Sunday, October 25, 2009

Natural Women: Our Hair, Our Stories (Vanessa R.)

Natural Women: Our Hair, Our Stories

(Vanessa R.'s Story)

Vanessa R.

Background/ Vanessa R. is an author and playwright. She is in her mid-thirties and is a resident of North Carolina. Vanessa enjoys reading, writing, acting and meeting aspiring and inspiring people. She loves hearing from readers.

Hairstyle/ I have been wearing my hair in a tight up do twists. I am sure there is a name for this style, I just don't know what it is; but I love it! I decided to go natural my sophomore year in college. I attended an HBCU and was in awe of the many natural hairstyles my sisters were sporting on campus. I loved it. I found going natural was a constant on my mind. So, I did it. I just stopped getting a relaxer, after a couple of months. I cut my hair low. I wore my hair natural for a period of three to four years. I was always aware of my hair when I was natural. I knew it required high maintenance. With relaxed hair, I could put some gel on it; put it in a ponytail and go.

Reason for wearing a more "natural" hairstyle/ I consider myself to be a child of the earth. I am natural. The less the chemicals, the better it is for me. I try to eat and live healthy--I do not eat red meats. My aim is to one day become a vegetarian and then a vegan.

Negative reactions/ I have had some comments from people saying natural hair is a throw back to the days when African American women had to struggle to be beautiful. I've even had someone state to me that nappy hair is not attractive and it takes away from the beauty of women. I immediately pointed out the beauty of Lauryn Hill and Erkyah Badu, natural beauties personified.

Additional commentary/ I remember going natural from a couple years back. When I started locking my hair, my hair went through the ugly stages. During those stages, I began to develop a relationship with my hair. A relationship with my hair? I've never had this before. I would just put it in a pony tale and be on my way. I know my ladies understand what I am saying. : ) My growing dreds was not a political statement, nor was I trying to be different. It felt right for me. So, my journey to growing dred locks became a spiritual one. I nurtured and tended to it as I would a garden. I watched it transform and grow.

At the time, certain corporate businesses had strict dress code policies. Locking was unacceptable. I had a choice to make. I wanted to work for a certain company. What do you think I did? Yep, you guessed it, I sacrificed. : ( I went to my stylist, and had her cut my dreds, which were shoulder length at the time. It took my stylist three attempts before I finally allowed her to cut my hair. I cried. those around me didn't understand my tears. They thought I should be happy to get my hair relaxed as this was a thing for modern ladies and that I should stop being yesterday's lady. I am not knocking relaxers, going natural was what felt right for me.

Definition of a “natural woman”/ A natural woman is someone who is secure in her own skin. She walks both in and with confidence in who she is called and chosen to be, (and there is a difference) regardless of what others choose to say or think about her. At the end of the day sisters, friends, natural women, it is natural to be who you are. Do you!

If you'd like to learn more about

Vanessa R.,

please visit her at


the certain ones

"Vanessa 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 "Vanessa 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!

Friday, October 23, 2009

New Interview

Hey, I'm off visiting with Katrina Spencer. Ms. Spencer is the author of Six O'Clock and she was kind enough to invite me over to her blog for a little Q &A. If you have a moment, why not join us? Katrina's spot is called
I hope to see you there!

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Natural Woman . . . Reading Beyond The Words

Recently, a reviewer with APOOO gave my novel, A NATURAL WOMAN, 5 stars!!!!! It's always nice when someone expresses appreciation for your work. It's even better when someone demonstrates a real understanding of your work. I think on some level this reviewer recognized that A Natural Woman is more than just a story about a woman’s obsession with her hair or pursuit of a man.

