Tiffany – Pretty Genius
Meet Tiffany – A self confessed “nerd.” Not only does she hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Dartmouth College, she also has a Master’s of Sociology from Emory University. What’s even more impressive is that she found the time to transition and grow out her beautiful natural hair while juggling it all! Today, Tiffany works as a researcher and evaluator in Atlanta. (How dope is that?!) Umm…when did “nerds” become this pretty and inspirational?
1. How long have you been natural and what was your inspiration for doing so?
8 years ago, I started to notice that my permed hair wasn’t really growing. Especially that curly hair at the nape of my neck! I wrestled with the idea of going natural – I didn’t know the first thing about caring for my hair in its natural state and I was worried about what people would think. Would people think I fit the stereotypes of natural women? Would they assume I was radical? Back then, people did think that I was a radical, Afrocentric, vegetarian who looked down on permed hair. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it just wasn’t me. Although my natural hair wasn’t always positively received back then, I cared more about whether or not my hair was healthy. And I let that guide me through the doubt, anxiety, and fear that I felt.
2. People think going natural takes too much time, yet you managed to do it while studying at Dartmouth College and even went on to receive a Master’s degree at Emory University. How did you find the confidence and time to make it work?
Funny you should ask, lol. When I was a college student in Hanover, New Hampshire, there weren’t many places to get my hair done. Correction: there was no one there we could trust with our hair. So I started perming it myself. I usually got it super-straight, but my scalp would burn! After several DIY perms, I knew I couldn’t continue to over-process my hair. Since I was close to NYC, I found a braider who installed Senegalese twists to help me transition. Extensions meant no styling and made for an easy wash day!
After 6 months of transitioning, I took out the twists and cut off the permed ends. That was the scariest part of going natural! Sitting in the chair at the salon, with my back to the mirror, and turning around to see about 1 inch of natural hair. Honestly, I wasn’t feeling too confident when I left that salon. But I knew that it was temporary, and the wait for long, healthy hair would be worth it.
3. As someone who works in the research field, you have taken a particular interest in how Natural hair is represented in the media. What piqued your interest in this and what have you learned from your research?
It was almost an accident. I attended a panel discussion on natural hair and
professionalism at GA Tech in Atlanta. The panelists discussed self-image, professionalism, natural hairstyles for the workplace, and how to take care of your natural hair. It made me think critically about how people both inside and outside the natural community view natural hair. I started to wonder when was the last time I saw someone that looked like me on tv. With the exception of certain fast food restaurants (like McDonald’s), I didn’t really see it too often. That got me thinking: what other companies use models and actresses with natural hair? what styles are the most common? do we see more natural hair in mainstream or black media?
As a researcher and evaluator, I am a nerd! I love reading, researching, and writing. I’ve learned a lot of things from my blog. From my interviews, I’ve learned that natural hair offers versatility and easy styling for models and actresses. My observations and analyses of commercials and advertisements show that the twist-out is the most common natural hair style, not the afro, locs, twists, or braids. I’ve also learned a little bit about marketing, and the buying power of African-Americans. But I am always trying to learn more about marketing.
4. Many of the Atlanta based reality shows that dominate TV feature brown skin honeys with weaves long enough to rival Rapunzel. One would almost think the Natural Georgia peaches don’t exist! Is there a natural hair scene in Atl?
Yes ma’am! There is a huge natural hair scene in Atlanta. I guess the media’s representation of black women in Atlanta hasn’t caught up with reality. There is so much going on in the natural community in Atlanta- it’s home to bloggers like Natural Chica, numerous natural hair salons, lots of beautiful natural men and women, and the bi-annual Taliah Waajid World Natural Hair, Health, & Beauty Show. I love being natural and living in Atlanta!
5. Your hair is absolutely gorgeous! Tell us about your regimen, your go-to style and favorite products?
Thank you! I recently decided to loc my hair after 8 years of wearing it in its loose, natural state. It’s only been 6 weeks, so I don’t have a regimen yet. Since my hair isn’t fully loc’ed, I have a loctitian who washes and re-twists my hair. I don’t know enough about starter locs yet to be able to wash my own hair without the hair unraveling. Until I’m able to do it myself, I oil my scalp and locs with Eden BodyWorks Tea Tree and Peppermint Oil and let her wash it for me.
I can’t wait to experiment with products on my locs! If anyone has recommendations, I’d love to hear them.
6. As someone who has worked in “Corporate America,” what advice do you have for naturals who are made to feel as if their hair isn’t professional or sleek enough for the work place?
That’s a really good question. We’d all love to think that our hair doesn’t matter. But for some people, it does. I’ve dealt with co-workers who indirectly tried to make me feel that my hair was unprofessional, but never directly. They did this by suggesting that I press my natural hair or questioning why I wore my hair the way I do.
I think that being confident, poised, and put-together is important. Let your work speak for itself. Try experimenting with new hairstyles (the Internet is a wealth of information). I love a roll, tuck, and pin for work! And if that doesn’t work and it becomes too unbearable, consider looking for a new job. And when you go for your interview, rock your natural hair.
Where to find her on the Internet:
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