Tell us about yourself.
My name is Amaka and I am a 24-year-old living in New Mexico. I attend the University of New Mexico College of Pharmacy and am pursuing my doctoral degree in Pharmacy. I am the oldest of four children, two brothers and one sister. Although my siblings and I were born and raised in New Mexico, my parents were born and raised in Nigeria, Africa. My dad moved to America to pursue his college degree in pharmacy and my mother in dental hygiene.
Tell us about your hair.
My hair can be a hot mess! It is so kinky, thick, and dense that I can’t even imagine trying to style it every morning. My solution? BRAIDS! I get them done about every two months and don’t have to worry about how much time it will take me to style my real hair or how much pain I will experience just trying to get a comb through it.
What inspired you to go natural?
Many people ask me, “Why don’t you just relax your hair?” I used to relax it religiously every two to three months but I just got so tired of it! The money wasted on relaxers, the pain from the chemical burns, and the stench of it all got to be too much. But the most important reason I stopped is because I questioned myself, why do I need to have my hair as straight as everyone else’s? Why can’t I embrace my real hair and all the different natural styles I can do with it. I was tired of “trying” to have hair like my Caucasian counterparts so I stopped relaxing it and went from permed to natural.
Did you transition, are you currently transitioning or did you do the Big Chop? Why did you choose to do your selected method?
I transitioned about three years ago. I did not do the big chop because it takes a long time for my hair to grow and right now I’m trying to grow my natural hair out into a nice afro.
Was this your first attempt going from permed to natural hair? If not, how many times have you tried? What made you go back to permed hair and what made you decide to go natural again?
This was my second attempt to go natural. My first attempt failed because I was trying so hard to fit in with everyone else – trying to have “un-nappy” hair. Afterwards I realized I should stop wanting to be like the girls in the magazines and on television. I needed to embrace my natural hair, and because of that revelation, the second time wasn’t even a question.
Have you ever done anything to your hair that you now regret? (Aside from getting a perm if that is what you regret)
No I don’t regret anything that I’ve done to my hair other than perming it
What is your favorite hairstyle(s)?
By far, my favorite style is braids. I just love how they look (on me HAHA). Next to that I would say twists are pretty neat too. I am a bit naïve when it comes to hairstyles because I live in a city where Black culture is not dominant so I don’t always know what the latest and greatest new hair-do is.
Which products do you like to use?
Since I haven’t had my natural hair out of braids (I’m trying to grow it), I’m not sure what I like. I do like to use hair oils like Africa’s Best for my roots to keep them nice and soft and any oil sheen spray to keep my braids looking fresh and shiny. As far as shampoo and conditioner, I use Pantene Pro-V for Women of Color but I am currently looking for a new shampoo/conditioner.
What is your hair care ritual? Do you do it yourself or do you go to a salon?
I go to a salon…kind of. I see a lady who is from the Congo who braids my hair for me. But usually I get my braids in back-to-back so I don’t really style my natural hair. I do wrap my braids up every night to keep them from tangling too much.
Where else can we find you on the World Wide Web?
Man, I’m not famous like that! I’m not really on the web. Just Facebook and Twitter.
What do you want Permed to Natural readers to take with them after reading your story?
I would like for your readers to know that going natural was a personal decision that I made for myself. I didn’t do it because everybody else was doing it. I did it because it boosted my self-confidence and esteem. I am learning to embrace myself and love every aspect of myself including my crazy natural hair. If people want to judge you for not going natural, don’t pay them any mind because going natural is a personal journey not a social requirement.