The final interview in the series of Our Natural Hair Story is with Lize Okoh who decided to go natural after challenging herself to re-grow her damaged hair. She shares how that challenge now has a deeper meaning; and her wish for others to find their truth in real self love.
Please introduce yourself!
Hello everyone, for those that don’t know, I’m the founder of SewaFolie. I’m a Writer, Content Creator, Art Director and budding Photographer. I graduated with a degree in BSc. Psychology and Sociology. I’ve always been interested in different facets of human behaviour and continue to explore this in my creative work, even though I’m not currently pursuing a career in Clinical Psychology as intended. I’m a believer of living life mindfully, in happiness and peace with all beings.
I love to travel, sing, dance, read books, write, observe people(!) and get lost in my imagination. I’m working towards becoming an author and entrepreneur. My goal is to use my privilege to help others, especially those in my home country.
Have you always been natural?
No. I don’t even remember when I first got my hair relaxed because I was too young to have undergone such a procedure. I consciously decided to become natural after an experiment in 2012 exposed me to the brilliabce of my natural roots.
At the time, my front hair and edges had suffered a terrible fate due to my constant use of bonding glue to achieve a seamless and “natural” looking hair style. For a year, I noticed that it remained at the same shortened length and was no longer growing. I knew that I had to cut if all off and start again but the thought of that scared me, so I sought advice from a friend who suggested I cut it in a hip style without taking it all off, which I did and loved! And as time went on, I shaved both sides and rocked a Mohawk… those were the days!
However, the main issue of growing my front hair was not solved since I still used weaves and bonding glue to achieve the Mohawk hair style. That’s when I decided to start researching more about natural hair. I started watching tons of videos on You Tube and fell in love with what I saw. At the same time, I was doing a lot of soul searching, was getting to know myself more, past histories about race, colonialism and its present day effects and consequences on my attitude and perceptions as an African woman, and I realised a great epiphany.
I waited till the end of 2012, and armed with all the information I had garnered, cut off all my hair with relish. What is known as the big chop, that is scary for most, was a joy for me.
What was your first reaction after cutting it all off?
I loved it! Then I hated it, then loved it some more.
The truth is that the journey to real self love is not always plain sailing. I truly loved the short cut on me, but getting used to the texture and colour that started springing forth wasn’t always easy. My hair is a shade of brown that seemed similar to the colour of sand, and in those early days, I sometimes found it ugly. Also, the biggest hurdle was to realise that most of the natural haired girls I had seen on You Tube had different hair textures to mine. So while I had watched people with 3c, 4a, 4b textures, I have 4c hair which videos on isn’t readily available so all the hair styles that I had seen and dreamed of trying out just wasn’t working and that was a bit to swallow. I had also made the wrong conclusion of assuming every Nigerian would have the same hair texture. I had watched a particular Nigerian lady’s videos and loved her hair, and thought- well she’s Nigerian so my hair would be like that and that’s awesome. However, I was so wrong!
I had to learn to work with my own hair texture and love it for what it is, and not the potential of what it could have been.
S: Would you say you’re part of the natural hair community/movement?
Yes, but to an extent. Yes because talking about natural hair is now one of my favourite things to do. Mind you, I don’t mean about products and styles, but the actual deep rooted nature for the reasons why we aren’t natural to begin with; and why from as 2 years some mothers relax their baby’s hair.
I’d like to think I’m part of the movement to an extent because I would encourage anyone I meet that has relaxed hair to try at being natural in order to make a real choice if they never had one to begin with. When I visit family and close friends, I tell them not to relax their baby’s hair. However, I only engage in this manner with people I know, or with people who are receptive to have an open conversation about it. I will never be like those evangelists shoving their sermons to you on the street. I only speak and enlighten where I am received and welcomed to speak. I would rather be at peace than to have arguments with ignorant people.
S: Do you think you’re perceived differently now your hair is natural?
