder-length hair to an inch-long barber cut! Watching her embrace her natural hair was inspiring for me and I decided to take the plunge as well. At that time, there were few natural hair books and resources. Much of what I did was trial and error. My mother was a cosmetologist and she taught me how to condition and style my natural texture. The first book I read was by Tulani Kinard, “No Lye: The African American Woman’s Guide To Natural Hair Care.” This was so helpful and inspiring. There were recipes and beautiful pictures which I certainly needed to see. Although my father and mother loved my natural hair, others in my family and environment were not, so having that book kept me focused!

I started out wearing my hair in braid-outs and braid extension transition styles. I did not have the initial experience of the drastic “big chop.” My hair grew quickly and after about a semester and a half in college, I had the relaxed ends of my hair cut off and had a midsized Afro. I wore a plethora of styles: the curly-fro (braid-out which I set on rollers), twists and individual braids, cornrows—you name it!—for about 7 years.
While working on my doctoral degree, my time for styling my hair became quite limited. Both my mother and father were wearing locs and I adored their hair. I then decided to loc my hair and wore them proudly for 5 years.

Loc'd May2006.JPG
After two years of major spiritual and mental transition (losing my father and ending a relationship), I decided to cut my locs. This was my experience with the “big chop” after years of being natural and I loved it!

Jinaki and her mother
Mama & Me Oct2008
For about six months, I rocked a short, curly barber cut. This was fun, but high maintenance. So, since January 2009 I have been growing my hair out. At present my favorite styles are the blow-out, braid out and curly Afro (done with either kinky-curly or foam rollers).

Have you had any difficulties wearing your hair natural at work?
J:
Fortunately, I have not had any major difficulties regarding my hair in professional environments over the past 14 years. Most of what I have experienced has been covert. Co-workers make inappropriate comments which I feel reflect either awe at my having “different” hair, or discomfort with the confidence I exude around my hairstyle. In conjunction with my natural hairstyle, I frequently wear African/Africentric attire and jewelry. The hair coupled with the attire brings quite a bit of attention in the workplace, some negative. I have always believed that my confidence and pride in my culture deflect the negative energy that some emit. Were an environment to make requests that would limit my ability to be myself (i.e., a woman of African decent), I’d likely need to look for a new place of employment as I am not willing to sacrifice my cultural expression.

What’s the best/most effective thing you do for your hair?
J: Using heat sparingly is one of the best things I do for my hair. Also, being careful to cover it with a satin bonnet or silk scarf EVERY night has helped my hair remain healthy and strong. More recently, co-washing has changed my life! LOL. It sounds hyperbolic, but since cutting my locs I’ve mainly been co-washing (using a sulfate-free shampoo once a month) and my hair is shiny and bouncy.

What do you use in your hair?
J:
I enjoy organic and homemade products for my hair. It responds well to shea butter and olive, coconut and jojoba oils which I apply as deep conditioners and as daily conditioners. I also enjoy using Kinky-Curly, Giovanni and Carol’s Daughter products…especially leave-in conditioners.

Can you give a tutorial for one of your favorite styles?
J:
The style I wear that usually turns the most heads is my big, fluffy Afro which I achieve through a blow-out. I apply Kinky-Curly brand conditioner to my hair while in the shower, comb it thru and then twist my hair into about 8 sections while it’s wet. I then massage Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk to each section and gently blow-dry the hair out on medium heat. My goal is not to straighten the hair, but merely to stretch and give it volume. Once dry, I apply a combo of shea butter and olive oil to the ends of my hair, fluff to a poof that Thelma Evans would be proud of and go!!

What do you like about being natural?
J:
EVERYTHING! I think that my natural crown is a symbol of my connection to my African ancestry. Embracing my natural hair has encouraged me to continue to be aware of the ways in which society does not embrace the Black aesthetic (darker skin, kinky hair, African facial features, etc.). My growing and wearing openly (not pressed or flat-ironed) regardless of the dearth of representation in the media is my personal message to the world that I know I am beautiful.

Recently, a friend’s daughter told her mommy that she loved my hair and wanted a doll with “round hair.” This warmed my heart. Many Black girls only see bone-straight examples of beauty on TV. It is also my hope that through my position as an educator and professional in the Black community other women and girls will be encouraged to wear their natural crowns and embrace their natural beauty!

Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
J:
I blog about health and beauty for Black women on Urban Mogul-Life (http://urbanmogullife.com/), a site geared toward young, urban professionals which includes discussion on music, economics, fashion, film, chill spots, technology, news, and what-not of the “Urban Mogul’s Life” in a classic, tasteful way.

Anything else you want to add?
J:
I think that BGLH is an inspiring online community! After all these years of being natural, I still find it inspiring to hear other women’s stories. The tips are fabulous and I’m always open to learning new tricks. Thanks for the love and commitment to natural women of color!!

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Matlhodi
10 years ago

Wow…that big fro. Now that’s what I’m talkin about

Diane
10 years ago

She is Gorgeous! Love the hair and style.

Ari
Ari
10 years ago

Her hair is AMAZING and she is GORGEOUS! So captivating.

Ari
Ari
10 years ago

Her hair is AMAZING and she is GORGEOUS! Definitely a captivating natural beauty whose confidence shines thru.

Jc
Jc
10 years ago

Great hair and lovely eyebrows

bzcitybeauty
bzcitybeauty
10 years ago

Jinaki girl your hair is fabulous in all its glory…Your story is inspiring and I too am natural and so far have not had very many negatives in the workplace mainly positives. Im inlove with this hair!!!

