It is not your responsibility to make others feel more comfortable with YOUR hair. Whether it is family, friends, coworkers, or strangers your hair journey is YOURS.
Your natural hair is professional and you do not have to straighten it to meet someone else’s standards of beauty. Complying with systematic racism and discrimination allows it to continue. Your hair is not a political statement it is you in your most natural state.
As a part of our series about “Five Things You Need To Understand About Hair Discrimination”I had the pleasure of interviewing Pametria Dominise , The Empowerment Expert. She is an author and natural hair advocate. After creating the Natural Cutie platform to celebrate and promote black women and children embracing their natural hair; she decided to obtain her natural hair license in an effort to properly educate her audience. Pametria Dominise has created products, books, events, and scholarships for natural cuties worldwide.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit of your childhood backstory and how you grew up?
I am a third generation naturalista which is somewhat rare for someone my age. My mother learned the importance of removing the harsh chemicals from her hair and she wanted to instill that in her children as well. We were not allowed to get relaxers and kept our hair in conrows. After being teased by our classmates we begged our mother to finally allow us to relax our hair once we got older. She obliged but continuously reminded us of the beauty of our melaninated skin and natural hair. She allowed us to make our own decisions but her growing pride in her heritage and culture proved to be an example that lead both my sister and I to eventually return to natural.
Can you tell us a story about what inspired you to become a natural hair advocate?
My mother and upbringing inspired me to start my natural hair journey which led me to celebrate others through my local pageants. However, the inspiration to advocate on an international platform came later. I had decided to write my first book for teenage girls struggling with self-esteem. I selected my title and created the outline for my book but then something changed. I saw a status on Facebook from a mother who wanted to cut her young daughter’s locs off due to the children in her class bullying her. I was so hurt reading the post that I sat there and started writing. I wrote my first book “I Am A Natural Cutie” that same night. I wanted to encourage Black girls all around to love their curls and kinks in spite of what others may think or say.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I remember back when I had my locs, I was having issues with lent and dust getting trapped in them. I went to a stylist and inquired about how to remove it and she suggested I color my locs. I was not interested in coloring the dirt I wanted to remove it so I went to Youtube University to see if I could find a hack. After endless hours I stumbled across a video on combing your locs out. I decided to experiment with a few locs and before you knew it I was elbow deep in combing out my locs. That’s how I went from a naturalista with shoulder length locs to a loose natural cutie.
As an influencer, you have been blessed with great success in a career path that many have attempted, but eventually gave up on. In fact perhaps most people who tried to follow a career path like yours did not succeed. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path but know that their dreams might be dashed?
Follow your passion, be authentic, stay consistent, and the profit will come.
Can you share 3 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”? (Please share a story or example for each.)
True beauty comes from within and should not be attached to our hair, makeup , or attire. Often times there is a mental transition that must occur when women decide to return to natural, they have gotten used to viewing themselves from a particular lens. When wearing a relaxer the sight of “new growth” or a “kitchen” tells us that we need to immediately fix our appearance so to now see the beauty in your entire hair being what you once considered unkempt is a psychological transition as much as it is a physical one. Three quick tips to see the beauty while transitioning:
- Consider wearing protective styles so that you can grow your roots out more before the big chop.
- Practice complimenting yourself and viewing yourself in the mirror every morning without make up for a brief period before you transition.
- Take mini photo shoots at home to boost your confidence and comfortability with your new look.
- Bonus tip, step your accessory game up while adjusting to your natural hair.
Can you share with our readers some of your techniques to style natural hair?
Use products that are for your specific hair type not based on your favorite Youtuber. When first transitioning seek the assistance of a professional to help you train your curl pattern and develop a good routine for your hair type. Finding the correct products and tools to detangle your hair are the foundation for styling and always make sure your hair is completely dry to have the best results for your style rather it’s bantu knots, twist outs, braid outs, or rods.
Can you share some of your techniques about how to best maintain natural hair?
One of the biggest tips for maintaining natural hair is to seek a professional if you are not comfortable or knowledgeable. Be sure to keep your ends clipped every 3 months and moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.
Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can help articulate to our readers your “Five Things You Need To Understand About Hair Discrimination”. If you can please share a story or example, for each.
So I have been natural since 2004 way before it was cool or widely accepted amongst my peers. I can recall the jokes and looks that I received on my college campus being one of the few naturalistas at that time. Although I went to a PWI, the majority of the comments were from other African Americans primarily women.
I was fortunate to have a support group of immediate family and friends who were also natural so I did not waiver to the societal pressure to relax my hair. Aside from individuals, I have never experienced personal hair discrimination from a systematic standpoint however; as I began to assert myself as an advocate over the years; I began to witness discrimination on a larger scale. The five things I think you should understand about natural hair discrimination:
- It is not your responsibility to make others feel more comfortable with YOUR hair. Whether it is family, friends, coworkers, or strangers your hair journey is YOURS.
- Your natural hair is professional and you do not have to straighten it to meet someone else’s standards of beauty. Complying with systematic racism and discrimination allows it to continue. Your hair is not a political statement it is you in your most natural state.
- While the natural hair has become a billion dollar business and revolutionized the hair industry, there is still discrimination on a micro and macro level. The cosmetology industry as a whole has yet to adapt the curriculum to be completely inclusive of natural hair. There is one chapter that vaguely covers a couple of styles for relaxed African American hair. In many states a separate natural hair license is required to specifically learn to maintain and style natural hair.
- Within the natural hair and Black community there tends to be more acceptance shown to certain hair textures. Kinky hair types are just as beautiful as loose curls and they deserve the same level of representation on product advertisements and in the media.
- If you are being discriminated against for your natural hair do not be afraid to speak up and fight back. Read dress code policies thoroughly at your job and/or school. You want to make sure that there are not any cultural biases within the policies that you need to advocate against.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Surround yourself with people who are going to lift you higher- Oprah. Being around individuals who inspire me has been essential in uplifting myself mentally, spiritually, and financially.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you’d like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. 🙂
There are several people who I would love to have the opportunity to meet. However if I had to select someone at this moment it would be Taraji P. Henson. Her advocacy for mental health awareness and healthy natural hair are not only admirable but they speak directly to both of my passions. The Natural Cuties’ mission to empower African American women to celebrate their kinks, curves, and culture; and my personal brand to normalize mental wellness and psychological fortitude in the African American community are both aligned her platforms. I’m trying to manifest a partnership!
How can our readers follow you online?
FB/IG @iamanaturalcutie Website www.iamanaturalcutie.com
Thank you so much for this. This was very inspirational, and we wish you only continued success!