Yes, and it’s now like a double edged sword. So when I have my natural hair out, I truly feel empowered when I’m out and about. I usually feel like I’m walking on water. There’s just this indescribable confidence and beauty that comes with me being natural. I do get looks, but in my mind’s eye, I translate this as looks of compliments because I’m that secured in myself; but of course I can objectively see how some people would see my afro and think it’s unkempt or weird or whatever their little minds conceive it to be.
On the flip side, when I have a weave in or do my faux dreadlocks, I feel like I constantly have to reassure other naturals that my hair underneath all of that is natural and that I do wear my hair out and that I’m not ashamed of it.
This is where I differ from other pro naturals. I believe that in today’s modern world I’ve been blessed with having a choice. So while I do rock my natural hair and I’m proud of it, I also choose to rock weaves and braids as I please. Having that real informed choice is all that matters to me. Every other thing is irrelevant. I’ll wear my afro to work if I like and without consequences. I’m glad thar I work for a company, and team of people that don’t do all that bullshit, but I’m very aware that for other naturals, it’s a battle to be their natural selves in the workplace. These are the sort of things that need to change.
S: What do you think of the natural hair community?
I love it! It’s giving future generations the choice to be their natural selves without prejudice or backlash.
S: Do you ever wear your natural hair out? Why?
Yes, I do for at least a month before I install any weave or braids. I love my hair so it’s only natural I work it like a Queen. It’s my crown after all 🙂
S: How do you style your hair regularly?
I mostly do twist out overnight in order to stretch my hair, then unravel it and pick it out into an afro the next morning. I also do wash and go’s now that it’s still short after the shrinkage. However, when I feel like experimenting with a style that needs super stretched hair, I blow dry it, but I do this rarely in order to avoid heat damage.
S: What is your procedure to achieving healthy hair?
Wash as often as possible using conditioner(shampoo once every other week), moisturise after every wash and every day if possible, use oils like coconut oil, castor oil, olive oil to lock in moisture. Do deep conditioner treatments every weekend and keep heat away from the hair as much as possible. Eat healthy meals and drink lots of water.
I haven’t dabbled in any of those hair growth tablets, etc. But I hear it works for some people.
S: What are your favourite hair products?
I love the Cantu Shea butter leave-in conditioner, olive oil, coconut oil, castor oil for my edges, Tresseme conditioner, and a good heat protecting serum.
S: Do you follow any hair blogs or hair care channels?
I used to before I cut my hair when I was constantly researching about natural hair, but these days, not really. That’s because I’ve found what works for me and I’m rolling with it. I’m so busy that when I do watch You Tube, it’s for leisure just before I hit the sack(go to bed). However, I’m now subscribed to Leazzway on You Tube. She has a similar hair texture, so she’s the best to get style inspiration from on how to manipulate my hair.
S: What advice would you give someone contemplating going natural?
Do it love! There’s no harm in discovering the beauty of your natural roots. What’s the worst that can happen? Of course you can go back to relaxers if you want to, so take that step and sail!
I don’t try to over convince people about going natural. The positives and few cons(which are irrelevant in comparison) are all over the internet for you to peruse. Do your research and make that decision for yourself. It’s a really personal thing for one to be comfortable within themselves, so only you can decide what’s beautiful or not to you, but be wise and don’t let society’s prejudices and other people’s opinions run your life.
Find your own happiness and live with it.
There we have it! I hope sharing my story and the others’ have helped to give a better insight on the varying reasons the natural hair movement is taking force. I also hope it has helped to give a better understanding on what it is to be natural, why we go natural in the first place and why we’re encouraging others to do so.
Life’s too short to continually bask in ignorance or self doubt. This year, I employ you to open your mind and challenge yourself to explore the depths of you. Try something that’s been lurking in your mind, or something you would have never conceived of.
We’re more than the physical, so live your life in truth.
For more, check out the article written for my second year anniversary of being natural to get an in depth view on the history and psychology towards my going natural.
Follow me on Instagram Facebook
Photography by A Oguns Photography
Subscribe to the mailing list for more personal insights and updates
[contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]
DID THIS POST HELP YOU?
If you enjoyed this piece and would like more content like this, please consider a donation – we’d be so grateful!