Natural Icon Beauty Feature- JAMEELA

I know I’m late with my Natural Icon Beauty of the Month Feature. So this Queen’s feature is actually for the month of May. Meet Jameela.

She has been told that she looks like Lauryn Hill and only started believing when Lauryn Hill herself agreed that they have a striking resemblance when they exchanged words at a Shaggy and Friend’s Concert years ago. She’s a model with a Biochem and Botany Degree, an educator, Mentor for a few young women who have interests in the modeling industry among other things. I’ll let her tell you more.

NIB: Hey Queen, I’m so glad you agreed to be featured as our Natural Icon Beauty of the month. Please introduce yourself to our readers.

JG: Greetings, I am Jameela Geddes, a 28 year old resilient, charming, self motivated, spiritual, woman of little words and proud young mommy of an intelligent and beautiful 2 year old girl. I grew up in the plains of Linstead, St Catherine where I enjoyed a childhood filled with adventures, the good and the ugly. Being the only girl of 3 children (to a single mom) I felt extremely protected even while being 5 years my little brother’s senior!
I am deeply in love with outdoor activities and the scenery of my beautiful treasure island; the beach,  hiking/nature walks, relaxing on a rooftop under the moonlight etc. Apart from that, I do enjoy showcasing beautiful designs on the catwalk, doing photoshoots, painting/drawing and pleasing my ears and eyes with some good live Reggae/Bongo music.

NIB: Define your style.

JG: My style naturally incorporates mostly anything African; prints, jewelry even their rhythm which certainly has an impact on my “signature walk”.
Persons make it a habit of either stopping me to ask if I am a model or complimenting my mode of dress. Honestly, it comes naturally. I dress the way I feel on any particular day.
By the way, I was teased back in high school  by one particular girl about the way I walked….fast forward to today, she pointed out to me that she now saw where that gifted strut brought me to becoming (a model).

NIB: What do you love about your natural hair?

JG: I love its versatility. Locs give a natural and a beautifully free feel. Of course, because it has been untouched it also gives you a feeling of pride and a sense of commitment to your identity. I started locking from scratch since 2005. It has been the only type of  “manipulation” done to my hair. I have never been sorry!

NIB: When and why did you decide to loc your hair?

JG: My hair was locked by my mom, who was at the time rocking locs. It was a painstaking process, the length of time taken to do this thing from scratch was no joke! My hair was naturally of reasonable length (upper back) and I was locking from tip to root!!  I had just started the University of the West Indies, and I thought, what better way to tame the untamed thickness of very tightly curled/wavy type hair to save me a bit more study time in the library (side eye). Honestly, I got a lil mix going on…so it wasn’t that bad…but…it still took way too long to wash and comb.

NIB:  What’s your hair regimen? Any hair tips or tricks you’ve used or learned from others?

JG: No hair regimen ennuh. Funny enough, the only treatments I get done to this hair is when I visit the locticians. I was lucky to have had a full year of lovely products and treatment (don’t ask me what it was…I just went along with the flow, trust is a hell of a thing :)) I’ve been getting my hair done at Jus Natural, since I was the face of that company.

Apart from that, hear seh lead me to finding out the benefits of tuna/aloe vera, which is extremely good to steam your hair with. It moisturizes and strengthens the roots and strands. I probably did this just once, in  all the years of my locking journey.
I have also heard about eggs (will have to do more research on that), but the vitamin A in egg yolks do result in the strengthening and lustre of really dry and damaged hair.

NIB: I’ve heard stories of women who have been pressured to process their hair or who have experienced harsh criticisms, negativity and/or even sabotage because they wear their natural tresses. Have you had any such experience(s) solely or partly because of your locs?
(b) If so, how did you react/respond?

Well, I have been made to think that my hair was a deterrent in a few interviews that I have had. But that made me even more determined to keep my locs and prove that this stereotype is nonsense. How will keeping your natural hair, which also proves you being committed and really being in love with self, determine your worth; your output and what you can bring to a company? As a matter of fact, I would love for myself or any other woman with locs to become yet again a household name in the Modeling Industry.
I must honestly say that I have seen a lessening of this type of stereotype in the workplace. I see more locked/natural hair queens on my television screen, in the banks, in the courthouses and yes in the classrooms

NIB: What advice would you give someone who is experiencing such pressure?

JG: My advice to anyone going through this issue is, simply put, that job was really not for you. Be motivated to grab hold of another opportunity. There will come a time when you’ll look back and say, what was I beating up myself about? I would not have reached this stage of growth in my life, had I been accepted in that job/career area.

NIB: If you could describe your life, vision for you life, or guiding philosophy(ies) using three quotes, what would they be?

” I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” -Phil 4:13
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” -Maya Angelou

NIB:  What would you say was your most impactful failure or ‘mistake’? How did you rebound and what lesson did you learn?

My most impactful mistake? None really sticks out like a sore thumb, as they have all been “mistakes/failures”/lessons (they were not categorized) and I have learned from every single one of them. Sounds cliche, but really, they made me who I am today. The strong/resilient woman bound for greater things!

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Thanks Jameela for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer these questions.

Thanks again everyone for reading. Remember to share and SUBSCRIBE.

