NATURAL BY NATURE: Meet Terresa R. Carter Wotring

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Hey Capher family! This month’s Natural By Nature interviewee is coming straight out of Maryland. This bold, funny and vibrant sister set down with me to talk about her hair transition back to its natural state. She dared to take the big chop and as a matter of fact it was no hesitation when she made that decision. After not having the best experience with a weave, Terresa decided from that point on that she was going to wear her hair in its natural state. Come along with me as we learn a bit more about why Terresa decided to transition her hair back to its natural state, her thoughts on whether the natural hair movement is a trend, the importance of washing your hair and much more!

Eshet: How long have you been natural?

Terresa when she first did the big chop!
Terresa when she first did the big chop!

Terresa: Five Years!

Eshet: What made you return back to your natural state?

Terresa: So there was no thought put into it. At the time I was doing hot yoga all the time and I was doing swimming all the time too. So I knew it would be damaging to my relaxed hair. So I was talking to my stylist about what should I do to keep it from getting damaged and I was about to go to Jamaica with our mother. And so I was like what can I do to keep the ocean, the chlorine, all the sweat and all the stuff that I am doing right now, what can I do to keep that from being embedded to my hair? She was like, “Oh well won’t you get a weave!” I had never had a weave before. I had never had braids before. So I get a weave and I could not stand it. Three weeks later, I don’t know whether I went crazy or what but I went in there and was like, “Cut this weave out, cut my hair off!” Everybody was shocked but by that time for some reason I just wanted my hair cut off. I didn’t know anything about the natural hair movement, YouTube, or any of that stuff. I was just like cut my hair off  and she was like, “what do you mean cut your hair off?” and I was like well it’s going to fall out anyway because I am doing all this stuff but I cannot stand this weave in my hair it’s like weird. So she cut it off!  Women were all in the salon crying and stuff! (laughs) Women were in the salon crying because my hair was like at that time to my bra to my bra strap. This one girl came up to me and she was like, “You long haired b*tches always cutting your hair off!” I was like, “It’s just hair and like why are you crying, shouldn’t I be crying?” (Laughter) Everybody in the salon was looking at me and so my stylist cut my hair well cut the weave out and she cut my hair off. I had no idea how I wanted my hair cut. So she was like, “I will fix you up.” Luckily she used to be a barber also. So she cut it into this type of Mohawk.

 

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Eshet: What type of weave was it or how was it styled because I am trying to remember you with the weave?

Terresa: It was the kind that gets wavy when it gets wet.

Eshet: Oh so it was like a wet and wavy?

I don’t know what it was called. I had never had a weave before. I just let her… so my stylist knew style so she always just did my hair. I let her do what she wanted to do but she knew what I liked. So when I went in she would be like, “It’s this new hair cut or this new technique you would like.” Like when pin curls came back or whatever, she’s the one that was like we need to get away from the wrap you would like pin curls. I would always let her decide for me and when I thought I wanted a weave when I let her talk me into getting the weave that’s what she said get. She said it was easy, blah, blah, blah and that crap I thought I was going to get up early in the morning and shake my hair when I get out of the shower. I couldn’t feel my scalp so I always felt like my scalp was wet, and how you know when your scalp gets dirty or gets that layer of whatever on there. I always felt like I wasn’t getting that off my scalp but I couldn’t tell because I had that weave cap or whatever that thing is. So they braid your hair and they put this net over top of it to protect your hair and then they sew the weave on. She was like now we have to put this net on so it can protect your hair, blah, blah, blah! It drove me… the itching and stuff. I was like now I know why these girls be patting their head and I just went crazy! I couldn’t stand that weave on my head.

Eshet: The importance of washing hair. How do you feel about the cleaning of the hair because a lot of people feel as though if you wash your hair every other day or a couple times a week that’s what other ethnic groups do? I think it helps the hair grows.

