So I’m packing for vacation and as usual, I’ve got a few good reads for the beach. Which got me to thinking about some of my past summer novels-especially those that pertain to beauty. I had the opportunity to interview author Katrina Spencer, whose second novel, Unbeweavable, takes on the issue of weaves and natural hair. This is the story of Mariah Stevens a successful woman forced to tackle her issues of self-love, self-confidence and self-acceptance. Here’s an extract of my conversation with the author.
RDD: First off, explain how you transitioned from hairstylist to author.
KS: I always knew that I wouldn’t be able to do hair for the rest of my life—I suffer from sickle-cell anemia and the long hours, plus standing on my feet all day was doing a number on my body. I come from a creative family and everyone had to do something with their hands growing up, my mother and sisters knit, and I did embroidery—even my brother crocheted! My older sister started writing a book and asked me to take a peek at it. I thought her first two chapters were great, but she started to lose me on the following chapters and I told her so. She snatched her papers away and told me she liked to see me do better. From there, I wrote Six O’clock. Writing filled my creative spirit like hair, but without all the aches and pains. So I guess you could say I started writing as a dare!
RDD: Lately, there’s been a lot of backlash against relaxers, weaves—even makeup! How do you feel about that?
KS: It sort of makes me sad actually. As a hairstylist, I always strived for healthy hair. If I felt your hair could not handle a certain chemical I wouldn’t do it. Period. Relaxers are not damaging to the hair, it is the improper use of relaxers that are damaging. I believe that women should never perform their own relaxers or colors. It is impossible to not overlap when you are doing it yourself and relaxers should only be applied by trained professionals. I think that’s why relaxers get the bad rap that they do, because so many people are using them wrong which causes damage. I think weave though is a women’s prerogative. A woman wearing weave does not mean she’s “acting white”, she simply may love the manageability that weave affords her. So it saddens me that women are attacking each other over the choice of hairstyle they wear. Natural hair does not mean healthy hair. Neither does relaxed hair. Healthy hair should be every woman’s goal—and picking another woman apart because she wants her hair straight, or judging someone for rocking an Afro is downright sad.
RDD: You are an avid weave wearer yourself. Why do you wear a weave?
KS: I’m actually wearing my real hair now in a chin-length bob. I wore a weave because as a former hairstylist I wanted to advertise what I specialized in—weave. I wore a weave to show women how beautiful they could be with it. Now that I’m a writer I don’t feel the need to wear it all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I love my weave but right now I’m loving my natural hair.
RDD: As someone who has embraced natural hair, but has also provided options as a stylist do you think we are going too far?
KS: YES! What happened to wearing a hairstyle that fit your face? Or basing your hairstyle on your budget and lifestyle? No woman should be bullied into going natural if it doesn’t fit her lifestyle and the same goes for women who wear relaxers. Don’t pressure your natural sisters to go straight! Let’s celebrate our differences and stop ragging on each other. This behavior is even affecting our daughters and we don’t want to give them any complexes about their hair.
~Cross-posted on Rainy Day Diva.
Denise is the creative force behind the beauty blog, Rainy Day Diva. The online destination for beauty, style and inspiration-no matter what! Twitter: @RainyDayDiva ! She is also a champion of diversity in television and film for the blog For The Love of The Game, on Twitter:@Girl_TD