Love & Blessings,

Queen Stacia.

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Keep up with Jameela:

Instagram: @jamzged

Facebook: Click Here

 

Credits:

Photography: @marz_jackson

Make up: @jamzged

Natural Icon Beauty Feature- RASHIKA

I first met Rashika Powell in person a couple of years ago on a  Yaad Trendz photoshoot.  Her hair was processed at the time but now she sports her natural tresses with such fierceness and confidence. A Natural Icon Beauty in the true sense blessed with style and flair as unique as her personality.

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Born in St. Ann, but now living in Kingston, Rashika is a product junkie and budding entrepreneur, and as she puts it, she has a tonne of Organic hair products at home just sitting there.  Maybe that’s why the 24 years old Natural Icon Beauty has already started her own business called Rashibelle Naturals which offers All Natural skin and hair care products. She started this while pursuing a BSc Degree in Sociology at the University of the West Indies. When asked her vision in life, she replied “Like everyone else, I want to be successful. I want to own a business specialized in all natural skin and hair care solutions then expand to one that deals with our overall health and how to care for ourselves using just the things the earth provides. Ultimately, I want to do a Postgraduate Diploma in Arts and Cultural Enterprise Management. After my masters, I want to promote various cultural events that will highlight and educate persons about the Caribbean aesthetics.”

Her dreams are big and though getting there will require hardwork, Rashika knows how to have fun. In fact, I know Rashika loves to dance and she’s happiest while dancing but I wanted to know more about her personality and her ‘Natural trod’ so I asked her a few other questions:

NIB: Tell me about your personality. 

Rashika: Oh Dear, it is so hard to describe my personality. I am somewhere between crazy and laid back; if that makes any sense. For the most part, I am Jovial, easy going, I love to talk and laugh and ensure that the people around me are well entertained. I do have my crazy, spontaneous moments at times also.

NIB: What’s your personal style?  

Rashika: I love unconventional hairstyles and clothing. I like to be bold and unique with the things I wear and the way I style my hair. I also love all things Afrocentric and Vintage! I am obsessed with Tribal and African print clothing and items.

NIB: Why natural hair?

Rashika: I had a relaxer, I wore weaves and I can honestly say that those styles didn’t suit me the way my natural hair does, so six years ago I decided to wear my crown the way it grows.  Also, I have become more Afrocentric over the years, thus wanting to be associated with any and everything that captures the true essence of my African roots.

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Thanks again for reading. Remember to share and SUBSCRIBE.

Love & Blessings,

Queen Stacia.

Follow the blog IG: @naturaliconbeauty

Personal IG: @staciadavidson

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Want to contact Rashika and find out more about her and/or her business?

Follow on Twitter : @rashi_belle

Like Rashibelle Naturals on Facebook: Click Here

 

Credits:

Photography: Nickii Photography

Lighting Director: @d.v.lux

Make Up: Jami Lake & Rashika Powell

Styling: Diedre McKenzie

Black & white clutch provided by: Yaad Trendz

Natural Icon Beauty Feature- LEANNE

Meet 24 years old Leanne Humphrey, a very befitting beauty for our Natural Icon Beauty of the Month Feature. I wanted to know more about this Natural Icon’s style & personality so I got her to spill the beans just a little…

NIB: Tell me about your personality.

LH: I am a very bohemian, free spirited person. I am very extroverted and determined. I try to base all of my actions with love.

NIB: What’s your personal style? 

LH: I dress extremely funky. I wear a lot of colours and I wear comfortable materials. I like anything that looks unique. I have an obsession with jewellery. I like extravagant jewellery pieces. My style is very Afro Centric with a quirky European twist to it.

NIB: Why natural hair? 

LH: I went through so many phases of hairstyles in my life… From natural twists to straightened hair to weaves to bob cuts to mo-hawks… Just ended up at dreadlocks… It is not so much why natural hair but why dreadlocks? There is a certain wisdom I feel attached to my hair. It is my crown and it is interesting the story that my dreads tell. Every tight matted tress tells a story of what I was going through when that length of my hair was growing. It is just one of those things where my heart just knew that dreadlocks was for me… With other hairstyles, I could’ve seen myself trying a different one. With my dreads, I can’t see any other style in my future but longer dreads.

Leanne is from the beautiful Island of Barbados. Leanne switched from studying Theatre Arts to the Music Programme at Edna Manley College as she revealed to me, “that is my true passion. I am an upcoming recording artiste! My stage name is Vanessa Lee.”

She radiates an infectious energy! She is the rebel of love, light and conquest. With a striking soul, Vanessa Lee rules her voice with the power of musical reason.

I must say, the first time I saw Leanne, I was wowed. She has such a fierce beauty and unique style that I knew I had to capture it on camera for my blog. I was not disappointed. She was just as fierce behind the cameras as she was in person, and of course, it transcended well on photo. A picture is worth a thousand words and I’ve posted more than one so I’ll just let them help to tell Leanne’s story in addition to what she already told us.

Thanks for visiting. Remember to follow/subscribe to the blog and leave a comment.

Love & Blessings,

Queen Stacia.

Follow me on Instagram: @naturaliconbeauty

Personal IG: @staciadavidson

Like me on Facebook: Click Here.

