Whitney, a young Ghanaian mom in Berlin

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Whitney, from Amsterdam to Berlin

She is a 25-year old woman, she comes from Amsterdam, where she lived all her life. After her studies in international trade, she settled in Berlin in November 2015 for professional reasons. She currently works in finance at BASF. It was also an opportunity for her to live abroad, to have a new experience and to know more about herself.

What was her first impression of Berlin? Firstly, she really liked because, for her, Berlin was a crazier-bigger version of Amsterdam. The cost of living is relatively cheap compared to other European capitals; but since she’s been living here, she realized that she misses her comfort zone, to get her bearings and the Black community. Indeed in Amsterdam, there is a larger Black community than Berlin, with their districts. “We feel at home, “ she says. During her maternity leave, she went back to her Youtube channel to talk about her life and her hobbies, which are make-up and hair. She makes videos on different hairstyles, including videos with her natural hair, however, it was not always easy to accept her natural hair.

 

Portrait of Whitney
Whitney’s portrait

Accepting your hair, something that’s not so easy

The nappy happy movement emerged in the early 2000’s in response to the banalization of hair relaxing and a direct retaliation of the Eurocentric beauty standards imposed on the community. As a result, the natural hair movement gained popularity. This movement has helped many women to accept their natural hair just as it did for Whitney. After many years of learning acceptence, she finally stopped straightening her hair when she was 19. She ended up realizing how hair relaxers were harmful to her hair and that it was also very expensive. Therefore she started changing the way she viewed her hair.

Unfortunately, she faces ignorance of some people. For instance, some people ask her if they can touch her hair and some started to laugh to do so. How is she meant to react? In the beginning, She did not take it seriously but now things have changed. She no longer stands for this kind of behavior and does not allow anyone to can touch her hair. Most of the people have access to the internet so they can inform themselves about natural hair and counter their ignorance. Her hobbies, make-up, and hairstyle, also helped her accept better her hair.

Whitney and her Youtube channel dedicated to her hobbies

She loves everything related to the world of cosmetics. She had the idea of launching a YouTube channel to share her interests, hairstyle, and make-up. In 2015, she launched her channel, but she was not consistent. Then she recently started publishing more regularly and hopes to keep that pace. One of the YouTuber that particularly inspires her is Jackie Aina, a beauty Youtuber from Nigeria. She is inspired by people that look like her, similar hair and skin color.

It should not be forgotten that she first and foremost created her channel to entertain herself but now she hopes to help people to feel good about themselves, especially mom’s who gave birth recently to their first child. After their first birth, most women gain weight, their bodies change, so it’s not easy to regain confidence. Social networks have changed our daily lives. They are accessible, they are a means to inform us, to entertain us or to start your own business. They have been and are a springboard for many people of color who are influential, she says. This gave them the opportunity to make themselves known, to give them visibility in the media. Whitney noticed that in Berlin, there are few hairstyling and beauty salons exclusively dedicated to black people. She’d like to have her own salon later.

Her family life in Berlin

Whitney is married and has one child. Her husband and son are a source of motivation for her. Every time something goes wrong in her life, she thinks about her family. She tells herself how lucky she is to have a fulfilling relationship and a healthy son. Working hard and remaining a strong woman is her ambition for her and her family. Being a mother has changed her life because she has to think of her son first.

Beyond the challenges of being a mother, racism and ignorance are additional challenges to be faced when you are a black mother and have a black son. She will teach her son is to accept himself as he is. Whitney will do everything to give him confidence because she knows how tough the outside world is when faced with acceptance and self-assertion, even more so when one is a black man. Respect, self-confidence, and involvement in her work to succeed are also values she wishes to instill in him. With these values, she wishes to give all the cards in hand for a fulfilled life but what matters most is all the love she gives him.

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