In a A Natural Woman the real story exists just beyond the words on the page, if that makes any sense. Really, if you engage in a close read, you'll discover the story peeking at you from behind the little things, like

**Dante's fascination with Kafka's THE METAMORPHOSIS

**Aliesha’s office in the basement of building called Sojourner Hall

**The lover who tells Aliesha he wants to be her Teacake and wants her to be his Janie

**The blind, bald clairvoyant who can see what others can’t

** Aliesha’s discussion of the “beloved disciple

**the presence and power of the dead

** Dante’s 40 day disappearance

** The spider Dante spies on the ceiling

Of course, the fact that I didn't think too many folks would "get" A NATURAL WOMAN didn't stop me from writing it. Sometimes you just have to be willing to go there . . .

Monday, October 12, 2009

Natural Women: Our Hair, Our Stories (Teowonna C.)

Natural Women: Our Hair, Our Stories
Teowonna C.'s Story
Teowonna C.

Background / Teowonna C. is a 36-year-old self-described "nappy head" living in Columbia, SC. She is a communications specialist for an insurance company by day and a writer, newspaper editor and radio talk show producer by night. Busy girl! But she always finds time for her passion, blogging! She unleashes her opinions or theories on the world at:
Hairstyle / Right now, I wear my hair in locs, but I take pride in showing the versatility of locs. Many people think you can't do much with locs . . . boy are they wrong! February 2010 will be 6 years of having locs, but I've been natural for about 7 years.
Reason for wearing a "natural" hairstyle / I am very much a free spirit an independent soul. When I first considered locing my hair about 10 years ago, I knew I'd catch the devil from my husband. I had a relaxer at the time and was ready to go back to the low fro I had when I was in college. So, I wore braids for a few months to let my hair grow out. I told my husband, who was 17 years my senior, that I was going to get my hair cut down. He really didn't have much to may until he came home from fishing one Saturday morning and saw that I had made good on my promise. He was livid! He said, "I can't stand a nappy-headed ass woman!"
When I went to church the next day, my sorority sister told me how nice my hair looked. I told her, "Please, don't say anything about my hair . . . I almost got a divorce over this damn hair!" To my husband's credit, he told me months later, after he got used to my hair, that my short fade looked very nice on me.

My husband passed away suddenly a year or so later. On the anniversary of his death, which also happened to be my 31st birthday, I loced my hair. I don't know if that was an act of celebration (of my birthday) or of deviance (against my husband's previous wishes). Either way, it is one of the best decisions I've ever made. Today, I'd like to think my husband would approve of this nappy-headed ass woman!

Support of your natural look / Actually, everyone. Everyone pretty much knows that I'm gonna be 'me.' Other than my husband, everyone else has been cool!
Negative reactions / My hair is kinda of bronzy now (courtesy of Sunkissed Bronze from Dark and Lovely), but while I was searching for the right color, my hair was 'very blonde' . . . not platinum, but pretty dang close. I had a job interview and wore my locs as conservatively as I could . . . but how conservative could I be? I mean, they were blonde locs! I got the job, but months later, my White manager said, "I hired you even though you had blonde hair." I told her, matter-of-factly, "You should have . . . I would have hired you with blonde hair."
Response to negative commentary / I don't get too many, but as you can see from my response above, I'm a pretty quick comeback!
Advice for women considering a natural hairstyle / I give these two pieces of advice all the time: 1) Locs are not a hairstyle, they are a commitment. If you ain't ready, you just ain't ready. 2) Don't get locs because you want them to look like mine. Because they WON'T look like mine, or anyone else's. Love and accept your locs for what they are . . . an extension of you!
Additional commentary / If you go "natural" don't be surprised if you start to make other life transformations. I think my locs made me more 'me' than I have ever been before . . . hence my blog. A lot of people don't agree with my theories, but most acknowledge that they are 100 percent That Teowonna!
Definition of a "natural woman" / A natural woman is one who is true to herself. She does what makes her feel good. You don't have to rock a natural do or be make-up free to be a natural woman. You just gotta be YOU. That Teowonna, is a natural woman.
Teowonna C.
If you'd like to learn more about
Teowonna C. visit her blog
"Teowonna C.'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 "Teowonna C.'s Story," the "Natural Women: Our Hair, Our Stories" series or Black hair in general, in the section below marked for comments.
Thank You!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Thursday Thirteen #46 . . . 13 People Who Share My Name

Have you ever “Googled” your name and been surprised by what you found? Chances are there’s at least one other person in the world who shares your name. I’ve stumbled upon a number of different Lori Johnsons in my online searches, many of them bright and talented individuals, like myself, and others I’d truly hate to be mistaken for (LOL). The following are some of the Lori Johnsons I’ve discovered online.