 

Connect with Leanne aka Vanessa Lee Bongo:

Follow on Twitter: @vanessaleebongo

Like her on Facebook

Follow her on Instagram

Watch her videos: Vanessa Lee

For Bookings email: vanessaleebongo@gmail.com

 

Credits:

Photography: @nickiikane

Lighting Director: @d.v.lux

Make Up: @vanessaleebongo & Jami Lake

Styling: @mz_xeri

 

 

Black Hair Matters (Part 2)

“Kingston College High School students in Jamaica are sent home, on an exam day, for wearing fades and mohawks. Black girls in the Bahamas are sent home for Twist Outs. Black girls in Barbados are sent home for Afros; And Bantu Knots (Chiney Bumps) are deemed inappropriate for school.  Some may say that the students are at fault. They know the school rule and should have, therefore, adhered to it. After all, as one teacher puts it, “school rule is school rule. Abide or get out!” But I’ll address that later. For now, I have a deeper concern.

Responding to accusation that the school is lenient with students of Indian and Chinese orientation, the Kingston College Principal said,” students expect them to bald their head like mine but it can’t be that the same rule applies for obvious reason. We have to use our discretion.” It is more worrying than hypocritical that the same authority that sees it fit to suspend black boys for wearing Fades, have seen it fit to use their discretion biases when it comes to students of Indian, Asian and Caucasian descent wearing the exact hairstyles deemed inappropriate when worn by their black schoolmates. What are these ‘obvious reasons’ to which he alludes? Apparently fades are only appropriate when worn by Indians, Caucasians, Asians, Soldiers, Presidents and Prime Ministers… but NOT black students.”– Excerpt from Black Hair Matters Part 1

“Having had the wrong kind of education, the Negro has become his own greatest enemy.”– Marcus Garvey

“We speak often of modernized curricula at the secondary level, and the need to pay attention not just to academic/technical areas of study, but to the sense of identity that young people develop as students. Part of this identity is of course the history of their country and region, and their place in this history. Not just in the Caribbean but wherever young, Black women live, we are told that our hair is somehow inadequate: it is ‘hard’ or ‘knotty’. It is not straight ‘enough’, although enough for whom or what one cannot be sure. And where we are kindly allowed to wear our hair naturally as it grows from our heads, there are caveats: as long as it is pulled back or braided tight or otherwise tamed.”[1]

Though no one can force someone to start seeing and appreciating black beauty, it would be beneficial for us to start questioning our beliefs about race, beauty and natural hair. If we recognized that those who created the dominant cultural ideas we’ve internalized did so for their benefit, and not ours, we would be better able to understand that the psychological conflict this internalization causes is self-destructive. Self-hatred continues the cycle of self-degradation, and it’s impossible to teach our children about their self worth, and get them to take their history seriously, if our own sense of self is distorted through a white lens. What are the lessons being taught to us as a society that teachers would think sending a child home for wearing their natural hair out is acceptable and excusable?

“Among my primary concerns is the message being sent to young women of African heritage in this country that their natural selves are of necessity untidy, unsuitable or otherwise inadequate. The argument that “students can do whatever they like once they enter the real world, but this is school” also misunderstands the role of formal education and the process of young people’s development. School is the real world. Young people are understanding themselves and their environment, and while becoming who they will be, they also are.”[2]

Lessons of self- confidence, self- worth and self- identity have to be incorporated into the collective consciousness. Therefore, children have to be socialized to believe their self worth. I’ve heard parents tell their children, “Nuh deh wid nobody blacker than u madda or fada!

Choose a man wid pretty hair suh yuh pickney can have pretty hair

Nuh bring home nuh black picky picky head man/gyal fi meet mi

I’ve heard teachers tell children,

“Yuh see how yuh black” as if being black was some sort of leprosy and something to be avoided or ashamed of.

Children spend most of their time at home and school. The only way to undo all what we have learned as it relates to self hate is to constantly drive home the message of self love. The brain is a creature of repetition; whoever gets at it the most will rule it. The brain cannot resist the temptation to believe something that is regularly presented before it or that it’s regularly fed. So that’s what makes teachers’ jobs so hard yet critical. Children only spend approximately 8 hours at school. What do they spend the other 16 hours doing, hearing, and watching? The formative years of conditioning are from birth to 12. It is counterproductive that we (parents, teachers, society) instill values consistent with self hate in those critical years and then try to change them after they have already been habituated and developed personalities and hard habits. As the Jamaican proverb appropriately states, “ben’ the tree when it young, when it old, it will bruck” What people have ever been freed by giving the best years of their children to their ‘oppressor’? The ‘oppressor’, in this instance, is the value system of white bias.[3]

We have to replace the old zero-tolerance approach with an approach built on the conviction that suspension and expulsion don’t solve problems at the root of student misbehavior. Continuing to promote zero tolerance, masking it as just a commitment to discipline and blind social conformity, we are failing future generations of black kinky hair students. When you fail to engage your school boards in the conversation around changing these outdated rules, that’s your contribution to the old guard. Yes, systems matter, and yes, there are villains and bad apples out there. But we’ve got to be way more honest and own our contribution to all of this. Our contribution can be what we do but also what we fail to do. Let’s make it personal, and admit our own fault and contributions to this value system that promotes ‘white bias’. I know that’s hard to hear. But yes, you and I, intelligent, well-intentioned warriors of discipline — we contribute to the system when we say nothing and do nothing. If we remain silent in matters of injustice, we have chosen the side of the oppressor.

