I’m back!!!! Finally forced myself to sit and resuscitate this beloved blog of mine. I return bearing gifts though! Time to meet another Baoding natural. Like my most recent fro feature Ricardo, she’s also an island native, hailing from Antigua which is located in the West Indies. She has one of the most vibrant afro’s on campus given the orange/red dye job she recently had and her endless catalog of hair styles. Take a minute to get to know the lovely Shaun.
What is your name?
My full name is Shaun Dinard and my Chinese name is 邸娜 (Dina) and I’m from Antigua which is in the Caribbean.
What brought you to China?
Initially I wasn’t interested in continuing my studies after College but I was still young so my parents encouraged me to get a bachelor’s. Scholarships to study in China were being given at the time so I just decided to give it a try and now here I am! I have been here for 3 years now.
Tell me a bit about Antigua.
It is actually Antigua and Barbuda but most people probably just know it as Antigua. Barbuda is our sister island and is about 45 minutes away from Antigua by boat. Our population is very small, about 90, 000 people in total. We have lovely beaches, it’s always sunny and the weather is wonderful so we are one of the most visited islands in the Caribbean. We speak English but we have a local dialect which is basically broken English.
Did you learn Chinese before coming to China?
Most of the Chinese I know I learned here but I had basic lessons for 2 weeks given by students who had returned to Antigua for the holidays before I left. I did my year of language in Wuhan (武汉) then I was transferred to Baoding (保定) for my degree studies.
What is your general impression of China (people, life etc)?
When I just arrived I enjoyed it a lot because I had country mates to welcome me so it wasn’t that hard for me to adjust. The food though…I was a bit hesitant at first especially when it came to food from the road side stalls but now I’m more open and I’m trying new things everyday! A few things that still get to me about life here is being stared at a lot, the constant spitting the Chinese do, parents allowing their potty training toddlers to “use the bathroom” in public areas, those things I can never get used to.
Where have you travelled to during your time in China?
Tianjin, Shijiazhuang, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Philippines, Nanjing and I go to Beijing almost monthly because it’s so close to Baoding (45 minutes away by fast train). My favourite place so far, though expensive, is Shanghai.
What is your Major?
Now on to hair; how long have you been natural and why?
I last permed my hair in November 2012 so about 3 years. Then I decided to never perm it again because of being in China. I didn’t cut it because I was afraid to and I wasn’t so sure about my decision so instead I chose to transition by putting in weaves or braids to grow out the natural hair which took about 2 years. I didn’t like it at first because I knew nothing about looking after natural hair and missed comb friendly straight hair but I love it now and love trying different styles. When I went home last summer I got some advice and products from my mum and my sister who was already natural so it’s becoming much easier with time.
What’s your general hair care routine?
I don’t like to leave my hair out because the Baoding climate is very dry so I tie it up or have braids done quite often.When it looks/feels dirty I wash it, moisturize/grease it while it’s wet and put it some big 3 strand plaits then I comb it out the next day. I tried the no comb method but it was not great for my hair so I believe in combing and stretching it. It also helps that my hair is very soft so it’s easier to comb compared to my sisters’ hair.
Where did you learn how to style your hair?
Are most girls in Antigua permed or natural?
Most have permed hair, and weaves and braids are the most popular styles.
What are your future hair plans?
For the next two years I will definitely be natural, however, when I return to my country I’m not sure what will happen then. It also depends on what job I end up getting. I want to be a flight attendant and I know most of them are required to have straight hair so I might perm when that happens.
Have you done anything crazy with your hair in the past?
Just dyeing it I guess. Apart from that I don’t do much to it. I also don’t braid a lot, only braided 3 times while living in Antigua and a few times here in China usually in Winter.
Do you have any favorite hair products?
Yes, coconut oil and Jamaican castor oil which I mix together. I have never bought any products in China, all my products I brought from home (both when I first came and when I returned home for holidays) and they have lasted long enough for me to not have to buy anything here.
What hair struggles do you have?
My front hair, which is also the longest section of my hair, is quite dry. I’m not sure if it’s the weather or due to how I manage my hair but it’s really dry.
What’s your general opinion concerning natural vs permed/weaved hair having been on both sides?
I think most girls like weaves or straight hair because they feel it’s nicer and more “dressed up” than natural hair, but I think natural hair can also look nice-it just takes some experimentation. But generally I like that we can constantly change styles unlike other races who are quite limited.
How do people react to your hair?
My brother and father prefer natural hair so they like it. Most people are curious about my hair, my hairstyles and they like it because it’s different to the usual braids and weaves. Chinese people also love to look at and ask about my hair especially when it’s in braids.
What 2 things do you love about your hair?
I like the texture of my hair and that it has some natural waves in the middle section. I generally love my hair, no complaints!
A big thank you to Shaun for her time!