Terresa: That’s a black thing. I remember growing up we didn’t get our hair washed often. It wasn’t until I joined the military and I was living in Texas and I was going to a stylist and she was like, “Your scalp is like your skin so you need to wash it almost as much as you wash your skin. Not as much because it’s drying and whatever, you know it will dry your hair out and it takes time but you need to get on a schedule with washing your hair.” She was like, “Your hair is just like your nails, your skin is close to your face and anything that is happening with your skin is happening with your hair and your scalp. Anything that’s happening with your nails so if your noticing if your nails are looking jacked up your hair is probably getting jacked up too and your skin is probably doing the same thing too.” So she is the one who got me into washing my hair regularly. I remember you guys all of ya’ll were still young. I think maybe you were in high school and I remember coming back home visiting and I was saying how often I washed my hair. I’m not going to say who, but someone in the family was like “We ain’t white!” (Laughing)  I’m like you have to wash your hair. I know people with locks and stuff you can see like the dead skin or you can smell their hair and I’m like, “You need to wash your hair and that’s why you’re breaking out on your face and that’s why your skin all this looks dark and the rest of your skin is a normal color.”

Terresa styles her own hair majority of the time. In this photo she is wearing two strand twist!
Terresa styles her own hair majority of the time. In this photo she is wearing two strand twist!

Eshet: Who does most of your styling?

Terresa: Me, I’ve never had anyone else style my hair. So when I kept my hair short I kept going back to my stylist because she could cut it but when I decided that I wanted it to let it grow she no longer knew what to do with it. Once it started growing I had to change products and she didn’t know what to do with is because she didn’t do natural hair. That’s when I started googling and realized it’s this whole community out there and YouTube and what I had was called a TWA, Shea Butter and coconut oil and all this other stuff.

Eshet: You were just talking about those what did you call them, the Savanah Twist?

Terresa: Yeah the Havana Twist with the Marley hair…(laughs)

Eshet: Oh I said, “Savanah Twist!” (laughs)

Teressa: Yeah the Havana Twist with the Marley hair. I watched that on Youtube. Actually I have had people do my hair. I have had braids put in my hair twice professionally. Once I got the senegalese twist put in and the Havana Twist put in. I decided I would never do the senegalese twist again because they were two small, ummm they were too expensive first of all, they take too long to do and when I’m ready to take them out three weeks later I am thinking, “That money wasn’t worth it.” But the Havana twist since they’re bigger it didn’t take that long and I figured out how to do it on my own and it’s not costing me any money except for the hair which I keep each time I do it.

Eshet: What products do you use?

Terresa: Right now I mainly use this shea butter mixture that I make and I vary; my shampoos aren’t consistent. It’s usually like a conditioning, non-sulfate or non sudsing shampoo. The main conditioner I use is Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle. I mainly use that because it works and it’s really cheap; it’s like $3.99 and sometimes you can catch it on sale for $2.99 a bottle. Since I don’t live near a Trader Joe’s, whenever I go there I am walking out with like 6 bottles. It changes as my hair grows. So when my hair was really, really short I could use the same products I used when it was relaxed. As it grew, those products wasn’t working anymore, but than at that time I could not use coconut oil, I couldn’t use shea butter because the coconut oil had too much protein in it and the Shea Butter was too heavy for the length of my hair. As my hair started growing, I would experiment with stuff and then I went through that whole stage where I would watch YouTube and this person is using this product and I would try that. Yeah I mostly make my own Shea Butter mixture and then the conditioners. I deep condition with food products like: olive oil, avocados, bananas, honey and stuff like that.

Eshet: So you mentioned the natural hair movement, do you look at is as a phase or something that will continue?

