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Curly Nikki

On The Couch With Emma!

By January 27th, 202174 Comments
On The Couch With Emma!
by Shanti and Antoinette of AroundTheWayCurls 

I’d like to start by learning more about you. What is your name? What
is your background? Where are you from? How do you define yourself?
I’m Emma Cole Hart… I was born in New Mexico and lived in Flagstaff,
Arizona with my mom, my Aunt Gail and her girlfriend until I was five…
when I was five, my mom met my current step dad and we moved in with
him shortly after…. A year or two later my little brother was born and
we stayed in Flagstaff until I was eight. Money was tight and jobs were
slim, so we packed up our lives and moved to a rural town in southern
Utah called Boulder Town. I lived there until I was thirteen, which was
when we (once again due to job and money issues) moved to Bellingham,
Washington, which is where I still am today at fifteen. I live with my
mom and step dad, my brother and my best friend from Utah, who’s name is
America. My aunt and her son Desmond (who’s father is from Guinea) (OH!
and I suppose I should mention that I lived in Tunis, Tunisia in Africa
for a year when I was in sixth grade.) 

We met via your tumblr photo submission where you wrote, “It’s
always a surprise to people, but I think my picture belongs here.” Can
you explain what you met by that? 

Well, people always ask me if I’m  half black, or if I have African or
African-American in my family because of my kinky hair. I always say
“No”, and then people just assume that I’ve gotten a perm (nope!) I
reassure them that my curls are all natural and they’re always amazed.
I’ve always tried to get myself into the ethnic-hair community because
really it seems to be the only place that understands the maintenance
and honestly-the personality that comes with super curly hair. I think
that part of my wiley personality and free spirit is expressed in my
hair, and I find that to come through in more than a few people that
I’ve met that have hair similar to mine.
On The Couch With Emma!

It is no secret that Shanti and I are both bi-racial with white
mothers. At times, I have found it difficult despite having textured
hair and being one of the co-founders of this blog to be accepted into
the ‘natural hair community’. In terms of being accepted and ‘fitting
in’ whether it be family, friends or society related, what has your
experience been? 
I lived in Africa for a year when I was eleven. I think that’s when I
really started accepting my hair. I had this really good friend who was
half Indian and her dad was from Nigeria. She had the most beautiful,
long, frizzy (in a good way) curly hair that I’d ever seen. She started
to encourage me to wear my hair down instead of keeping it up in a bun
or a pony tail like I usually did. I really started loving my hair. It
was kind of weird because people would give me funny looks when her and I
walked around together… usually they just thought I was just super
pale, haha. When I came back, it was like… my hair wasn’t just natural
and fun…it was like some kind of Velcro that attracted old ladies who
would just pet me for a few minutes and tell me how “cute” I was.. and
how “awesome” my hair was. It was really sweet, but I felt like people
were treating me like a phenomenon when I had just learned to accept my
hair as a part of my personality instead of something out of the

Now, I absolutely love my hair! The guy I’m seeing right now is
African-American and we call each other hair twins. His is more nappy
and his fro definitely beats mine by far… but it’s just a part of me
now. He loves my hair. I love my hair. And it’s easy to feel comfortable
in my own skin and curls.

Have you always embraced your locks? Have you ever considered getting a relaxer? 

When I was a lot younger…about eight… I hated my hair. I wanted
desperately for my mom to buy me a straightening iron or get my hair
permed straight- it was just too much for me to handle! Now, I’m
thanking my mom daily for not letting me do that to my hair, because I
really love it now and I love that it’s bouncy and hydrated rather than
ruined, flat and fried.  

How would you describe your hair? 

My hair is bipolar. One day I can wear it down and it’s not frizzy at
all. The curls are big and do exactly what I want and I love it and feel
confident with it.
Other days, my hair is just a big mess of frizz and almost-dreds. 

From another perspective, my hair IS me. It describes me, and represents
all my moods… it can be pulled back and hidden.. it can be braided
into tons of little braids who are all different yet a lot alike, or it
can be wild and all out there. I love my hair and how it represents who I

What is your current regimen? What products do you use?

