My name is Tanaja Spiller, everyone calls me MJ. I currently live in Huntsville, Alabama. I am a graduate from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. I was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. My family lived in Anniston, Alabama for a couple of years and then Germany until I was 6. For the remainder of my childhood, I lived in Montgomery, Alabama.
How long have you been natural? Have you always embraced your curls?
I have been natural all of my life. My mom never allowed me to get a perm after seeing what it did to my older sister’s hair. My mother easily managed my hair by keeping it braided. She was very creative with the different braided hairstyles she would give me! As I got older, my mom felt that I was outgrowing braids and she started to hot comb my hair. The first time I experienced the process, I was so upset and I just wanted my braids back. I went to school that morning with straight hair and by the time I came back home, a combination of the Alabama heat and my sweat had ravished my hair. I heard so many jokes and laughs, at my expense, that I went home and washed my hair (without my mom’s permission). I begged her to braid my hair. So at 14 years old, I wasn’t embracing my curls in the slightest bit.
How would you describe your hair?
I’ve had a lot of different hair styles over the years, all natural, and all pretty manageable. I started off with the press out which lasted from the age of 14 to 22.
I came to a point where I wanted change and lots of it, so I got my hair cut into a Mohawk. When I grew bored of the Mohawk, I decided to cut off all my hair. Through all of these styles my hair was very easy for me to manage because I educated myself on everything my hair needed and the best methods to keep it healthy. My hair’s curl pattern was very tight but my hair was not coarse. It has a silky texture that makes it easy to manipulate. When my hair was at a much longer length, I often used twist outs to stretch my hair.
What do you love most about your hair?
What I love most about my hair is the uniqueness of it. It has been easy for me to wear different hairstyles and manipulate my hair to do just what I need it to.
What has been the most memorable part of your journey? Has it been easy or difficult or both?!
The most memorable parts of my hair journey are the two times that I initially got my hair cut into new styles. Each time I was nervous with sweaty palms and anxious to see the finished product. At times, I would get funny looks from people and questions of why I would cut my hair into a Mohawk. It was a little hard to deal with at first, but I loved my hairstyle and I wouldn’t change that decision at all. As for the low cut, if I had a dollar for every time someone says to me, “You really have the right face for that.” or “Not everyone can pull that off, it looks nice on you” I WOULD BE RICH! Not to be boastful, but I hear that ALL the time. On top of that, this hair style is VERY low maintenance. So I can say that the adjustment to this part of my hair journey has been very easy.
What are (or were) some of your favorite transitioning hairstyles or current dos’?
I never had to transition but when my hair was longer, I enjoyed doing Bantu Knot outs, two-strand twist outs, and flat twist outs. Now, I MUST have a brush and a durag to achieve my desired style, waves!
What have your experiences been as a ‘natural’? Any memorable reactions from family or others?
My experiences as a natural have been pretty amazing. I always get asked questions about my hair and I love to answer them. My most memorable moment would have to be my mother saying, “I put so much time into your hair and then you grew up and cut it all off.” Her saying this always makes me laugh because my mother REALLY loved my hair, probably more than I did. However, I know that she loves my short hair as well.
What is your hair regimen?
When my hair was longer, must have products were: My spray bottle, doo-grow mega thick grow leave in conditioner, Shea Moisture Thickening Growth Milk, Olive oil, Shea Butter. I would mostly cowash with an Organix conditioner of my choice and only use shampoo about once a month. After shampooing, I would deep condition with Shea Moisture Anti-Breakage Masque.
At the short length: SheaMoisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie, Cantu Daily Oil Moisturizer, Cocoanut Oil, and Kemi Oil. I only wash with conditioner, HernalEssences curl conditioner. No shampoo. When needed, I apply the same deep conditioner to my hair and I just brush and wear my durag to achieve my waves.
What are some of your favorite natural hair websites,YouTuber’s, or blogs?
Sunshine Abuwi is my biggest inspiration on YouTube.
Anything you want the readers to know? Inspirational words?
Being a true natural in today’s society is becoming harder and harder thanks to the rules society tries to put on us. Those things will only be limitations to people that allow them to be. Stay true to who you are and never be transformed by this world. Let your light shine for itself and those that are meant to see you shine will. Your hair does not define you, you do.
Where can people find you for more information?
I can be found on Instagram at Mary_Jaine.