Hair Diary: Kapinga Marie

5:03 PM

About Me....I am Congolese American living in the U.S for now 17 years (born in Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium). There is something about movies, music, dance, family, friends, cooking, writing, and physical challenges that make me smile. A book I have re-read three times: "New Seeds of Contemplation" by Thomas Merton. The concert that set standards: Coldplay. Something I desire – holistic health. Something I am grateful for – that God continues to give me the vision to see that life is worthwhile with all it has to offer (good, bad, beautiful, plain ole ugly).

Where do you live? How is the natural hair community there?

I live in Atlanta, Ga. The natural hair community here is alive and well. There are naturals in my workplace left and right (accounting department, media and entertainment industry, culture’s more corporate than average). I’m sure it wasn’t always this way, but I’m glad the corporate world is coming around.

When and why did you decide to go natural?

I’ve been natural for a while (at least 5 years). I don’t remember deciding to go natural. I just wore braids so often and remember not putting a perm in my hair after a while. I did consciously make the decision to continue as a natural, and stop the braids in 2009. It was a dramatic decision. After sharing my hair woes with my brother (I couldn’t take seeing my hair break from all those tresses), he recommended that I make a list of what objectives I had for my hair…what were my coif goals irrespective of money, time, social “propriety,” etc. That’s when I realized that I wanted to keep my hair natural, and be able to have a few consistent, go-to styles for various occasions (that I could do myself). I also mentioned on the list that I would love to dread my hair later on in life, maybe post-grown children..but that story is decades away…God-willing.

Overtime it started to hit me that staying natural was the right fit for me. I can appreciate and admire all kinds of hair on a black woman; however, there was something about natural hair that made my eyes follow that woman’s head across the room. And I’m not even just talking about the cute, done up natural styles…I loved Celie’s hair in The Color Purple – the coarse, kinky, “nappy” hair. I thought “that’s so us!” Being natural involves no less effort than when I had perms, or when I had braids. Still, I find that I am more willing to put in the effort with the former.

Were your friends and family supportive of you decision? If not, how were you able to move forward?

Lol. My mom was sssllllooowww to understand. She thought I was trying to restore my hair from breakage and then would go back to perms. She thought I looked unprofessional and indecent. The list goes on. My aunt tag teamed with her and convinced me to wear a wig the first few months following my decision to stay “au naturelle.” My mom’s reaction surprised me, but my dad and siblings were all for the change. I moved forward confidently mostly because my siblings kept commenting “it’s just you, it fits.” This confirmed what I had felt for a long time. By the way, my mom now loves it – seeing the growth, and the textures it has taken on. She offers me as a hair advisor for naturals she works with. I didn’t give her the “I told you so.” I was sympathetic to how times were when she was growing up.

What is your current routine?

It’s simple – shampoo and trim every two months; co-wash weekly with Suave Coconut conditioner (apply coconut oilor olive oil before hand); flat twist my hair into eight cornrows using cantu leave in conditioner, unrefined shea butter with an essential oil. That’s it. (oh and the satin bonnet is a must). So I’m pretty much in protective-styling mode all the time. I make sure to experiment with different hairstyles on the weekends (which may get promoted to a weekday style if it works). For the most part though I wear the flat twist cornrows, which I touch up after exercising. Shout out to my hair angels for giving me the patience to get better at braiding. I really believe I have one who encourages me with my hair. Oh, and I may throw on a wig if I am too tired to braid really neatly. I’m looking to break out into loose styles more often, but I’m concerned about the effect of my regular exercise, and I have yet to find a styling product which works. My plan is to keep cornrowing until my hair gets too long to tuck the ends under and out of sight. Recent update: I just started using Argan oil and love it, mixed it with a hair crème made at a local hair shop which may replace the cantu shea leave in. We’ll see.

Do you have any hair goals? What steps are you taking to achieve them?

No real hair goals: just I want to make sure I stay engaged with the health of my hair, and stay open to new possible styles, or treatments. That’s where YouTube, and this blog has really helped me: to stay engaged. My biggest concern was that I would get hair lazy as a natural, which hasn’t happened – so I’m good. Also, I’m not a product junkie by any means. However, I’m aware that there is such a thing as a better fit for my hair, and/or a better fit for my styling objectives. I allow that to guide me as far as products go.

What is your favorite go to natural hair style?

Ooohhh…my favorite style was an accident that I have yet to reproduce. I allowed shrinkage to run its course after a twist out, and cornrowed four small flat twists on each side (back, to my ears). So it was almost like a fro-hawk mixed with a high top fade, but not. A+.

Curly girls have more fun because....we are more aware that coifs involve choice. Relatively speaking, being natural involves a little more conscious decision-making versus going with the flow of mainstream styling. I had a friend who was natural, and got a perm because it was more conducive to her Peace Corp lifestyle abroad (where she may not have had the products available, etc). I love that story, because there was conscious choice involved. My choice has led me to discover that I love the options that wigs offer. I appreciate my natural hair even more after getting the chance to rest from it for a few weeks. I’ve also discovered that I don’t mind sporting cornrows 90% of the year (some people would find that extremely boring). Whatever the coif: choose peace-fully.

Gorgeous skin sis and thanks for sharing, I really enjoyed reading your diary:-)

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