NaturallyCurly: Please introduce yourself!Maeve Kennedy Gormly: My name is Maeve Kennedy Gormly and I am from Stockton, California. I am 22 years old, and I am working on my MSW with a clinical concentration in mental health at the Boston College Graduate School of Social Work.
NC: How and when did you start embracing your curls?
MKG: I've had my share of hair trauma, including the time my dad broke a hairbrush trying to untangle my hair, attempting to use baby oil as conditioner in seventh grade and my ninth grade crush telling me that I might be attractive if only I could "do something" about my hair.
My hair was pretty straight from ages four to fourteen, but with puberty came waves and frizz. I tried to iron and spray my hair straight. Sometime in high school, I realized that I wasn't meant to have the smooth, straight hair that I so desperately wanted, so when I went to college, I didn't pack my straightener.
NC: What is your current routine?
MKG: Over the years, I've learned that my hair looks better when I do less, so I try to keep my routine as low maintenance as possible. I almost never straighten or blow dry my hair. I only detangle my hair in the shower when it is doused in conditioner, and I try not to use shampoo more than once or twice a week instead of washing my hair the "normal" way, I just rinse it thoroughly or use conditioner.
NC: So from start to finish, on a curly day, what's your process?
MKG: My hair is more wavy than truly curly. Sometimes I just let my hair air dry without any product, but that means crazy frizz and limp waves by lunchtime. Usually, I use some mousse, leave-in curl conditioner, or spray gel. If I really want my hair to last throughout the day, I use hair spray. My hair tends to devour product, so I do not really need to worry about stiffness, even if I use gel or hair spray.
NC: What are your must-have products and tools?
MKG: I don't go anywhere without a hair elastic, because frizz happens. I am not too picky about my products and I maintain a strict budget, so I use products from Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine, Curl, or Wonder Waves line or from Herbal Essences Totally Twisted line. When my hair gets really dry, I use an Aussie or Pantene deep conditioner.
NC: What are your favorite hairstyles to wear with your curls?
MKG: Nothing too fancy — I usually just let it fall as it will or I'll pin a little back or to the side to keep it out of my face.
NC: What do you do at nighttime for your hair?
MKG: If I am going to bed with wet hair, I either braid it or use mousse or an anti-frizz cream. If I am going to bed with hair that is already dry and curly, I sometimes "pineapple" it or put it in a loose braid to keep it from getting tangled.
NC: What reaction did you get when you first decided to go natural?
MKG: Almost all of the feedback was positive when I started to "roll with the wave" because my straightening attempts usually just left my hair looking poofy.
NC: What is the best thing about being curly?
MKG: No one can tell if it is not cut perfectly! I have been cutting my hair at home for almost ten years, which is nice for my budget! I used to cut it wet, but now I cut it piece by piece when it is dry and curly. It's nice being able to count on beachy waves after swimming in the ocean. Above all, I think the best part is versatility — curly hair is just a little more interesting than straight hair.
NC: How do you think having curly hair impacts your everyday life?
MKG: Having wavy/curly hair taught me valuable lessons about vanity, humility, and self-worth. I was deeply insecure about my hair as a teenager, and before I learned how to make my hair work for me, I learned to value myself beyond what I saw (and often loathed) in the mirror.
At fifteen, before I understood any of the deeper social and cultural contexts, I swore that India.Arie was singing "I am not my hair" directly to me. I learned to not feel boxed in or defined by my hair, my freckles, my weight or whatever my insecurity of the week might be.
NC: What would you tell others to encourage them to embrace their curls?
MKG: Going with whatever your hair wants to be naturally saves so much time and energy. You have curly hair? Rock it! Straight hair? That's great too! No hair? I'm sure that you have a beautiful head! We turn our hair, and our appearance in general, into a symbol of who we are, how pretty we are, how special we are — but when it comes down to it, it's just hair. You are more important than what is on your head — you are not an object to be tweaked and fixed, and your value is much deeper than your appearance.
NC: Tell us about your current and upcoming projects!
MKG: I am enjoying grad school and interning as a counselor at El Centro de Cardenal, a youth GED program that is part of the Dorchester branch of Catholic Charities. This is also my third year as a resident assistant at Boston College, where I have had the opportunity to get to know many amazing women and men. I like life chats, tea, cooking and bicycles, and I am always looking for half-decent horchata in Boston.