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by on Sep 11, 2012

Noella

By

with my TWA in Jamaica

My name is Noella. I am a 100% Jamaican woman who now calls Switzerland home.

I have been natural since 2003. Like most Jamaican girls, growing up we always knew that when it was time to start high school it was time to get our hair “creamed”, that is the word we use for a relaxer or a perm. I was a little late though, I had my first relaxer done when I was in the 9th grade, I was about 13. My mom was against it but we (my twin sister and I) begged and begged and she succumbed to our pleas! During summer breaks I looked forward to my Patra braids and my cornrows though.

When I started modeling in London that was when I began wearing weaves. And this was the beginning of the end for my hair. The method used for my weaves was glue and with each weave my hair got thinner and shorter and my hairline was pretty much non existent. I remember once the hairstylist in London had to take me to his basement and use CAR GREASE to remove the clumps of stubborn glue that was stuck to my hair. And after hours of combing, tugging, washing and hair loss I glued in a new fresh weave! (I feel so dumb when I think of it. Maybe it’s true what they say of models!)

Shortly after that I was heading to South Africa for work and decided to go without a weave (after all if there is any place I should work with my own hair it is Africa, right?) So I worked with my thin short straight version of the Grace Jones for 4 months then I returned to Jamaica and there I did the big chop. And my TWA was EVERYTHING!! A few months later I went to NYC for work with my afro but after receiving a big job from Dark&Lovely, I allowed them to perm my hair (and that was such a low point for me, I know it is just hair but I was curled up in the shower crying after the shoot as if I was just assaulted) and worst of all they did not use my pics!! (but I was paid for the job). I got a weave once after that and when I had enough new growth I big chopped again.

In spring 2009 I decided to loc my hair, this was one year after my sister loced hers and I was loving what I saw, so in true twin style I copied her. And I enjoy having locs!

My family has no problem with it. As a matter of fact all the women in my immediate family have natural hair and my mom has locs now. I remember though, that my uncle had complained to my dad about our hair when he realized we were getting “dreads.”

When I met my fiance I had an afro he loves it! He had no idea about black hair before, but now he knows everything. Recently we had friends for dinner and they asked me if when I wash my hair the locs unravel and if I have to redo them each time. Before the first word could exit my mouth, my fiance had answered and he explained everything for about 20 minutes about my hair care routine, locs vs afro, products, black hair salons…EVERYTHING (isn’t he a keeper?)

There is no natural hair scene in Switzerland!! But My sister lives in Oslo and they have a group `Norweigian Naturals’ so they are my closest hair sisters. Plus I have lots of Cyber-BFFs on YouTube.

For hair products I keep it simple, so I find most of what I need here. For cleansing I wash with the African black soap which I purchase from a shop in Zurich. For moisture I use oils (Avocado, Castor, Jojoba, Peppermint, Tea Tree and Coconut oil) all of which I find here except castor oil which I stock up on when I go to Jamaica. I cannot live without these oils as I use them on my skin as well.

Having locs has not affected my modeling career as I have my 2 other personalities…lace wigs ;) . One is curly and one is straight so clients have what they need at all times. I have even worked with my locs. I think if I had an afro they would want to do stuff with it, straighten it spray it and play around which would make it hard to keep healthy but with locs they don’t have a clue so they leave it alone or we tuck it under a stocking cap and choose one of my personalities and they usually love this!!

When I saw the whole Gabby Douglas hair controversy I had to look up the persons who had tweeted these things. I looked at their avatars. And (not surprisingly) they were all African American women with weaves to their asses. And I remembered the report about African American women not exercising and suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure because they do not want to sweat out their perms and weaves. This young girl has gone after her goals, she is focused and dedicated and she achieved more than any other American woman in HISTORY and these women saw that our roots were curly and had a problem with it. I think alot of black women who live in weaves who cannot be seen without their weaves are disillusioned. They are almost convinced that that is their real hair, so when they see curly afro hair it reminds them of the true texture of their own hair and they hate the reality. That level of self-hate is sad and mind boggling!

I think African American women are more concerned with ‘going natural’ than Jamaicans. If Gabby was Jamaican no one would see her hair, we would be so proud. I think the complexities of being black in the American society differs from that in the Jamaican society. After all Rastafarianism and Reggae music (remember Patra and those braids?) were born in Jamaica and are about black consciousness. We do have issues (persons there bleach their skin) but when I am home I cannot walk on the streets without being complemented to my hair and skin. I am referred to as an empress or goddess several times each day.

The best part about being natural is that I love myself, all of me. I love how I am naturally. I take better care of my skin now because of going natural. There really isn’t anything difficult about it, I just have to take care of my hair like anyone else. Women of every race and ethnicity who desire healthy hair must take care of it. I have even decided that if I have a daughter I will cut my locs so that she and I can care for our curls together.

For people thinking about going natural I would say go ahead, embrace yourself! The
propaganda about it being hard to manage or not versatile enough is exactly that, PROPAGANDA. I go to German Language classes with other women Indian, Chinese, French and others and they always comment on how I have a different style everyday. They love how versatile my hair is! And I have short locs!! The possibilities are endless with your natural hair. I always say I am too grown, educated, beautiful and smart to sit in a chair and pay someone to use dangerous chemicals on my scalp and glue on my hair..NO MAAM!!!

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  • Jamaican Princess

    *applauds* Well written. Natural is the new ‘fiiiieeeerrrce’. I tried going natural last year… failed miserably. But I’m inspired to try again!

  • NikVonMocha

    Inspiring!!!