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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Natural Hair Feature: Tanika Ray

If you’re a fan of natural hair, then you should already be aware of the fabulous Tanika Ray. She has been a correspondent for Extra, crossed many red carpets with style and grace, hosted the reunion special For the Love of Ray J. 2, etc. She has displayed a confidence that many naturalistas would love to emulate. I am a fan, and honored to share this special interview I had with Ms. Ray.

You’ve been natural for over 10 years now, did this have an impact on your professional life? Were there any limitations?
Truthfully, I feel like I’ve been natural all my life. Even when I had a light perm, I still wore my hair wash and go. The way I chose to wear my hair does have an impact on my professional career. In 2001, NBC considered me to host a dating show and they contacted my agent to inquire whether I would consider wearing my hair “normal”.
After getting over the initial shock, my answer was no and I didn’t get the job. But the next month I booked 2 other shows, Soapcenter on Soapnet and Lifetime Now for LifetimeTV, and they loved me just as I was. I considered it a reminder to always be my authentic self.

How has being natural transformed your fashion style? Are you willing to take more risks?
I believe how you wear your hair is a statement of your personality. I have expressive hair and I dress the same way. At times when I feel more adventurous, the hair is fluffed even bigger and I wear bold colors. Other times when I’m feeling low key, I rock a tight bun on top of my head and wear a lot of gray! How you wear your hair is the first clue to who you are as a person! My message is clear.

Just as many other naturals, I understand that you rotate your hair products. What are you currently using?
Currently, I’m using a variety of products. I tend to mix match Mixed Chicks Leave-In Conditioner, Living Proof Styling Cream, Aveda Be Curly, and my old time favorite…Bumble and Bumble Styling Creme. I also rotate in Ouidad Leave-in Conditioner from time to time to keep my hair from product exhaustion. All natural hair women must become scientists to sort out their personalized hair product equation.

I don’t know if you’ve read my post entitled “I am NOT Your Pet”, but it’s about the fascination with people touching our natural hair without permission. In 2006, you experienced your own encounter with Barbara Walters in which she felt comfortable enough to do the same. I couldn’t find video of the incident, but could you describe how you felt during that moment and why you reacted the way you did.
Yes, there is a strange fascination with our hair that leads others to investigate, no matter how inappropriate it might seem. I had the pleasure of appearing on the View twice in the summer of 2006. I’ve always been a fan of talk tv so sitting in “hot topics” with those ladies was a treat. Truthfully I was having an incredible time with our watercooler chat when Barbara looks at me, reaches up & puts her hand thru my hair all the way to the roots. She basically rustled it like I was a little kid. I laughed because at the time, there had been some reports about me wearing wigs and lying about it, so all I could think about was the end to all those rumors. My next thought was payback! I remember having this incredible urge to reach up into Barbara’s head and wreck her ‘do but I didn’t want to be rude. So I let all my sistas go HAM online to express how wrong it was. It left a stronger message.

What advice would you give to those who have the urge to put their hand in someone else’s hair?
It’s simple, just ask for permission. You might get a no, but sometimes the answer is yes! It’s better than risking your life. Some naturalistas don’t play!

What advice would you give to someone that is afraid to go natural?
Fear has no place in natural hair. I’ve learned that natural hair girls are fearless. They have rebuked the “standard” and have dared to wear their hair the way God intended. So if you’re scared then don’t do it. In my experience, after talking with numerous naturalistas, the fear is only of the unknown. The amount of freedom and self love you gain is totally worth the journey.

How can natural hair admirers contact you? (FaceBook, Twitter, etc.)
I can always be contacted thru twitter @tanikaray and thru my new website that celebrates living life with Spirit, Adventure, Soul and Style

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