‘What does the black spectator identify with when his/her mirror image is structurally absent or present only as Other’ – Mercer, K .1996
Recommended by her cousin, Marion, to me for this series, I catch up with Rochelle aka Crystal Afro about her, her hair( of course) and stuffs.
I actually thought her name was Crystal ford lool. But clearly not. Her name is Rochelle aka Crystal Afro( and you can see why lool) and she’s 26 and a Jamaican ’with a dash of Cuban on one side (yhh blug wagan? Obviously am trying put on my Jamaican accent but I have failed so I will stick to what I know! Lool). Recently graduated community Arts Practitioner and is looking to create all sorts of arty stuffs( oooh interesting, her contact details at the end of the article).
Growing up in Balham and Wandsworth( big up she says lool) she didn’t really see a lot of women with natural hair or they may have been a few but she probably didn’t notice( lol) but looking back she can remember her Nan and aunty rocking their natural hair( good good lol). But in her primary school there was another black girl with type 3ish hair who had manageable hair( Ohhhh am sensing some envy? Back then nah I lied lool no but seriously maybe a little? Loool). Anyways in secondary school, that changed and almost everyone had relaxed hair or the next thing- weaves or braids- including her.
seeing girl wearing really bait weaves also helped me. Like when your looking at a girl on the bus and you feel bad for
them because you can see their tracks- not cool! ( why she transitioned lool)
To her, seeing other black women with natural hair encouraged her to stay natural. And the fact that she didn’t want to ‘ take the risk of any fake-ness being exposed’ ( lool I feel you on that one!!!!) her decision to transition was influenced by money( well, no comment lool), breakage, as a matter of fact it would be better to write her own words lol:
quote was by Kobena Mercer, who raised the question: What does the black spectator identify with when his/ her mirror image is structurally absent or present only as Other?”(Mercer, K. 1996)
“This question is still so important to me even now. As I did my research trying to find BlackBritish female celebrities from past decades I realized just how dangerously absent we are from the history books, and the majority of those that can be
seen are playing it straight. It was all this that made me think, “when future generation of black girls compare themselves to the black girls of our generation I want them to see how naturally beautiful their ancestors are/were. Idont want them to think they need to have straight or fake hair to be beautiful.”
Did you feel that making that decision was hard for you especially when most of the women around you had silky straight hair?
There were definitely difficult times in the early days. It’s easy to be confident about about natural hair when your in the comfort of your own home but when you’re confronted with the real world and the various social pressures it can be a lot more challenging to stay strong. Sometimes you feel like you stand out for all the wrong reasons. But I guess its important to remember that just because you’re pursuing not the same type of beauty that’s being dictated to us, it doesn’t mean that you’re not equally as beautiful.Although the first couple of weeks were difficult, if I hadn’t gone through that difficult stage I wouldn’t have learn the things I needed to know to be happy with my hair as I am now.
Hair products? Yep, yea, yes! Most definitely! Lol. A very excited Crystal I mean Rochelle.
She had to get rid of most of her hair products( like that is a problem when you’re shopping for new ones lool) as she found out they leave too much residue. But the products she has come to love? Kinky Curly knot today( I actually love the name of this, did u get the pun, knot today? No? well lets just carry on) she cant tell me how much she loves this product! Lol. But unfortunately its only sold online( links to the website at the end). She’s also loving oils- coconut oil( again), almond oil( new to me) and castor oil.. Also loving vegetable glycerine too.
Has there been a change in your hair routines? Like the number of times you wash your hair a week, how you protect your hair when you sleep? Protective styling?( weaves, braids, ponytails)
It’s all about trial and error, and when I looked back at my blog posts I realized that you’ll usually see a few tweeks in my routine as I try to find what my hair likes. Im experimenting with various deep conditioners like Keracare and Aubery Organics. My protective styles change every few weeks or so, as I learn more convenient and quick ways to style my hair. Iv changed how often I wash my hair from practically never (when I wore weaves) to 3 times a week when I first went natural to once a week and at the moment usually twice a week. I also change the times I spritz my hair. Im trying to figure out if it prefers a spritz in
the morning or the evening, but I’ve learned twice a day can be a bit much for my hair depending on what I’ve got in my spritz. Oh yea and now I try to do a co-wash once a week.
Well of course kinky curly knot today ( ok did u get it this time or knot? Ha-ha see what I did there no? no? ) she even got one for her mum! Ok I need to try this out! She also recommends Keracare humecto crème conditioner( and where to get it for cheap Dalston Market lol), eco styler gel( I love this but I never tried it so hold on, how do I love it?( from any black hair shop) defines her curls well.
Would you advice any women to go natural? And why?
I guess I would encourage anyone thinking about it to at least try it just because I think you really learn so much about yourself. Its amazing to see that the hardest part of going natural is actually the mental part, you’re forced to confront many fears, and views some you didn’t know you had; while the easy bit becomes the hair itself as you learn that actually afro hair is not as hard to manage as you thought. I’d recommend it because going natural actually gives you a freedom you were unaware of before. I think as anyone learns and understands more about themselves they become freer.
And finally whats the best piece of advice you would give to a woman who has just decided to go natural?
Stick with it! If its what you want to do, you’ve got support from so many other women out there, including myself. Be Seen! The pride and encouragement and knowledge you can give and get from sharing your styles and experiences with other people is priceless.
Be prepared for a new way of thinking. Prepare to readdress your ideas of what beauty is and isn’t. Also sometimes it can be a little uncomfortable to see yourself in this new way remember there is no 1 type of beauty, you’re beautiful too. You’ll be surprised at how many people aren’t even phased by your natural hair, and how many others think its wonderful. In terms of haircare my
advice would be CONDITION. If you are embracing your natural hair then it important to know you are now on what I call “Mission to Condition”. Our hair dries quicker than other hair types and so needs more moisture. It makes it
easier to handle and healthier in the long run. On a bad hair day remember YOU ARE NOT ALONE!! (Check out some of mine, lol.)
Ok folks you heard it here. She’s a multi talented woman who has transitioned and is currently enjoying the results! And funny too. i hope her story has inspired you to keep at it and given you a few laughs it certainly gave me some loool
For more information check out her blog. http://unitedkinkdom.blogspot.com/search/label/Afro%20Hair
also where to buy the kinky curl knot today products and other amazing products http://www.britishcurlies.co.uk/store/products/Kinky%252dCurly-Knot-Today-8oz.html
thats all folks!! xxx have a blessed day!
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everyday inspiration series- Crystal Ford ( Rochelle) | Slimtingz18