Phenomenal Women

Silk Helmet Lady will showcase South African Women of substance in our new feature: 
Phenomenal Women of SA. This series will include real women with real stories. The aim is to open a discourse of natural hair in South Africa. To engage with the cross sections of culture at social, political and economical cross sections. We look at identity, sexuality and beauty from the everyday and the broader social structure.

Phenomenal Woman of South Africa presents the stunning Natalie Abrahams author of Get up and Go on

Natalie Abrahams author of Get up and Go on 

Who is Natalie Abrahams?
A Daughter, Sibling, Wife, Mother, Author, Motivational Speaker and Coach.  A regular girl from the East of Johannesburg with extraordinary dreams.  Passionate about helping people discover and unlock the greatness that is within them.  

What sets you apart?  My passion is driven by my personal journey. I believe that authenticity makes magic happen.  Experience is the best teacher.  My Motto...  Changing the world ONE person at a time, because EVERY person matters.  Our journeys seems similar, but our process is different.  I believe in the power of affirmations.  

Share a defining moment in your life?  The day I held the first of my book in my life.  I realized that the only limits in life are those we create in our mind.  All things are possible.  You can achieve anything you can conceive with your mind.  Holding my book liberated me and I know that others are liberated too.

What is Virtuous Women connect?  A ministry and network; a vision to connect with Man, Woman and children from all over the world.  The vision to teach them to unlock their greatness through teaching the Word of God, doing workshops, one on one coaching sessions and speaking at events.  Virtuous WoMan Connect acknowledges that some parts of journey may be similar, we know the process is different for each person.  We do not force our values or beliefs on anyone, because we believe that every person has the answers they are looking for within them.  

Tell us about your journey to becoming an author?  I always knew that I will become an author.  Initially, I wanted to write a case study book based on the experiences I have had with clients over the years.  The book was ready in 2010 already, but I waited for the right time to publish.  I found myself adding and deleting content as the years passed by.  2013 New Years Eve when my husband and I did our wish lists / goals for the next year, publishing the book was one of my goals.   In April, when I went to the USA for ministry work, I realised that people did not know Natalie Abrahams as I did.  My first book was about other people and their lives.  I had to change the whole book and write MY STORY.  I had been a public figure for a few years already, but many fans and followers did not know that my personal journey ignited the passion in me to help other people.  It was time that I introduced everyone to Natalie.  The woman I saw in the mirror.  After years of research I decided to self-publish and found great printers locally to print my book.  There is a lot of time and resources that goes into the book the first time.  But after you have printed your first batch, you just place orders thereafter.  

Tell us about your book?  The title is Get Up and Go On.  My Mother gave me this title, because this was how she perceived me.  It was perfect and I immediately changed the name to that.  The book tells my story.  An academic achiever who got caught up in the wrong things and become a teenage Mother.  Thereafter breaking up with the father because of his abusive and cheating ways.  Choosing right, knowing what I want and not settling for anything less or more.  Then I share about my marriage, and my struggles to give my husband a child of his own.  Then I go deeper into the challenges I faced as a wife and how we overcame them together.  The book is a work book and is suitable for teenagers, singles and married men and women to read.  The book is not a horror story of pain, rejection and fear but a beautiful journey of hope, faith and love.  The reflections after each chapter gives the reader time to think about how that chapter resonates with them and make notes in the book about changes you want to or can make.  Its an easy read and most people have finished the book in less than a day. 

How has your life changed since the book?  My life has not changed much since the book.  I am still working full time for an international company as a sales consultant, still do my speaking engagements and still do my community work.   It is however my desire to become a Full time Author, Speaker and Life Coach soon.

What comes to mind when you think: beauty’.  Someone who speaks with love in her voice, respectful, self-controlled and independent.   Someone who does not need affirmation from others but knows who she is.  Someone who does not dress in a derogatory manner to show her worth.  A woman who carries herself in such a manner that beauty flows from within her and lightens up her eyes and face with radiance.  Caring for other people, being compassionate and knowing her place.  

Historically womens hair has been fraught with a mass of complex social and cultural expectations. Mainstream ideas of beauty do still influence perceptions and actions of women. What do you think is the narrative of South African beauty? In my opinion the diverse cultures and landscapes we have.  This is the most beautiful country.  So much color and contrast.  We have majestic mountains, and sky scrapper buildings and gorgeous beaches.  The best dishes are cooked in this country by the beautiful people who make South Africa what it is to the world.  The most beautiful country in the world 2015.  Thanks to Cape Town again.

