“Being your authentic self in any way you can” Franzchesca Dormeus

Natural hair doesn’t only impact one person. Rather it can affect the people around you, especially younger generations. With a baby cousin that has coarse natural hair, known within the natural hair community as 4c hair, Franzchesca Dormeus wants to empower her baby cousin to love her natural hair. And the only reason Dormeus can do this, is because she has gone through her own journey of love and self acceptance with her natural hair.

Growing up with a mother who rocked straight and relaxed hair, Dormeus was subject to go down the same path. For as long as she could remember she would frequently have her hair relaxed-chemically straightening her hair . In doing this, she continued to damage her hair and stripping it from being its authentic self.

Yet, something during her first year at Kean University changed Dormeus’ perspective. Seeing her friends embrace their natural textures, she thought maybe it was time to embark on this new and unfamiliar journey. In April 2016, she became natural and her life changed ever since.

Like many other people who take the step to become natural, it took time for her to be okay with it. To embrace it for what it is and who it made her. While this was true for Dormeus, she does remember the point where she was okay with her hair. Coincidentally her hair wasn’t in it’s best state but all the work she had been putting in was paying off, making her realize the worth in taking care of her hair.

“It felt like it was getting happier because I was taking better care of it and it was getting softer and it wasn’t as rough as before. When I started to feel that in my hair that's when I was [like] okay and at this point I still didn’t have my curls..,” said Dormeus.

While that was a cute moment in Dormeus’ natural hair story, that didn’t mean that everyone was happy about her decisions . Dormeus knew a certain family member wouldn’t be too pleased with her rocking her natural hair. She faced opposition and even till this day there’s negativity towards wearing her natural hair out. “This person still doesn’t like it. They will joke around and say it’s a wig and stuff like that,” Dormeus said.

Despite not getting full support from this particular family member, that didn’t stop Dormeus from caring for her hair. She’s at a place where she’s comfortable and is 100% in love with her hair. It’s to a point where doing her hair is self care for her.

“I feel like at the end of the day…..it makes me feel good. Because I know I’m taking care of myself because I use that as a self care as well,” Dormeus said.

For Dormeus being natural transformed more than just her hair. She felt like her and her hair were growing simultaneously. She noticed how her character changed and how she started to view herself in a better light.

"I feel like since I went natural it’s changed me as a person and it’s helped me become better, more patient. It’s just made me love myself a lot more and I felt like when I did go natural..I blossomed into just this new person. The growth that I had from it was just something very significant to me that I hold dear,” Dormeus said.

While her hair isn’t her identity, she realized how much her hair has helped her. Not only does it benefit her but it impacts her younger cousin, too. As mentioned before Dormeus’ cousin has 4c hair. But what’s unique is that her cousin’s sister has a looser curl pattern. At times this makes her feel sad or left out. Realizing the importance of embracing natural hair, no matter the texture, Dormeus tries to reiterate that her cousin’s hair is beautiful as well.

“My cousin that has 4c hair, you know, her curl pattern doesn’t show. And she gets sad sometimes and she’s like “oh I don’t have any curls”. Or she’ll come up to me and she’s like “oh your hair is so curly” and touch mine. And I always want to tell her you know, your hair is beautiful too,” Dormeus said.

Going through her own experience and seeing her cousin struggle, makes Dormeus more inclined to continue talking about natural hair. She wants everyone to know no matter your hair type, you are still beautiful. A big thing for Dormeus is to instill this self love in children when they are young, especially those with 4c hair. “I feel like we need to start when they're young, [saying] your hair is beautiful. Show them that their hair is just as important as everyone else's," Dormeus said.

Q: Do you 100% love your hair?

A: Yes. I had to think a little about it but I do. Sometimes I want it to be longer but then I think, ooh if it’s longer that mean wash day going take longer. And then detangling is going to take longer. But I feel like as much as I want it to flourish, I’m perfectly fine with how it is right now. Cuz again I know how much time and effort I put into it.

Braid Out

To achieve defined curls like the one to the right, Dormeus had to individually take down the mini braids in her hair as shown above.

Shiny and Moisturized

Moisturizing the hair before putting in the braids is the key to healthy looking curls. But it's just as important to have some oil for taking the braids down, to add an extra layer of sheen.

Carefully Untwist

It takes a lot of patience and careful maneuvering to achieve the perfect braid out and it seems that Dormeus has figured it out.
"That is my way of reclaiming agency."-Franzchesca Dormeus


Photos by Cynthia Ntinunu

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