Thursday, November 17, 2011

Featured: Natural JazzWife

Your name/handle: JazzWife
Networking Info:

Twitter: @Slimwavy

Q: Tell us a little about yourself!

A: I am a 48 year old wife and mother of 2. My son, 21, will be graduating in May 2012 from Xavier University of Louisiana with a degree in computer science and my 17 year old daughter is currently contemplating her college options. She wants to study at a conservatory and major in music. Her father, my husband, is a jazz musician, so she has developed by her musical interests quite naturally. Next to my love of God, my family is probably the most important thing in my life. I work at a private liberal arts University in New England as a senior director of a school-based fund raising unit. I have also been an avid blogger since 2009. My blog mainly chronicles my natural hair journey from transition through chop and also includes entries focused on music, musicians, and monthly features on Afro Latinas and Afro Latinos as well as occasional entries on personal finance. Check me out at

Q: What made you go natural and how long have you been Natural?
A: By 2007, I was growing weary of my 8 – 10 week ritual. The expense was mounting (I was paying over $130 per touch up). My hair was doing this weird thinning thing at the very front of my head, which I didn't understand. I have always had a lot of hair so that fact that I could see my scalp was really annoying me. When I brought it up to my Dominican hairdresser, he told me that my hair had always been like that. For me, that was strike ONE. I started stretching my relaxers to 14 weeks and more and I noticed that my hair seemed to be less thin when I did that. During another appointment with my hairdresser, I told him that I was contemplating going natural. He told me flat out that I couldn't do that because I “didn't know what was under there.” He said it like my unrelaxed hair was disgusting. I was insulted. For me, that was strike TWO. I didn't wait for the last strike. When I was due for a relaxer in October 2008, I just didn't go. So, my last relaxer was in August 2008. I never turned back.

Q: Did you transition or BC?
A: I transitioned for 24 months from October 2008 to September 2010. When I began my transition I knew that I was in it for the long haul. Toward the end of my transition when I had more natural hair than relaxed hair and everyone around me was encouraging me to chop, I remained steadfast to my goal of 2 years. Why? It was all about wanting to be able to put my hair in pony tail if I wanted to. That was important to me at the time. These days, I rarely wear them.

Q: What products do you currently use?
A: I use Karen's Body Beautiful for shampooing and conditioning (both rinse out and leave-in). I also use KBB jojoba oil for sealing in moisture and keep my ends happy. For deep conditioning, I use Original Hair Masque, a clay based mud from Butters-n-Bars (this stuff is amazing) or a yogurt, coconut cream concentrate and coconut oil mixture (this stuff is also amazing). For styling, I also use aloe vera gel (a liquid), Eco Styler gel, avocado oil, sweet almond oil and will be trying argan oil soon.

Q:What are some of the positive/negative comments that you've received about your hair?
A: Most of the comments about my hair have been overwhelmingly positive. My husband, my daughter and son have been very supportive of my decision not to relax or heat straighten my hair. Initially, people at work were invasively curious but they have now become more acclimated to my hair and respectfully curious. Many of very effusive with praise. However, there are two negative comments I can recall. The first was a young white girl, who came up to me to tell me that she preferred my hair straight. I was able to keep my cool and tell her that I preferred my hair the way it is. I was proud of myself for not telling her that I didn't care what she thought. Another time, someone asked me if I was rebelling against something. To that, I didn't have a ready response because I needed to be more guarded. And when others stare at me so hard with a pained and perplexed look on their face, I have learned to ignore them. In fact, I have gotten quite skilled at that. But as long as I can count the negative episodes on one hand, I think I'm doing alright.

Q: What words of encouragement do you have for those who are transitioning or for natural newbies?

A: Going natural is often a very personal decision fraught with fear of rejection, worry about future hair issues, curiosity about the hair itself and utter confusion about what to do first and when. I think all the women who have gone before the current transitioners and the newbies are the perfect mentors. We are proof that going natural can not only be survived . . . but that the outcomes, as varied as they are, are each beautiful. Getting to know your hair and learning to care for your hair is half the fun of the journey. Learning to embrace and accept your hair, and by extension, really love yourself – the real you – is an incredible bonus. I would tell anyone thinking about becoming chemical free to jump in with both feet. It has been the very best thing that I could have done for myself. And I bet it will be the same for the transitioner or the newly natural. Go ahead, do it. You'll enjoy the journey.

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Your name/handle: JazzWife
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