Right now- I’m all about the warm olive oil. I love it! It hydrates my
hair and keeps it soft. Split ends disappear, and i feel totally
rejuvenated. What I do, is i take extra virgin olive oil- or just plain
vegetable oil- either one. (canola oil doesn’t make my hair smell so
olive-y) I heat it up in a pan on the stove, until it’s warm, about the
temp I take my showers. Then I have my mom or a friend or somebody
massage it into my hair, down to my scalp. I wrap a plastic bag around
my hair and sleep with it in (adding a towel in helps so your pillow
doesn’t get all oily) I wash it out the next day and heavily condition
it and it feels wonderful. I also use Moroccon oil as a sort of leave-in
kinda thing if I gotta get my hair to look less frizzy if I need to go
really quick after i jump out of the shower. 
I’m also a huuuge fan  of coconut oil! It’s great…. I use it as a
leave-in, as a gel- whatever! It smells great, and my hair absorbs it
really well so it doesn’t feel greasy.
I deep-condition my hair at least three times a week, and only was it
about once ever week- or even less sometimes. My hair dries out super
easily and washing it too much really does a number on my curlies.
I try to use after-conditioners with SPF in them, because I find that
the sun really fries my hair and gives me super bad split-ends.
(EMMA!!! YOU ONLY TALKED ABOUT OILS! You’ve got to find a good leave-in conditioner! Read this post☺ ) 

Who is your hair idol?

Okay, that is sooo hard to say honestly. I do have to say either my Aunt
Connie- or my friend Gigi (who I mentioned earlier) My aunt connie who
is my biological aunt’s partner of about twenty five years, has really
similar hair to me. Whenever people used to ask me where I got my hair
(which they did- daily). Despite the fact that my aunt connie and I
weren’t blood-related- I’d always say “My aunt connie!” I love having
hair conversations with her and laughing about when I was a little kid.
She doesn’t anymore- but she used to rock her hair HUGE and I really
respect that in people who have curls. 
On The Couch With Emma!
What advice would you give to women that have kinkier/textured hair? 
Accept it- realize that it will really make your personality pop! Think
about your girls as a nice shirt that accents your eyes- but instead
it’s your hair that accents your enthusiastic, beautiful personality!
That’s what has really gotten me. 

Lastly, I want to leave you with a hard question. What would you say
to those who will look at this post with contempt and criticize us for
showcasing and featuring you because of obvious reasons?

I’m a white girl. Really, I’m Irish, Scottish, Swedish with a little bit
of English in there somewhere…I’ve got no color in me… But that has
never stopped me from embracing my somewhat-ethnic hair. It doesn’t
matter what color your skin is, where you’re from or how you express
yourself…. it’s a matter of whether or not you’re going to accept
yourself. I definitely do… and my hair is a huge part of who I am so
if that means I have to prove that I’m worthy in the naturally curly
hair community, then so be it! But why get worked up about people being
who they really are? People who don’t accept that just haven’t accepted
themselves and to those of you who haven’t, I welcome you to delve into a
whole other world of self-exploration and amazement. Your hair (even if
it’s not kinky) should be a part of that!
To Antoinette and Shanti- I just wanna say thank you girls so much for
recognizing me and asking me to be featured on your blog. It really
makes me so happy. I recently found a lady who will actually cut my hair
without hesitation. She encouraged me to check out some curly hair
blogs and that’s how I found you guys! Thanks. 
On The Couch With Emma!On The Couch With Emma!

What do you think? Should the ‘Natural Hair Police’ chill out and welcome Emma with open arms? We vote… YES!


  • Manny says:

    If you search the On the Couch archives you'll see that there is more than one non-black person featured on the site.

  • keisha billups says:

    Thanks. People get so caught up in the politics. I don't get it.

  • Delilah says:

    wow……It's just hair is not that serious

  • Dallas says:

    I'm more than a little disturbed that 6 people didn't like this comment. I'm with you Jodi! Why must the natural hair movement (essentially not chemically manipulating your curls straight) strictly belong to the African American community?

  • beauty85 says:

    If she's is Jewish her heritage is supposed to come from the Levant (israel) u know on the border of Africa . Read ur bible they went into Egypt and left a mixed multitude.Class dismissed!

  • beauty85 says:

    Oh shut up

  • Hannah says:

    LBell I agree with you 100%. I also don't understand the need for the natural/black community to 'welcome' people of races with similar hair (which is implied by the article and the comments), at the end of the day the information regarding taking care of hair that is curly/kinky etc is on the internet and can be accessed by all. But as you said this is added to create some drama or something. There is nothing new about people from different races having curly/wavy/ coily/ frizzy hair as there is a spectrum (even within the 'black community). Although I like the support that women give each other, self acceptance is more importance than validation or acceptance from others.

