In a series exploring the complicated relationships we, as women, hold with our hair throughout our lives, All the Pretty Birds introduces ‘Our Hair, Don’t Care’, an installment series of women we love sharing their personal beauty journeys.
Meet Amanda Winnie Kabuiku
One of our regular contributors, Amanda has shared her insights on fashion designers around the world for our Designer Spotlight and Fashion After COVID-19 series. A Congolese woman living in France, she’s a contributing writer to Le Monde Afrique, Cultured Mag and i-D. She’s also an author and recently released Introspections Selectives.
We spoke to her about her hair journey and what’s really like being a Black woman in France trying to do your hair.
All the Pretty Birds: What are some of the most special memories you have around your hair (from childhood to now?)
Amanda Winnie Kabuiku: I don’t have a particular moment in mind. I think that when you change your haircut or just get your hair done, you feel powerful. I think about all the times I felt powerful because I had new braids that were memorable. I believe that my face radiates differently and despite all these hours spent sitting down. These moments of personal satisfaction are super important. I felt it even at a young age. This feeling that beauty should be first found in my own eyes. I love these moments of sharing, taking the time to watch a good movie, the atmosphere at the hair salon; these suspended conversations are just incomparable. I learned a lot about men, women, friends, fake friends, real friends, or God by sitting in a hair salon chair.
ATPB: How has it been navigating your hair journey as a Black woman in France, as it’s a country that can be hostile towards Black culture?
AWK: You know you’re black when you can’t buy your shampoo at the grocery store like everyone else, and the only thing available for Black girls was a relaxer box. It’s painful, but you have to search for other celebrities who look like you. My society has been denying us for so long. I needed to find a place where I can be myself. MTV was a good escape. Seeing Lauryn Hill, Brandy, Les Nubians and Janet Jackson, through the television’s prism, literally saved my life. I wasn’t alone, but at the same time, that wasn’t my reality. Anything was made for me, for people like me. It says a lot about the society I grew up in. I didn’t grow up loving my hair or even my skin color. I was appalled to refer to these elements, which I did not have control of, so to appear more reliable, I used to relax them so that my hair didn’t become a discussion topic. I did that for a while. I suddenly stopped to inflict this torture on myself and accept the real texture of my hair.
ATPB: Black hair is so versatile, what are some of your favorite protective styles?
AWK: I definitely am not a wig person. I’ve got so many hilarious stories about wigs. One of my friends used to put her wig on like a hat. Her wig hung on the doors of the subway. It was fun to hear about but it’s not for me. I love braids, every kind of braids. From cornrows to braids bob, I tried it all, and I love it. Then it’s like anything else. You can’t abuse it. I don’t keep them for more than a month, and I let my natural hair breathe on average two weeks between each visit to the hairdresser.
ATPB:Who are some of your hair icons?
AWK: I was the kind of girl who, by watching series and music videos, found inspiration. I tried pink and purple highlights the first time I saw Kelis’ “Caught Out There” then blue and green because of the iconic “Get Along with You.”
I had faux locks made in London during the Notting Hill Carnival to look like Lauryn Hill. I was fifteen years old at the time and felt so cool.
Despite all my hair stages, my real hair icon remains Brandy. It was from Moesha that I started to be more versatile with my braids. I went from short to long braids and learned to change my style. I am not a wig or weave type of girl–it’s way too much maintenance. I am the one with the braids, and it is undoubtedly because of Brandy. I remember seeing “The Boy is Mine” video with Monica. Those mini braids were perfect. I spent more than two days reproducing this famous haircut and it took a week to remove them. Recently, I learned that it was a weave. Yes, you heard it right, a weave! I think may be one of many people who did not like her Afrodisiac era. Sorry to say that, but her honey weave was hideous.
ATPB:What does your wash day routine look like?
AWK: When I’m not in the mood or feel a little lazy to do my hair, I go to the hairdresser to get all the treatments I need. Since I am not the most patient about it, I try to stick to a hair routine that is not too complicated. I use a coconut oil and water mixture that I regularly spray on my scalp. I wash my hair every two weeks and apply a mask when I have time. I bathe in oil regularly by massaging my head. I avoid attacking my hair by manipulating it too often. Every winter, I treat myself from the inside with vitamins for nails and hair.
ATPB: Any major hair inspirations for the coming months?
AWK: For a while, I’ve been convinced that I need bigger braids. It’s absurd because right now, we’re going into winter, but anyway, I get the feeling that’s what’s trending. Maybe I have been influenced by all the images on my Instagram feed. However, I came across the November edition of Glamour Brasil, and Agnes Nunes, an 18-year-old Brazilian pop star, wears big braids on the cover.
ATPB: Can you share some of your favourite hair care products?
AWK: I regularly use coconut oil. I wash my hair with Garnier shampoo without sulfate. I make hair masks with Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay. I take gummies from Madame la Presidente for my winter cure.
Want to keep up with Amanda’s work? Follow her on Instagram.
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