Diana
Diana
10 years ago

Ok. I’m blown away by you and your mother. May I say Fabulous?!?!?!? I mean.…wow

Alta Angel
Alta Angel
10 years ago

Jinaki,

You are too fierce!

lina40
10 years ago

WOW — Jinaki is truly an inspiration 🙂 I love that she is in a position of influence and has embraced her gorgeous natural hair! This is so empowering to me! THanks for sharing this story!

Apartmentlife
Apartmentlife
10 years ago

I. Want. Her. Hair. It’s absolutely gorgeous! And where did she get that fly green jacket?

b.
b.
10 years ago

Lovely!!!! I love your hair and your style. Your story is amazing. What was your initial reaction when you saw your mother’s big chop? I like the fact that your method of creating your blow out is simple. It’s similar to what I do.

And I was thinking the same thing, Apartmentlife…where did the green jacket come from?? It’s nice.

Jettiemae
Jettiemae
10 years ago

Jinaki,

You, your hair, and your story are absolutely beautiful!!! I agree with the other commenters — you’re an inspiration!

trackback

[…] Known ‘Round The Web!! UML’s own JinakiSweetness is featured in an interview on BLGHOnline.com. A site for sisters with natural […]

Monique
10 years ago

Love her hair and her story. Thanks for sharing.

trackback

[…] own JinakiSweetness is featured in an interview on BLGHOnline.com. A site for sisters with natural […]

I.B. Edubl
10 years ago

Thanks for the referral BGLH! We happen to think JinakiSweetness is the bomb over at Urban Mogul Life as well 🙂 We’ve moved the original post she was featured in to the front page so those interested don’t have to search, and added you ladies to our blogroll. Feel free to stop by!
Thanks Again,

I.B.Edubl
http://www.UrbanMogulLife.com

Alycia
Alycia
10 years ago

Jinaki,

You are stunning! I love the fact that you work in education, so our young people can see a positive image of a beautiful, confident, natural(!) woman. Thanks for sharing your inspiring journey.

Vonmiwi
10 years ago

Her round “Fro” is GOURGEOUS! She’s right about the discomfort they feel because of the confidence we exude and the sad part about it is- most of it comes from people who look like us. Some people act like we’re supposed to be in the background, they have no idea that we don’t let our hair define us anymore, we only concentrate on our accomplishments, goals and living our lives. It’s truly liberating when you just be you!

Angel
10 years ago

JinakiSweetness you are beautiful and what a lovely inspiring story. I cant wait until my afro is as beautiful as yours sis.

cjbrownsc
cjbrownsc
10 years ago

Absolutely stunning! Her hair, her face, everything!

Jinaki
10 years ago

Thanks for all of the kind words and compliments, sistren! They have made my day today.
@ b.: i was in shock when i saw my mom’s hair. lol. But i thought she looked amazing and she inspired me to be myself.
@ Apartmentlife and b.: I got this jacket YEARS ago at Ann Taylor during a sale. 🙂 thanks for the love.

angelarose
10 years ago

Stunning!” is the first word that popped in my head!

Shones
10 years ago

Simply beautiful. The pictures are timeless. Yes, I love the bigness!!!

Sondrina
Sondrina
10 years ago

jinaki! i truly enjoyed your story! i just made my one yr loc/natural anniversary and i’m loving it! I wanted to know more about your work in black mental health. I’ll be graduating for undergrad this year and black mental health is my main research interest. Is there a way that we can further connect? my email is: sbullitt@umail.ucsb.edu

LBell
LBell
10 years ago

AWESOME…and I mean that in the true sense of the word. 🙂 Reading this made me think of one of my favorite quotes: “You were born an original; don’t die a copy.” I too believe that being natural has really opened my eyes to the natural beauty of all black women and how society tries to take it away/deny it. And I am SO going to work towards having a ‘fro like that someday! Thanks for this, BGLH.

Jinaki
Jinaki
10 years ago

Thanks, sistren! @Sondrina: I sent you an email. I’d be glad to talk more with you!! @LBell: love that quote!! thanks for the good vibes!

Apartmentlife
Apartmentlife
10 years ago

Thanks for the reply Jinaki. Hopefully I’ll come across a coat similar one day 🙂

luvmylocs
luvmylocs
10 years ago

great hair, inspiring story and wonderful work you’re doing by focusing on mental health in the black community. i had a similar path of being loose then locing and now being loose again so i feel connected to your story in many ways. stay positive and beautiful!!!

Happyhope
Happyhope
10 years ago

Nice afro. How do you maintain it at night? How long do you wait between washes?

how to braid
10 years ago

Making cornrows with artificial hair is especially nice if you have thin hair, it also gives a nice effect when you take a different color of fake hair.

black hair piece
10 years ago

Keep in mind that cornrows generally look pretty for roughly 2 weeks.

Brandi
Brandi
10 years ago

I love your style and your unapologetic stance for being who you are. I strive to be like that. In both professional and personal settings I have a lot of incentive to wear a weave and, generally, to be very cautious in my embrace of Afrocentric styles. I have to remind myself that it takes courage to be myself and to respect my own sensibilities instead of continually following rules that I neither created nor informed.

Thank you for the inspiration.

Lynette
Lynette
10 years ago

Please I need to hear more from you about styling care and especially those eyebrows.

Lydia Douglas
Lydia Douglas
8 years ago

I made a film called Nappy. Would love to see it get more exposure.

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I such as your toughts on your wordpress bog!

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