The twist out. The Bantu knot out. The braid out. The high bun. The high puff. The updo. The box braids. The Senegalese twists. The Flexi-rod set. The slick back. From 3A curls to 4C coils, natural hair presents itself in many different forms. But no matter what way natural hair curls, it is the crown that people of color can carry around with them everywhere. 25-year old Lashaunda Motley is one of these people. She wears her natural hair proudly, showcasing the beauty it represents and inspiring others around her to do the same.
“My natural hair texture is inspiring a lot of people.”
LaShaunda is a natural hair stylist/specialist from Albany, New York. Since becoming natural in 2011, she uses her hair as art to motivate others to not only feel comfortable in their natural texture but feel free to wear their natural hair in their daily lives. She was moved to go natural during high school. It was hard for LaShaunda in the beginning. She says, “Back then, natural hair wasn’t a big movement like it is now. I’ve dealt with bullying during my transition stage because I was different from everyone else.”
Despite the social challenges that being natural temporarily presented, she continued her journey and learned more about her natural hair. She began to watch Youtubers specializing in natural hair and practiced methods based on these videos. In college, she was supported by a community that gave her positive feedback about her journey, some even inspired to begin their own.
As the years progress, LaShaunda uses her hair as art to motivate others to not only feel comfortable in their natural texture but she also provides information about their hair. She assists in research, holds talks and tutorials on her social media platforms, and provides tips to those who need more details about what can be done with their hair.
She says, “I love that I am able to help others when it comes to their hair. It’s great to see people embrace and appreciate their natural texture.”
Though she is an advocate for natural hair’s representation in today’s culture, LaShaunda is also an advocate for social justice for people of color in society as well. “We really need to wake up and see what’s going on in our country, because our social climate sucks,” she says. She spoke on the restrictions that she sees other groups of people placing on communities of color. “We are still dealing with a modern form of slavery through mass incarceration. Individuals are truly intimidated by what people of color offer to society, so they try to restrict our moves or belittle us with their words. And the sad part is some members of the community [people of color] are believing these negatives that are being put out against us.”
LaShaunda does know there are ways that people of color can combat the issues that come to the community. Her solution is unity. “We can use social media as a positive platform to make a change. We have the power to make these decisions, we just have to work extra hard to prove these negatives said about us are wrong. We have the resources; we just need the action to make it happen.”
When asked about her success, LaShaunda defines success as a passion that you are working for. She uses her dedication, hard work, optimism, and commitment to her goals to help achieve her success. She uses graduating college as a personal achievement and motivation for her to continue working hard. “I struggled in college, my last semester being my roughest. But I learned a lot about what I could and could not do academically and socially. I used that event as a motivation in my life now. I don’t give up; if there’s an opportunity I’m going to take it.”
In the next few years, LaShaunda hopes to own a business involving hair and providing products to people who need them. She wants to continue to help men and women learn about their natural types and what works best for them. LaShaunda also wants to become a parole or probation officer and help better the social climate for communities of color.
The legacy that LaShaunda wants to leave in her life is that she was a leader for her community. She wants to help make her communities better, with or without that recognition. “You can still be a leader and not be recognized.”
To follow LaShaunda's natural hair journey, follow her on Instagram @shaundakinkycurls !