Looking at Tanika Ray’s lush mane, one would never guess that there were a couple bumps in the road before she became a Curly Hair Queen. Tanika, who has rocked her curly fro and been a source of hair envy for as long as I can remember, does not recount it that way. She chatted* with Kiss My Curls about her hair journey, her career, and why she is proud to be a part of the natural hair community.
Tanika wore her natural texture up until middle school, when her mother convinced her to relax her hair. “I’m an LA girl, so it was very wash and go”, she remembers. Though she never fully relaxed her hair, Tanika did start mildly relaxing her edges by her mom’s hairstylist who insisted on a touch-up about 4 times a year. She recalls wearing her hair this way thru her years at Spelman College and her early 20s. Then Tanika, whose hair had grown 3/4 down her back officially did the “Big Chop”. “I went through a cleansing, a sort of hair purge,” she tells me. This left Tanika with what she describes as a “short, spikey do”.
After rocking it like this for a while, Tanika officially grew tired of the relaxer and went back to her natural curls.
“It was refreshing!” She recounts. But not everyone in her life felt the same way. Her agent flipped out, telling her that she would “never work again.” Tough words for an emerging entertainment personality to hear, but her agent couldn’t have been more wrong. “My career literately took off afterwards! Maybe it was a coincidence, or maybe it was the hair, but I know that suddenly I started getting a lot of calls and making appearances everywhere.”
Aside from the career burst, Tanika loves being a part of the natural hair community. “I was never in a sorority…but there is just something about being a part of a group of women who choose to wear their hair the way God made it, and rock it like a crown.” The natural hair community is indeed a proud one and Tanika is no exception. “I love my hair!” She exclaims. “I believe that it fully expresses my personality, more than any other hairstyle I’ve ever worn.”
If you are struggling with your natural hair and don’t have the nerve to take the plunge, Tanika has advice for you. “You have to find the confidence! And you have to make the decision for you. Don’t just do it because of pressure, or because it is a trend, do it for you! The way you will feel afterwards will be so worth it.”
So how does Tanika maintain her gorgeous mane? “I’ve adopted a new practice, I NEVER comb my hair outside of the shower. I load it with conditioner, detangle in the shower, and don’t touch it with a comb again until after I get out.” Once out of the shower, Tanika treats her hair only with products that moisturize. She avoids alcohol-based potions that leave her hair crunchy and stiff, at all cost. Her mantra’s simple, “Your hair is queen, respect it.”
We at Knotty & Nice could not agree more.
*answers may be paraphrased
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Tags: african american hair, african american woman, awkward black girl, beautiful, beauty, Black and sexy, black beauty, black hair, black hair care, black woman, black woman beauty, black women, confidence, curls, curly hair, dealing with negativity towards your natural hair, entertainment, hair, hair care, hair crush, I hate my hair, I need help, inspiration, kinky hair, motivation, natural hair, pride, self esteem, Tanika Ray, women
Posted in: Talkin' Knotty