Full Circle: My Mother’s Image by Cipriana Quann

Posted by Kay cipriana-quann

I came across Cipriana Quann via her site, urbanbushbabes.com and was struck by how similar the outlook of these 2 New Yorkers (with her online partner Nikisha) was to Thandie and I’s. 

These two lovely ladies , one from Baltimore (Cipriana), the other from Toronto (Nikisha) are best described by themselves on their brilliant online portal so I won’t attempt trying to define them. After reading this, however, I’m sure you’ll find out what they represent and be a regular urban bush babe visitor-if you’re not already of course.

 

“I want to look just like that!”Mom

I didn’t say it out loud but it is what I was thinking and no, I wasn’t looking at my favorite actress in a movie or tv show, it was what I thought the first time I saw my Mother who had been natural all her life, a woman who sported one of the biggest afros I have ever seen in her all girl’s rock soul band, suddenly come home with a leisure curl (a more moderate version of a jheri curl).

I was taught real beauty was on the inside and “never to judge a book by it’s cover” was a well known motto I heard ever since I can remember, so when my Mother- who I idolized- came home with a chemical process, it wasn’t a loss of beauty I saw but a loss of connection in my own image…but as I begin to think back on it now, I realize how powerful image can be.

I never wanted to have straight hair or hair that was less kinky than my own. I can honestly say I never even secretly coveted it, the idea just never crossed mind until I saw my Mother walk through the door that day, and a week later at the age of 13 I had my first chemical process.

Dark and Lovely Beautiful Beginnings Relaxer for Kids Normal Hair-340x340

‘Beautiful Beginnings’

Cipriana Early memories of my natural hair are really …fond ones.

fame1-1

FAME

 

Hair Rituals.

My Mother was so gentle and patient with our hair that my identical twin sister and I used to debate on who would get their hair done first.

Watching 21 Jump Street or FAME I would sit between my Mother’s legs and rest my head on her thigh while she detangled my hair

Her touch was so delicate I really could not relate to other school girl woes of traumatizing hair combing issues. It was through my Mother’s example that I learned the true definition of patience early on but as gentle and patient as she was with our hair, hair was the last thing on my mind especially since my sister and I rocked box braids about 90% of the time.
Education, and learning how to take care of ourselves physically and emotionally was what I most remember as a young girl.

Age was ” just a number” and it was present in full force in my household.  I remember at 5 years old, barely able to reach the kitchen sink, my father pulls up a bucket and said, “never make excuses for why you can’t do something, find a way and make it happen”, this was my introduction to washing my own plate after eating.

I also experienced the non-traditional upbringing as my Mother played the more “masculine” side as a working woman in the corporate force field while my father acted in the more “feminine” role as the caregiver at home.

31Thriving in a non-traditional environment as my norm, with a woman who was not only a constant in my life as an amazing Mother and wife, but student while working in the corporate force field. She was simply an individual who I aspired to be in every way possible, I just didn’t comprehend how her physical image would shape my own standard of beauty and eventually bring me back full circle.

I asked my Mother years later why she even wanted a leisure curl and she said without hesitation it was just a recommendation by her trusted stylist at the time as a more “safer” chemical option for more “manageable” hair. We now know this couldn’t be further from the truth but she never once thought about appearance and the impact it may have on her daughters, but more on functionality and saving time, especially dealing with her lifestyle and two daughters with a mountain of natural hair.

29

My bout with chemicals would last till I was seventeen when my father decided the bi-monthly touch ups were too costly. I would revisit chemicals twice more in my lifetime but I started to realize the impact of my Mother’s image and how her presence unconsciously affected my natural hair journey.

Why I decided to become a ‘born again natural’ definitely had to do more with what was going on internally rather than physically.

I know for many others, hair is just hair and that is completely fine, no judgments. But for me, how I felt about myself translated through my hair, almost a visual beacon of my self-confidence materialized.

I was manipulating my natural state through chemicals, which eventually transitioned to heat to create a texture that wasn’t mine. Especially since I was a model for over 10 years, my afro-textured 4c strands felt more like a hindrance rather than something that should be appreciated and loved.

For many years I was told the natural state of my hair was holding me back but something always felt wrong about that statement…in fact very wrong…that in the image I was born with was considered anything but the ideal…that my Mother’s image was anything but beautiful, this to me was absolutely not ok, and started to weigh heavily on my self-esteem.

I made a decision to step away from the industry, people and men who felt I needed to conform to upkeep a certain type of image, allowed by my own state of fear in expressing my creative growth…I was tired of stifling my natural beauty to become someone else’s ideal.

32

As I got older I felt the impact of how our subconscious past and image plays a big part in society, especially with young girl’s regarding confidence in their image which correlates into confidence in other areas besides the physical.