  • Carolyn says:

    Sorry Emma not Emily

  • Carolyn says:

    The interview would have been more great without constantly mentioning someone's race or nationality. I can see that Emily is Caucasian with curly hair, there was no need for the interviewer to keep bringing it up. This community is about hair not color and kinks, coils, come in all ethnicities not just black. I think the interviewer makes more out of race than it needed to be. I just wanted to focus on Emily's hair not her ethnicity.

  • CurvyCurly says:

    Because I don't feel it necessary for my daughter to develop hate, anger, or stress over a word to describe tightly coiled/kinked hair. There's other issues to tackle. Give the word "nappy" power and I simply give my daughter a reason to become frustrated over something I feel is trivial, which of course is a personal choice of mine and hubby. Clearly, "nappy" and the N word don't compare IMO because if Emma had said the N word all kinds of mess would have broke off in this forum. Teach each his/her own right?

  • Fro Queen says:

    You sound like what some people say about the original N word. Fine you can say a word doesnt mean anything unless you let it. But why choose to use that word (that has a historical negative connotation)? Lack of creativity? Why can't you teach your daughter to use words like tightly curly or kinky…To me it is sad when black people choose to describe or define themselves in the same manner racists used to describe us and then call it empowerment

  • wonderwoman1980 says:

    Yay! Welcome Emma! :-) You and your curls are beautiful!

  • CurvyCurly says:

    I thought THIS site was a tool to educate and provide a forum for PEOPLE with kinky, curly, wavy hair which happened to have been created by an AA woman. I didn't think or even remotely consider the site to be exclusively for melanin infused, full featured women of African decent. It would have been derimental for THIS site to partner with if it was meant to be exclusive.

  • CurvyCurly says:

    Prieta said…she does not have to have "black in her" to have curly, kinky hair.

  • CurvyCurly says:

    Well stated.

  • anon in nyc says:

    Ah. That would explain the hair, then :)

  • mango says:

    yep. lots of irish have kinky hair but just because ones ancestors are from europe doesn't mean they don't have african ancestry. genetics studies have found african ancestry in the irish and brits. there were africans in europe prior to the slave trade.

  • Anne says:

    I hate it when you black americans and other non-blacks use it. Happy?

  • roo08 says:

    it's just nice to see someone that isn't trying "tame" their frizz and curls by dumping loads of gel on their head. It's cool if you like that look but some people feel like their hair isn't presentable if it isn't devoid of frizz and if their curls aren't defined. very unique head of hair!

  • Brooke B. says:

    I say skin color shouldn't matter. Her hair dries out the same, it has to be conditioned & deep conditioned all the same. She should be able to feel welcomed to a community that has one thing in common & that's natural curly hair. Welcome to the natural hair community Emma.

  • hunnybun says:

    I love love love your colour. And as for not bing included as many women have said here you are very much welcome and a part of this community

  • Angel says:

    Judging?..I leftt a comment stating my opinion.its really not that deep.

  • anon in nyc says:

    The hair most likely comes from her Irish ancestry. Like in the Jewish community, it's pretty common to find Irish women with tight curls :)

  • sharon-jefferson says:

    I worked with a Polish-American woman who would straighten her beautiful, wavy hair before she visited her grandmother, because she didn't want to deal with the woman's criticism of her hair. Emma was fortunate that her family appreciated the texture of her hair. Great article.

  • Leslieanna says:

    Nappy is slang for "kinky". That is all, but as soon as someone that is not "black" says it, then all of a sudden it takes someone back to the slave days. really?

  • Kudos says:


  • keisha billups says:

    Of course, YES!! This community is supposed to be about anyone with naturally curly, kinky, coily, wavy hair. I didn't know it was a "color thing". Everyone featured has not been 100% black. Come on people. Embrace the diversity.

  • LBell says:

    Thank you for this because it helps clarify one of the things that bugged me about this interview (which I have now read twice, once here and once on ATWC). Simply put: What does it mean to be part of a "natural hair community" and what does it mean to label a group of people "natural hair police"? I submit that the answers differ depending on who we're talking about: curly/kinky-haired black and part-black women, curly/kinky-haired women of all races, women with hair in general, and people with hair in general. Rather than write an essay further unpacking this, I'm just going to leave this here…

    Also, unless I missed something on the ATWC Tumblr site, I don't understand why the assumption was added that this girl was going to be attacked by "natural hair police." WAS she somewhere? Did I miss it? Because it seems like this was added in order to stir up controversy; I don't see where Emma herself said she was attacked by "natural hair police" of the type that ATWC and some commenters on this blog refer to. The ending question ("Should the Natural Hair Police chill out…?") implies otherwise…can someone clarify?

