SH: You’ve lived in many places across the Caribbean. How does Honduras, Cayman Islands and Barbados all come into play?
I was born and lived in Honduras until I was sixteen. I later migrated to the Cayman Islands. Barbados has always been the Caribbean island I wanted to visit. My best friend being from there and many other good friends, I thought it was where I wanted to live for rest of my life.
SH: Did you live in Barbados too?
No, I did not live in Barbados. My friend circle is a tight knit group of Bajans who have had an influence in my hair growth, guys and girls.
SH: How has living on these islands influenced you and your perception of beauty?
In Roatan, a beautiful little island nestled within the Honduran shores, hair is what it is! Hair is typically worn as perms or braids, and very few people still maintain their natural.
To a large degree, the people of Roatan place great importance on how you wear your hair– length and texture. Almost like, you’re not pretty unless you have very wavy curls as mulattos do. Or you get a perm because you won’t be considered ‘beautiful’ if you have coarse, drier, less curly or wavy hair.
SH: How did this influence you?
Growing up everyone is influenced by peers and society. Not until later, though, did I understand that my perception of beauty was wrapped around this and solely this. I did not understand that beauty in its entirety meant who you are, not what you look like. After being exposed to many other cultures and coming to a greater understanding of myself, I was able to accept that no woman is alone her hair.
SH: So, how did you come to embrace your natural hair?
I was natural for 17 years. In Roatan, it is typical that the first perm is during middle school or thereafter. I went way past this. Moving to Grand Cayman is what propelled me towards straightened hair. Everybody had it!
I started with a light texturizer, which only teased my hair. A few months later, I ended up going full force with an actual perm and color. This continued for 2 1/2 years. Then, I realized my hair was weakening, thinning and breaking off. I decided to have it cut into a bob and started weaving as often as I got tired of styling. Though my hair grows rather rapidly, I was not satisfied with my length nor was I satisfied with the way my hair behaved. I loved the fullness and thick richness of natural hair and I wanted that back.
SH: What convinced you to take the first step toward going natural again?
Visiting Barbados during Spring Break of 2012 was the ‘get-up-and-do-it-already’ phase. Upon arriving in Barbados and noticing the nicely groomed locs and twist outs, the braid outs and up do’s being worn so confidently by some of the ladies, I thought “Oh Yeah! It’s time!” I saw how these ladies embraced their hair. This, to me, was definitely a period of enlightenment. I also noticed how versatile one’s natural hair could be in comparison to creamed hair. I thought to myself, at the time while wearing a weave and contemplating another creamy session: “I want to do that! I want to return to my knotty roots and my natural naps.”
SH: Is there an experience that was a turning point for you when it came to shaping your opinions about hair, identity and beauty?
In late 2011, having sat with a good friend of mine, we were discussing life, spirituality, greatness, success and the likes. [We were] engaging the topic of being as great as we were created to be and fulfilling purpose in life. He kept referring to me as strong and grounded, driven and purposeful. He mentioned how disciplined I was. We later moved on to reviewing a few shots I had taken earlier in the year for my modeling portfolio and he kept talking about how beautiful I was. Listening to him describe me and what he saw, I definitely did not see that. Now, all of this was strange, given I had never heard a man engage me this way with simple intentions of empowering me and instilling self-appreciation and value. It was as if God himself was saying, “I love you the way you are. I created you. You are to be as I have made you.”
SH: Did you big chop or transition?
In 2012, I transitioned for 5 months–what seemed like an eternity. I felt the double-textured hair and I could not decide what I would do. So, I transitioned with weaves and a number of hairstyles to aid in the decision-making.
SH: What is your hair regimen like now?
I wash regularly, about 3 times per week. I love clean, nice smelling hair. I dislike build up! So I wash, whether it’s a thorough washing which may include shampoo or just a co-wash. Moisturizing is key! It allows manageability of the hair whereby facilitating its growth. Also, eating leafy greens works a miracle. Exercise and water!
SH: Do you have any favorite products?
I love water based products. The must haves are: Hot Six Oil and Eco Styler Gel ( Olive oil or Argan). I cannot do without these products. I’ve been falling in love with Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie and Cantu Shea Butter Leave-In Conditioner. I’ve also been using the Curls Unleashed Line, which has definitely been giving me the defined look I love for my twist out and my wash and go.
SH: We’ve talked about your journey through Honduras and Barbados. Now that you are living in Grand Cayman, having embraced your natural hair, how would you describe the natural hair scene?
Since I have gone back natural, I realized there are quite a few people who do wear their hair in its natural state. I see more and more women embracing their “inner fierce” and allowing their confidence to exude. I think because ‘hair-watching’ was not an interest of mine while on my chemical high, I didn’t notice the many ladies who do wear their natural hair. Now, I notice a new naturalista everyday!