I can see somebody reading and saying, “Look at her telling us not to uphold school rules and preaching about natural hair like she is more enlightened and confident than all of us. But she can say wah she waan say, she don’t have to deal with these unruly kids on a daily basis? and who are you to say we have issues of self hate just because we’re not natural?” I promise you, my intention is not to seem like I am the Malcolm X of natural hair advocacy or that I am righteous and have all the answers. It’s purely out of love for my people when I suggest that rejecting straightened hair is symbolic of a deeper act of rejecting the belief that straightening hair and other forms of grooming which are deemed ‘socially acceptable’ are the only means of looking ‘presentable’, ‘formal’, ‘sophisticated’, ‘groomed’, ‘appropriate’, ‘respectable’, ‘neat’, ‘professional’ and attaining success in society. I, like the other person, am still on that journey of undoing and unlearning all the blatant and subliminal negative messages that were fed to me in my formative years.

The first step to ‘rehabilitation’ is admission and realizing a need for change. Let’s consciously correct our subconscious thoughts, our conversations, and our actions. It won’t be easy but it will be worth it. In fact, I have to stop myself from saying and doing things daily that contradict this empowerment of which I speak of. If your ‘discipline’ undermines the values of self love, self worth and self acceptance, it’s time for it to be disrupted.

Others should not be able to dictate to us what is beautiful and we just sit powerlessly regurgitating those beauty standards. Racism ‘works’ by encouraging the devaluation of self-identity by the victims themselves, and that re-centering of a sense of pride is a prerequisite for resistance and reconstruction. Let us take charge of the messages we consume daily and the messages we allow our children to consume. Our hair doesn’t need to be ‘fixed’! Society’s view of beauty is what is broken. I’ve been told more often than not that I’m prejudiced towards women with natural hair. I am not. Some of my most beloved friends have processed hair. However, I choose to highlight beauties with natural hair through this medium because, as a black woman, I understand that I needed to see positive images of black natural hair beauties and, by highlighting them, I am contributing, if only minutely, to my people seeing themselves as BEAUTIFUL. I am challenging the idea that there is one standard of beauty. Good hair is not only straight hair or hair with curl patterns closer to Caucasian, Indian or Asian textures. ‘Good hair’ is HEALTHY hair whether it be kinky, curly, coily, nappy, or straight.

“Until the lions have their own historians, tales of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”

We are Kings and Queens whose history have been distorted because we allowed someone else to tell it. We were never slaves. We were enslaved. Two different things. I see a need to incorporate and structure our history in the school curriculum in a way that empowers us as a people and that builds self esteem. But who would teach it if there are teachers who themselves need these lessons? Black Hair Matters. Until these hair rules are applied unbiasedly to all kinds of hair then you are asking us to accept that we are ‘valorized according to the tilt of our whiteness’ and that ‘rules are rules’ and must be followed regardless. Back in the day you may have blindly followed and upheld those hair rules but now that you know better or at least should know better (even if only after reading this). Don’t you think it would be irresponsible and cowardice to go back to enforcing those kinds of ‘rules’? The mind stretched by an idea can never be returned to its original dimensions. No man can grow and remain the same. Are you going to stunt positive growth and awareness because of fear and because ‘it has always been done that way’?

Let us be brave if only for the future generation.

Let us not apologise for the texture of our hair and for being disruptive about policies and changes that affect our race.

Let us not judge our beauty based on European standards or we will forever believe we are ‘ugly’ and ‘inadequate’. We are not Europeans. We are AFRICANS… and our hair (and lives) matter.
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Love & Blessings,

Queen Stacia.

Follow on Instagram: @naturaliconbeauty

Personal IG: @staciadavidson

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[1] Letter from group of Harrison College Alumni in Barbados

[2] Letter from group of Harrison College Alumni in Barbados

[3] Dr. Umar Johnson

*Not all images are property of the blog

Black Hair Matters.

“We have outgrown slavery, but our minds are still enslaved to the thinking of the Master race. Now take these kinks out of your mind, instead of out of your hair.”– Marcus Garvey

All hair is NOT created equal. That’s the lye lie they are still trying to force into our heads. It is a sad day when the hair that naturally grows out of a person’s head is deemed unacceptable. I remember some 20 years ago having a conversation with a childhood friend who was telling me that it was against her school rules to comb her hair in more than 3 or 4 cornrows/braids. What was the logic behind this rule? I think she had said combing it in anything more than 4 braids would be akin to looking like a ‘Rasta’. But don’t quote me on that. Nevertheless, I found this rule weird and offensive since this was a school with a predominantly black student populace. Braiding is not only a way for Black people to show off our hairstyles and creativity but it is also a means of having one less thing to worry about while getting ready for school each morning. Since cornrows can last for at least a week once proper night time ‘tie head’ protocols are followed, this hairstyle is expedient. This rule posed a problem for my friend who not only had very short naturally kinky hair but who was a Christian in the Pentecostal faith. Her faith (church rules) prevented her from processing her hair and her school rules basically made it impossible for her to wear her hair in its short naturally kinky state. Since her hair would need at least 10 cornrows to be even considered “neat” by their standards, you could see that she was in a predicament of sorts. Though having never heard of Walter Rodney and Umar Johnson or knowing very little besides the names of Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X at the time, I still knew there was something ridiculously wrong with that picture.

