Featured Maven: Inherently Poetic Maven
I am starting a “Maven” feature where I will showcase natural’s from all backgrounds and walks of life. I would like to not only focus on their hair and journey’s, but also their lifestyles. I think it would be cool to learn more about the diversity in the lives that natural’s live. So, without further ado, meet our first feature the Loc Rockin Suntastic Maven, Miriam.
Name: Miriam Hoover
Location: DMV (Maryland)
Occupation: Grad student, stay-at-home mom, freelance writer
How long have you been natural?
I have been totally me since 2006 (I think. I’m pretty sure.)
Did you big chop or transition and how did you make that decision?
I big chopped. I don’t even remember how long my hair was, just that the back of my hair was starting to break off and that it was advancing rapidly. I figured I could either get a cute and swift really short cut (still permed) or just whack it all off and be myself (no perm). I went with the whackage. I was left with ½ inch of hair, so I did kinky twists for 2 months because I was no longer prepared when I saw what I looked like.
What made you decide to go natural?
The fact that I was tired of going against my nature. I was bored with the perm, which I only rocked for 10 years, and missed what I used to have up until high school. I decided to lock my hair after I let the 2-month-old kinky twists go because I liked the look on me (even though I knew it would be a while before I would be able to have the length and more controlled look).
How did your family and friends react to your decision to go natural?
Family didn’t really care so much. They are/were used to me doing stuff to my hair, so it wasn’t a shocker. One of my friends saw me and burst into laughter on me. That made me feel bad. I had another friend (male) who implied that I cut my hair off because I broke up with him. Nobody really said boo to me about it because my hair was already gone. I could tell that they would need some getting used to it, me too. I felt like some family and friends thought my hair was just nappy. Once my locs were established and not so infantile, I got some of the naysayers real feelings. “I thought you were crazy.” “You did look like a little boy.” “I was waiting on you to get some more braids….or something.” “That was not a good look on you. I’m so glad you have some hair now.” “That short and nappy do is not what’s up.” I’m glad they kept their mouths shut, because we probably would not still be friendly. What can I say? That’s just the mentality/standard of beauty/oppression mechanism society has given us.
How has going natural affected your life, way of thinking, etc if at all?
My life is so much simpler now. I feel like I am truly me. The process of going just about bald and regrowing my hair was not only humbling but a learning experience. I discovered so many things about my creativity, my personality, my resiliency, my energy, and so much more. Now I do see the altering of one’s natural hair as an attempt to make the dominant society more comfortable. Having been permed for only 10 years of my near 30, I realize that I didn’t have a firm grasp on what it meant for my own energy and that of others. Now that I am natural as an adult, I see all of the factors that affect feelings of self-worth, self-appreciation, the factors that alter the way other people perceive you, and the pride and camaraderie that is fostered among the natural hair community. We do so much to keep our hair from reaching towards the sun, that we stunt ourselves and miss out on a key element of our being. We are perfectly fine the way we are. It’s so simple and we complicate it beyond our own reasoning at our own detriment. And it’s not just Blacks, some White folk have found themselves in this same trick bag. I’ve realized the importance of “staying woke.”
From a professional standpoint, have you ever had any problems in your career or workplace because of your natural hair?
So far I have yet to have any visible problem with my hair. I have had to address ignorant comments by coworkers before, but no problems. To be honest, I think I may be more worried about my tattoos than my hair.
What is the best/worst compliment you have received since going natural?
The best thing I have ever heard since going natural is, “Your hair is so beautiful, you really make me want to go natural right this second.” The fact that my coif is inspiring is awesome to me. It’s nice to know that just being me is good enough. I really don’t give too much ear or remembrance to naysayers.
What is the best and worst thing you have done since going natural?
The best thing I’ve done since going natural would have to be becoming a mother. Pregnancy was definitely simpler without having to worry about my hair (perming, dyeing, etc.).
The worst thing I’ve done as a natural was put beeswax in my hair. That stuff is so icky to me. I was impatient with my locking process and was trying to hurry my locs’ bonding. I still have lint-lets and such trapped in my ends from that stuff.
Do you have any hobbies or passions that you would like to share with us?
My passionate thing to do is write. I write mostly poetry, but in the last year and a half I have taken a shine to short fiction. I also dabble in a bit of creative essaying. Reading has always been a thing I love to do as well. I have always had a knack for hair and styling. I don’t do much to my hair anymore; I channel that creative hair energy into my 3-year-old daughter’s dos. I do loc maintenance for family and friends and a few others occasionally. I started a garden this spring and am trying my hand at some organic farming in the backyard. Now I see why that stuff is so expensive. Naturally keeping these bugs off of crops is hard. Some of our crops aren’t even viable due to the insect population. Nevertheless it is an enriching experience and patience building.
How did you get interested in these activities?
Everything except for the gardening comes naturally for me. I don’t have to put big effort into my words because they organically abide in every fiber of my being. Doing hair doesn’t take much work as I don’t ever remember a time that I wasn’t styling a doll. I even made a salon for my dolls from cardboard boxes, foil and construction paper. I had done an herb garden last year because I wanted my own basil for my roasted broccoli recipe and mint because it reminds me of my grandmother’s house. It did fairly well and my aunt was on board with it so we decided to take it a step further. We’re already looking forward to next year so that we can implement some of the things we learned this season.
From a career standpoint, what are your interests and are you currently pursuing them?
Currently I am still trying to get my creative writing out there. I am beginning my master’s program in creative writing at Towson University this fall to deepen my understanding of how it is that I create and operate within my words. I’m really excited and hope to be able to find some work that won’t interfere with raising my daughter (well, at least until she is old enough to go to school).
Did you meet your other half while you were natural? If not, how did they react to your decision?
Although I am actively single right now, I have not seen any decline in the men that are interested in me (not even when I was rocking 2 inches of baby loc). What makes me appealing is not my hair (I’m sure it helps though), it’s me, my insides and the energy that I exude.
How do you balance being a mother, life and hair?
There is a delicately balanced unbalance if that makes sense. At times hair gets neglected a bit, or housework, or a shower even. I prioritize my day, not my weeks or my months. I understand that everything is not going to be perfect all the time, and that it’s okay if I can’t get it all in everyday. I don’t feel guilty for the things that go undone, because I know that it will get done. I just want my daughter to feel like she is important to me and if that means the kitchen floor doesn’t get mopped even though there are 5 spots on it, then the kitchen floor will have to wait.
By going natural, do you find yourself trying to shape your children with a wider view on beauty standards? If so, how do you accomplish this?
I’m not sure if I am trying to shape her beauty standards as much as I am striving for her to know that she is beautiful the way she is and that she is good enough. I want her to respect the differences that we all have.
Is there any advice that you would like to give to other naturals regarding hair, life, career or motherhood?
Regarding hair: Show it lots of love. Don’t entrust the touching/handling of your hair to just anyone. If their spirit isn’t right (or yours for that matter) refrain from fondling. Beeswax: Don’t do it. Well, if you really enjoy it…. Shelac: If it leaves your hands feeling different than hands should feel, don’t use it. Imagine it’s doing the same thing to your hair.
Regarding life: “Stay woke,” ever aware of who you are and how you touch the world and how it is attempting to touch you.
Do you blog, socialize online, etc? If so, where can we find you?
My blog is called The Growing Girl
I am @SuntasticWriter on Twitter