Shewanee Howard-Baptiste interviewed by Briana Whiteside
How long have you been natural?
I got married July 2011 and decided that after the wedding that would be the last time I got a relaxer. On December 8, 2011 I did the big chop and cut off all my hair. I've been natural since December 2011-April 2014 (2 years & 4 months).
What prompted you to go natural?
My husband had actually been encouraging me for some time. I thought about it previously and "tried" for 8 months. I was still getting my hair pressed at the roots. This actually frustrated me because I could never see what my natural curl pattern was because I was still applying heat to my new growth every week. Eventually I got a perm again because I did not have the confidence or skill-set to determine what my hair actually needed to transition to its natural state. When I decided to go natural again in July 2011, I had really began to process what the journey would be like based on the experiences of other women (formal and informal, online and people I knew).
In one word, how would you describe your journey?
Depends on the day:
If I had to choose one word, I would choose "confidence." You have to invest in your own self-esteem and self-worth when going natural. There will be days when you curl pattern changes and products don't work like you think they should. You have to be confident in your decision. It's a journey!
If you could talk to our younger sisters who are natural, what would you tell them?
No matter what do not compare your curl pattern/kinky curls to anyone else! I made this mistake for at least one year- I would look at other women's curls and say "I wish my curl pattern was like", "I wish my hair was longer so I could do that style." In less than 2 1/2 years my hair has grown more in that time that it has my entire life! Don't fight your hair. Products and prayer won't change your curl pattern:) You have to accept that your hair is going to do what it wants to do. The sooner you accept and exhibit that confidence, people will be drawn to your inner and outer beauty. I get compliments all the time now about my hair- not because I have "perfect coils" but because I ROCK MY HAIR EVERYDAY! I have no regrets about being myself, being natural and being Shewanee:)Related:
• The natural hair chronicles