Thursday, October 29, 2009


Recently, I was interviewed by Chris-Tia from Thank God I'm Natural for Natural Chic of the Week. She recently wrote a book about natural hair. You can find more details on her blog here. I didn't particularly like the picture she chose for me, but I'm re-posting the article here anyways. I changed the picture to something that fits more of my personality. The original one is on the bottom.


Natural Chic of the Week: Tamara Natalie Madden



She’s a Leo. She’s no nonsense, and being natural is literally, in her roots. Growing up on the tiny island of Jamaica, 34-year-old Tamara Natalie Madden was raised around family who embraced all things organic. But her road to naturaldom incurred a few bumps and even Jheri Curls, but hey, we all fall.
But successfully growing and maintaining her locks is just a minor accomplishment for the painter. One of her biggest success stories came after she received a kidney from her brother after experiencing kidney failure. The second lease on life not only gave her the courage, but also the drive to become a full-time painter, creating inspiring portraits of African American men and women. But don’t think Madden’s pieces can be purchased any old where. All her creations are one of a kind and will cost anywhere between $500 and $4,000.

However, when she’s not painting or being an overall creative, she’s enjoying time with her 13 year old daughter Nidalas, or whipping up one of her famous curry vegetarian dishes. Although having grown up in a family of naturals, when Madden finally made the decision for herself it was nothing less than freeing for her.” I feel like I took off the mask and stepped into being my true self.”

Longitude and Latitude:
Suburbs of Atlanta

What keeps the bills paid?
I’m a fine artist

Why the change?
I grew up around naturalists in Jamaica and by the time I was 19 years old, I was feeling the urge to get rid of the process. My uncles were Rastas and my grandmother used to wear long plaits. My aunt cut my hair into a short afro when I was 12 years old because there was really no way to maintain a process in Jamaica. My hair was natural until I was 14 years old and back in America. My mother gave me a Jheri curl then, and it was horrible! Eventually, I ended up with the process again! I was tired of the back and forth to the salon to get my hair straightened. I was really tired of the smell in the salon—all of those chemicals w
oo! That drove me crazy! I was also really tired of looking like everyone else. I wanted to be free–I wanted to be me. I never felt fully comfortable with a relaxer. When I chopped it off, I was bald! I felt like a new woman! I didn’t lock my hair until 2004.
What advice can you give to those going from relaxed to natural hair?
Don’t compare yourself to other people. Try not to worry about their opinions. Throw away ideas and thoughts that would deter you from going natural. Move at your own pace and do what you have to do to take the step forward. Some people go for the gusto and chop it off; others wear braids, wigs, extensions, etc. You have to find what works for you. Just embrace your true self. I know it’s difficult to break away from all that we’ve conformed to, but you will feel free, that’s a promise!

Ok. Dish on some of the products you absolutely heart to death.
I don’t use a lot of products in my hair, but I do like using natural oils to keep my hair moisturized. There’s a product called Aura Glow and I like to use that on my skin and in my hair. I also like natural shampoos, no particular brand.

What is your hair routine?
I wash my hair either every few days to every few weeks or whenever I feel like I need to. It’s very long so I generally wash it in the shower. Sometimes, if I want a color, I use He
nna Hair dye to darken it. Henna can be messy, so I have to be careful not to dye my skin! I oil and twist my hair and usually braid it up when it’s wet so that I can get my crinkles. My hair is much longer when I leave it straight. The crinkles give my hair a little fullness and body.
What are your favorite hair styles?
With long locks, I can do almost anything! I usually just wear it down, but on some occasions I like to put it up. I always wear a bang. It’s not very common to see people with locks wearing bangs, but
I wanted to do something different.
Any of the higher ups have something to say about your mane?
No. I suppose because I’m an artist; people aren’t surprised that I’m natural, but my hair has nothing to do with my profession. I would have been an artist regardless, but I think that the full experience of cutting my hair and embracing my true self enhanced me spiritually, thus affecting the type of art that I produce.

So how do the dudes dig your do?
Men love my hair, now. When I wore an afro, I found that fewer men were interested. I was always attracting militants for some reason. Now, I find that all types of men are attracted to me. I always wonder if it’s because my hair is long. I’ve had several guys tell me that they have never dated any woman with natural hair, but the length and upkeep of my hair made it easier for them to view me as a potential mate. It was pretty weird to hear someone say tha
t to me, but everyone has a right to his or her opinions and preferences.
How do your peeps feel about your rambunctious roots?
My true friends accept me as I am. When I initially cut my hair off, I lost friends. I remember driving down the street with my BFF, maybe sometime in 1999 when we were confronted at a red light by some ignoramuses’ who shouted berating things to us about our afros. One of them attempted to hand us a comb through their car window. Needless to say, we sped off, but that was the general reaction I received from all types of people. The only co
nsolation we received was when Lauryn Hill became popular—it was then and only then that we became somewhat cool because of our hair. My mother and extended family thought that it was a phase. My mother was a pristine, conservative, fair-skinned Jamaican woman–anything unkempt and disheveled wasn’t in her realm of understanding. Needless to say, my hair wasn’t her forte.
Who is your hair muse?
No one now. I really liked Vanessa Williams. She was dark and had long locks and was sort of a role model for me. It was inspiring to see an African American woman wearing her hair natural in Hollywood! She recently went back to a perm. I think she felt that her hair inhibited her — blah! That saddened me a bit.

What do you do for fun?
I’m an artist! That’s my fun. I do it for a living and it’s the best job in the world! It’s my true passion. Aside from that, I like photography and I spend a good amount of time doing that, as well. I also enjoy writing, but most of my writing is very personal. I enjoy all things creative and of course I enjoy modeling! It’s a fun way to express myself as well!
Anything else to add?
Visit my website and check out my art, www.tamaranataliemadden.com and look for my work in the December/January edition of Upscale Magazine.

What are you listening to on your Ipod?
Laura Izibor! Love love her CD.I also have Sizzla, Bilal, Adele, Portishead, Buju Banton, Jah Cure and a myriad of other wonderful artist on my Ipod.

Thank you Tamara for your time and for showing us how to keep it chic and stay natural at the same time. Until, next week.
Natalie Madden 2

Posted by Posted by :::Renaissance Woman::: at 10:36 PM
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