It was a pointed display of arrogance towards most manifestations of non-European culture. A prominent Girls’ school in the capital Kingston & St. Andrew preventing a female student from wearing natural braids and cornrows- hairstyles synonymous with the African texture- is a school that had no intention of catering to the needs of its black students who by nature were blessed with short kinky hair. For me, this was institutionalized Racism and social manipulation at most; discrimination partly entrenched in the school rules under the guise of instilling discipline.

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“Who taught you to hate yourself? Who taught you to hate the texture of your hair? Who taught you to hate the colour of your skin?” Malcolm X

Fast forward almost 25 years later, Kingston College High School students in Jamaica are sent home, on an exam day, for wearing fades and mohawks. Black girls in the Bahamas are sent home for Twist Outs. Black girls in Barbados are sent home for Afros; And Bantu Knots (Chiney Bumps) are deemed inappropriate for school.  Some may say that the students are at fault. They know the school rule and should have, therefore, adhered to it. After all, as one teacher puts it, “school rule is school rule. Abide or get out!” But I’ll address that later. For now, I have a deeper concern.

Responding to accusation that the school is lenient with students of Indian and Chinese orientation, the Kingston College Principal said,” students expect them to bald their head like mine but it can’t be that the same rule applies for obvious reason. We have to use our discretion.” It is more worrying than hypocritical that the same authority that sees it fit to suspend black boys for wearing Fades, have seen it fit to use their discretion biases when it comes to students of Indian, Asian and Caucasian descent wearing the exact hairstyles deemed inappropriate when worn by their black schoolmates. What are these ‘obvious reasons’ to which he alludes? Apparently fades are only appropriate when worn by Indians, Caucasians, Asians, Soldiers, Presidents and Prime Ministers… but NOT black students.

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Why is it, in 2016 in Jamaica, over 17O years after the ‘Abolition of Slavery’ and ‘Emancipation’ and 54 years after ‘Independence’, do we still think that the afro, bantu knots (chiney bumps), twist outs and other hairstyles commonly worn by African women are ‘unsuitable’, ‘unprofessional’, ‘inappropriate’, ‘unrespectable’, ‘unruly’, ‘unkempt’, ‘untidy’, and ‘ungroomed’? Why are we still sending home black boys for wearing fades and mohawks? Why is the African hair not seen as ‘good hair’? We have been devalued through our history of enslavement. Yet we have, from generations to generations, continued to teach our own, whether through blatant, subliminal and even subtle messages, that we are inadequate and that all hair is NOT created equal. Some are more equal than others.

 “This was my first really big step toward self- degradation: when I endured all of that pain, literally burning my flesh to have it look like a white man’s hair. I had joined that multitude of Negro men and women in America who are brainwashed to believe that the black people are “inferior”- and white people “superior”- that they will even violate and mutilate their God-created bodies to try and look “pretty” by white standards.”- Malcolm X

Some years ago while attending High School, I was 13 at the time in 3rd form (9th grade). I usually travelled to school with my friend’s mom. Those traffic mornings led for great family conversations. I just listened. It was one of those mornings that my friend asked her mom if she would be allowed to process (cream) her hair for her Birthday. She was going to be 14 and that was the only gift she wanted. After negotiating with her mom the entire trip to school, her mom agreed that if she did well for the semester and got straight A’s, she would grant her that wish. ‘Creaming’ her hair was going to be her ‘reward’ for good grades and behaviour.

A friend of mine was in a long distance relationship and hadn’t seen her boyfriend in person for months. She had started her journey back to natural hair and had told me how she loved how her natural hair was looking and how excited she was at the sight of ‘new growth’. Her boyfriend was coming to visit and she gladly awaited the opportunity to spend time with him and show off her beautiful Bantu Knots. For those couple of days that he was going to be in the island, I knew I wasn’t going to see her. But after he left and she visited me, I was in for a surprise. She had exchanged her kinky curly natural crown with processed hair. When I asked why, she said her boyfriend didn’t like how she looked with hair natural. I was disappointed in her decision but I guess no one wants to feel “unpretty” especially to the one person who should be calling you beautiful. Her opinion of her hair didn’t matter because his opinion mattered more. Truth is, I don’t fully blame men for their opinions and preferences.  Men are very visual beings, and they unconsciously learn to define beauty by what society instills in them at a very young age.