  • prieta says:

    she does not have to have "black in her" to have curly, kinkiy hair.
    It is all about the combination of genes.
    I am amazed that some people automatically have to beleive you need to have black genes to have curly, kinky hair. Have you not seen The Irish with their beautiful curly hair or the Jewish women with their also beautiful dense curly hair!
    It is all about the genes!!!
    Don't try to be superior!

  • prieta says:

    the term kinky is relative…it means different things for different people. I am a dark skin hispanic, but to most african american's I have light skin and to other , I am black. So don't judge or try to impose your mind set on others.

  • Pennie Cuevas says:

    I LOVE your hair color! Adorable.

  • Alovelydai says:

    I agree. I lived in a Jewish community for years & they totally understand the culture of curly!

  • Sonya McCoy-Wilson says:

    I think Emma's hair is great. And I always thought that the natural hair community was multiracial anyway. I mean was kind of the centralizing principle for all of us, and they set the precedent for the multiracial perspective on kinks and curls. So, yeah. I don't get what the presumed issue would have been with Emma's inclusion on this site. Also, glad to see there are no ugly comments here.

  • Anna says:

    Get over yourself, this site features tons of black women on a constant basis. The inclusion of one white person on a rare basis doesn't undermine black beauty. Your over-sensitivity details your insecurity not theirs. For goodness sake, this site features hundreds of black women, I've seen about two white women and you lose your head. Get over yourself.

  • Miss TeeTee says:

    I didn't think for one second that you had to be of African descent to be a part of the natural hair community. Anyone who's hair is "naturally" kinky, coily, curly, wavy, nappy (yes I said the N-word) and even straight should be welcome in the natural hair community. The key word is "natural", meaning the way God intended it to grow from your head, meaning your hair has not been chemically treated or processed to change the texture. You go Emma!!!!

  • aroundthewaycurls says:

    thanks love!

  • link487 says:

    I personally don't have an issue about Ms. Hart's inclusion, in this post. Yet, a designation of 'Natural Hair Police' for readers who may not agree with you or the inclusion of Ms. Hart displays a chip on the shoulder attitude that flows from insecurity.

    If you are going to include an woman who is not of African descent, do so without apology or clenched fists. Neither posture is attractive or necessary.

    On some level, the authors of this piece know that sites like this are an emotional, psychic and cultural sanctuary for African descent women who from their earliest days were told by the majority society that everything about them is unacceptable and unattractive. For many of us, growing to love our hair, learning to care for it and yes, glorying in its beauty and versatility is a major leap forward in consciousness. A leap forward that sometimes threatens the comfortable perches of others around us (women and men of other ethnicities and some African-American men).

    Ultimately, embracing our own melanin infused, full featured, curly/coily beauty means embracing our power as women of African descent. To me, that is what this site and others like it are all about.

  • 1hotshon says:

    Sandra…thanks. I don't have to say anything else about the word ethnic…you said it perfectly!!!

  • Kailah Krystal says:

    agreed! :)

  • Kailah Krystal says:

    Most definitely accept her!!! Kinky curly hair is kinky curly hair. Skin color does not matter! I love her personality and I wish there were more people like her from different races and culture who would embrace their curls!

    love her! *arms open*!!!

  • yardie_chick says:

    I say nappy all the time, I'm jamaican and I've heard that word used throughout my life. I didnt know it had a "negative" meaning untilI came to live in america. I am sure she did not mean nappy in a negative way.

  • CurvyCurly says:

    Okay I'll admit the word made me pause a second, but quickly rationalized that it didn't seem to be coming from a 'bad place'. I also wondered if I would have paused if an AA person would have said it. That particular word only means something negative if you allow to, which I don't….well anymore. Sure I grew up with the same mindset but since going natural four years ago I'm trying to raise my daughter not to associate the word nappy with negativity. #She'sHappilyNappy.

  • CurvyCurly says:

    Totally agree!

  • CurvyCurly says:


  • CurvyCurly says:

    Yes! Welcome to the natural hair community. Wow, that's some serious texture!

  • L Denise Moore says:

    I love her personality and her hair!!! At 15, I had not a clue about either. Team Emma over here! Nappy is just a description. It only takes on a negative connotation if you take it negatively. Either way, it's a great interview!

