Gina of Natural Belle interviewed me about my natural curls (and green lifestyle) for her popular “Hair Talk” segment. The interview encompasses much more than the topic of hair care and beauty tips. Mainly because to me, beauty is an extension of my nutritional choices, overall lifestyle and life philosophy. I share views and thoughts I haven’t really addressed on the blog, and so I thought I’d share it with you here on theglobalgirl.com. I discuss subjects as varied as my favorite travel destination, earliest hair memories, beauty secrets and more.
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Firstly introduce yourself? Where are you from and what do you do?
My name is Ndoema (en-DOY-mah). I was born in Bangui, capital of Central African Republic and grew up between there, France, Cameroon and Switzerland. I have triple citizenship and have lived in over a dozen countries across the globe. I really consider myself a citizen of the World.
I think the two foremost driving forces in my life are empowerment and self-exploration, the pursuit of which has taken me on a transformative and global life journey. From the Law campuses of Paris, Madrid, Boston and Geneva to living in an ashram in India, working with refugees for the United Nations in Malawi and Mozambique, teaching fashion at Parsons NYC, writing a PhD thesis on AIDS and Women’s Rights in Africa and walking the catwalk in Paris.
I’m also very passionate about film and filmmaking. I produced and starred in my first film “I’m not Britney”, which premiered at Cannes, won several awards and screened at a dozen international film festivals. I am a finalist of the Sundance Producing Fellowship and the co-founder of a new LA-based independent film production company that’s harnessing the power of entertainment to foster meaningful social change.
I recently launched theglobalgirl.com, my Style and Lifestyle Blog. It’s an exciting new pursuit and a wonderful means of sharing my passions: Fashion, Photography, Film and Healthy Living.
You are quite the world traveler do you have a favorite destination? if so where?
Every country in the world has something special to offer and I really feel that my life has been enriched by every single place I’ve visited and every person I’ve met and shared with during my travels.
That being said, Varanasi in India holds a very special place in my heart. I’d read the memoirs of an Indian spiritual seeker who said that one can’t fully live and isn’t truly ready to face death until she or he has experienced the burning ghats (funeral pyres) in the holy city of Benares. I had a burning desire (no pun intended) to experience first hand something that seemed so profound and life transforming. And I did, on the very night of my arrival there! I must say it’s quite impossible to describe with words. It’s a very, very powerful place.
How long have you been natural?
If all your life what kept you from relaxing your hair?
Self-acceptance. It’s so rewarding, on all levels. I find it more empowering to embrace who I am and seek ways to enhance what I naturally have rather than try and become something I’m not.
What were the main reasons for your choice to wear your natural hair? (Style? Holistic life style change, health, etc)
To be at peace with who I am. Self-acceptance is very important to me. I really believe that embracing who you are is the best self-confidence booster there is.
My lifestyle has a lot to do with it as well. I love living a chemical-free, nature-loving, organic way of life, so that leaves very little room for fancy hair processes and products. Plus I’m the ultimate low maintenance girl.
What are your earliest hair memories? How did these memories influence your hair journey today?
My earliest hair memories were rather painful (quite literally!). Growing up in Europe, I remember suffering for hours in the hands of well-meaning relatives intent upon detangling every square-inch of my mane with a fine-tooth comb. My head would be throbbing for days! Back in Africa, I’d be putting the local hairdresser into total distress mode as she’d witness her 4-hour long braiding job unravel in front of her eyes. My texture always seemed either too much or not enough… Although, I don’t remember personally having a problem with my curls, the feedback I’d receive time and again was one of total inadequacy.
This made me feel kind of cursed as a child. This huge, “unmanageable” head of hair seemed like one of the worst things that could ever happen to me. As negative as those early experiences may seem, they’ve played a huge part in the positive choices I’ve made about how I wear and care for my hair. And I’m now quite content with what I’ve got so all’s well that ends well!
What does having natural hair mean to you? (Is it just a style choice or has it influenced your life on a deeper level?)
I find it interesting that something that seems so superficial at first glance (after all, we’re only talking hair here…) can have such a deep impact on one’s life, and even on a society at large. I think it’s because it’s so tied up with issues of self-image and social conformity. Hair has actually been used as a very powerful symbol (of submission or subversion) throughout history, from the Manchu queue hairstyle in seventeenth century China to the Civil Rights Era afro. For me, it has meant switching from approval-seeking to self-approval. My hair journey has and continues to be a journey of self-empowerment and social defiance in a way. Standing up for who I am, untamed and proud.
How do you keep your hair looking so good? (what is your regimen? Please go into detail)
I don’t really have a “hair regimen” per se. The one thing I regularly do is my Epsom Salt Treatment. I really love it because besides making my hair exceptionally shiny and bouncy, it’s an integral part of my overall detox routine so it requires no additional time or effort. As I’ve said, I’m the ultimate low maintenance girl. That’s what I love about wearing my hair “au natural”. It requires very little time or attention. What I do pay most attention to is keeping my hair (and living environment) chemical-free. I believe that gorgeous and healthy hair actually has way more to do with what I don’t put on it. I always use organic, chemical- free shampoo and conditioner. I never detangle my hair dry, and I always detangle it with a rich conditioner and a wide-tooth comb. Once it’s clean and dry, I leave it alone. Occasionally I do a coconut oil treatment. I don’t leave it on overnight though, it’s way too much hassle, I only leave it for a few hours before I do my regular shampoo.
