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Rafaela // Natural Hair Style Icon

Avatar • Jun 1, 2010

Today’s style icon is my friend Rafi! She’s one of my favorite people and I’m super excited to have her on the blog!

Where are you from?
R:
I was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. When I was six years old, my parents decided to move to Sweden where they believed better opportunities existed for me and my siblings. I lived in Helsingborg, which is a city in the Southern part of Sweden, until I finished high school, and that is when I decided to move to the US to go to college.

I got a B.A in Journalism from Columbia College Chicago in May 2009. My ultimate goal is to combine my writing, language skills and people skills to work for an international humanitarian organization that mainly focuses on human rights and international development. For this reason I am going back to school to get a Masters Degree in Global Affairs.

Also, my hobby is to make jewelry, which can be found on www.belezajewelry.etsy.com. Beleza jewelry is Portuguese for Beauty -– so is the theme of my jewelry collection that represents beleza found in women and cultures across the world.”

How is natural hair viewed in Brazil and Sweden?
R:
Being from Brazil where we have the largest Black population outside of West Africa, one would think that natural hair is something common that is generally embraced by most people. You’d be surprised to learn that this is not the case. Unfortunately, until recently, skin color, economic status … and hair …was a reflection of your intellect and social status in the society.

However, in the city of Salvador (Bahia), where more than 80 percent of the population has Black African ancestry, the African influence, or Afro-Brazilian culture, including natural hair is undoubtly seen frequently, and it is more embraced there than it is in the rest of the country.

With strong influences from leaders in the Diaspora in recent years, Brazilians’ mentalities are progressively changing, and natural hair is being seen more and more often.

Wearing your hair natural in Sweden, you’ll definitely stand out. You already look different by being a non-blonde, so to rock a ‘fro on top of that? You’ll definitely get curious stares, but it is mostly stares of admiration rather than of dislike. It is considered bold, cool and different.

I’ve known you for a few years now and your relationship with your hair is very healthy. You’ve had it short, you’ve had it long. It always looks beautiful and well cared for. What do you attribute your attitude to?
R:
Unfortunately, I had to learn to want healthy hair the hard way. With that I mean the countless failed perms, expenses of maintaining extensions, and just overall how weak and damaged my hair had become after many years of chemically processing it. Once I started to understand how to take care of my hair, it started to look beautiful, and that is when I truly started to appreciate it.

In order to be able to maintain your hair you need to know what products and brushes to use, trim your ends, give yourself deep conditioning treatments from time to time, and just be very patient. I am still learning though. I learn from getting advice from blogs like this one, friends, magazines. Youtube clips, etc.

Why did you go natural?
R:
I went natural in 2003 after shaving all my hair off. Shaving my hair was symbolic to me; it was more shaving off all negative energies.

I had my hair braided on and off for a few years; I’ve been wearing it out since 2007.

What style do you love to rock?
R:
I have a love-hate relationship with my puff. I love it; it’s simple and works on most occasions, only problem is that it gets boring really quick. I also like twists, twist out and braids. I’m learning that accessories are the secret to revamp any hairstyle. A flower in that puff, and voila, you look exotic.

Although I wear my hair natural, I am by no means against extension or trying other things that will give me a different look.

My main concern is just to maintain my hair in its natural state and not add any chemicals to it that will damage it.

What do you use in your hair?
R:
I got a Miss Jessie’s Buttercream for my birthday that I love. Love! It is everything that I have looked for in other products. It gives my hair moisture without weighing it down and it simultaneously works as a support when twisting.

I use an Açaí conditioner to give myself a weekly deep conditioning treatment. It strengthens, repairs and softens my hair.

Why do you prefer natural hair?
R:
For me natural hair is better because it is healthier, it grows better, I can do fun and versatile things with it, and it is just a part of me.

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Afrika
10 years ago

What an articulate and intelligent young woman. I have so much respect for black women with a multicultural perspective…and of course, she’s very pretty.

trackback

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Rafaela, Amani Dakar . Amani Dakar said: #naturalbeauty RT @thelazzyone: Congrats @rafaelaiam I didn’t know u were on @bglhonline !! 😀 http://bit.ly/a5gy5a I just saw it. […]

Vanisha
10 years ago

very pretty.
so im assuming she speaks portuguese and swedish (aside from english)?? i want to study languages in school..
how saddening it is that no matter where you go, wearing natural hair isnt the normal thing to see

Tiffany
10 years ago

She looks absolutely great.

Peace, Love and Chocolate
Tiffany

brit
brit
10 years ago

she is pretty and her background is highly interesting. I hope she accomplish all of her dreams and her hair is gorgeous

C.O
C.O
10 years ago

Beautiful!

Stephanie
Stephanie
10 years ago

She is beautiful and elegant!

Elida
10 years ago

Good to know that there are more Brazilians with natural hair and there is room for everyone here. Rafaela, you’re beautiful. Kisses!

Amma Mama
Amma Mama
10 years ago

You are soo preTTy! & I LOVE your french braid 🙂

JouJou
10 years ago

You are absolutely stunning. It is very true that our gorgeous hair is not accepted as the mainstream look. I honestly think that the real reason is that our hair is so gorgeous and we are so gorgeous that many people are intimidated by the different levels of beauty we have. Sing it sister you are absolutely representing all of us. I see myself as a global citizen. One quote I love to repeat is ” Don’t try to put me in a box, I won’t fit ” I am an international woman. You my dear are definitely one too!!!!

laela
laela
10 years ago

beautiful!

Rafaela
Rafaela
10 years ago

Thank you all for your comments, support and encouragements!

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