Name, Age, Hometown, School, Major
Francesca Chaney, 17, Queens, NY, SUNY Purchase College, Anthropology
What has your natural hair journey been?
As a young child my older cousin would braid my hair or put them in little twisties or put them in plaits- The traditional style for any young black girl. As I got a little older, around the age of 9, I wanted to wear my hair like my cousins, and the girls I saw in my class- long straight and flowy. Occasionally my mother would take me to get my hair blown out and straightened but as I reached the age of 11, I wanted to have my hair straight all of the time. I would go to the salon twice a month to get my hair pressed and I stuck with this routine until I was about fifteen years old. Around June of 2011, my tenth grade year of highschool, we had an extremely humid summer in New York and I knew that it would be unreasonable to get my hair straightened so I started to wear my natural hair pulled back into ponytails and buns. One of my close friends who had been natural all of her life had told me “It says a lot about a girl when she chooses to wear her natural hair” and she suggested that I keep rocking my hair without heat. That summer, I brought a whole bunch of products and experimented with what worked for my natural hair- I found that less is more, minimal is best-. Since then, I’ve done a “mini-chop” as I like to call it, in December of 2012, to cut all of my damaged and colored ends off.
What’s your style and how has it changed since you’ve gone natural?
My style has changed greatly since I’ve gone natural. In my opinion my natural hair represents my freedom, so I make sure that my clothing represents that as well, a lot of the material that I put on my body, whether it be the actual clothing,shoes or accessories that I wear has meaning and purpose. I don’t wear any major name brands, expensive clothing or anything that would be considered “flashy”, I just don’t believe that clothing should have that type of power over me as an individual. I’ve come a long way from a few years ago when I felt like the image that I had to uphold had to reflect the images of the girls I saw on tv, or in magazines. I usually stick to earthy colors and prints, to express my oneness with nature, and I wear lots of loose clothing because I hate feeling confined and I need to be able to move freely. I love canvas shoes, because their simple and they go with everything. I also wear headwraps often because of it’s a major expression of who I am, where I am from, and the culture that I am a part of. With every outfit that I wear, I always wear this little medallion, (as you’ll see pictured above) It’s a Lalibela, from Ethiopia that I never take off, simply because of what it represents.
How have you changed since you’ve gone natural?
I’ve evolved greatly. Before going natural, everything I did was based on the reaction or fear of the reaction I would get from other people. Today, I feel like going natural has kind of brought me through to a rebirth and cleansing process, now that I am not afraid of my natural hair I’ve become great friends with my natural self and I love her greatly. I have more self love and appreciation for every single part of me that the creator has blessed me with. My creator makes no mistakes, so to shelter or hide any part of my being because it doesn’t adhere to the standards that are set by our society, or the media is now a foreign concept to me.
What’s your regimen?
I wash my hair with with Shea Moisture’s moisturizing shampoo, and deep condition with Crema Negra. I also mix my own conditioners which include eggs, mayo, and honey or sometimes avocado, mayo, and honey. I conditioner for about 30 mins to an hour, with a shower cap and then I’ll rinse with Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) and water. Afterwards, while my hair is still damp I apply extra virgin olive oil and shea butter and then I twist or bantu knot my hair tie it with a silk scarf and then I’m off to bed.
How has your regimen changed since you’ve started college and is it difficult or easy to maintain your hair with classes, exams, extracurricular activities and/or work?
That’s a great question, before I left home for college my friend’s mother and Khamit Kink’s Hairstylist told me “make sure you take care of your hair”. Since I’ve started school, between all that has to be done, sometimes taking care of my hair isn’t a great priority. Since I’ve started college, I’m guilty of going to sleep without a scarf on, and even forgetting to comb out my hair- it happens. So what I do is reserve a saturday night or sunday to examining my hair and really listening to it’s needs which may include doing a protective style, or doing an oil treatment. I will say, sharing communal bathrooms and having less space creates a limit on the amount of things you can do with your hair. So no, I don’t mix my special conditioners in my dorm room, but when I visit home I take advantage of the opportunity to walk around freely with kitchen products in my hair. Protective styles have been my best friend since starting college, but when I do rock the fro, I make sure I keep my spray bottle handy - moisture is key!
Do you feel like your hair makes you stand out on your campus, If so what experiences have you had (good or bad)? Give one example.
Yes of course! I can’t think of a specific example but I get a lot of compliments on my hair, whether I’m just walking freely on campus or I’m in an actual setting. In class, I sit in the front and I always get nervous that someone will tell me they can’t see because my hair is so big but it hasn’t happened yet so I’m good!
Social Media Contact
Facebook: Francesca Chaney-Diego, Girls Advocating and Innovating the Nation (GAIN)
Instagram: @QuirksofaQUEEN @GAINGlobalMovement @CollegeCoils
Twitter: @ChessieChaney @GAIN_Org
Youtube: ChessieChaney, CollegeCoils
*I’ve provided social media contacts for myself, my organization - Girls Advocating and Innovating the Nation (GAIN), and CollegeCoils!*