When newly natural NaturallyCurly employee Devri Velazquez began noticing changes in her appearances, she adjusted her beauty routine in search of answers. Follow Devri in her exclusive series for NaturallyCurly, "Devri's Hair & Health Journey," as she deals with an extremely rare autoimmune disease, from her symptoms and diagnosis to treatment and the way this has affected her looks and self esteem.
Prior to working at NaturallyCurly in early 2012, everything I had known in my 23 years of living had absolutely nothing to do with embracing or caring for my natural 3B curls. I have always considered my personal style a bit unpredictable. My hair, makeup and clothing might represent simplicity and elegance one day, and bold, colorful confidence the next. But no matter what I tried, there was always something missing that I just couldn’t grasp.

A month or two after joining the NaturallyCurly team, I realized that I needed to let my hair be free! Free from the hostage that flat irons and relaxers had on me for 18 years. The emancipation of overly processed, damaged and bone-straight strands came with more splendors than met the eye.

You may notice that I look different than my last appearance on NaturallyCurly. My body, face and hair change on almost a monthly basis. In the summer of 2011 I was diagnosed with an extremely rare autoimmune disease that is a type of vasculitis. My heart and blood vessels are directly affected, and my immune system attacks itself whenever I have simple illnesses like a cold. The moment it was discovered by my team of doctors, I dove into a rigorous form of treatment to keep myself alive.

As a result of the many medications, chemotherapy and treatment plan I'm on, restoring my hair to its original state means so much more than just keeping up with the trends or making a fashion statement. Ever since my Big Chop in April of last year, I have been able to take better care of my entire body, starting with my hair. Starting fresh with a new outlook on life has been a golden opportunity for me to start fresh with new hair, beauty, and fashion routines. Despite being on chemo on and off for more than a year, my locks are thicker and fuller than ever. Not to mention, the overall health of my hair and skin has improved drastically.


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Devri Velazquez

It wasn’t until I started really immersing myself into the natural hair community that I realized how much I could experiment with my curls. For almost a year now I have allowed my spirals to extend themselves out of me like an extra limb, helping me to be in touch with a side of myself — and a world — that I otherwise would have never known.

I officially invite you into a part of me that, until now, has been hidden, locked up and kept away from the everyday world in a series as I write about my curly hair and health journey here on NaturallyCurly.

Whether you are transitioning, planning on doing a Big Chop, or are already a loud and proud curly, be who you truly are because you are the absolute best at playing that role. Let your natural hair, beauty, and personal style be your backbone of strength. Make a declaration to yourself that 2013 — and every year that follows — will be the time you let go of insecurities, self-doubt, or uncertainty.

Instead of focusing on what you are not or what you think you should be, take the time to embrace your flaws, enjoy your shortcomings and celebrate your quirks! Those are what make you, YOU!


MORE: Natural Hair Envy Brings Devri to Big Chop