Sunday, October 18, 2009

In depth with Naturally Leslie...

I've spoken about the positive influence Naturally Leslie has had on the content of the Pangea's Garden Project and I have mentioned her blog. I may not have mentioned how widely popular it is and the fact that Leslie is one of the GO-TO Personalities when it comes to natural hair and its techniques, styles and culture. She is also a popular columnist for the Coil Review. Her balance of serious insight and lightheartedness makes her pearls of wisdom valuable to all who are fortunate to partake. I told her that I would like to ask her few questions about herself. She provided me with a few answers...

Q: You are a a highly popular blogger and a sought-after columnist. What do you attribute your incredible following to?
I think there are so many women out there who crave positive and helpful information about going natural. I also think people like having a consistent, familiar place to go to in order to establish a sense of community and support. I think my blog is all of those things for many people.

Q: Have your views on your blog and why you do it changed since you began it nine months ago?
When I first started out, my blog was not meant to focus solely on natural hair. I created it to branch out and stretch myself a bit. It has since become more hair-focused although it still touches on other topics. I have been natural for 10 years and I though I had something to add to the natural hair blog mix. Some days, it can be frustrating because of other commitments. But, at the end of the day I love having it as a release for myself and it has become a wonderful way to connect with people I otherwise would not have met.

Q: Do you think the popularity of the natural look is fading, growing or simply a cultural aesthetic alternative?
I think it is definitely growing! It seems like everywhere you look, Black women in mainstream media are being represented by women with natural hair. Magazines, commercials, and internet ads tend to feature Black women with curly or kinky hair a lot more than they used to.

Q: How do you see the natural aesthetic? Do you see it as a rejection of standards of beauty? an alternative beauty to the conventional pretty look? the ultimate or original beauty? or something else?
I think it is all of that and possibly more. For some people, it is a deliberate rejection of a straight-haired aesthetic. For others, it can be a style option. I don't think every woman goes natural for the same reasons and I think people should not judge one another if a reason is different than their own.

Q: Do you think natural beauty is sexy?
I do think natural beauty is sexy. Then again, I think most woman have sex appeal because it comes from within. Really, it is not about the outside when it comes to exuding sensuality or beauty. The outside can always help but a great attitude goes a lot further.

Q: What are your thoughts on the media attention placed on the natural aesthetic in the African-American community? Is it taken too seriously or not seriously enough? And what, if anything, is left out of the discussion?
I think sometimes it can get too serious. I think when women first go natural, it can become almost like an obsession in terms of products, styling, growth, length attainment, etc. I also think the media is simply picking up on what is going on around the country which is Black women are tired of struggling to conform to a standard of beauty that is unattainable. I don't think there is much more to add to the discussion in terms of how to care for natural hair. But I do think that as more women/girls return to their roots, there will always be a place for discussion, reflection, and mutual encouragement. I am not one of those people who think "it's just hair" but at the same time, it cannot eclipse my social/professional/romantic life to the point where I am controlled by it.

Q: What would you want young girls to know about natural beauty as they start to make their own decisions about their look and style?
I want young girls to realize that the minute they declare themselves beautiful, they regain their power. So often, we turn to tv or magazines to tell us what is acceptable, so we are constantly giving away our power. I think young women need to know that they actually have their own power and can choose who they want to be versus allowing outside influences to totally define them. So whether it is their look or their career or whatever, girls need to be aware of their inherent strength and power to map out their paths.

Please check out Leslie blog for more of her insightful musings at Naturally Leslie


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