Hailing straight from Philadelphia, PA, this natural hair sister is witty, firey and ball of fun. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Zulema Simeon Yisra’EL to talk about natural hair. I was especially intrigued by her dark and lovely locks that flow down around her waist. Considering she has not always been natural, Zulema was gracious enough to talk to me about why she went natural! This is her story……
ESHET: Tell me how long you have been natural?
ZULEMA: I’ve been natural since 2000, but on and off. I started in 2000 twisted, no I went natural first, did the afro thing, than I twisted up, took them out and started over and then I’ve been straight since 2000.
ESHET: So was it more like free form?
ZULEMA: Free… no it was half and half. Initially I twisted it up and then I let it go from that first twist. I don’t have any parts or that kind of thing.
ESHET: How did you wear your hair before that?
ZULEMA: Oh child I had perms, weave ins, the foxy browns, the umm Tony Braxton’s, the Halie Berry’s and all that stuff. I had carrot orange hair, platinum blonde hair, I use to wear, short short low baldy; like a Ceasar, low low low and blonde. That was basically it. Long weave, 18 inches, European straight, 1999 back in the 90’s, that’s how I wore it, but what I found is that when I had my hair natural I felt more liberated I didn’t have to do much to it. I felt more like myself, but the true story to why I went natural is. I was going to a unity Shabbat at Beth Hephzibah and Abba had brought me these garments. They were bad, they were funky so I am getting all dressed for Shabbat and I am looking in the mirror and I was like something is wrong you know I wasn’t feeling it. But the outfit I knew was like that so I am looking and I said it’s this damn hair. So, I went immediately started taking the weave out, got the glue and all that stuff out, washed it out, let it air dry, plucked it out and then I was natural.
ESHET: So you can say it was a balance of culture and relationship that influenced you?
ZULEMA: Plus I was new in the knowledge. This all happened quick. I got in the knowledge in 1999; the end of 99. I started locking up in January. Bahyi-yahsaun; she twisted it up the first time and I guess about six months later I was locked. I didn’t use anything but shampoo salt free, Jojoba Oil and maybe some Aloe Vera gel if I wanted to slick it back in a pony tail or something. I would twist my hair every three months or something.
ESHET: It’s been about a good 14 or 15 years now?
ZULEMA: Exactly, exactly… yup!
ESHET: When you go to wash it, does it take a lot to wash it?
ZULEMA: Yes it is yes it’s a lot to wash and it’s a lot to dry. It’s really heavy when it’s wet but when it’s dry it’s not heavy.
ESHET: When it’s down, how long is it? It comes to like your waist?
ZULEMA: Yeah about to my waist.
ESHET: When I was talking to you earlier you were speaking about the products earlier?
ZULEMA: Yeah, I just use basic products. I don’t really use any ancient secrets; nothing special (shared laughter) I just… this is just the grace of the Most High, that’s it. Let me tell you when I was back in those days I was doing all kinds of stuff. I was perming my hair and putting permanent hair color in my hair on the same day in beauty school in the beauty class. I am in there perming, dying, and weaving so I just say Todah YAH that he was with me for this hair adventure.
ZULEMA: My head wraps… I love wearing my head wraps. Well actually when I wear my head wraps that means my hair is done because I told you I don’t do nothing to my hair. I do my head wraps up to make me look a little fancy that’s my fanciness. Like your hair looks really nice with the French roll type style you have but I don’t really do all of that so I just use scarves. So my favorite style is basically how Adon Aesh wears his. That’s how I normally wear mines
ESHET: If you look at the time period natural hair is much more acceptable now than it was back in the day. Do you feel like it’s a movement?
ZULEMA: Yes it is and that’s why everybody is jumping on it. Let me tell you this in a few years it’s going to be out again. It’s not going to be the in thing anymore. The people that’s doing it for their own cultural or religious reasons they’ll be the ones that’s still wearing locks but right now the locks is a trend.
ESHET: What would you say to someone who was thinking about going natural?
ZULEMA: I would tell them to stick to it and you have to know why you’re doing it. If it’s a trend just go ahead and do your trend, but if this is something that you’re doing for cultural reason, quote unquote religious reason or whatever you have to stick it out. If it get that it looks ugly and all that you just got and once it grows in and mold to your face and your scalp I think you will be fine. And I feel more empowered with my own natural hair versus that weave look. I mean I don’t knock it but for myself I don’t like it on me and if I did get some kind of weave if I didn’t have my locks it would definitely be like a natural type weave I just can’t do the wig and weave thing anymore.
If you would like to get in contact with Zulema, click here!