  • Neeq Solomon says:

    I was feeling the post until she said the n word…nappy. That word really turns me off :(

  • beauty85 says:

    I hate the word nappy, it has such negative con.otations to it. But anyway she most likely has black in her and just doesn't know it!

  • quital84 says:

    Curls are curls great story : )

  • Cint says:

    I would also like to welcome Emma! In my eyes, curls are curls…period. It shouldn't matter what size, texture, or color they are and it shouldn't matter whose head they are on.

  • Gwenn4ya says:

    Very nice hair Emma! Love that fact that you can accept your hair even though it's not the norm! All I can say is "you go girl"!

  • Sandra says:

    Will only say two things. First, welcome to the blog :) Second, your hair isn't "somewhat ethnic". It's your hair. People of colour don't have "ethnic" hair. We have hair. Just like your ethnicity is Irish, Swedish, etc, mine is African, French and Spanish. But my 3B, C, 4a hair isn't ethnic, it's just hair. Just saying that we need to stop relegating the word "ethnic" to matters of colour. Everyone has an ethnicity and yours resulted in your beautiful, unique hair.

  • Mars Bar says:

    Love her hair!! Very pretty!

  • kwnatural says:

    Loving Emma and her sweet spirit. She has the right idea: accept yourself!

  • Brooke B. says:

    It shouldn't matter what color anyone is, if you're choosing to embrace the hair you were born with then you should be able to have a place to discuss it with someone. No matter the curl pattern, it all dries out the same, it has to be condition & sealed. Even women in our own community hate on each other that are of the same for having looser curls & them not being able to do the same hair styles or how the style won't turn out the same because of their different textures. I say rock on Emma & welcome to the natural hair community. Another helpful website is

  • Pecancurls says:

    Welcome aboard Emma!! Your curls are beautiful!!

  • Angel says:

    if u have a looser texture then that isnt suprising at all. of course other races have curly hair that shouldnt be news to anyone. to me kinky is when u have reached the 4's.

  • Giovonya Nunnally says:

    She is beautiful and like many she has embraceed her full curls. I loved this interview. Great job to you both!

  • Alicia says:

    I welcome her with open arms! She definitely has highly textured hair and it does not matter what the color of her skin is. All curls are welcome. And I agree with the interviewer, find some good conditioning products girl! It will make your hair a little more predictable.

  • Anonymous says:

    She has curly hair like some jewish women…but its def not kinky.

  • LaToya says:

    Great post! Welcom to the Fam Emma!

  • Tami says:

    She does use leave-in conditioner. She just said 'after-conditioner' instead.

  • Erika A. says:

    Great interview! Curls are curls regardless of race or ethnicity. Welcome, Emma :). I vote "yes."

  • Carla says:

    I've had some of the best curly hair converations with jewish women lol….they understand. Curls are curls…kinks are kinks. Kudos to Emma for embracing her natural hair and true self. We should definitely welcome her into the community as she's actively choosing to be embrace her curls and go against what is considered the norm.

  • random says:

    Yup! People are people and hair is hair. Great post!

  • Roscheeta Brundige says:

    I love your curls!! Thanks for sharing your story!!

  • Jamila Williams says:

    Great post!! Emma's hair is gorgeous and i love to hear and see other curlies of all races and textures!!!

  • MyNaturalCurlyLife says:

    Absolutely! I'm going to be using the "The Natural Hair Police" term all week, just so you know :-)

  • Miss Anne says:

    I read this post over the weekend on Around the Way Curls and loved it! Her hair is soooo cool and I love what she said about accepting your hair. She's come from different cultures and that's Ethnic right there… anybody care to differ?
    Great post Shanti and Antoinette!!! I love your site… x

  • Megan Montgomery says:

    She should be in she is cool and her hair is too! I say in all races there is someone with kinky curly hair I have met white, Hispanic, Jewish, and Indian men, women and children at my job who have similar hair texture to mines and they are not half African-American or African American like me. I say welcome this shows others that not everyone is blessed with straight flowing hair naturally everyone's hair is different.

  • Janay says:

    Lol @ the (Natural Hair Police) but Emma girl your hair is gorgeous!!! I loved this interview

  • Jodi Young says:

    Finally some DIversity! There are other people with beautiful kinks, coils and curls whom do not have african heritage, sometimes I feel that they are not enough recognition for these women sometimes! I figure they go through the same issues as we do! I am glad that this article address that and I will def. give a THUMBS UP to it! :D

  • Davina says:

    I vote….yes. Good interview!

  • Davina says:

    I vote …yes. Good interview!

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