Hello my fellow naturals, non-naturals, thinking of becoming naturals, Naija Babes, and African Sistas! Thank you for visiting my new blog, Curltivate. My name is Ijeoma (Miss Ije) and I am an American born Nigerian from Imo State, Nigeria– Igbo Kwenu.
I am a twenty-something year old young professional currently residing in NYC. I recently graduated from New York University and work within Finance at a Fortune 500 Company. In my free time (which is limited), I enjoy travelling, running, learning languages, graphic designing, drawing, mentoring, and connecting with other Africans in the Diaspora. When I am not listening to Naija jams or dancing Azonto, my family members would say that you can most likely find me locked in the bathroom styling my natural hair.
In its purest form, my natural hair is very dry, fragile, coarse, brittle, and prone to breakage. As a tender-headed child, my hair struggled mainly because it was non-malleable, difficult to comb and over manipulated. Struggle perms, braids, fake ponytails, and weaves cloaked my adolescence which led to severe damage to my hair and scalp and insecurity throughout high school. Thankfully, college is the perfect time for exploration and self discovery. After completing my freshman year, I decided to try something new. My friend Brittney formally known as Ms. Beauty Blogger on YouTube and my cousin Nneka both inspired me with their beautiful afros. So on July 4th, 2010 while most people celebrated America’s Independence Day, I locked myself in the bathroom, cut off all of my hair and finally gained emancipation from the creamy crack.
I big-chopped right before my summer vacation to Nigeria and assumed that I would fit in since most young girls carried low cut afros while in boarding school… But, as a newly natural who last visited Nigeria ten years ago, what I saw and heard surprised me. I did not expect to see so many women wearing wigs, weaves and extensions and I hardly saw anyone with natural, unpermed hair; I also did not expect to hear so many Aunties asking, “When are you going to fix your hair.” See insult. Though the natural hair movement was growing in the U.S., at that time it did not have much traction in Nigeria.
Fast forward four years and I am impressed to see how much has changed. On my most recent trip to Nigeria in July of 2014, I received drastically different reactions from locals. This time, my natural hair fascinated the same Aunties who repeatedly asked if I was going to “fix my hair.” Instead, they greeted me with compliments (still mixed with some shade), “Chai this your hair dey too much oh,” “you tried sha”, and they even thought that my natural hair was “attachment.”
Hearing and witnessing changing attitudes and perceptions toward natural hair in Nigeria warms my heart. I created this website as a means to help promote and improve healthy, natural hair growth. I want Nigerian women and women with afro textured hair similar to mine to know that they can grow a healthy head of hair and feel omalicha (beautiful). Although I am a late contributor to the online natural hair community, I have been researching, learning, and documenting my experience over the past four years offline. I am finally ready to share my journey globally.
No two journeys are the same… but I hope this blog teaches you something about natural hair care, inspires you to transition from relaxed to natural, encourages you to fully embrace your kinky fro in any environment, or simply keeps you entertained. I hope that you will join me on this mission to “Curltivate” natural hair in Nigeria, Africa, and the larger world!