Growing up in a Pentecostal Church, we were forced to keep our hair natural. With hopes of straightening my hair, I started questioning my mom as to the Biblical foundation of such rule. I tried to argue that there were no biblical grounds for such rule and even tried to negotiate terms but my mom was adamant that it wasn’t going to happen; At least, “not in my house!”  I kept nagging her about this stupid church rule until she called one of the Elders of the Church who I highly respected to talk to me about it thinking that it would have quelled my ‘sinful’ desire for the ’creamy crack’. As my mother handed me the house phone, I wasn’t sure what to expect but I said “Hello”. It was then that I heard a stern recognizable voice say,  “Are you telling GOD that you don’t like the way He made you and that you don’t think He made you properly or beautiful?” Pausing just enough to muster the confidence of Johnnie Cochran, I quickly backfired, “No, I’m telling Him I loved how He made me. I just want to look even more beautiful.” I don’t remember how the rest of that conversation went but, at that time, I actually felt proud of my response. I had made my case.

In retrospect, my reply only confirmed how deeply rooted the psychological legacy of slavery was and how successful Europeans have been in destroying our self worth and confidence by pushing their standards of beauty on us. Why would straight hair make me more beautiful? At least, why did I think it would? Why wasn’t my Kinky Curls enough?

I’ve had three friends with natural hair entered Miss Jamaica Beauty Pageants. They all entered in different years and they don’t know each other. They all passed the elimination round of the competition and made it to the finals wearing their natural curls. They all seemed like self confident and secure ladies who love their natural hair yet they all decided to ‘alter’ or ‘hide’ their natural curls whether through temporary straightening measures or in an up do. After questioning each of their motives,  I realized that the decision had less to do with what would complement the style of their gowns and  more to do with the thought that wearing their naturally kinky curly hair out for the evening gown segment was inappropriate as they needed a hairstyle that was more ‘suitable’, ‘formal’, ‘sophisticated’ and ‘appropriate’.  It’s not a coincidence that they all viewed wearing their natural hair out, for such a ‘distinguished’ and ‘special’ occasion, in the same light. Those with hair closer to Indian, Asian or Caucasian textures let their hair out for the evening gown segment all the time. There’s not even an inclination in their minds that this could be inappropriate. So why then would they think that wearing their naturally kinky curly hair out wasn’t evening gown worthy? Why did they think it was inadequate and not fitting for a formal occasion?

I told all these stories not to declare how many friends I have but rather to highlight how different persons, of different ages, from different backgrounds, who don’t know each other could hold similar demeaning perceptions or convictions regarding their hair.

We had to learn it from somewhere. This internalized form of racism is an invisible presence in our psyches, and some of us don’t even realize that it’s a factor in how we perceive ourselves and others. Thus, for instance, my friend’s boyfriend could think his attraction to straight long hair is just a ‘matter of taste’, and I could articulate that ‘creaming’ my hair would make me ‘prettier’. It’s a matter of identity, self-worth and self-acceptance. That is why I can’t agree with the notion that rules are just rules and, as such, should be blindly followed.. Rules are NOT just rules. Rules are a reflection of society’s standards, values and fears. How we view ourselves and others are directly related to how we act. When we continue to enforce rules that either blatantly reinforce or express subtle undertones of self hatred and discrimination towards non-European traits, we are teaching our children values that promote a mindset that there is no room for the idea of naturally kinky haired black beauty.  And we continue the cycle from generations to generations if those rules aren’t changed.

  

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A Part 2 will be posted this week which will offer ‘solutions’ as I didn’t want to make this post too long 🙂

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Love & Blessings,

Queen Stacia.

Follow on Instagram: @naturaliconbeauty

Personal IG: @staciadavidson

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*Not all images are property of the blog

Natural Icon Beauty Feature – KRYSTAL

Our Natural Icon Beauty for the Month of February is Krystal Tomlinson. Krystal is presently the PR Manager for the Digicel Foundation and have also shot up the ranks in Jamaican media in recent years. She has hosted across several platforms, including being the dynamic host of TVJ’s cooking programme, Nyammings and E-Prime. In the capacity of Social Researcher, she served as a panelist for the Gleaner’s live streaming of the recently held National General Elections.

She is such an accomplished young black queen that we could ask her so many other questions but we decided to focus mainly on her natural hair journey. We will definitely have to do another feature though as this Natural Icon Beauty is a force to be reckoned with and armed with a story that inspires many.
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Here’s our interview:

NIB: Hey Queen, I’m so glad you agreed to be featured as our Natural Icon Beauty of the month. Please introduce yourself to our readers. (Name, age, where you’re from, interests)

KT: Krystal Amoy Tomlinson, 25, born at in Kingston and spent my formative years growing up in Greater Portmore under the care of a strong matriarchal team (mommy, auntie and grandma). I have one younger sibling who towers above me in height so he’s launched an advocacy campaign for me to stop calling him my “little” brother! 😀

NIB: Define your style.

KT: I’m adventurous but I venture mostly between understated elegance and simple chic. I hate tight clothing, although I’ll wear it, but loose is always a preference.

NIB: What do you love about your natural hair?

KT: That it’s all mine. I love that it best reflects my personality (locs and their association with social rebellion); I also love low-maintenance hair styles and locs give me that freedom. It’s not expensive to maintain and the messier the cuter they seem to look. It’s also an expression of my willingness to take risks in a space where conformity is preferred. At the time that I locked my hair I was already on television but some persons thought it would offend viewers and get me kicked off TV. Though that never happened, I wasn’t worried about it but it did take guts to challenge mainstream beauty standards and it helps to see 4 other women also dominating the media space with their bold embrace of the black woman’s mane.

