Natural hair in the Nigerian Diaspora... Geri

Hi guys,

I haven't posted one of these up in a while even though I have quite a few lined up, so best get back to it!

Who better to get us back into the swing of things than one of my new blogosphere bestos Geri, aka Geraldine the Great. Geri has been able to retain a phenomenal amount of length in the 3 years she's been natural. Anyone who thinks "black hair doesn't grow" should check out the pictures on her awesome blog, Geraldine The Great

I first noticed her hair on the Zina Saro-Wiwa natural hair documentary I posted on the FB page, and recognised her immediately when she was featured on BGLH not too long after. She says we're hair twins because we have similar textures. I say "I WISH!"

Here's what she has to say...that is, if you can tear your eyes away from the pictures of her hair...

Photo courtesy of subject

Nde wo!  Mokom!  Ba wo ni!  Sannu!  Hey guys!  My name is Geri.  I'm a writer, blogger, and makeup artist.

On where I'm from 
Ah!  I love and hate this question.  When you're a Nigerian living abroad, there's always a seemingly overly-complicated answer to it, that some people just don't understand.  They want you to say, I'm A and I'm from B.  Simple.  But for me it's this: I was born in Alabama, but I've lived in Atlanta, Ga for most of my life.  Most importantly, I'm a child of two Igbo parents, so I'm from Owerri, Imo State, and I currently live in New Jersey.

Photo courtesy of subject

My natural hair journey
Photo courtesy of subject
I've been natural for over 3 years. Why did I decide to go natural? I've got two answers to this. The short answer, is that a weave that was left in too long, severely thinned out and weakened my hair.  I swore to never allow anyone to do my hair ever again- weaving or relaxing.  

The long answer is that naturally, my self-imposed restriction led to months of new growth, where I finally began to question the whole point of relaxers on my hair in the first place.  When I couldn't honestly answer that question for myself, and after I researched and found out that I had been religiously adhering to a practice with no real knowledge of why, I decided I owed myself the task of finding out exactly what my hair was about, without a chemical straightener.  

My big chop experience
Photo courtesy of subject
I didn't set a specific date for my BC.  I transitioned with kinky twists, and after I spent an embarrassing amount of time removing them one night, I decided to go ahead and take the leap in cutting all of my relaxed ends off. 

I was definitely excited, apprehensive, afraid, and everything else in between.  I was taking a leap into the unknown, so I wrestled with a lot of confusing emotions.  Once I was done, I was definitely more excited than afraid, about embarking on a new adventure.

How people reacted to my hair
My boyfriend supported my decision to go natural.  He always says that he doesn't really have a stake in what's on my head, but rather in what I'm about as a human being.  But today, I think he's secretly actually very invested in my natural hair. Lol. He is my biggest supporter.  

My family members had varying reactions about my hair.  I don't even think my father noticed that my most of my hair had disappeared and was replaced by a curly twa.  My younger sister was and still is extremely supportive.  She's also natural.  My mother, brother, and older sister were just shocked that I cut my hair.  I think they were more taken aback by the length of my new hair, and not the texture.  I also don't think they understood what it meant to be chemical free.  My mom actually thought I had cut my hair because of the recession and that I was sporting a jerry curl instead!

I can't say that I've encountered any challenges that have inhibited me from wearing my natural hair.  I think I've been somewhat lucky in that regard, and my heart goes out to anyone who experiences any challenges that prevent them from wearing their hair in their natural state.  Please hang in there.

I have, however, definitely received my fair share of unsolicited comments about what I should do with my hair, or why I'm wearing my hair this way.  I've also gotten hair molested by my boss at work, who once announced to anyone within earshot, that he could use my hair as a soft mop to clean his floor, and that he also thought wearing my hair in a puff was unprofessional. 
Photo courtesy of subject
My natural hair in Nigeria
Photo courtesy of subject
I was in Naija last Christmas, but I wore a wig for an entire month.  I had braids underneath the wig that I kept planning to undo, so I could rock a huge braid out, but after dealing with the interesting harmattan dust coupled with the humidity, I opted for the easier route, and hid my hair under a wig. 

Simply put, I didn't really know what to expect, so I relied on my backup wig and head ties.  My hair benefited from the protective style, but I also didn't learn how to handle my hair in Nigeria.  So, the next time I go back home, my natural hair will be the most memorable thing about me, as I will be wearing it out constantly.  

As far as receiving any comments, the first time I co-washed my hair, my aunt accosted me in the hallway, and demanded I explain to her why my hair looked the way it did.  She wanted to know why I didn't just relax it.  After my brother and I, explained to her that I preferred having natural hair, she relented and stated that I was natural because my hair resembled those of the Fulanis that lived and worked in Port Harcourt.  I think it was the only way she could reconcile why I didn't have a relaxer.

