Jenell B. Stewart is the founder and editor of the award-winning site KinkyCurlyCoilyMe.com. Jenell is truly growing into a household name in the natural hair community, but has also inspired so many women by sharing her health journey. We caught up with Jenell to learn more about her story, her tips on achieving healthy natural hair, and how she is inspiring other women in their health and hair journeys as well!
Hello everyone! I’m a New York City mom of two. I have a very super supportive husband who absolutely doesn’t mind that natural hair consumes most of my life as well as half of the house…I launched back in 2010 as a blog initially to track my natural hair journey. And then in 2012, I re-launched KinkyCurlyCoilyMe as an online natural hair magazine to not only feature my hair journey, but to be a reference, a resource and a place where women who were embarking on their natural hair journey could come and seek support, advice and education.
Through my work with Kinkycurlycoilyme.com, I have been very successful on social media with over 100,000 subscribers on my YouTube channel with over 500 videos as 300,000 fans on my associated Kinkycurlycoilyme.com Facebook Fan Page. And with over about 40,000 something on Instagram, I have been able to create a network of different platforms for women to come and get support.
Living a healthy lifestyle is incredibly import to Jenell. We asked her what sparked her journey to better health after taking on the journey of returning to her naturally-textured tresses.
I have always struggled with my weight from a very young girl. My mother and my father are both from Liberia, Africa. And coming up, I was allowed to eat pretty much anything I wanted. There was no restriction. My mom explained to me that when we were living in Africa, food was scarce and resources were not easily attainable. Then when she moved to the U.S. and had children, she did not ever want me to feel as though I was not able to have enough food. And with that, she allowed me to just eat.
In college, I got up to about 215 pounds and at that point, I really just wanted to get my weight under control. I had many friends who didn’t eat as much as I did when we were together and who were a lot of more active than I was. Even if they were on a sports team, they were still actively going to the gym and doing a lot of things that I wasn’t doing, and I started to notice a correlation. I am eating excessively, I am not working out and I am getting bigger. And so, because I just knew that obesity was something that ran in my family, I really wanted to get my weight under control, so it was then when I lost most of my weight. I actually took advantage of some resources online. I also started going to the gym with some friends and I started eating better. I was 216 pounds my sophomore year and I got down to the 150 by the following year.
Social media has enabled Jenell to share her gifts and her journey on a large scale.[It] has been a big part of my life, so when I started sharing bits and pieces of what I was doing, people started inquiring and asking more questions. And the more people asked, the more I wanted to give. I have been like that with my hair, with my beauty and it just circled into my weight loss, Social media has allowed me to share everything I can and motivate people to do it and inspire.
For many women, rocking their natural hair has empowered them to take control of their hair without the fear of sweating it out. But we asked Jenell if it is it truly easier to reach health and fitness goals with natural hair or in fact more work?
Having natural hair and going to the gym [may] or [may not] be a problem. On one hand, I don’t have to worry about sweating out my perm because obviously that’s not a factor anymore but depending on how you want to wear your hair, you still do have to worry about sweating it out. Like, if I decide to wear my signature style, which is a twist-out, going the gym and having a soaking wet head does not allow for me to be great when I leave the gym. So, I still have to make a conscious effort to understand that there is going to be some consequence.
I know of a lot of women who are very unhappy with the results of working out with their nautral hair. But let’s not stay out of the gym just because you don’t want to ruin your hair style. That is something that should be less of a factor than you are making it.