NIB: Have you ever processed your natural tresses?

KT: I tried to process the front once…when I was 18…to put in some version of weave. I hated the way I looked with straight hair and bought an afro wig to hide it until my roots came back.

NIB: When did you decide to loc your hair?

KT: In 2012

NIB: Some people are under the impression that having loc is hard and expensive to maintain, is that so?

KT: Not in my experience because my intention is not to have it slicked back all the time so I don’t tighten it often. I like when it looks a little messy. It would be costly to style your hair every week, whether processed or natural, so it really depends on the beauty standards of the individual.

NIB: What’s your hair regimen?

KT: I wash, treat and style my hair every two weeks. I use the Mango and Lime suite of products, coconut oil and sometimes shea butter.

NIB: I’ve heard stories of women who have been pressured to process their hair or who have experienced harsh criticisms, negativity and/or even sabotage because they wear their natural tresses. Have you had any such experience(s) solely or partly because of your locs?

KT: No I haven’t…I don’t think anyone is brave enough to go there with me. LOL.

NIB: What advice would you give someone who is experiencing such pressure?

KT: Be bold in your beauty. You have to decide what makes you beautiful because you are more than your hair. Own yourself! Love yourself! Live yourself! The more comfortable you get with who you are, the less concerned you’ll be with looking like other women and conforming to social standards.

NIB:  If you could describe your life, vision for your life, or guiding philosophy(ies) using three quotes, what would they be?

KT: 1. “Think generously, speak kindly, act fairly and live daily. Life is improved one thought, one word, one deed, one day at a time”

2. “Some people will speak kindly; don’t let it inflate your head. Some will speak unkindly; don’t let it deflate your heart.”

3. “Earn your success. If it’s handed to you , you may have to hand it back.”

NIB: You are such an inspirational young black queen and I know you are not one to live a life of regrets so what would you say was your most impactful failure or ‘mistake’? How did you rebound and what lesson(s) did you learn?

KT: When UWI (University of the West Indies) suspended my student privileges because of an exam riot that was led by myself and colleagues on the UWI Guild. I learned 2 things:

  1. As a leader you must be prepared to accept the praise and the punishment for the actions of those you lead. It’s a two-way street. If they succeed, you succeed. If they fail, you fail. You don’t get to opt out of the relationship when it suits you.
  2. Never out your name, face and voice behind a cause that you’re not willing to lose your reputation for. Thankfully, that was a cause that I truly believe in and so I was willing to accept the consequences.

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Thanks for those sound words Krystal. I appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview. It was definitely enlightening.

I know most, if not all, will agree that Krystal is natural beauty personified, with a bubbly personality and good sense of humour. I have no doubt, if she continues on this extraordinary path, she is due bigger and better things. No pun intended 🙂

Love & Blessings,

Queen Stacia.

Follow on Instagram: @naturaliconbeauty

Like on Facebook: Click Here

 

Keep up with Krystal:

Instagram: @krystaltomlinson

Twitter: @kryticalmind

Facebook: Click Here

 

Credits:

Photography & Styling: @staciadavidson

Make up: @krystaltomlinson

Dress: @mamayashi

Earrings: @yaadtrendz

 

Natural Icon Beauty Feature- DIEDRE’

I believe I have a knack and love for identifying and exposing talents and beauty in people but I also want to use this medium to empower women to be confident in who they are, to love themselves, cultivate their style and to enjoy life. I hope my blog brand Natural Icon Beauty will be an avenue where I can marry my love for natural hair, beauty, creative arts, humour, personal style, self confidence, empowerment, and exposing talents to create something that people will love and something that will possibly change/impact lives for the better. With this in mind, I’ve decided to do a monthly feature to highlight the style and beauty of a black woman with natural hair. My first Natural Icon Beauty of the Month will be the gorgeous Diedre’ McKenzie.
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Diedre’ has worked with me on many occasions and was actually integral in helping me to get this blog off the ground when it was merely just an idea. She’s always supportive of my ventures and has willingly used her talents, when possible, to aid many others in attaining their dreams. It is, therefore a no-brainer that I feature this member of Team Natural Icon Beauty who is an Art/Events Manager, Model, Stylist, Make-Up Artist, Aspiring Photographer among other things… and Friend.

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I wanted to find out more about her and her natural hair so I asked her:

NIB: Hey Queen, I’m so glad you agreed to be featured as our Natural Icon Beauty of the Month. Please introduce yourself to our readers.
DIEDRE’: My Name is Diedre` McKenzie a graduate of the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts where I studied for a Degree in Arts Management. At the age of 23, my main goal in life is to be happy and truly successful where I believe my success is determined by whether I find happiness or joy in what I do. I love being creative and helping people to see the true potential in themselves through styling, decor and living a good lifestyle. I model as a hobby and I am currently trying to get certified in the areas of makeup artistry, interior decorating, fashion design, psychology and health and wellness.

NIB: Define your style.
DIEDRE’: hmm, to give a specific definition to my style is a very complicated one. I like anything that looks good on my body. I like to be sultry yet sophisticated and I rarely follow trends unless it looks good.

