Jennifer Gilliam's Natural Hair Journey

8:46 AM Keenya Kelly 2 Comments

What made you decide to go natural?
Well though I may have gone natural during the hype era over the movie “Good Hair”, my reason for going natural may be quite different since I never saw the movie.  I was going through an inner personal battle (June-September 2009).  I had recently had my heart broken and let that person destroy pieces of me that were so built up.  I began to pray a lot and became more active in church.  Once many internal and spiritual changes had taken place (November 2009), I was ready for the external change and so four months later I made the BIG decision.

This scripture changed my world: 1 Peter 3:3-4 New International Version (NIV)

3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my jewelry and I work hard enough to wear fine clothes but I appreciate it more now than ever before.  There are those that came before me that don’t get to say that so my natural hair is my strength but it’s also like an homage to my ancestors.

How Long have you been natural?
I have been natural for 1 year and 3 months. (BC March 19th, 2010)

Did you ever have a negative opinion on women who were natural before your change?
I have never had a negative opinion of natural women but I used to think to myself that I would never be bold or crazy enough to let my hair look like “that” but hey, I guess things change.

Who did you tell first that you were considering going natural? What was there response?
I think the first person I told is one of my best friends, Chels.  I recall her saying “Jenn, don’t do that! Your hair is so beautiful so why would you do that?” I think I wanted to cry after that.

Did you have a male friend or were you married when you decided to go natural? If yes, what did they think?
I did have a male friend and he’s actually my husband today, so of course he thought (still thinks) it was great and beautiful.  He actually tells me that I have evolved so much since cutting my hair…and since meeting me because I met him when I had relaxed hair. 

I know you did the Big Chop….what made you decided to BC instead of transition?
I actually tried to transition but after four months, I think I had enough!  I wanted those straggly pieces of straightness out of my head!   When I looked in the mirror I saw so much more internally and I wanted that externally so I decided one day that I was ready.

How did your husband but at the time fiance’ respond to your desire to BC?
Well Marvin was out of town when I did it so I sent him a picture message and he thought it was gorgeous!  I think he was more excited than I was, especially when he returned and was able to see it up close.

How long was your transition before your BC…did you cry, what did people think? Who cut your hair? What did you do immediately to your hair after the BC?
I transitioned for four months.  And surprisingly I did not cry until two days later because I recall getting ready for work one morning and realizing that it (my hair and all the pain that I was harboring) was all gone.  A few people were shocked but almost everyone loved it!  Patricia Parham of Hair in Motion cut my hair which was interesting because she has been relaxing and styling my hair at the tender age of 6.  After my BC, I went to my mother’s house and she was in shock but she really liked it after staring at me for 30 minutes; she could not believe I did it!  Once I left her house I went home to wash, style and take pictures of my new look for my Facebook debut.

What did you think once you cut it all off? I cried…what did you do?
When I first cut it, I just did not know what to do with it but after searching on Google, YouTube and other internet resources….and some trial and error, I finally got the hang of it.  I really loved it after that but I can recall trying on all of my big earrings.  I was told years ago that “shorter hair looks better with larger earrings”. I went out and purchased some new earrings too, my hair was the excuse!

How did your husband? Friends? Family Respond? Co-Workers?
They all really loved it!! I think some were shocked and really intrigued because the main question was “what made you cut your hair?” my response is always “I was ready for something new”. 

How did you wear your hair for your wedding?
Well the wedding was the most difficult hair decision ever.  I actually think people in the wedding party were more concerned about it than I was.  EVERYONE kept saying “well in 50 years when you look back at your wedding pictures, don’t you want to have looked your best?”  That would make me so angry because going natural was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.  I kept telling everyone that I knew how I was going to style it but in actuality I decided on it, two days prior to the wedding.  I periodically straighten my hair to check my length and get it trimmed so that’s what I decided on for the wedding…I went straight (the safe way) and added a half wig for length.  I felt comfortable enough with everything that had transpired within the past year to bring me to this point so that’s what I went with and I have no regrets.

Favorite Products?
I will say this…I love the price and products of Wave Nouveau &Cantu BUT I also love Kinky Curly &Carols Daughter products but the price…now that makes me want to cry!

What do you use on your hair weekly?
To be honest 6 months ago I would have gotten arrested for being a product junky!  But, right now I use Wave Nouveau - Moisturizing Finishing Lotion & Finishing Mist.  Yes I know, generally this product is for Jerry Curls and S-Curls but my stylist used it once and I was hooked.  The ingredients in it are not as harsh as some other products I have seen but it is not all natural.  So when not using a product, I try to co-wash at most twice weekly with a coconut oil  conditioner which I mix with an olive oil treatment. I then moisturize with coconut oil.

Did you know a lot about natural hair before you decided to do it? How did you educate yourself?
I knew very little about natural hair so I was almost autodidactic when it came to natural hair.  I did a lot of trial and error with my hair.

Who is your favorite youtuber? Blogger?
Well I don’t really have a favorite YouTuber or Blogger per say but I was very excited to see your blog (Kinkykeenya) and the Facebook Group Natural Butterflies.  Also, a forum that helped in the very beginning was, I was logged on almost every day!

Do you have a youtube channel or blog?
I don’t have a natural youtube channel or blog but I am working on a wedding blog and hopefully it will be up and running by late July.

What would you tell someone who is considering going natural?
I would tell them to GO FOR IT, BUT only if it’s for the right reason.  Natural hair is not phase, it’s a movement.  It takes a lot of strength and dedication, especially after the BC and for those that transition.

Do you get more compliments with your relaxed or natural hair?
I get way more complements with my hair natural than I did when it was relaxed.  My hair is extremely curly without product so once I get the compliment; I get the follow-up “what do you use?”

Do you ever blow your hair out?
I have never done the traditional HIGH HEAT blow out but I will get my hair flat ironed about every four months.  I think I may just start doing that twice a year because I ruin my curl pattern when I flat iron, which causes me to have to cut down the ends that don’t want to curl back once I wash it.

Anything you would like to share…feel free to be very honest and uplifting for other naturals or relaxed ladies?
Being natural is a joyful experience! The first time I was able to walk in the rain was like a rebirth; it was such a liberating feeling as the rain connected with my roots.  I remember smiling as I watch relaxed women run towards their cars with their purses and plastic bags over their heads as I casually strutted on by. It was like that aha moment because that was when I realized that true beauty is more than skin deep, I realized that this is what it truly means to embrace all that God has blessed me with!

Where it all Began
First Blow Out Since the Big Chop
This is Jennifer today
If you are interested in being featured on the blog, email us at:
Love yourself...First!!!


  1. Jennifer, you and your hair are simply stunning!

  2. Thank you for your "testimony"! I can definitely relate. It's sad that most men love us w/ long hair. I am grateful that my 2nd husband loves/loved me for ME. My epiphany was looking at my cocoa brown skin and I repented for complaianing that I didn't get the "Indian" hair like some of my cousins. I declared, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made in the image that GOD wanted me to be" That weekend, I walked into a shop, took OFF the wig and told the lady that I DID not know to cut it all off. She used a razer. OMG! It was absolutely gorgeous. I keep my driver's license picture. It looks like a pulled back ponytail. That's how well she razored it. That was over 8 years ago. I went back to a relaxer but my hair still kept shedding in that ONE spot; so after 2007, I stopped. I could go on. . .God bless you for your deliverance and I pray for your marriage. WE just celebrated 20 years!