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