I’d like to start by learning more about you. What is your name? What is your background? Where are you from? How do you define yourself?
I’m Emma Cole Hart… I was born in New Mexico and lived in Flagstaff, Arizona with my mom, my Aunt Gail and her girlfriend until I was five… when I was five, my mom met my current step dad and we moved in with him shortly after…. A year or two later my little brother was born and we stayed in Flagstaff until I was eight. Money was tight and jobs were slim, so we packed up our lives and moved to a rural town in southern Utah called Boulder Town. I lived there until I was thirteen, which was when we (once again due to job and money issues) moved to Bellingham, Washington, which is where I still am today at fifteen. I live with my mom and step dad, my brother and my best friend from Utah, who’s name is America. My aunt and her son Desmond (who’s father is from Guinea) (OH! and I suppose I should mention that I lived in Tunis, Tunisia in Africa for a year when I was in sixth grade.)
We met via your tumblr photo submission where you wrote, “It’s always a surprise to people, but I think my picture belongs here.” Can you explain what you met by that?
Well, people always ask me if I’m half black, or if I have African or African-American in my family because of my kinky hair. I always say “No”, and then people just assume that I’ve gotten a perm (nope!) I reassure them that my curls are all natural and they’re always amazed. I’ve always tried to get myself into the ethnic-hair community because really it seems to be the only place that understands the maintenance and honestly-the personality that comes with super curly hair. I think that part of my wiley personality and free spirit is expressed in my hair, and I find that to come through in more than a few people that I’ve met that have hair similar to mine.
It is no secret that Shanti and I are both bi-racial with white mothers. At times, I have found it difficult despite having textured hair and being one of the co-founders of this blog to be accepted into the ‘natural hair community’. In terms of being accepted and ‘fitting in’ whether it be family, friends or society related, what has your experience been?
I lived in Africa for a year when I was eleven. I think that’s when I really started accepting my hair. I had this really good friend who was half Indian and her dad was from Nigeria. She had the most beautiful, long, frizzy (in a good way) curly hair that I’d ever seen. She started to encourage me to wear my hair down instead of keeping it up in a bun or a pony tail like I usually did. I really started loving my hair. It was kind of weird because people would give me funny looks when her and I walked around together… usually they just thought I was just super pale, haha. When I came back, it was like… my hair wasn’t just natural and fun…it was like some kind of Velcro that attracted old ladies who would just pet me for a few minutes and tell me how “cute” I was.. and how “awesome” my hair was. It was really sweet, but I felt like people were treating me like a phenomenon when I had just learned to accept my hair as a part of my personality instead of something out of the ordinary.
Now, I absolutely love my hair! The guy I’m seeing right now is African-American and we call each other hair twins. His is more nappy and his fro definitely beats mine by far… but it’s just a part of me now. He loves my hair. I love my hair. And it’s easy to feel comfortable in my own skin and curls.
Have you always embraced your locks? Have you ever considered getting a relaxer?
When I was a lot younger…about eight… I hated my hair. I wanted desperately for my mom to buy me a straightening iron or get my hair permed straight- it was just too much for me to handle! Now, I’m thanking my mom daily for not letting me do that to my hair, because I really love it now and I love that it’s bouncy and hydrated rather than ruined, flat and fried.
How would you describe your hair?
My hair is bipolar. One day I can wear it down and it’s not frizzy at all. The curls are big and do exactly what I want and I love it and feel confident with it.
Other days, my hair is just a big mess of frizz and almost-dreds.
From another perspective, my hair IS me. It describes me, and represents all my moods… it can be pulled back and hidden.. it can be braided into tons of little braids who are all different yet a lot alike, or it can be wild and all out there. I love my hair and how it represents who I am.
What is your current regimen? What products do you use?
Right now- I’m all about the warm olive oil. I love it! It hydrates my hair and keeps it soft. Split ends disappear, and i feel totally rejuvenated. What I do, is i take extra virgin olive oil- or just plain vegetable oil- either one. (canola oil doesn’t make my hair smell so olive-y) I heat it up in a pan on the stove, until it’s warm, about the temp I take my showers. Then I have my mom or a friend or somebody massage it into my hair, down to my scalp. I wrap a plastic bag around my hair and sleep with it in (adding a towel in helps so your pillow doesn’t get all oily) I wash it out the next day and heavily condition it and it feels wonderful. I also use Moroccon oil as a sort of leave-in kinda thing if I gotta get my hair to look less frizzy if I need to go really quick after i jump out of the shower.
I’m also a huuuge fan of coconut oil! It’s great…. I use it as a leave-in, as a gel- whatever! It smells great, and my hair absorbs it really well so it doesn’t feel greasy.
I deep-condition my hair at least three times a week, and only was it about once ever week- or even less sometimes. My hair dries out super easily and washing it too much really does a number on my curlies.
I try to use after-conditioners with SPF in them, because I find that the sun really fries my hair and gives me super bad split-ends
(EMMA!!! YOU ONLY TALKED ABOUT OILS! You’ve got to find a good leave-in conditioner! Read this post☺ )
Who is your hair idol?
Okay, that is sooo hard to say honestly. I do have to say either my Aunt Connie- or my friend Gigi (who I mentioned earlier) My aunt connie who is my biological aunt’s partner of about twenty five years, has really similar hair to me. Whenever people used to ask me where I got my hair (which they did- daily). Despite the fact that my aunt connie and I weren’t blood-related- I’d always say “My aunt connie!” I love having hair conversations with her and laughing about when I was a little kid. She doesn’t anymore- but she used to rock her hair HUGE and I really respect that in people who have curls.
What advice would you give to women that have kinkier/textured hair?
Accept it- realize that it will really make your personality pop! Think about your girls as a nice shirt that accents your eyes- but instead it’s your hair that accents your enthusiastic, beautiful personality! That’s what has really gotten me.
Lastly, I want to leave you with a hard question. What would you say to those who will look at this post with contempt and criticize us for showcasing and featuring you because of obvious reasons?
I’m a white girl. Really, I’m Irish, Scottish, Swedish with a little bit of English in there somewhere…I’ve got no color in me… But that has never stopped me from embracing my somewhat-ethnic hair. It doesn’t matter what color your skin is, where you’re from or how you express yourself…. it’s a matter of whether or not you’re going to accept yourself. I definitely do… and my hair is a huge part of who I am so if that means I have to prove that I’m worthy in the naturally curly hair community, then so be it! But why get worked up about people being who they really are? People who don’t accept that just haven’t accepted themselves and to those of you who haven’t, I welcome you to delve into a whole other world of self-exploration and amazement. Your hair (even if it’s not kinky) should be a part of that!
To Antoinette and Shanti- I just wanna say thank you girls so much for recognizing me and asking me to be featured on your blog. It really makes me so happy. I recently found a lady who will actually cut my hair without hesitation. She encouraged me to check out some curly hair blogs and that’s how I found you guys! Thanks.
What do you think? Should the ‘Natural Hair Police’ chill out and welcome Emma with open arms? We vote… YES!