1) There’s at least one Lori Johnson who plays football. (Trust me, that’s not me. My running and tackling days are long behind me. Now, if you give me a good head start, I might be able to grab you and sit on you.)

2) From the looks of things, there’s an “outlaw” Lori Johnson who ran into some kind of legal trouble in the Dakotas. (Again, that’s not me. Even though, bizarrely enough, I did live in North Dakota as a teen and graduated from HS there. But my law-breaking days didn’t start until I got older and moved South.)

3) Evidently, there’s a Lori J. who starred in a $ex tape. (Or perhaps, that’s just wishful thinking on the part of someone aiming to blackmail me, LOL. If there is such a tape out there, I promise you Mom, I don’t know anything about it.)

4) There’s an Asian Lori Johnson who lives in my old hometown of Memphis and either sings in some choir or teaches Kindergarten. I can’t remember which. Possibly both.

5) Several of the Lori Johnsons out there are also authors. One of them writes paranormal fantasy about bears. (No, I’m not making this stuff up.)

6) Another Lori Johnson lives right here in Charlotte and works in banking. (I wonder if she’s ever Googled her name and wondered about some of the other Lori J.s, including me.)

7) There’s a Lori Johnson who not only shares my middle initial, but her middle name is very close to my own. (Equally as odd, I once met a woman named Lori whose brother has the same first name as my brother.)

8) One of the Lori Johnson’s out there is a musician. (One of these days I’m going to check out some of her tunes.)

9) A couple of the Lori Johnsons are real estate agents.

10) At least one lucky Lori Johnson knows a thing or two about cars and teaches other women how to handle themselves under the hood.

11) The Lori Johnson who works as an attorney holds the honor of being the first Lori Johnson I discovered online.

12) Another Lori Johnson works as an image consultant

13) Last, but not least, there’s an animal-loving (or perhaps slightly disturbed) Lori Johnson out there who is raising a monkey as a child.

In case you’re in doubt, I’m the Lori Johnson who writes oddball love stories for Kensington/Dafina. My second novel, A Natural Woman, is scheduled for publication in November.

Okay, now it's your turn. What are some of the stranger or funnier things you've discovered upon "Googling" your own name?

If you'd like to visit other
Thursday 13 Participants

Monday, October 05, 2009

A Few Things I'd Like You To Know About My Novel, A Natural Woman

1) A Natural Woman is NOT the sequel to my first novel, After The Dance. To be honest, I'm not exactly sold on the whole sequel concept. It seems too much like the perfect set-up for writing the same story, over and over and over again, a notion that doesn't set my creative juices on fire. However, I haven't ruled it out altogether. Perhaps, in time, I will revisit both sets of characters. Do think there is a lot more I could do with the characters from A Natural Woman.

2) Unlike After The Dance, my first novel, A Natural Woman is not a romantic comedy. The tone in ANW is much more serious and the style, I'd dare say, a bit more literary.

3) While A Natural Woman features a woman who sports a natural hairstyle, by no means is the author (that would be me) any sort of a "hair Nazi." I whole-heartedly support a woman's right to wear her hair any damn way she pleases.

4) While A Natural Woman features a woman who is very involved in her church, A Natural Woman is anything but Christian Fiction. So don't read it looking for any conversion scenes, "thou shalt not" sermons or folks getting the Holy Ghost.

5) A Natural Woman does contain a couple of love scenes that aren't intended for consumption by minors, the prudish or the faint of heart.

6) The main character in A Natural Woman, Professor Aliesha Eaton, is a figment of my all-too vivid imagination. I am not her, nor did I base her on anyone I currently know or I've ever met.