My views on natural hair before I went natural
Before I went natural, I was the perfect relaxed girl.  I followed my stylist's advice and strictly kept to my appointments.  Natural hair definitely flew below my radar, which is ironic, because I had been a natural child when we lived in Nigeria.  
Photo courtesy of subject
There is such a thing as mental conditioning, and even if we aren't aware of it, we are all subject to it, because we are affected by the same things in the world.  I relaxed my hair because I had been trained to do it without question.  Because I robotically relaxed for over 20 years of my life, I had no real views about natural hair at all. 

My regimen  
I'm a low manipulator.  So, I shampoo and detangle my hair, about once a month.  I have dense, bra strap length hair with tiny coils, so the less manipulation I subject my hair to, the easier it is for me, and the better it is for my hair retention.  

Photo courtesy of subject
I have no set cowash schedule, so it varies how often I do it.  Most of the times, I just pay attention to the way my hair feels and looks.  If there is excessive buildup, I will shampoo with Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat shampoo, and if my hair feels extremely dry, then I cowash with Aussie Moist or Vo5 conditioner.  My hair loves creamy moisturizers and oils, so I rotate coconut, avocado, or olive oils, and I also use my conditioners as leave ins.

Photo courtesy of subject

Geri on the Internet
In addition to my blog, you can find me on Facebook. You can also follow me on twitter and instagram @Gerimua.

(PS: Geri has also recently started her own youtube channel. Make sure you rate and subscribe!)

Advice for new naturals
Please do not let your doubts, fears, or anxieties, prevent you from standing apart.  You are brilliant enough to shine just on your own, but also know that you are a part of a global community who embraces all parts of you.  There aren't any rules to this natural hair thing, as you are already stepping outside of them, just by being true to who you are.  

Photo courtesy of subject

Thanks Geri. Now I'm back off to your blog to do a little more stalking!

30 Days, 30 Ways...Day 16

I have absolutely NO idea how I created this style. I remember at the time realising with regret that I would never be able to recreate it. I basically just did a big french braids with the twists from back to front.

Excuse the hangover-induced blurriness.

30 days, 30 ways...Day 15

I had been invited to a "Flower Power" party on Day 15. I sorta kinda got a bit sidetracked and ended up more fairy princess than 70's, but ah well...

30 days, 30 ways...Day 14

Hi all,

So I'm not putting these up as quickly as I had hoped, but I will try and get them all up before the end of the month.

So after pushing my hair as far as I could go without washing or detangling, as I left you on Day 13, Day 14 was finally wash day.

Instead of doing my usual fat twists and going straight into a twistout, I decided to do the twists a tiny bit smaller so I could wear them out for a few days.

30 days, 30 ways...Day 13

This was the last day I could stretch it to before I HAD to wash the matted birds nest.

All I did was a loose flat twist at the front, and then I bunned the back. Easy peasy.

Ok, I need to go rinse this conditioner out and twist my hair, so I'll carry on tomorrow.

Have a good night!

30 days, 30 ways...Day 12

Really pushing it with how long I could go without stretching my hair (although I had finally located a satin scarf big enough to cover it at night), I didn't want to manipulate it too much with all the tangles, so simply pulled it into a high puff using the scarf that's visible in the picture, and then pinned the ends down into a large bun.

30 days, 30 ways...Day 11

Lazy styling today. I still hadn't unpacked the satin scarf (I know, setting a terrible example) and my hair was getting more and more shrunken, so I just pulled it back into a low puff.


I tried harder the next day!

30 days, 30 ways...Day 10

Sooooo... I got home in the early hours of this morning and went straight to bed without even covering my head or sleeping on a satin pillowcase, talk less of rebraiding. Midweek partying really is the enemy of progress!

Of course there was no question of wearing my hair loose, so I just did a hump at the front and pulled the back into a (shrunken fluffy) ponytail.

30 days, 30 ways...Day 9

I had a flight to catch that day, and because natural hair and dry cabin air don't mix, I never travel with my hair loose.

Also I was pretty much going straight from the airport to dinner when I landed, and I wanted my hair to look fresh, but didn't have time for the whole wash day rigmarole the day before. So I just spritzed my hair with a little water, added some leave-in and braided into about 12 braids with my Whipped Batter.

Because, as you have witnessed from my earlier posts, my 12 braids don't look all that attractive when worn on their own, I decided to pull them into a bun and try and do something interesting with a scarf.

This was the result:

All I did was fold the scarf into a long rectangle, knot it at the front and then tuck the ends in. Simple.

That evening I just wore my hair in my regular braid out. I'll post pictures if I ever get sent them. I unfortunately forgot to take any of myself.

Natural Hair Calendars: September

Hi All,

Sorry for the long and unmitigated hiatus. I had every intention of blogging while I was away, but unfortunately life sometimes takes over. The upside is I have SO much material for the blog that I've stored over these past few weeks, so it's going to be quite interesting here to make up for the silence.

I did photograph (almost) all my styles for the 30 Days, 30 Ways challenge, and as I know that's what most people are waiting for, I will start posting these up immediately.

But of course, to kick off proceedings, here is this month's hair calendar printable focusing on damage-free hair. I know I certainly need as many tips as I can get to rehabilitate my hair after messing with it all last month.

Download it here.

Catch you in a bit!