Sep 23, 2011

Natural Leader: Tonya Elizabeth shares her tests, trials, and testimony!

Yay! We are rolling right along with this natural hair project in Nashville. ONce again, I continue to be overwhelmed by the awesome love our readers have shared on the Facebook Page, Twitter, and our Youtube page. We will continue to give you quality content as long as you promise to keep reading and sharing your stories!

So let's get into this week's Natural Leader hair story! Below, Tonya Elizabeth shares her journey. It's filled with a hearty laugh and a wholesome testmony. Check it out:
Tonya with her relaxer
"Your Crown is Your Glory!"

For as long as I can remember, I obsessed over hair. Starting on my 5th birthday, I went every two weeks to get my hair pressed. Going to the beauty shop was a dream. I entered with a rough “kitchen” and came out with springy spiral curls and ribbons. Since my hair dresser lived next door, I also had the nightmare of constant hot combs to my edges so Miss Johnnie wouldn’t see my hair messed up.

Appearance was an important part of our value system. At a young age I was taught that “hair is a woman’s glory.” By age 12, my tresses had been pressed, relaxed, braided, care free curled and wave nouveau-ed. The next decade would be filled with extreme cuts, colors and weaves. “Keep your hair and face done. Don’t wear cheap clothes and always have nice shoes,” my grandmother would always say. I followed these words as if they were the 11th commandment. If I had somewhere to go and wasn’t physically in order, I didn’t go.
Tonya's Big Chop
Go To Church or Go to the Salon?

I had a hair color experiment go wrong my junior year of college. My boyfriend, at the time, had been turned off from traditional church services because, in his view, it was all about appearances. I’d convinced him my church was more concerned about the inside of a person and not what they wore. After some time and much praying, he wanted to attend a Sunday service.

The night before that Sunday service, I highlighted my hair with bleach and wanted to tone the color to a reddish auburn hue. I realized after I applied the pure red toner that I was out of brown. As a result, I looked like Strawberry Shortcake. I peered at myself in horror. Since I looked a wretched mess, I would not attend church service.
He drove over the next morning and saw my hair. I was still in pajamas when I should have been dressed. I informed him bluntly, I wouldn’t be going. He was in shock. He looked at me, rolled his eyes and said, “You’re just like those people at my old church; worried about appearances and not the heart. I’m going to your church and I pray they aren’t so vain and simple.” The door slammed and the motor started and all I heard was one word---Vain. I was instantly convicted.

"I'm doing a new thing!" - God

I prayed to God. I cried. I asked for forgiveness and I knew what I needed to do. Hair was my Isaac and it needed to go. I almost let it get in the way of leading someone to Christ. For 6 months I grew it out under sew-ins and did a dramatic chop in 2003. For the first time in a long time, I felt free. It made such a difference in how I lived my life that my whole family, including my grandmother who created the appearance manifesto, went natural.

While I have gone back and forth over the years since between natural, relaxed and weaves (can we say big chop number 4), I can say with certainty I am a natural for life.  I am raising an amazing little four year old and I want her to know how beautiful she is inside and out.  We condition and twist our hair together. While she doesn’t know what glory is, I asked her how she felt about her hair.  She smiled and said, “Mama, I love my hair.  I feel good.” I agree with my baby.  My hair, and freedom, feels good


Tonya's Current Regimen
I live by the twist out.  I take my hair each night and put it into about 15 twists using Miss Jessie's Curly Pudding or Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing smoothie and cover it with a satin bonnet. Untwist in the morning.  Spray it with the Hold and Shine Mist.  Fluff and go.
·         Shampoo - Mixed Chicks Sulfate Free Shampoo (every 7-10 days)
·         Conditioner - Mixed Chicks Deep Conditioner or Shea Moisture Deep Treatment Masque every 3 days
·         Detangling - Taliah Waajid Crinkles and Curls Natural Hair & Lock Lotion
·         Daily Mositure - Shea Moisture Hold & Shine Mist or Taliah Waajid Protective Mist Bodifier (my first love!!)
·         Styling/twists - Jamaican Mango & Lime Braid-Twist & Lock gel
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