Wednesday, September 15, 2010

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

Brandi F.'s Story
(Brandi F.)

Background / I am 30 years old and I live in Memphis, TN. I conduct health research in African American communities with the intent of addressing community and individual factors that cause poor health among minorities. One of our recent projects focuses on increasing access to healthy foods in communities that do not have supermarkets. I have a great husband, but no kids yet . . .

Hairstyle / I wear a variety of styles—a wash and go, twist-outs and curly fros. I’m always searing YouTube for new style ideas. I decided to stop relaxing in June of 2009. I had been reading about transitioning for a few months and decided to do it! I wore my hair straight until I did the big chop in May 2010. I have not used direct heat on my hair since.

Reason for wearing a “natural” hairstyle / My reason for transitioning was to achieve healthier hair. My hair had thinned out over time with relaxers, and I wanted to embrace my natural texture again. I thought that by fall, I would wear it straight again, but I am loving the versatility of my new hair!

Support of your natural look / When I announced my decision to transition, I got a lot of positive feedback from old classmates and friends who had already gone through the process. I even convinced a few girlfriends to join me. My husband is on board now; he likes to joke about all the products and concoctions I’ve been testing on my hair.

Advice for women considering a “natural” hairstyle / Learn as much as you can about achieving healthy hair. Read blogs, watch video, listen to others share their hair stories. This is a learning process that takes time; many of us have never truly cared for our hair in its natural texture. Commit at least two years to transitioning (don’t get hung up on length). If you keep it healthy, your hair will grow.

Any natural hair blogs, websites, books or print magazines you’d like to recommend / There are so many resources out there, but websites that stick out include Mane&Chic and My favorite YouTuber is —Kimmaytube--she breaks down Hair 101 like no one I’ve seen! Her videos are informative and insightful and I especially enjoyed the one she did on hair growth and maintenance.

Additional Commentary / I appreciate the opportunity to share my story. My journey has been so rewarding.

Definition of a natural woman / A natural woman is confident and comfortable in her own skin!

"Brandi 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 "Brandi 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!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

My Knotty Truths

If you're interested in learning more about my natural hair journey, do stop by Michele George's blog "The Knotty Truth." Recently, she asked me a series of hair related questions and posted my responses. So, if you'd like to know how I answered any of the following:

Where are you from and what is the natural scene like where you are from?

Did you transition to natural hair? If so, what were your experiences?

Did you have any support?

Has there been any differences in your life after going natural?

If you were stranded on a deserted island and had to choose three items for yourhair, what are three things you would have to have for your hair and why?

How do you maintain your hair?

What advice would you give someone who was thinking of going natural?

Has being natural inspired you to write?

Please visit Michele's blog

"The Knotty Truth"

for my responses.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Thursday Thirteen # 49 . . . My 13 Writing Essentials

WRITING ESSENTIALS ( 13 Things I need/want/like having at my disposal when I write)

An article in the September 2010 issue of Writer's Digest, "Essentials To A Writer's Life" by Erik Larson inspired me to come up with my own list of writing essentials. Larson and I share a need for coffee, but some of the other items on his list were things like "Blocks of Undisturbed Time" "Oreo Cookie" and "A Fireplace."

Even though I wrote down the first things that came to mind, I wouldn't necessarily rank my "essentials" in the order in which they appear . . .

1) CAFFEINE: My drug of choice is coffee--General Foods, Hazelnut CafĂ©, to be specific. But in a crunch, I’ll go with an ice cold Coke, or a Dr. Pepper or even a tall glass of sweetened iced tea.

2) LOTS OF LIGHT: During the day, I prefer natural light. Thanks to the previous owner, my house has shades, blinds and a number of dark screens on the windows. I’m guessing he must have been a vampire or something . . . I needs my light!

3) A WINDOW: Yeah, the light thing again. Also, I like being able to catch a glimpse of the outside world every now and then.

4) AN INK PIN: I prefer a pen with a thick, bold, black tip. (Stop, don’t even go there, :-D) Uni-ball’s Vision Elite, Bold 0.8mm are typically what I use.

5) ACCESS TO MUSIC: Often times I write with a little jazz playing in the background or on my headset. Depending on the writing project though, sometimes I’ll listen to r&b, blues, hip-hop or rap. Typically when I’m listening to something other than jazz, I’m attempting to create a certain mood-—one befitting of the particular section I’m in the process of writing.

6) A COMFORTABLE CHAIR: Back support and an ability to embrace the tush are the two most important features here. If it swivels, rocks and turns, that’s even better.

7) CALM, QUIET, PEACEFUL ENVIRONMENT: While I’ve trained myself to write just about anywhere (like the ballpark, the dentist office, in front of a blaring television), I prefer a place where the distractions are few. You’re not likely to find me writing in a bar, restaurant or a coffee shop or any other public place by choice, but I have been known to write in the bath tub . . .

8) A DICTIONARY: I can’t spell y’all, so a dictionary is a must. Plus, it helps when I’m not sure if the word I want to use is the best or proper choice. I do keep a Thesaurus nearby, but I don’t use it much—-probably because I’ve heard too many teachers, authors and others speak on the dangers of becoming overly dependent on the Thesaurus.

9) A GRAMMAR REFERENCE GUIDE: The paperback English Handbook I was assigned as a freshman in college has served me well over the years. Yeah, it’s old and some of the pages have pulled loose from the binding, but you couldn't’t pay me to part with it.

10) A YELLOW LEGAL PAD or SPIRAL NOTEBOOK: I prefer composing in long-hand with an ink pen, hence the need for a pad or notebook.

11) BOTTLED WATER: Gotta keep those brain cells hydrated.

12) A BABY NAME BOOK: I like know the meaning and origins of names. Sometimes, when I’m having “problems” with a character, I’ll start going through the baby name book and see if name change is in order.

13) STIMULATING MATERIAL: When I’m really enjoying what I’m writing, it’s like spending a little time in my own private corner of heaven.

If you write (or engage in some other creative endeavor), I'd love to hear what you consider "essential" when you give yourself over to your muse.

If you'd like to visit other Thursday 13 participants