Cipriana (Photo credit  Raydene Salinas)

Photo Raydene Salinas

I feel we all have a responsibility to our youth in one way or the other, whether we choose to partake in that responsibility is solely based on the individual. Without the strong foundation in my youth of my mother not only celebrating, but encouraging my natural beauty I am not quite sure where my journey would be today.

Knowing that I did not have to be anything other than just me to be beautiful in her eyes,

laid the building bricks of coming back to my roots from a time when I strayed away from this belief, due to a loss of self confidence in trying emulate a beauty not my own. I not only wanted to be the example to myself in loving my natural beauty, but show others the importance of creating a new “standard or ideal” of beauty in our uniqueness and “imperfections”.

A few years ago my Mother sends me an email with a picture of a natural updo style I was wearing and said “I want to look just like that”…seems I had come full circle and it felt like home.

Find more wisdom, style and culture, visit Cipriana & Nikisha’s brilliant site urbanbushbabes.com

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10 thoughts on “Full Circle: My Mother’s Image by Cipriana Quann

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  1. Sarah Spitz

    Love the article….

    I’m from a family of curly hair women (though we are arab/croatian/german) who are proud of their hair and I wake up every morning with my messy hair and am reminded of the women who came before my and my future curly haired daughters.

    Love from Germany,

    Bambi

    http://lasagnolove.blogspot.de/

    November 21, 2013 at 10:57 am
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  3. […]   Full Circle: My Mother’s Image by: Cipriana Quann via: ThandieKay “For many years I was told the natural state of my hair was holding me back but something always felt wrong about that statement…in fact very wrong…that in the image I was born with was considered anything but the ideal…that my Mother’s image was anything but beautiful, this to me was absolutely not ok, and started to weigh heavily on my self-esteem.  I made a decision to step away from the industry, people and men who felt I needed to conform to upkeep a certain type of image, allowed by my own state of fear in expressing my creative growth…I was tired of stifling my natural beauty to become someone else’s ideal”…read much much more as I talk about the power of image and how my Mother’s image affected my natural hair journey with ThandieKay here […]

    November 21, 2013 at 11:15 pm
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  5. Jo

    ahhh where do I begin. this! this is all my christmas’s come at once a ven diagram of awesome. Don’t worry now ,I’m going to try and begin. 1stly I came to the Thandiekay website via a)the guardian but more importantly an article I read on http://www.kaymontano.com(ages ago!)which mentioned Thandie’s love of ….VITAPOINTE.(you had me at vitapointe, literally such a full sensory memory) as a suburban English brown kid I found my kindred spirits for the first time. Long story short I went through the big chop my she-ra power realization followed(at the grande age of 25)…that my hair, and the way i t looked like nothing else but me, and that, that was sweeeet. BUT then I had to learn how to look after it (my hair), which is where I first discovered my haircrushes for life Ciprianna and Nikisha. From a dedicated Urbanbushbabe and gen.u.ine Thandiekay Kid. Thanks ladies I’m proper loving the chats. XXXXXXXXXXX

    November 22, 2013 at 1:22 am

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    1. thandiekay

      This makes us SO happy, thank you so much for taking the time to comment 🙂

      November 22, 2013 at 10:30 am
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  7. Jo

    also ciprianna…your mum is such a babe…on so many levels

    November 22, 2013 at 1:24 am
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  9. Lynn

    Thanks Cipriana for your honest, heartfelt words. Yours mirror what many of us naturals feel emotionally about our hair. Not just black women, but other women as well who may have curly, coily, or kinky hair. You get tired of using chemicals and heat to ‘mask’ who you really are and fearing that the way you look doesn’t conform to what others think is THE STANDARD. I’m a ‘born again’ natural as well.

    November 24, 2013 at 3:12 am
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  11. […] image affected my natural hair journey and my definition of beauty (you can read my story here) with Celebrity Makeup Artist, Kay Montano and BAFTA Awarding-winning Actress, Thandie Newton for […]

    December 8, 2013 at 9:41 pm
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  13. Edwin

    Awesome article. I wish my mum were a bit more patient detangling my hair as a child. That’s what forced me to relax my own hair one day after study. What a grand mess… And now years later I still find it terribly hard to maintain my natural hair state.

    March 31, 2014 at 7:48 am
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  15. […] Cipriana Quann for a while now. The co-founder and editor-in-chief of Urban Bush Babes knows how to pull together a killer ensemble, her coconut and olive oiled skin is practically flawless and her natural hair is a moment in […]

    April 4, 2014 at 11:08 am
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  17. […] Cipriana Quann for a while now. The co-founder and editor-in-chief of Urban Bush Babes knows how to pull together a killer ensemble, her coconut and olive oiled skin is practically flawless and her natural hair is a moment in […]

    August 18, 2014 at 10:55 am

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