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.
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.
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.