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Friday, November 22, 2013

Shanell's Journey to Natural Hair



NCJ: Hello Shanell! Tell us a little about yourself.  

Shanell: My name is Shanell. I'm a 27 year old "Jamerican" (Jamaican-American) from Brooklyn, NY. I'm a socio-therapist for a small, private child welfare agency. I'm a natural hair fiend and major foodie (lol).
   
NCJ: A Brooklyn Girl and a Caribbean, we may be family lol. So tell me about your hair before going natural. How did you feel when you first relaxed your hair?

Shanell: As a kid I thought I "arrived" when I received my first relaxer. My mom told me that I asked for a relaxer (I don't remember that though lol). After years of relaxing I was tired of my hair constantly breaking off, thinning, the chemical burns, as well as it never growing past collar bone length.

NCJ: I can totally relate to that. When and why did you decide to go natural? 

Shanell: I went natural aesthetically and mentally.  At first I decided to just start flat ironing the new growth instead of relaxing it, while keeping the already relaxed hair. Over time I decided to transition to natural completely. At this time I was completing my last semester of college. I was going through a lot of personal things and changes, so cutting the last of my relaxed hair right after graduation felt so liberating!. I transitioned for six months. I cut off the relaxed ends little by little. Whatever amount of new growth I received I would chop off double that amount of the relaxed ends. At the six month mark I became fed up and chopped off the last of the relaxed ends. I felt like I cut off the past and became a new person ready for a bigger and better future.

NCJ: What was your biggest fear about going natural? How did you overcome it?

Shanell: I didn't necessarily have any fears about going natural, but once I became natural I became more self-conscious about my hair. I primarily received negative comments about my hair, and all of the negative comments came from other black people, such a shame! I had to learn to love my hair and most importantly, love myself. A year later in Summer 2010 is when I fell in love with my hair.

NCJ: Wow, it is unfortunate that some people can be so closed-minded but I'm happy that you have embrace your beauty... it truly shows! So, what are your favorite styles and favorite hair products.

Shanell: In general I love big hair and hair color! Personally I love wearing braid-outs, rod sets (flexi and perm rods), and mini twists (my own hair twisted). I'm not scared of dye so I've dyed my hair in many colors, from midnight blue to honey blonde to ruby red. My go-to protective style for the work week is a bun. Lately I've been getting into wearing chunky twists as a protective style for the work week. When it comes to products I love Cantu Shea Butter for Natural Hair and Jane Carter products for moisture and styling. I prefer to wash my hair with a cleansing cream instead of shampoo, and I deep condition with Curl Junkie Hibiscus & Banana Deep Fix.


NCJ: So Shanell, Do you have some advice you would give to other new naturals or those thinking of going natural.

Shanell: If you want to go natural then just do it! You don't need validation from family, friends, significant others, nor from other men/women. God validates you. God knew what he was doing when he made our hair. Also patience and educating yourself on natural hair care is key. One last thing that I also think is important is to embrace your own hair texture and not get hung up on getting your hair to do something that it doesn't do naturally (Example: trying to get loose curls when your hair is tightly coiled). You have to find what works for YOU. 
NCJ: Great Advice! What is the Biggest lesson you have learned about yourself and your hair through your journey. 

Shanell: I finally learned to be myself and not worry about the opinions of others. If I were to listen to, follow, and please everyone else I'd never be happy. I'm more confident, open-minded, and bolder now. I also learned that going natural is not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. When it comes to my hair I learned that my hair flourishes when I stick with one routine and leave my hair alone as much as possible.
NCJ: Wonderful insight on this journey! It is so much more than just hair! Do you have any social forums that will allow other naturals to keep up with all of your fabulousness? 

Shanell: I can be followed at shanelledot on Instagram (I love Instagram!). My buddy Kafaya (who's also natural) and I recently created a YouTube channel called RudeNYers. Check us out at YouTube.com/RudeNYers


NCJ: Thank you so much for taking the time and sharing your story with us!! I wish you all the best!! As always, Be Beautiful, Be Chic, Be You!!!

Hugs and Love,

Jere'

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