Where do you live?
E: I’m a Chicago girl, born and raised, currently calling the Logan Square neighborhood home base. I work as a consultant in the vintage clothing industry, working freelance for three vintage businesses in the city, and additionally I’m a freelance artist and curator of pop‐up art exhibitions. I went to the School of the Art Institute for about a year, with emphasis in painting and fiber & material studies, but it wasn’t necessarily the right match for me, so we said our peace in 2005, and I went on to do all sorts of other bigger and better things.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
E: I was just sooooo over my hair being this ongoing stressful and negative focal point for me. I always had really rad and ridiculous hair styles when I worked with relaxers and flat irons, and I would always receive compliments and kudos on them because I guess they were what you could perceive as unconventional in terms of African‐American women’s hairstyles, but it was so much work, and deep down, I was miserable and never felt like my natural self.
As I started to hang out with more natural women and explore life as an adult, I started to see that I had been blessed and NOT plagued with these awesome super wild and tight curls, and I could see how mentally I had conditioned myself to think that because of the type of music I was into and the lifestyle that I chose to live that I would need to have straight hair, even if it wasn’t on my own aesthetic terms, and that just wasn’t the case anymore.
When and how did you transition into natural hair?
E: I wanna say it was November of 2008 when I gave myself the big chop. I was super nervous, because even though my mind had been made up to do it since I had come back from a life‐altering vacation in Oakland (which played a huge part in my decision), physically I was still attached to my straight locks (even though they had some serious new growth action at that point). I knew if I waited around or contemplated it any longer it wasn’t going to happen, and I certainly knew that I wasn’t going to have a stylist do it for me, because I knew no matter how amazing my friends in the hair industry are and how much I love them, this was going to be my own personal experience, and nobody was going to do it for me. Which is not to say that I recommend this method for any woman, hacking away can lead to ridiculous lop‐sided hairdos, of course.
So I grabbed some shears I had around the house and went to town. I also made it a point to throw out every product I had that I knew had started to suck the life out of my scalp, ie. my hair spray. Once I chopped it all off, I still wasn’t quite ready for full fro status, I didn’t have a lot of length to work with at that point, but I did and still do have a full head of thick, thick curls, so while transitioning, I used a soft bristle brush to wrap and set it while wet into little baby waves.
I am extremely happier and about a million times more confident living my life as a natural woman! I understand my self worth in a way I could never fully comprehend when I would douse my head with chemicals. It sounds so cheesy, but the world just seems brighter, ya know?
What’s your basic regimen?
E: Well, let’s see, my hair regimen changes with length. The thing I keep consistent is WATER. Hydration is key! I wet my hair and co‐wash every day, and give it a nice healthy scrub a few times a week. Sometimes I switch up products, but I try to keep it pretty simple, so I tend to stick with the following basics: Queen Helene’s hair cholesterol in the shower, Motion’s or Luster’s Pink Hair Lotion right after I dry it off a bit, but definitely while still pretty wet, followed by a daily dose of olive oil cream (which as far as I’m concerned, everybody should swear by!) massaged in while my hair’s still damp.
I use a metal fan pick to pull out my hair and rock my afro daily, and on the days when I decide to wear it either pinned up on the sides (2nd photo), or up in a huge scarf and bow piled on top of my head (1st photo), I go back (after picking it thoroughly) with my soft bristle brush and a small bit of Murray’s pommade and I brush my curls upward, so as to train it in the direction I want it to go in on that particular day.
What mistakes have you made with your hair that you’ve learnt from?
E: Flat ironing my relaxed hair AFTER putting oily product in it, and having just bleached the front half of it, I had never heard something sizzle SO intensely. But at the time, I figured it was the normal and only way I was going to be able to have fire engine red, bone straight hair. Oops, I guess.
How does your hair express who you are?
E: My hair reflects everything about me. It’s my heritage, my narrative. It always has been, and I guess with every changing style, a new part of me has come to life. I mean, realistically, if someone were to come up behind me and shave my head, I wouldn’t lose the essence of who I am, but I feel that my hair strongly represents how I have grown as a woman and career‐minded adult. And I believe for that other natural woman, or women inclinig to make the change, it expresses that I’ve gone through the same battle, figuratively speaking. And I’m as happy as can be.
I was really moved by the last interview you did with Cherekana, where at the end she discussed how she dislikes how people view her wearing her hair the way she does as a political statement and that not being the case… I deal with that frequently, generally sporting what some would consider a classic afro, from the days of the Panther party, and it becomes trying at times when people make assumptions about you based on your hair, your looks, etc, without even knowing you as a human being.
I think a majority of us may have been on that angry militant tip at some point, however long or short‐lived it might have been, but for me, sporting my hair the way it’s MEANT to be is completely different.
The lightness of my skin doesn’t make me any less black than I feel, and the way I wear my hair doesn’t make me any more. It simply makes me, me!
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
E: Certainly! I have a blog about my art, vintage goodies, adventures and all that jazz. Check it out at http://mahaloclub.blogspot.com/.
You can also find me on Facebook, or on etsy at http://www.etsy.com/shop/psychosurplus