A conversation with Alexa and Allyson Omesiete, singer, songwriter, and Pre-school teacher
We asked each woman to write a note to her younger self to share with her what she wishes she knew.
Dear Black Girl,
You are an amazing, intelligent, beautiful soul who deserves all of the happiness, peace, love and joy this world has to offer. Do not listen to the bullies. They are insecure within themselves and that is not your fault. Do not be so hard on yourself. You are enough. You are not defined by the small minds of others. You should not be ashamed on yourself or your natural hair. It is you and you are perfect just the way you are. Live your life, take risks and love yourself from the inside out.
My oldest and best friend since the tender age of 14, Allyson Omesiete has come into her own and found ways to express herself through her hair. From curly perms all through high school, to switching her hairstyle every few months since her sophomore year of college, Allyson has rocked a ton of amazing hairstyles, each as unique and as beautiful as her personality. We know not everyone is comfortable with their natural textures just yet, so we sat down with Allyson to talk about it. After cutting off the relaxed hair, Allyson tells me her natural hair is doing great and has gotten super long under her weave. She’s not quite ready to go natural, but through her bold choices of hairstyle, I’ve witnessed Allyson blossom into a confident woman who loves the freedom of her choice. From heavy bangs on her birthday to box braids for our vacation in Spain, each hairstyle has given Allyson (and her peers) to the chance discover a new facet of her personality. Over rose and Beyoncé (two of our favorite things), Allyson and I sat down and got personal about whether she'd ever go natural, the distinct versatility of Black hair, and why wearing weave is just as important a choice as being natural.
Did you always accept your 4c hair? If not, what was that journey like?
I never really got a chance to get a good first impression of my hair. My mom permed my hair when I was very young, like 8 years old. And I recently grew out my perm, now I don't have any in my hair, so I didn't really like my hair from age 8 to now. Now that I am 4C, I don't really like it. I feel like I can't maintain it, it's hard for me to manage, and I don't really feel pretty with my natural texture. I just feel like it doesn't suit me as a person.
Why do you like wearing weave? What are some pros for you?
The pros of wearing weave are you hair grows a lot underneath it, because it's not exposed to anything. If I wanted to go natural after some time, I totally could. Just by taking care of it underneath and wear oils, it would be easy to transition. For me, wearing weave is easy. If you wanna style it, like curl it or straighten it, you can do that. Once in a while, I’ll go to the Dominican salon and get a wash and set and I’ll leave feeling like a new person. It's just easy for me. There's also the versatility -- I could go long or short, I could get twists, braids, whatever.
Tell us about your regimen.
I usually change my wig every 1-2 months, depending on the hair and style. Whenever I do take out my braids underneath I cut my dead ends so that I can have healthy hair growth underneath my wig. I get a wash and set every 2 weeks and condition my hair underneath my wig every 2 days.
How do people in your daily life respond to your hair (coworkers--we all get crazy comments, people in public etc)?
It definitely happens sometimes. I work in a preschool so I deal with parents all the time, most of which aren’t the same race as I am, so they're not usually exposed to how versatile Black women’s hair can be. Sometimes I'll come in with braids and they'll be like “oh….you changed your hair….thats so nice...” Just very condescending, like they'll be squinting and nodding like “hmmm...okay.” And then I'll come in with a straight bob and they’ll be like “wow!!! I love your hair!! You're gorgeous you're beautiful!!” But if I don't wanna do my hair and I wrap it in a scarf or something, they start being condescending again. For two days straight, I wore my hair in a scarf, then the third day I brushed it and curled it, and one mom was like “wow! I love your hair you changed it, you got rid of that [scarf]!!” That’s what she said to me, it was so rude. When it's in braids or it's long, people definitely try to touch it.
Are most of your peers natural?
Honestly, yeah. A lot of my peers and people my age are natural. I'm one of few of my friends who wears weave. Especially out of my 4c friends, they all pretty much keep it natural.
Does that pressure you at all? Does it make you ever want to go natural?
Sometimes it does. Just because I know there's so much value in wearing and being totally accepting of your hair. I know that women who wear their natural hair feel their most beautiful because they don't have to hide. Like when I take my wig off, I feel free! So imagine having big, flowy hair and it's all yours? I know I'm missing out, because it's yours and you can still do whatever you want with it. But for me, it's the maintenance that's hard. My boyfriend is always telling me he wants me to go natural or at least wear it natural more often. He's talking about how I used to wear my hair in high school, even though it was permed, it was still my hair. He was like, “I loved you! That's the girl I fell in love with.”
Do you think you'd ever do it?
I don't know. I don't like how I feel without my weave. I know that when you go natural, you have to cut it so it can grow healthier and I just don't know if I would ever do it. It's a really, really personal choice. I would have to be super brave. For me, my weave makes me feel secure in myself.
Why do you think it’s important for there to be natural hair representation in media?
It's important because that's how real women look. I'm not saying that women who wear weave aren't real, but this is what should be in the media because this is what younger generations should be looking at -- people that look just like them. That's one of the reasons why I felt that my natural hair wasn't pretty. I would always see girls on tv and in magazines and in music videos with long, beautiful hair. You'd never, ever see a girl with an Afro. Now it's way more than what it used to be and should keep going and never stop. Then there won't be women like me who feel that their natural hair isn't beautiful. I know it is, but in the back of my mind I just don't feel comfortable.
What do you think about natural hair in media? Is there enough representation, is it accurate?
I don't think there's enough. And is it accurate? No. Most of the natural haired women you do see in media have big curls, beautiful curl patterns, and that's just not an accurate way of showing our hair all the time. I feel like there are a lot of mixed women who go natural and their natural is more acceptable than my natural. That's why I think it's inaccurate, because there's different types of natural hair. Having the representation we do have is good, but it's could be better. There could be more diversity in how natural hair is shown.
What have you learned on your natural hair journey?
What I've learned is that your hair grows so much faster when you don't have a perm. Also, my curl pattern is actually really nice, I just need to take care of it. When it's washed and moisturized, it's super curly with a lot of shrinkage. As far as what I've learned about myself, I realized I may not have as much self confidence as I think when it comes to how I feel about my hair. It's beneficial in a lot of ways for me to wear weave, especially working in education, it's way more accepted.
What does natural hair mean to you?
Freedom. It means confidence. It means loving yourself from the inside out and being comfortable with what grows out of you and that being okay and not trying to change it for anybody.