NIB: What do you love about your natural hair?
DIEDRE’: I love most things about my hair, the only thing I don’t like is the amount of money I spend on products to get the perfect look and that it makes me impatient waiting on it to grow.

NIB: Have you ever processed your natural tresses?
DIEDRE’: No I haven’t and I never will.

NIB: What’s your favourite way to wear your hair?
DIEDRE’: I have several go to hairstyles- A messy high bun for work, bangs when its not windy, wash and go mostly and cornrowed back as protective do. When I get tired of combing it, I put in some braids for a month or two.

NIB: Some people are under the impression that having natural hair is hard and expensive to maintain, is this so?
DIEDRE’: The only thing that’s hard about having natural hair is trying to meet the standards of what people say is “combed” hair. Not to say your hair shouldn’t be groomed or tamed, because it would make you look more kept, but if you accept the shape, form, textures etc. of your hair everything else comes easy.

NIB: What’s your hair regimen?
DIEDRE’: Water, Water, Water… Water is the main step in my hair regimen. I wet it in the mornings. I use moisturizer with main ingredient water. I occasionally use gel with main ingredient water. Otherwise, I would wash and go and sometimes put in a curling gel to keep my curls tight. I co-wash my hair twice a week, ( I no longer use shampoo) and trim the ends ever so often ( I’m due a trim now).

NIB: Explain ‘co-wash’ for those of us who don’t understand what that is.
DIEDRE’: Co-wash is using conditioner to wash your hair instead of using shampoo.

NIB: I’ve heard stories of women who have been pressured to process their hair or who have experienced harsh criticisms, negativity and/or even sabotage because they wear their natural tresses. Have you had any such experience(s) solely or partly because of your hair?
DIEDRE’: The society we live in has yet to come to terms that even if we were all put in a baking mold we would still come out different, some will have more air holes than others ( Pun intended). It is until we realize that we cannot change the way we were made and embrace our differences, that people will be forced to embrace it. I have had many experiences where the way I chose to wear my hair have affected people’s opinion of me. I even went about changing it to suit them, but I have learnt that the only reason I should change something about myself is if it is going to make me happier or healthier. I’ve never heard of natural hair killing anyone yet, so until then, I’ll keep rocking my curls.

NIB: As a model, do you find it harder to get gigs because of your natural hair? Or is natural hair readily accepted in the fashion industry?
DIEDRE’: The fashion Industry likes girls who they can play around different looks with. The girl with no hair gets more gigs than a girl with processed or natural hair because then they can wear wigs and different hairstyles so natural hair is not a deal breaker especially since natural hair is simply a fad for some. Even processed hair chics are putting in curly tresses to have our type of hair *flashes hair while tilting head to the side*. However, the struggle that most models face is with height, weight and/or skin colour.

NIB: People will look at how gorgeous you are and think that you must be very confident and that you have it all together, is that so? Or do you have insecurities like the rest of us?
DIEDRE’: Ha! Confidence is such a funny thing! Today, you have it tomorrow you don’t. You never really have it all the time because there is always something that makes you question your worth. What I have learned is that it’s not important to meet everyone’s expectation but it is important to meet your own. There is always someone who’s not going to like you, not going to see your worth, always expecting the worse from you or trying to put you down because of selfish reasons but seeing your goal and focusing on reaching it is what’s important. In my case, that’s being happy.

NIB: If you could describe your life, vision for your life, or guiding philosophy(ies) using three quotes, what would they be?
DIEDRE’: “Live, Love, Laugh.”; “Just Do It!”; “This Too shall Pass.” I was going to include “Forever Faster” but I don’t run. That’s how I remind myself to live every day. I don’t have a plan as to how I want my life to go I just have a goal and will do everything to reach it.

NIB: One last question, what does it mean for you to be a Natural Icon Beauty?
DIEDRE’: Wah! Mi life tun up now! *laughs out loud* Everyday you live your life trying to reach your goal, you never think the work is done because you always see room to grow and be a better version of yourself and then, someone sees your hard work and tells you good job, or tells you they admire you. It means something. It means that you’re not just working for you but to help people who have the same desires, struggles and questions of life to find the answer much quicker than if they were to search for it themselves. My ultimate dream is to help people realize how much investing in themselves can make their life more fulfilling. To be considered as a Natural Icon Beauty means I’m doing something right and I am one step closer to this dream.
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“I wasn’t sure I was going to pull off this dress, but then I remembered who I was and owned it like nobody’s biz.”

Yes, you sure did. Thanks again Diedre. I appreciate that you were open and honest. I wish you all the best in your present and future endevours.

Thanks to everyone for reading. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this feature. Awaiting your Comments below 😆

Like. Share with a friend. Subscribe.

Love xoxo,

Queen Stacia.

Follow on Instagram: @naturaliconbeauty

Like on Facebook: Click Here

Credits:
Photography:
Photo 1 & 7-9 : @jesuisalrick
Photos 2-6: @nickiikane

Make Up:
Photo 1 & 7-9 : @kimzie_kim
Photos 2-6: @mz_zeri

Styling: Diedre Mckenzie

Keep up with Diedre:
Instagram: Click Here
Facebook: Click Here