The hair tips, advice and recommendations given on this blog are given based on the experiences of the authors. These tips may not work for everyone and every hair type and it is important to acknowledge this since we are neither hair specialists nor trichologists.

Also many pictures on this blog belong to the authors but there are others that we do not have ownership for and thus we do not claim ownership of the ones that do not belong to us.

Friday, July 29, 2011

"I was a Napp in hiding" - Interview with Eugenia

Happy Friday everyone! Woohoo! Today we are featuring a woman who inspires me with her grace and gentleness and maturity. Eugenia tells us about her natural journey in this interview, so please enjoy!

What is your name?

Eugenia Olayinka Afolabi

Where are you from and where do you live?

I’m from Nigeria and live in Canada

What do you do?

I’m a Corporate Communications professional –– my current role: Writer/Editor in a health care regulatory organization in Toronto Canada

How long have you kept your hair natural?

It's been 7 years.

Wow for real! At one time you had your hair relaxed. Tell us why you decided to go natural?

One day, my uncle who is a neurosurgeon described the type of neurological damage chemical relaxers cause –– in his expert opinion there are many medical issues black women face that are linked to our use of these chemicals. Imagine if a girl started relaxing her hair at age 15 and retouching every 2 months, by age 60, she would have had 540 instances of direct exposure, through skin and by inhalation, to ammonium thioglycolate, sodium hydroxide and calcium hydroxide –– culprits for adverse health conditions including cancer! And why? Just to fit into a euro-centric mold of beautiful hair?! My uncle convinced me; that ended my saga with the “creamy crack.” lol!

How did you go natural? Did you transition or did you do the big chop ('cold turkey' method)? Did anyone help you or encourage you?

I transitioned by putting my hair in braided extensions, then moved to wigs and weaves. Hehe..

Yeah, I think you are now an expert in wigs! LOL. So after you went natural, you kinda kept your nappiness hidden. That is why I always called you a "Napp in hiding".

Yes, I was a “Napp in hiding.”

Why did you keep your natural hair "hidden"?

Two reasons:

1. I did not know what to do with my hair

2. Even though I swore never to go back to the chemicals, for a while I was concerned that rocking my natural hair will “rock the boat” in my work environment. You know, the beauty of natural afro hair is that it changes easily with washing, combing and everyday styling -- it rebels against consistency. I was afraid of appearing fickle in the workplace because I knew my hair will not always look consistent compared to my non-black or relaxed-haired counterparts.

What made you decide to now come out of hiding and rock your natural hair?

I think I just had enough! I was dying to be authentic. Whenever I rocked my natural hair on weekends, I felt more like myself and when wearing the weaves/wigs to work, I felt like I was in costume. Plus, the wigs and weaves were damaging my natural hair edges. The deal was sealed when a friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer and had to wear a wig when she started loosing her hair with treatments. I thought to myself: "She has a valid reason to wear a wig but what is my reason for covering when I have a head full of healthy natural hair?!

What’s your daily hair regimen?

Well, that depends on what my hair is doing that day/week. I wash weekly. If I have twist-outs, I daily spritz with water and almond oil mix, fluff my hair and go. If I plan to wear it in a bun, I put in four to six plaits every night so it doesn’t become tough to comb the next morning.

Did you ever feel awkward about wearing your natural hair to work?

Oh yes, I did! See my answer above. That’s all changed now -- I wear my hair confidently.

What kind of comments do you get about your natural hair? How do you respond?

Surprisingly, it has been mostly positive comments, even at work. I respond politely even to annoying comments.

My favourite comment: My preferred look of you is when you show your natural hair. Me: Aaaw…thanks!

Another comment: “You cut your hair again?!” ME: Yep! (This is not the truth but I don’t have enough time at work to explain the structure of black hair and moisture related shrinkage to each person who makes this comment.)

In the workplace, my favourite comment is no comment –– ignore my hair and let’s focus on getting some work done! Lol!

LOL! What do you like best about your hair?

I like its versatility. I can do so many styles with it that cannot be achieved with straight hair. When I look at my hair, I see myself as God made me and I believe that by embracing it, I am agreeing with his opinion of His creation: “Behold, it was very good.”

Favourite hair products and products you cannot live without?

My absolute favourite product is all-natural –– can’t live without Shea butter (best hair humectant and moisturiser). I mostly condition-wash but if I have to remove build-up, I use Deva Curl Low-Poo Shampoo. I also use virgin coconut oil for conditioning and mayonnaise/egg yolk mix for deep conditioning. To keep it smelling nice after deep conditioning, I use Whole Foods’ 365 line of conditioners.

What do you say to people who want to go natural or to other "Napps in hiding"?

Do it! There are many resources online (like this blog *wink*) to help you along whether you decide to do the big chop, transition or lock your hair –– read blogs, watch you-tube and you will find the joy in being true to yourself: curls, kinks, napps and all.

Till next time, keep it natural!



Eugenia said...

Your encouragement to other "Napps in hiding"?

I'd (also) like to say to other "Napps in hiding" -- please know that your hair is a thing of beauty to behold -- don't hide it (except of course, if you occasionaly desire a temporary style change -- that's all part of being a woman and having fun with hair).
Some may say "I need to wear a wig or weave because my hair is so hard to manage and I can't get it to look right." First, what do you define as "right?" If "right" is straight, flowy hair or perfectly coiled/curled hair, then you are not ready to strut your afro/kinky beauty. Second, the confidence to bring your napps out of hiding starts with your mind. As Marcus Garvey said, "Take the kinks out of your mind, not your hair." Contrary to popular misinformation, natural black hair is not "difficult" or "stubborn." It merely needs love and understanding. Love = moisture (water, conditioners and humectants). Understanding = kinky hair cannot flourish if it is handled the same way you would handle silky hair (educate yourself about caring for your hair -- go online and read blogs and view video tutorials). If you prefer, start slowly by coming out of hiding on weekends and try various styles. As times goes on, you will fall in love with your own hair and will want to expose its beauty to the world 24-7!

Omozo said...

Thanks so much Eugenia for your time and awesome interview!

Tammy Huggins said...

Love this Omozo! I just did the big chop couple weeks ago. It's great reading about others on the natural hair journey.

Ene Ojile-St Preux said...

loooove this. I am two years in and cannot imagine ever going back. I have learned so so much about my hair. Most important are; 1. Only comb when wet to reduce breakage 2. pre and post wash conditioning 3. sulfate free shampoos 4. air dry in twists

Omozo said...

@Tammy and Ene: Thanks for the comments.
@Ene: will keep an eye out for sulfate free shampoos. I never do pre wash conditioning. Hmmm ... will have to look into this.