The roughest natural moments happened during middle school when the majority of the girls had straightened hair. One day, I was in the lady’s room, and two older girls walked in. The girls chatted amongst themselves until they noticed me, one of the girls asked me ..
My name is Zavijava, I am 22 years old, and I left UC Santa Cruz where I studied psychology and education. Right now I work for an after school program at a middle school in Long Beach, Ca ,and I am applying to graduate school. My ultimate goal is to do research at an organization or university, to run a home art studio, and to teach children’s yoga. I consider myself an artsy person, I love do-it-yourself projects and anything crafty,check out my arts/craft blog at http://rhymeswithzavi.blogspot.com/.
I also like fashion and shopping, after I pay the bills you will find me buying a pair of sneakers. Ok back to my hair …
My hair has been natural all of my life, I never had my hair chemically relaxed. The nearest I have ever been to relaxing my hair is getting it pressed and flat ironed.
My hair was pressed for the first time when I was about ten years old. I have had my hair pressed/flat ironed occasionally since then. In between presses my hair was usually in cornrows.
As I got older my mom told me that I could learn to press my own hair. She described the learning process “you might burn yourself and burn out some of your hair the first few times but eventually you will get the hang of it”.
I was not ok with burning myself or burning my hair so I knew that I was never going to straighten my hair myself. I also knew that going to the shop could get real expensive real fast, and I would still run the risk of getting burned. So I started to do my own hair the natural way.
The best and worse parts of having natural hair are the unsolicited comments that I get from strangers. Although I get more positive then negative comments about my hair, some of the negative ones were especially hurtful.
The roughest moments happened during middle school when the majority of the girls had straightened hair. One day, I was in the lady’s room, and two older girls walked in. The girls chatted amongst themselves until they noticed me, one of the girls asked me if I was in the 6th grade, and I said yes. The second girl commented that my hair was long (it was braided in two ponytails) and asked me if I was mixed I said no not really.
The first girl snickered and said “yeah she’s an old nigger-hontas”. I was dumbfounded, I had never been called a nigger, and I never thought I would be called a nigger by a black person. I quickly washed my hands and left, I was quiet and dazed for the rest of the day.
After school I went to my grandma’s house, and she knew that I was upset, but I was reluctant to tell her why. When I finally told her she seemed more disappointed then shocked and assured me that my hair was beautiful, and that anyone who could not see that was ignorant or jealous. As I experienced more negative moments I realized that my grandma was right, and that the effects of the positive comments outweighed the negative.
The best moments are when strangers stop me to talk about natural hair. One day I was in the grocery store, and a couple complimented me on my hair style, and asked me if I could do their daughters hair. I was flattered, and even though I never saw them again it made me feel really good to know that other people admired my hair to the point that they would trust me to do their child’s hair.
Overall being natural has been a positive experience for me that has allowed me to learn more about myself and my culture. My hair goals are to reduce dryness/dandruff, and to get a haircut that compliments my natural hair.
Zavija was a contestant of America’s Next Natural Model in 08. You can follow her blog at ZAVY!ZAVI!ZAVE!
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