7) A Natural Woman touches on a number of social issues, colorism and violence against women, among them, but in what I hope is a non-heavy-handed kind of way.

8) A Natural Woman is full of symbols, among them: a 40-day absence; a spider on a ceiling; a campus building named Sojourner Hall and the reoccurring role of the dead. It's up to you to catch them and determine their meaning. Sorry, I'm not a "lead you to the water and make you drink" kind of author.

9) If you'd like to read an excerpt of A Natural Woman, visit my website

10) A Natural Woman is scheduled for release on October 27th, but you can preorder today via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders or through your local, neighborhood bookseller.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Natural Women: Our Hair, Our Stories (Michelle F.)

Natural Women: Our Hair, Our Stories
Michelle F.'s Story
Michelle F.

Background / I was born in Memphis 53 years ago and I currently reside in the city. Having had the opportunity to live briefly in Washington D.C., New York City and Boston, MA, I still prefer home. However, traveling is one of my passions and I have visited many cities in the United States and have also gone abroad. In January of 2010, I may be making my first pilgrimage to Israel.

Hairstyle / Currently, I am wearing my hair in a puff set. This is the look where you use a large ponytail holder and once on the head you twist it into the shape of the number 8. Your hair is pulled back and you gather the hair into the twisted band. I also wear the spiral rod look, which can be done using natural hair flexi-rods or the plastic spiral rod. Occasionally, I wear my hair pressed.

Reason for wearing a "natural" hairstyle / In late 2003, I decided to stop the chemical relaxer regimen and wear my hair natural. The natural look was more "me." Relaxers with all the chemicals in them are harsh on the hair and have a drying effect on one's crowning glory.

Support of your natural look / Many people and even strangers will compliment me on my natural hair styles when my hair do is fresh. By this, I mean having recently left the hairdresser.

Negative reactions / My goddaughter's father feels I should get my hair done when I'm wearing it naturally. He thinks I should wear it straight, relaxed or even pressed.

Response to negative commentary / Other than the above negative response, I can't think of any other negative comments; people may not want to convey their negativity to me. As far as my goddaughter's father, I really don't say anything because I know what is best for me."

A woman with natural hair whose style you admire / The character named, "Mona" in the canceled "Half and Half" TV sitcom is one I admire. Her hairstyle maybe a wig, but I still like the look on her.

Useful natural hair care tips, styling techniques or products / A local sister in Memphis sells her concoction at the Farmer's Market. This product is organic and consists of apple cider, vinegar, rosemary and nettles. It is called herban hair cider. It soothes my scalp and the cleansing feel it gives me is refreshing. This mixture is applied after shampooing and then rinsed off. Olive oil products, deep conditioners and hot oil treatments, I feel are a must.

Advice for a woman who is considering going natural / For a woman who is thinking about going natural, I would say, "Go for it!" It will not hurt anything and I feel it will only make the hair healthier.

Any blogs, websites, books or print magazines, which deal with the subject of natural hair you'd care to share or recommend / A co-worker shared with me the YouTube "Natural Black Hair Tutorial." On this site you can find a variety of hair styles and how to create them. In addition to the models showing you step-by-step the techniques of the hairstyles--you can learn about grooming your natural 'do. Of course, ESSENCE magazine features interesting articles on the natural look.

Additional comments/ My experience over the past six years is: my hair is thicker, softer, and has more length to it and I am pleased.

Definition of "a natural woman"/ My definition of a natural woman is one, like myself who is low maintenance when it comes to wearing a lot of make-up or any at all. And like myself, a natural woman does not like the artificial effect of wigs, weaves, hair color and finger nails. Although, I do like nail polish. I feel a natural woman is someone who likes herself both inside and out and does not compete with other women for her looks. She dresses to satisfy her own taste.

"Michelle F.'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 "Michelle F.'s Story," the "Natural Women: Our Hair, Our Stories" series or Black hair in general, in the section below marked for comments.

Thank You!