Terresa: The way I feel about natural hair, I feel that woman should be able to wear their hair the way they want to. Whether they want to relax it, straighten it, wear it natural, cut it off, wear locks or whatever they want to wear. I think the mindset behind why they’re wearing it is what changes. So like there are times where I am somewhere where there are tons of black women and all you see is weaves and that’s a problem. Where if a 1/3 of the women had weaves or the 1/3 of the women were natural than you would see that as women making a choice not what they should do. I do think or I don’t feel that everybody should wear their hair naturally because I feel like you want to wear make-up wear make-up if you want to wear a short skirt wear a short skirt. It’s what’s behind it that changes. As far as the movement, when we look back at the history of hair styles everything changes. In the 50’s they were doing the lye relaxers, having it dyed, parted and laid to the side and in the 70’s the natural movement was in the 70’s; there’s a cycle. I think when you look at everything that is happening with women not just black women but the way all women are standing up for their body size and the way they are portrayed in the media, I think it may change where black women will wear their hair natural because that’s the way they want it to be and other women will wear the straight hair or weaves because that the way they want it to be. I don’t think it’s ever going to.. well I hope that if the movement as far as women’s equality women’s image if they keep moving the way they keep moving I don’t think the whole natural hair will completely go away. I do think that not just women but fashion because hair is fashion. It’s going to change. No matter how political you are you may want to wear a weave one day and not because you think straight hair is better… you may want to wear a big a** natural wig. (laughs) Women like to change it up. I do think the mindset hopefully is changing but not just with natural hair but with women in general for women to say what they want and not what media puts out there. You see natural hair everywhere now. They made a big deal out of, I don’t even watch the TV show but I seen it online where they showed the woman take her wig off (Viola Davis) and whatever show she is on “How To Get Away With Murder.” I watched her interview and she was like, “That wasn’t even in the script.” She took off her wig and showed her natural hair and that was a big deal and I’m like, “We have natural hair!” Also, the fact that natural hair is when you look at YouTube you will see the curly or less kinky natural hair but there is also the really, really kinky hair that is beautiful and is being counted as beautiful. People are seeing the really big busy kinky afros and they are seeing that as beautiful. I think things is going to change but I think as long as women kind of take control of what they find beautiful or what they consider beautiful then I don’t think it’s going to completely change back. I think it’s going to balance out.

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Eshet: You know a lot of people tend to ask me questions about natural hair or locks and they want to do it but they seem to be scared. So my question is what would you say to someone who wants to go natural?

Terresa: First of all I would want to know, “Why are you scared?” Try to pinpoint what are you scared of. There are a lot of reasons why people may be scared. So it can be your family if you’re with your boyfriend. So the guy I was dating before Andy, I guarantee… so I didn’t tell Andy I was cutting my hair. I got my hair cut and stuff and he came over and I opened up the door and he saw me with that short hair and his reaction was perfect and that’s how I him and I were going to be together. He looked at me and just started smiling so big. He was like, “Oh my goodness you’re so beautiful, look at your hair it’s so cool.” Whereas that other guy I was dating probably would have dumped me right then and there. And I know this because he had been trying to get back with me the whole time and one day I happen to see him somewhere and he was like shocked. I never heard from him again. (laughing) I’m like what like just last week you’re like how you made a mistake, I’m the best thing that ever happened to you, give me another chance and you see me with my short hair and suddenly that’s it. So I would want to pinpoint, “What are you afraid of?” If it’s your job, I mean if you look a lot of intelligent, professional women are natural depending on what sector you’re in. If your job is conservative you can wear natural hair conservative. It doesn’t have to be the big in your face type of hair that I do when I’m going out or whatever. You can still wear the ponytail, the twist out because even with straight hair they don’t want you wearing it types of ways. So you still got to play the game even when you wear natural hair. You can’t be like, “Oh this is my natural hair!” Okay, well that’s Mary’s natural hair but if Mary came in here with it spiked up they would have a problem with her too. Address the issues with your job, address the issues with your boyfriend and address the issues with your family.

Eshet: Yeah because a lot of times it can be a person’s husband or significant other because they’re so use to them having relaxers. With a lot of females their parents may have been putting a relaxer in their hair since they were little and they never really saw what their natural hair looks like. And a lot of times, they really have a nice texture or nice grain of hair. I think it’s the unknown for some.

Terresa: My coworker stopped being natural and one of the things she said, “Oh see if I had your type of hair I would be fine natural.” I’m like well your hair is fine too. You just got learn how to do it and there are certain styles that are more flattering on you than they would be on me and my type of hair.

If you would like to share your story about your natural hair journey on http://www.thecapher.com, please email thecapherllc@gmail.com!

 

 

 

 

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