*Prepared for BGLH by Meosha Tall of 1MeNaturally
F: My name is Farhia, but everyone calls me Free. I live in Toronto, Canada. I am currently studying International Development Studies at York University.
What is the natural hair scene like in Canada?
F: Unfortunately, in Toronto there isn’t much of a natural hair scene. A lot of black women still choose to weave and relax their hair. I’d even go as far to say that I am well acquainted with a majority of women who wear their hair natural in Toronto. That should give you an idea of how small the natural hair scene is.
When and how did you transition into natural hair?
F: I went through many different stages with my hair and reached a point where I just wanted to be me 24/7, 365. By coloring, relaxing and straightening my hair at the hairdressers, I came to realize that this look wasn’t me, wasn’t my culture, wasn’t my identity and wouldn’t be how I represented myself to the world much longer.
In 2007, I realized that my natural curls and texture especially at the ends were ruined and if I really wanted to go natural I’d have to cut all the damage off. This was difficult for me to do especially since I (like a lot of black women) am very attached to the length of my hair. From straightened hair past my shoulders in the middle of my back, I cut it into a short Afro. From then on I used natural hair products and focused on conditioning and growing out my newfound thick, curly and healthy hair.
In what ways (if any) has going natural affected you?
F: By going natural I definitely felt a lot more confident. It was difficult at first. I had to get used to comments from co-workers and peers, “Why don’t you straighten your hair anymore?”, “It was so long! WHY”, “I prefer it the way you had it before”. Going natural changed others’ perceptions of me. I was now labeled as “afrocentric.” It doesn’t bother me because I don’t find it offensive. I just don’t want to be affiliated with any group. I am a woman. I am Canadian. I am Kenyan. I am Somali. By going natural I felt free from an oppressive Eurocentric attitude my society perpetuated. I came to terms that natural hair = freedom.
How would you describe your hair?
F: I would describe my hair as thick with tight curls. However if I comb it out after I wash, it is much longer and falls down the sides of my face in comparison to when it is usually just sticking up and out the sides of my face.
What’s your regimen?
F: My scalp is very sensitive so I have to wash my hair at least 3 times a week, otherwise it will be irritated. Since my hair is very curly and thick, I condition, condition, and condition! In addition to a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner I use a curl defining cream to help with some definition to keep my hair shiny and looking its best. For the most part all the products I use have certified organic ingredients. For a basic wash and condition I use Moroccanoil and Uncle Funky’s Daughter Rich & Funky. For a monthly deep hair condition treatment I use Moroccanoil Oil Hair Treatment. For everyday use to maintain curl definition I use Mixed Chicks Leave in Conditioner.
How do you retain length and moisture in your hair?
F: In addition to my hair regimen, I notice that a healthy diet contributes to the health and growth of my hair. I eat a lot of fish, tofu, nuts (sucker for almonds), avocados (literally addicted) and I only cook with olive oil. By keeping your body healthy, wearing a silk scarf or cap to bed while using products with organic ingredients (even though they can be quite expensive) I retain the length and moisture in my hair.
What mistakes have you made with your hair that you’ve learned from?
F: I made the mistake of relaxing my hair as a young teenager and after several years of maintenance my hair has finally reached its natural texture. Not only were relaxers uncomfortable and abrasive, I had to continue to relax my hair for a few months because there were too many different textures in my hair and I wouldn’t wear my hair any other way but straight. I went through this stage where I’d dye it different shades of red for about a year. Looking back at some photographs…no words needed, YIKES! Trying to change something beautiful I was born with would be the biggest mistake I made in the first place.
Where do you buy your products?
F: I buy all of my hair products in a store located in Toronto called Honey Fig. They also have an online store. http://www.honeyfig.com
What would you like to see in Canada in terms of haircare?
F: I would love to see more women of color in Toronto wearing their hair natural. It would be great if there were more resources and stores like Honey Fig, to educate women on the positive effects (internally and externally) on wearing their hair natural. Let go of the weaves, lacefronts, wigs, relaxers, perms and fall in love with your twists, braids, locks, afros, curls, thick, short or long hair.
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
F: You can find me on tumblr: freeandasiagoingham.tumblr.com