Describe yourself in 100 words or less.
I’m the “Good Girl Gone Natural,” a 20-something, fairly recent MBA grad with a passion for God, natural hair, music and young women’s empowerment.
How long have you been natural and why did you chose to go natural?
I transitioned a grand total of 3 times in college/grad school and finally chose to commit to it in April of 2010 which was the last time I got a texturizer. I went natural the last and final time after watching the amazing transformation that two of my college friends underwent. It wasn’t just about how beautiful, thick and full their hair became … it was about their self-confidence, their newly inspired way of just viewing life and health and themselves. It gripped me and I made a decision to really commit to going Natural in 2010.
Did you transition or big chop?
I transitioned for a full year and, after two weaves, a lot of flat ironing and a fit of frustration, in April of 2011, I commanded a friend of mine to take a REGULAR PAIR OF SCISSORS (*GASP* Oh the horror!) and cut off any pieces of my hair that looked straight. I pulled a random bunch of hair down in the front and told her not to cut that, just in case I hated the way the hair looked after she cut it, I could use that front piece to give the illusion of length. WHOLE. ENTIRE. HOT. MESS.
How did others (family, friends, colleagues) react to your decision to go natural? What was your response to them? How do they feel now?
My friends were my biggest supporters. They were the ones encouraging me to just go for it, to embrace my ‘fro and the rather large forehead it would reveal. They encouraged me to step out and just love what I was naturally working with. That was an awesome feeling.
My family, on the other hand, didn’t completely understand, made fun and used words like “wild,” “wooly,” “naps.” They just couldn’t understand why I didn’t want my hair to be straight. That was frustrating at first, but once I got the hang of my hair and really found what worked best – methodically and product-wise – I didn’t mind whether they liked it or not, because I did.
What is/was your biggest hair challenge? How did you overcome it or what are you doing now to try to address the problem?
After my friend cut my hair April 2011, I’m not gonna lie – I cried a little bit and thought, “What in the WORLD have I done? I can’t walk around with my hair this short!!!” I immediately went out and bought two half-wigs the next day. I kept my hair braided up underneath for a good three months. I was filled with regret, because I didn’t know how to make myself “look right” with this shorter hair and I was so nervous about what others would think. I hated my huge forehead and was just filled with such insecurity until, one day, my good friend Chyna told me to just “dive in headfirst” (oh, the pun) and forget the half-wigs. I took her advice, started frequenting sites like HAIRSCAPADES (Holla!) and Curly Nikki and watching YouTube videos and really just educating myself and experimenting with my hair. I had been too afraid before.
What do you love most about your natural hair and/or about being natural?
What I love most now is what I originally hated most. I love that my hair is MY hair. In the beginning, you couldn’t tell me that once I made my full transition my curls weren’t going to look JUST LIKE Tracee Ellis Ross’s. I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me that. I figured that if I moisturized and drank lots of water, one day I’d have her hair. So silly of me, I know, but you have to understand just how UNCOMFORTABLE I was with my own image. I thought that my hair was ugly in its natural state. It had to be manipulated in some way for it to be “pretty hair.” But NOW? I LOVE it. I started to latch onto the wonderful qualities of my hair and even though some days it just doesn’t feel like cooperating, I look back and see how far I’ve come and I cherish this relationship between me and my natural hair so much more.
What is your current regimen? Has it changed in any major way since you first went natural?
To be very honest, I don’t have a set regimen. I’ve tried. No schedule sticks for very long. I can say that two things have been consistent since last summer and those are: 1) coconut oil/shea butter moisturizing just about everyday, 2) a henna treatment at least once per month. Other than that, I deep condition, co-wash, oil rinse, steam and protein treat my hair kind of “willy nilly.” I don’t know if that’s bad or good seeing as my hair has grown SO much since last year alone. But I am going to really try to nail down a regimen sometime soon and let you all know what kind of progress I’ve made!
What are your Holy Grail and staple products?
1. Mixing 100% pure organic shea butter with coconut oil and using for daily moisturizing has been a God-send. It has softened my hair and makes it so much easier to maintain.
2. Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie ROCKS for bantu knot-outs.
3. ApHogee 2-Step Protein Treatment has tremendously stopped my breakage after only TWO treatments! I’m sold.
4. Alba Botanica Hawaiian Mango Conditioner smells absolutely DIVINE and is a PERFECT condish for co-washing during the summer.
What is your “go to” style? Do you wear protective and/or low manipulation styles? If so, how often and why?
During the winter months, my go-to was a Bantu knot-out, pinned up into a semi fro-hawk of sorts. I could wear that for a whole week and sometimes a few days longer! I would just lightly spritz it with water, rub some shea butter/coconut oil on my hands and individually revive the curls to reduce the frizz as the days went on.
See Ashley’s fro-hawk video tutorial here.
Now, I’m trying out different styles trying to find something else that will work, because I don’t want to do one style too much as it might put too much stress on certain spots.
As far as protective styling, I considered the Bantu knot-out frohawk to be protective/low manipulation, because I really wouldn’t touch my hair except to repin and moisturize while it was in that style. Other than that, my sleek, chic top bun or “crown braid” seem to work nicely and they are so easy/quick to do.
How often do you cut/trim your hair? How do you cut it (salon, DIY, straight, curly, in twists)? If you go to a salon, would you recommend it?
I don’t go to a salon anymore. I watched a few YouTube videos a few weeks ago, actually, got brave and learned how to trim my own hair. I don’t trim often. I went to a salon last October and had a trim (which turned into a layering that I did not want!). So, one trim lasted from October 2011 to June 2012. I think I like that length of time … AND the length my hair grew in that time.
Has going natural impacted other areas of your life (i.e. health & fitness, style, environmental consciousness, etc.?) If so, how and in what ways has it affected your lifestyle?
Absolutely! It’s made me more aware of what I eat, how often I exercise (not that much, I must admit) and it has really made me pay much more attention to detail. The details of really caring for my hair are many. But the biggest area in my life that going natural has affected is how I relate to and affirm other young women, whether they are natural or not. Sometimes, as women, we do not affirm each other enough. We see more cat fights broadcast than congratulations. Affirming one another in our beauty both inside and out is so essential to growing into healthy women and role models. We need to love ourselves the way God made us. Amazing how the natural journey has taught me that.
Do you have a “hair crush?” If so, who?
Tracee Ellis Ross. Janelle Monae. Leela James. Jurnee Smollett. Corinne Bailey Rae. Amel Larrieux. Sanaa Lathan. Gabrielle Union. Curly Nikki. Shelli Gillis. Yaya DaCosta. Lisa Arrindel Anderson. T’Keyah Crystal Keymah. …Ok, I think I’m finished.
Who do you follow online (i.e. blog/website, Youtube, Fotki, etc.)?
YouTube: Ariella89, Naptural85, MyInvisibleChyrsalis, mrskw7, NikkiMae2003.
Where can we find you online?
I have a … “progressing” YouTube channel: AshleyTruly. I’m going to start uploading more videos soon! Promise!
My Twitter handle is: @AshleyLaTruly
And, if you’re interested, I have a new blog for young women of color: www.hersoulinc.com. We’re covering everything from body image to health to relationships to faith … and there is a special place on the site for the naturals! It’s called: GoodGirlGoneNatural. I post product reviews, natural hair lessons learned, how-tos, etc..
What advice would you give someone who is contemplating going natural and/or becoming discouraged with their natural journey?
Educate yourself, make sure you’re going natural for reasons that are healthy and all your own. Be patient. It’s a process, so there will be bumps in the road, setbacks and periods of seemingly no forward movement, but just be patient. Take photos of your hair. A LOT. In just a few months’ time, you’ll be ecstatic to see the dramatic difference that you couldn’t see while you were waiting. Surround yourself with positive reinforcements, whether it’s people or messages to yourself or YouTube videos from other naturals. And have fun! Experiment. Some of my favorite styles and products were found out of pure experimentation.
Anything else that you’d like to add?
I know how frustrating it can be. I’m an ear to anyone who needs it. Check out my Twitter, Tumblr blog and YouTube. Let’s connect!