Today I'm featuring a very special young lady that I met a couple weeks ago at the 'Spring Is In The Hair'--natural hair meet up in Brooklyn hosted by Natasha Gaspard of Mane Moves TV & Imani Dawson of A tribe called curl. Her energy was EVERYTHING and we hit it off instantly when we started talking about hair! Check out what Jouelzy has to say about her personal struggles with her natural hair journey.
I’ve been natural before New York Times deemed it worthy enough to corroborate the trend. Before the existence of YouTube, the rapid feeds of Twitter and Tumblr and before I was old enough to drink. The first time I was in 10th grade, 15 years old, and I just couldn’t figure out how to properly relax my thick coarse hair. I couldn’t get it to take without burning the crap out of my scalp. Then I had to toil through the burning process every 3 weeks. Why couldn’t I be like the other girls who only relaxed their hair every 2-6 months? So I chopped it and went natural with a brush, water and some Blue Magic. This was in 2000 and I had few resources to turn to with a dial-up connection and mother who had been horrified of my naps since age 3. As she puts it, she woke up one morning to just find my big curly baby fro had gone *poof* nappy…she’s been in despair ever since. So, I did haphazard twists and variations of braids. Then a boy in my computer class told me, well really he told the whole class, that I looked like a “burnt match.” Two kicks to my self-esteem. I reverted back to the relaxer within 8 months. College, after processing blonde, I cut it all off again, this time getting a proper shape-up from my father, which lead to my mother in tears. It’s hair it’ll grow back and I just knew now that I had seen other girls with natural hair that if I played it right I could get my hair to be manageable. Only problem was manageable equated to having shiny, curly coils…hair that was effortless springy and big. So, to avoid the burnt match and Aunt Cellie references, I played like I was a Philly Muslim when I returned to campus and picked up a good collection of headscarves. I even had the nerve to walk up to a girl on campus, who had the beautiful lush coils that I was gaming for and asked her how she got her hair like that. She laughed at me and informed me it was just her hair. Silly me.Fast forward past a permed Mohawk look to shaving my head (again…Mom sniffles)…I’ve been natural for the past 6 years. As the natural hair scene explodes and becomes part of the mainstream I’m still the lost girl I was 12 years ago the first time I took the natural plunge. Up until the past year, I thought I was doing something wrong because of the texture of my hair. I never saw images of my hair as beautiful and healthy. It wasn’t until someone pointed me to a hair chart that I realized my hair just is what it is. 4C hair. I don’t have the natural hair that is spread across the internet, not the hair of popular YouTubers who show you how easy this product makes their curls bounce. I rarely see similar representations of my hair coming across my Tumblr, Instagram or Twitter feed. Occasionally it happens, but it’s always in that big, wild Amazonian stage. I get it, big hair is beautiful…my hair just isn’t there yet. There’s more to my hair then just texture, I know. But it’s factors that are identified with texture that I have been trying to achieve along with a bevy of other woman who just don’t see anything close to OUR hair in the folds of the wonderfully beautiful world of natural hair. I have no baby hairs to lay. A bun do is not so simple for me, my hair doesn’t ripple into waves as it’s pulled into a bun. There is no feasibility of a wash ‘n go. No amount of product will produce a natural curl. My hair stands up straight and won’t budge. And most significantly, my hair does not shine. Ya know, that shine that people identify as soft moisturized hair.I know this feeling escapes a lot of women. They might scoff or roll their eyes at my laments. You don’t sit in my shoes so I don’t expect you to understand. But I do ask that you meet me in the middle, have some patience with other women like me. Women who have that much more fragile, brittle, extra kinky hair, that they’ve been trying to define by all the images they see of soft, shiny curls fresh out the shower or blowing in the wind. We sometimes ask silly questions and reference how your hair is different than ours. We may initially dismiss your style advice, because of the frustration we have experienced and no one valuing how we deal. Give it time. And my 4C + beyond homies, stay open minded too! As this natural hair scene gains even more steam, I hope to see a bigger place in the imagery for women with coarser textures. Z patterns are just as beautiful as the curlies.Our hair is definitely manageable, it just takes patience with realistic expectations. I threw out all my shine misters last week. I’ve accepted that people will touch me hair and tell me “it’s much softer than it looks.” Soft is about touch not looks. I’ve gotten it moisturized and not breaking off at the touch, I have come a long ways. I can define my “curls” with flat twists and perm rods. Use a headband to make my bun look sleek plus baby hair sounds silly anyways. I continuing to find pride in my coarse hair and I hope to spread that pride to all hair textures.
Thanks so much for sharing your personal hair journey, Jouelzy! Check her out, beauties! She has an amazing youtube channel about saving tight budgets from bad hair days. Weave, wigs or natural. http://www.youtube.com/jouelzy
How many of my 4C curlies out there feels Jouelzy?? Take a minute to share your frustrations & triumphs below!
Jouelzy is a purveyor of all things Black Hair Care through her YouTube and as a beauty writer for MadameNoire. She also spreads her beauty journeys with a dash of snark on Facebook and Twitter.