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!


Sharon J said...

Your hair looks great! By the way, I saw "Good Hair" on Saturday. It was very good. At times it was a little upsetting hearing the comments people had about natural hair, especially the negative ones from Black women. Tracie Thoms, the beautiful actress from "Cold Case," represented for the natural sisters. Overall, it is worth seeing.

pjazzypar said...

Hi Lori, Each one of these stories are uniquely different and pretty amazing. Everyone woman you have written about has her own journey. I had a few guys willing to answer the questions, but on second thought this should probably be a "sister" thing. Like a said before, I am feeling a book here :-)

Lori said...

Yeah, PJ, don't you just LOVE the uniqueness? As for the guys, I'm still open to the idea. Have them contact me. What I might do is tweak the questions a bit in order to include their perspectives.

Sharon, Thanks for dropping by and giving us your take on Rock's "Good Hair." I'm still gonna take a pass and wait until it's on cable or dvd. :-)

vanessa richardson said...

Hi Ladies!

Sharon, I agree it can be quite upsetting to hear negative comments made about natural hair.
But you know, I feel as though I have discovered a hidden secret. I inwardly smile at the comments made.

It takes strength and a made up mind to be natural. A natural woman (not just her hair style) is secure in who she is. Let 'em talk. With a humble pride, she still walks. It is who she is.

PJ, a book sounds like a good idea! I would love to hear from the guy's! If this should take fruition, please keep me posted!

Lori, I am with you. Will wait for Rock's movie to come out on DVD. :)

Shalonda "Treasure" Williams said...

It was good to read Vanessa's interview. It is always good to learn a little more about those you network with. I too love my natural and it is good to hear others accounts.