What products do you use in your hair? (favorite products?)
In my daily life, I’m not into products much other than the basic organic shampoo and conditioner. When I’m working (on shoots etc), I can’t always insist that all products be organic and eco-friendly, but I make sure this remains the exception.
I think that nutrition (my raw vegan lifestyle, periodic cleanses and juice fasts) is far more instrumental in keeping my curls gorgeous and healthy than any product I could buy in stores or hair salons.
What are your go to hair styles? (favorite hair styles, how do you achieve it?)
The way I wake up in the morning, because there’s nothing I need to do to achieve it. I love being hair-care free.
How do you protect your hair in the winter months?
Should I? Honestly, I can’t tell the difference.
Do you have any advice for women starting out on their natural journey?
The beauty about hair like ours is that every single texture is unique. That also means that no two persons will respond to the same hair care regimen in the same way. So in that sense it’s a very personal journey. But overall I would say, being chemical-aware and making organic, eco-friendly choices in terms of hair products and lifestyle in general can only be beneficial. Nutrition is critical as well. I believe that our hair reflects our state of health and overall well-being, so feeding ourselves well, physically and emotionally is bound to have an impact on growing beautiful hair. I’d definitely recommend trying to incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet (in their natural state as well as in juice form) and to be good to yourself, on all levels. This is a wonderful act of self-love.
Tell us about your style?
I’d say I’m a minimalist in all areas of my life so my fashion style is bound to reflect that. I tend to love a clean, graphic silhouette accented with bold, statement-making accessories. But I’m a bit of a chameleon as well. Some days I feel like going for a very timeless, classic look and other times I will feel at home in edgier, avant-garde styles. Styling is a little like acting. You take on different personas. That’s what I love about it, so I try not to limit myself with a set range of clothes that constitutes “my style”. Instead I give myself the chance to explore different aspects of my personality.
What are your favorite places to shop?
I’m eclectic and curious, and l love surprises, so I seek variety. I clothes hunt everywhere, from Barneys to flea markets.
You get invited to lots of fashion events how do you pick your outfits?
I never set any rules or it’s no longer fun. I just wear what I feel like! That being said, you do get photographed quite a bit during major fashion events like Fashion Week, so I definitely take that into consideration because not all clothes are photographable. In a way it’s similar to designing and styling for films.
How is your natural hair perceived in your job roll?
Well, let me ask you a question. When was the last time you saw real, wig-free, weave-free, un-processed, natural hair on the big screen? The natural hair movement is massive in scope and global in scale. There are billions of us natural beauties around the world, yet our representation in mainstream media is minimal and in the movies pretty much non-existent. I think it’s about time for Hollywood to uphold standards of beauty that are inclusive of us all. Natural women as well deserve to be perceived as beautiful instead of being pressured into wearing wigs, weaves or processing their hair simply in order to fit within mainstream Hollywood’s restrictive beauty box.
I intend to change all that. Fashion and films are my weapons of choice. But it’s critical for us all to have a voice, to be visible and to work together. As you know, united we win.
Tell us about your filmmaking?
For me filmmaking is a fabulous creative medium but it’s also an amazingly powerful instrument of social change. I think entertainment shapes our perceptions in ways of which we can’t even conceive. The social and cultural impact of “Cool” is way underestimated!
What projects do you have coming up? (how can we support you?)
In terms of films, I have several exciting projects in the works. First out of the gate is the launch of The Global Girl Fashion Cinema series. It’s the merging of two of my biggest loves: Film & Fashion. So I’m really thrilled about it!
The Global Girl Fashion Cinema series is the starting point of a much larger and ambitious plan that includes producing mass-appeal full-length feature films that are entertaining, inclusive and culturally impactful. Many of us feel alienated and at times angered by the continued glorification of standards of beauty that cause billions of young girls worldwide to feel inappropriate, undesirable and down right ugly. But who’s doing anything to change this? Change doesn’t happen unless we do something about it. And in Hollywood, numbers rule. Numbers that show that we count and expect to be portrayed as beautiful too.
In terms of support, the simplest thing to do is join The Global Girl growing community and tell all your friends to join too. The larger our community, the more attention we will command. Of course, engaging with our content, sharing it with friends and spreading the word on social media platforms is very powerful as well. Finally, if you’re a content creator (I know many of you have blogs) and you’d like to collaborate with us on special projects or campaigns, email me at : firstname.lastname@example.org
Any tips for young ladies trying to get into filmmaking?
Often the very thing we’re constantly told we should change or “fix” is our greatest asset. Nurture what’s unique about you. Showcase it and share it with the world. Tell your stories. Show your vision. Now more than ever, the tools are accessible. So create your own opportunities.
Add any other links or details you feel are relevant?
You can join me at The Global Girl.
You can also connect with me on:
Thanks, Gina & Natural Belle! It’s always truly special for me to share the joy and pride I feel to be a natural girl with other natural beauties.
In radiant Health & Beauty!
Ndoema, The Global Girl