Hairstyle / Presently, I wear my hair in locs. I wore my natural hair for many years during junior high, high school and adulthood. During the '80s I wore my hair permed and in the dreaded Jheri curl. Through the first half of the '90s I went back and forth between a natural hairstyle and having a perm, until chemicals finally destroyed my hair. My hair had to be cut into a small natural, which grew relatively quickly. On the day I graduated from community college in May 1995, I twisted my hair and never looked back.
Reason for wearing a "natural" hairstyle / I wear my hair natural because it makes me feel good and look good. While I still have to go to the salon to get re-twisted every six weeks, I no longer have to smell chemicals and burning hair, like in the traditional beauty shops, oops, I mean salons.
Support of your natural look / Everyone has been supportive of my hair choice, for the most part. Nobody seems to care whether or not I wear locs; however, I find that some Black women ask me why I do not dye my hair black, rather than leaving it salt and pepper. I usually tell them that it is a personal choice not to dye my hair, as I do not see myself as being defined by hair color or other superficial constraints that society tries to place on me.
Negative reactions / I cannot recall offhand any truly negative comments that I have received regarding my hair choice. If I have, the compliments exceeded any negative response. I do wish I had a dollar for every time someone asked me "how long have you been growing your hair?"
Response to negative commentary / If I had to respond to a negative comment, I would say, quite sweetly, "You wear your hair the way you want and I will do the same."
Women with natural hair whose style you admire / Alice Walker and Toni Morrison are my mentors because they sported their locs when the styule was less popular and made it more mainstream.
Any useful natural hair care tips, styling techniques or products you'd like to share? / Keep your hair clean and don't put a lot of different products in your hair. Make sure you condition your hair after you wash it and remember, "greasing" your scalp clogs the pores and does not promote growth.
Advice for women considering a natural hairstyle / The style is a commitment to a new paradigm and it is not for everyone. You've got to be ready for a life altering change. I guarantee you will feel freeer when and if you go natural.
Any blogs, websites, books or print magazines, which deal with the subject of natural hair that you'd care to recommend? / Yes, the following books:
--Nice Dread: Hair Care Basics and Inspiration for Colored Girls Who've Considered Locking Their Hair by Lonnice Brittenum Bonner.
--Locs for Life: The Root to Well Being for African-American Women by Kalimah Johnson
--Hairlocking: Everything You Need to Know: African, Dread and Nubian Locks- by Nekhena Evans
Additional Commentary / I would like to add to all those reading this-- your hair is a part of you. Nobody has the right to touch you without permission. I have strangers coming up to me, touching my hair, and I find it disturbing, quite frankly. I sometimes try to be diplomatic and explain to them that they would not like it if I came up to them out of the blue and started touching their hair. Just because my hair is long does not mean you can touch it. Sometimes I become downright grumpy about it, because not only are you touching me without permission, I don't know where your hands have been!
Definition of a natural woman / My definition of a natural woman is one who knows herself and stays true to that knowledge.
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"Pamella R.'s Story" is part of an on-going series I created that focuses on African American women who wear their hair au naturel. Check the archives (see sidebar on the right) for past segments, features and profiles. If you'd like to participate in the series, please email me for details (go to my blog's profile page or visit my website for contact information). Your feedback is always appreciated. Please feel free to leave any questions or comments you might have about "Pamella R.'s Story," the "Natural Women: Our Hair, Our Stories" series or Black hair in general, in the section below marked for comments. Thank You!