My name is Ayana Gibbs (@ayanaiman), and I was born and raised in New Jersey. My natural hair journey started when I was younger. Before dreads were a trend, I rocked them from age 5 to 17. They were an extension of me. When I went to college I cut them off. I wasn’t guided and really unsure of myself.
Not too mention that at that time Rihanna had just cut off her locks and was rocking a fierce cropped do’ -I wanted that…or at least thought I did. Once I got a relaxer I realized I had made a mistake. My hair wasn’t the same, and not having a relaxer at all in my life before, I wasn’t educated on how to keep it up. I did the big chop and never looked back.
How long have you been natural?
I was natural all but 1 year of my life. There was this awkward stage in college that I cut off my locks and got a relaxer…bad idea.
What motivated you to transition? Were you a transitioned or a Big Chopper& why?
The regality of natural hair made me transition back to my roots. My relaxed hair was limp and did not fit my personal style. I chose to do a big chop versus transitioning. Honestly, I didn’t even think about it when I did it, I’m bold and cutting my hair was liberating.
How would you describe your hair?
My hair is free and wild. I love my locks to be dark and crown my head like a mane.
What do you love most about your hair?
I love the way my hair accentuates my best feature, my power. There is something about rocking an afro that shows confidence and a woman who is in control.
How do you feel sexy with natural hair?
I accentuate my natural hair with makeup, accessories, and of course confidence. Confidence is key, it’s all that matters.
What has been the most memorable part of your journey?Has it been easy or difficult or both?!
The most memorable part of my journey is when I finally accepted that my hair was beautiful no matter the length. Having locks all my life, I was use to having longer hair and something to hide behind. Having a TWA forced me to acknowledge my own beauty and love myself even more. Some people aren’t fans of natural hair -I became my biggest supporter.
What were some of your favorite transitioning hairstyles?
My favorite transitioning hairstyles are big curly afros, two-strand twists, and box braids.
What have your experiences been as a ‘natural?’ Any memorable reactions from family or others?
My entire family is natural, so we all support each other in our natural progression.
If, or when, you have children, will you raise them natural?
Yes, definitely. I have an 8-month-old daughter, Ayo, who is already a naturalista. I believe there is nothing more special I can give her than the belief that she is beautiful, and so is her hair.
What is your hair regimen (including fav products)?
Ironically, I’ve been natural for the latter part of my life and I am still figuring out what products I like to use. I know when I use too many products/oils my hair becomes stringy. Shea Butter is always a necessity.
What are some of your favorite natural hair websites or blogs?
I love looking at Essence.com for natural hair trends, and I look at all natural haircare sites or pages (including Global Couture).
Anything you want the readers to know? Inspirational words?
Yes! One of my favorite quotes by Zora Neale Hurston, illustrates a woman owning her power and not needing other people to validate her. Be confident. Be bold. You’re beautiful.
“Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.”
Where can people find you for more information?
I am an open book. Google me. Facebook (Ayana Gibbs). or Instagram (@ayanaiman).