*Prepared for BGLH by Meosha Tall of 1MeNaturally
S: My name is Stephanie. I sleep in Zoetermeer, The Netherlands. (I intentionally say sleep because I’m more or less “living my life” in Amsterdam and Rotterdam.) I’m reppin’ Konongo, Ghana. The fatherland – the home where the heart is. I study Comparative Arts and Cultural Studies at the Radboud University Nijmegen. I’m one of the contributing editors for SheBreathes.com and also a member of n8pro, an initiative that advises various cultural institutions in Amsterdam and surroundings. Next to that I also have a side job as a customer service representative for a well known international carrier.
What is the natural hair scene like in the Netherlands?
S: I don’t think our scene differs that much from yours because the Internet blurs all geographical borders. All the websites, blogs, Tumblr pages, YouTube tutorials etc. are accessible by anyone in any country at any time. Since Dutch people tend to look up to American culture and get easily influenced by it, we immediately picked it up when the natural hair scene in the US blew up. Although I can count the websites on maintaining our hair on one hand it’s great to see people are getting more aware of the beauty of it and celebrating it. There is even an annual beauty pageant for natural hair.
In the past few months the media has been picking up rocking natural hair as a “trend” and “being hip”. Although I think it’s a bit weird how wearing out the hair you were born with is seen as hip and trendy, it does bear fruit by offering the majority of the people a broader perspective.
When did you go natural?
S: It’s an overstatement to say that I really thought over going natural. I just did it. Yes, I did it myself standing in front of the mirror in the bathroom with sewing scissors. I think it was in ’07 when I started to get really tired to say the least, of maintaining relaxed hair. The burn marks as a cause of flat ironing while in a hurry weren’t a good look and you’re not even allowed to sweat! After not having my hair relaxed for quite some time I started noticing a cute curly outgrow and all I thought was “lemme see more of that!” Nothing revolutionary really.
In what ways (if any) has going natural affected you?
S: Overall it made me more conscious of the products and ingredients that will boost my inner and outer health balance. But what has affected me the most is not the going natural itself, but seeing, hearing and feeling peoples’ misconceptions about natural hair. If I knew that rocking my natural ‘fro would cause such a stir I would’ve thought twice. Fortunately I’ve got thick skin and a sharp tongue, but some days I wish I could get unnoticed. Strut the street without people staring at me and making (degrading) remarks. Whether you think I’m dope for rocking a ‘fro or even the exact opposite that’s alright, but remember my hair doesn’t make me different from anyone else. In terms of hair, I’m not here to make a change, I’m here to stay the same…and now THAT is revolutionary.
How would you describe your hair?
S: This is such a confronting question because I really don’t know. All I know is that I’ve got a lot of hair. My hair is quite thick and dense, super unpredictable and only really defined and curly from the moment I step out of the shower ‘til I touch it, and after I take out my two strand twists.
What’s your regimen?
S: I have been using CURLS products for quite some time now. My hair loves the Coconut Sublime Conditioner and the Whipped Cream. I also make my own glycerine spritz and use some pure shea butter every now and then. Since Fall is on its way I started using the MYhoneychild Honey Love Moisturizer again once a week. I use Urtekram Shampoo. My favourite one is the one with a mixture of rhassoul (african soap mud), aloe vera, coconut and corn sugar soap, etc.
As far as my regimen goes, I wash my hair with shampoo and comb it out with a wide tooth comb while the shampoo is still in my hair. After that I rinse out the shampoo and add way too much conditioner to my hair. Then I comb it again with a medium tooth comb and twist my hair while the conditioner is still in. I rinse out the conditioner with lukewarm to cold water while my hair is twisted. At last I spray the glycerine spritz on my hair, apply the CURLS Whipped Cream and twist my hair once again. I wrap my hair in a piece of satin fabric and let my hair dry overnight. 9 out of 10 times it isn’t fully dry the next day so the first day after I’ve washed is usually a bad hair day. (I hardly wear out protective styles).
What mistakes have you made with your hair that you’ve learned from?
S: Dyeing it with Schwarzkopf hair dye.
What’s the best/most effective thing you do for your hair?
S: Doing a super chunky twist out every night.
What would you like to see in the Netherlands in terms of haircare?
S: Like I said there aren’t many websites on haircare so you can imagine there are even less web shops offering natural hair products. And all products are being imported from the US so it’s like double the price yall have to pay! So it’s obvious that I would like to see a bigger range of products to choose from for a reasonable price. I know it’s wrong for me to say, but I like if not love, your unstable dollar! Hehe.
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
S: Continuouslyevolving.tumblr.com and when the time is right I’ll be back on Facebook. facebook.com/graceagainstthemachine.