Next up in the Pomp and CURLStance series is LaTanya, sharing with us her moving story of how and why she decided to go natural and the fierce head of coils she has grown to love!
C: Tell me about your curly hairstory.
L: I like to call myself a “forced natural” because I went natural due to health reasons. Back in 2006, I was diagnosed with Stage IIA Breast Cancer. After my initial pity party was over, I realized that I was going to lose my hair! Hair that I’d worked for so long to grow out. I know it’s shallow, but I was really concerned about my hair…maybe even more than my actual health!! Well…I did tell my surgeon to do whatever he could to save my boobs because I NEED them…and he did. I had a lumpectomy. But back to the story! LOL What’s always funny to me is that prior to my diagnosis, I was considering going natural. I hadn’t had a relaxer in 25 weeks and was getting ready to take out microbraids to see just what my hair was doing (I didn’t have braids the full 25 weeks, I’d gotten then redone twice). I wasn’t mentally “ready” to go natural, it was just something I was toying with and I definitely didn’t know how to take care of natural hair. So with all of my devastation, when I received the diagnosis, I decided to get my hair cut and relaxed since it was going to fall out anyway. (Crazy..I know). I rocked a short, relaxed cut until my hair started falling out from chemotherapy on Saturday, February 10, 2007, which was exactly two weeks from the start of chemotherapy. It was devastating. My hair was falling out in big chunks. I was scared to comb OR wash it, so finally on February 13, 2007, I decided to go ahead and shave my head. I did it myself, GI Jane style in my bathroom mirror. Best feeling (at that time) that I’d ever had!!! I was back in control!
I wore a wig for three months before my hair started growing back and when I was finally comfortable with the amount of hair that had grown back, I decided to reveal my new self to the public on Memorial Day 2007. I didn’t have ANY hair y’all. I chuckle now, but all I could do back then was put on some mascara and earrings and pray that I didn’t look sick.
By my hair growing out completely new, it has been a very interesting experience. When it first started growing back it was straight and thin. Then it started to thicken and curl up and grow out and boy oh boy! Before I knew it, I was rocking natural, coily, hair. Now, three years in, I have very thick and dense, tightly coiled in some places, super kinky in other, and super curly in others places hair!! But you know what…I LOVE IT!!!!
I am proud of my decision…not just because I am not longer putting chemicals in my hair, but because I am wearing my hair the way that God intended (except for the color) it to be. I told Him that if he wanted me to go natural, all He had to do was tell me :) For those of you wondering about my cancer, chile please…I am HEALED. I never had a day of true sickness…just days that I felt “weird”. From the beginning I surrounded myself with positive energy and only asked people to pray for me that I KNEW loved me. My oncologist was amazed that I went through a year and a half of treatment (yeah, that long) with minimal sickness. Look at God.
C: When and how did your “learn” how to do your hair?
L: I read and read and read and read blogs, watch YouTube videos, and I am an extreme product junkie. I like to try new things on my hair. While my hair was in the process of growing back, I discovered sites like Nappturality, MotownGirl, and NaturallyCurly.com (which is based right here in Austin, Texas), that were chock full of knowledge, so when it was my time I was well prepared.
C: What’s your current regimen and what products do you use now?
L: I co-wash every few days using whatever I can put my hands on first. Usually Herbal Essences Hello Hydration, Totally Twisted, VO5 Free Me Freesia, or Yes to Carrots.
On days that I don’t co-wash and I am running late, I splash water on my hair from the shower to dampen it and then style it when I get out.
I shampoo my hair maybe once or twice a month, depending on how much product I have put into it. I use either V05 Vanilla Mint Tea Tree Therapy shampoo, Creme of Nature, or Herbal Essences Totally Twisted Shampoo…again, it depends on what I put my hands on.
I moisturize with either Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk or Healthy Hair Butter, and Aloe Vera Gel depending on the season.
I don’t deep condition enough, and this is something that I am trying to do better with in the next few months. But when I do deep condition, I use the Pantene Relaxed & Natural Deep Conditioning Mask. I leave this on my hair for 45 minutes with a heated processing cap. I think it’s by Gold N’ Hot.
I also cover my hair every night with a satin bonnet and on the nights that I forget, my satin pillowcase has my back.
C: Any tips/tricks/techniques you’d like to share?
L: Listen to your hair. It will tell you what it does/does not like. In the winter, my hair likes creamy products (like Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk or Creme of Nature Leave-In) but in the summer, it hates creamy products, so in the summer I usually can get by with Aloe Vera gel or curl activator gel (not the drippy kind!) :)
I detangle with the Ouidad Double Detangler comb…I did a review of it on my blog,http://myhairisme.blogspot.com. Yes this comb was $24.00 and YES it is worth it.
C: Can you share with us a memorable hair moment?
L: I love when I am approached by a total stranger that tells me that they are inspired by may hair. This happened just a few weeks ago when I was late for work one morning. A lady with a short cute cut stopped me and told me that she was inspired by me because it was her first day wearing her natural hair out. I love those types of moments! It makes it all worth it!
C: If you could use three words to describe your hair, what would they be?
L: Thick. Fierce. Daring!