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 beautiful, you are capable, you are amazing. Don’t fall into a category. Instead, make your own category, make your own box or bubble. Just stay motivated, stay inspired, keep dreaming, keep pushing and eventually the world can be yours.
Emani Nicole is a natural hair influencer, with a beautiful spirit and poppin hair, whose aim is to inspire girls with kinky hair. Ari sat down to talk with her about her experience as a natural hair influencer, and what her natural journey has taught her.
How long have you been natural?
On and off since 2012, but I recently cut all my hair off back in April of last year. So I’d say a year and some change.
What brought you to this journey, what made you decide to go natural?
Well back then it was kind of like, okay my hair is damaged and I’m just tired of getting relaxers. But as I got older, I started to realize [being natural] was actually a thing. So I wanted to start my journey for a while, but I didn't really start it til last year because I was like you know what, all the time on social media you see loose curls, mixed girls with curly hair, and that was like what you had to be in order to be classified as a "naturalista" or beautiful. So I wanted to create something that defies everything that that’s about. Not saying that there’s anything wrong, cause there isn’t. But there are other naturals who need attention too. That was the whole point in my journey--to show girls who may not have a voice or girls that are afraid to speak up...I wanted to be that voice for them, and just show them that there are other ways to classified as beautiful.
Did you always accept your 4c hair? If not, what was that journey to loving your hair type like?
It took a while for me to accept my hair type. I got texturizers, I always wanted a loose curl pattern. My curl patter just wasn't sufficing, I didn't like it at all. It wasn't until I got older and I was like ok, my hair type is okay! But when I was younger I was like, I need loose curls! It has to be flowing in the wind! It was a hot mess.
What helped you start to love your own texture?
Just finally embracing where I come from, just being black, period. Cause I think I reached a moment where I was trying to fit in with everyone else, and it was just, you know being in middle school and having friends who you’re like oh their hair is like this, I wanna fit in with them, I don’t wanna stand out. Then I got to a point where I was tired of trying to fit in, and like not being myself. So then came my journey of accepting who I am as a person, just accepting my hair type and just saying: This is me, and you can accept it or leave me alone.
Do you experience texturism in the natural hair community? If so, who is it usually from?
I would say, yes. I feel like a lot of people in the natural hair community do experience texturism. I would say it’s a mix. It comes from a mix of people, not one specific area. And I feel like, to be honest, I just decide to focus on my journey and what I’m doing, and how people are influenced by my work and influenced by hair texture. So I don’t pay attention to stuff like that when it comes my way, or slight comments or something like that. I remember I posted a video of me using Eco Styler and people were taking about my hair texture there.
What were they saying?
They were just like, "Omg your hair is so stiff, it doesn’t move!" Or like, just really coming for my hair. I was just like, oh my gosh. And I realized a lot of people follow big influencers, and I feel like big influencers don’t really know how much weight they hold.
When you started going natural did you already have this platform?
Yeah, I did.
Were you nervous to go natural in front of your viewers? What was the reception like form them?
I feel like what took me so long to start, as far as making videos and Instagram
, was because I was putting it off. What if people don't like what I do, or my content? I don't have a high-tech camera, or a high speed laptop to edit videos. So there was a lot holding me back, but eventually I got over that and was like, look it's now or never. At the end of the day if this is something you love to do then do it. There shouldn't be anything holding you back, you have to start somewhere. So I just went into it like ok, this is what i love to do, and then that’s what I did. I started my Instagram August of last year, and then YouTube I started this year, so YouTube is still fairly new. When I started I was just like excited that I’m finally getting out there and doing something I’ve always talked about doing. And the amount of feedback that I get from doing hair videos or just talking about hair is very inspirational. Very motivating. I love doing it.
What were the early days of your natural hair journey like? What have you learned along the way?
I’d say it was very difficult for me because back then, natural hair wasn’t really a thing. It was a thing but it wasn’t how big it is now. So I didn't have any knowledge. So it was definitely difficult back then, but I will say, as I started back in 2012 and people started embracing their natural hair and making YouTube videos, that’s when I was like, oh so there is research, there are resources! So it was hard but now I feel like there's so much, so many different ways to find resources, and stores to go to, and videos to watch. So it’s like unlimited information that you can get.
What’s your favorite part about today’s natural hair movement/community (especially on social media)?
My favorite part would have to be watching people embrace who they are. Naturally. And I say this all the time, that it’s more than just natural hair for me. It’s natural hair, yes, but it’s also about embracing everything that you were born with. Your natural hair is what you were born with, natural beauty. It’s all about embracing your natural self. I feel like everyone should have their own definition of beauty, I don’t feel like society should have one definition that everyone has to follow and abide by. The natural hair community today, I feel like it’s definitely grown, and I feel like it’s really interesting and amazing to see where it started, where it is now, and how many people are trying to change it and make it their own instead of following. Granted it can’t be 100% original, but you can make it your own. And I feel like that’s amazing. With natural hair you can express who you are, you can embrace who you are as a person. I feel like that’s a really good thing.
What changes, if any, do you want to happen surrounding the community and conversations about natural hair?
I want people with 4c hair to embrace their hair and not compare to other people’s that might have a “curl pattern." Cause my friends have 4c hair and they’re like, oh I wish I had curls like you, my curls won’t pop. I’m like, no no no no, your curls can pop, lemme help you. I'd say people with thicker type hair and tighter curls, I want them to embrace their hair more rather than trying to compare it someone with 3c hair or loose, wavy hair. That's something I'd like to see, and also us coming together rather than ripping each other apart. We all have curls! Let's bond over the curls, not the curl pattern or the type.
Best type 4 hair tip?
Before designing your own hair care regimen, know your hair porosity. That is like number one in my book! Knowing your porosity dictates what type of hair you have, and what type of products you can use. I have low porosity hair, so what may work for someone with high porosity or normal porosity hair is not gonna work for me because it's hard for moisture to get into my cuticle. So that’s my number one tip. I would say another thing for type 4 hair would be don’t try hair tools or products just because of the hype. Only try it if your hair really really likes it, some people get stuff just because so and so had it, and it doesn’t work for your hair. Listen to your hair and move based off what your hair is telling you. Those are my two major tips. Also, finger tangle before you use a comb!
In celebration of #DearBlackGirl, each Monday we're sharing conversations with real women in the community about their experiences navigating the world. Check out how Kara grew to accept her hair and what that meant to her.