You have a beautiful daughter. Do you influence her perception of beauty and of her hair? What do you tell her? How does she feel about her hair?  Yes.  My Daughter looks like her dad and has his features.  So affirmation is very important because people constantly tell her she looks exactly like her Father.  Her Dad is dark in complexion and has coarse hair.  I am fairer then him and have long sleek hair.  I have to remind her often that she is beautiful as her Creator has made her.  Different does not mean uglier.  I remind her that she needs to look after her skin.  She sunburns very easily and feels very conscious of her skin dark and burned.  I have to remind her to wear sunblock and use a hat or cap when in the sun. I have to tell her that her hair looks different to mine, and is much shorter, but if she takes good care of it its more beautiful than mine.  Full of life and body and volume. I have to remind her that we all have something we would change if we could.  She wishes she had my hair.  She feels her hair is thick and unmanageable.  She often becomes irritated with her hair. 

Do you have a particular image that you put forward?  I would safely say that I have different images on different days.  The events and people and culture will usually influence my image for that day.  Usually, I love to be corporately dressed in high heels.  For events I like to dress up in ball gowns and look like a million dollars.  Always respectful and presentable. 
Is this influenced by public perception?  I have always loved dressing formal and looking like a Cinderella princess when going out.  Now that I am in the public eye, I would say that yes, it is somewhat influenced by public perception. I always want to be ready for anything.
How do you square the expectations of others with your own? I am not too worried about peoples expectations.  My audience is vast.  I would never be able to please everyone.  I am authentically me.  

  1. Tell us about your hair over the last ten years. My hair has been very long most of the time.  Have cut almost all off in 2012, but it has grown back.  My hair is healthy and grows fast. 
  2. Tell us about your hair now.  My hair is long and I usually have it sleek for work.  For events I love to curl my hair.  I love the bouncy and fun that curly hair compliments my face with. 
  3. What is your hair regime.  I was my hair twice a week.   I roll my hair and usually love to leave it curly.  My curls dont last.  If I want a sleek look, I hot iron my hair.  I dont apply too much product.  I use a heat protector and some silicone once its done. I do wish I was more ambitious with my hair dos.  When on holiday, I usually wash my hair every day and leave it curly.  
  4. Do you have any particular pointers you have found useful in caring for your natural hair.  When washing hair, ensure the water is not too warm.  In fact when rinsing off conditioners,   the colder the water the better for your hair.  Pat your hair with a towel instead of rubbing.  Brush your hair at least twice a day.  Do not use too much chemicals on your hair. Remember that your hair has natural oiliness, stay away from oily products.  Do not tie your up too much, allow your hair to breathe.  Love your natural hair.  There are many gorgeous styles for all hair types.  Do wash your hair regularly.  There is nothing more distasting then a woman with stinking hair.  And yes, hair stinks terribly. 
  5. Which hair products do you use.  Pantene, Elvive, Tresseme and Gliss.  There are many great products at reasonable prices.  I dont like to use the same products all the time. 
  6. What is your favourite hairstyle?  Sleek hair with a fringe.  That is only because I have not perfected the Kim Kardashian West Hairstyle
  7. Are you a stylist or a DIY natural.  DIY Natural.

8) Where can we find you on the web? 
Facebook Page – Virtuous WoMan Connect 

Meet Karabo Kgoleng Dada

Meet Karabo Kgoleng Dada. A superwoman in the media space. Her experience ranges from print publishing, journalism and broadcasting. She’s an advocate for the positive impact of literacy and readership in South Africa. Her contributions in the public space range from print publishing, literary journalist, broadcaster and a freelance consultant. She has been part of the Franschhoek literary festival, a SALA award for literary journalism, radio literature presenter on SAFM as well as made it to the list of 200 young South Africans to take to lunch. Here’s what this phenomenal woman had to say:

Who is Karabo Kgoleng Dada? 
Arts journalist, broadcaster and consultant

  1. Tell us about your hair over the last ten years. Short dreadlocks medium thickness, then chiskop then ultra short then braids now growing my locks again 😀
  2. Tell us about your hair now short dreadlocks 
  3. What is your hair regime shampoo with a mild anti dandruff shampoo, air dry and when damp, add coconut oil and wrap in a headscarf. I have a huge collection of headscarves - they are part of my overall look and conveniently double up as a protective mechanism
  4. Do you have any particular pointers you have found useful in caring for your natural hair
  5. Which hair products do you use organic root stimulator olive oil moisturiser, pharmaceutical grade olive oil, coconut oil and shower to shower shampoo for dry hair and scalp
  6. What is your favourite hairstyle I've gone back to dreadlocks, which has been my look for 20 years. To put it in perspective, when I starred wearing dreads there was only one product on the market here and it was hard to find. I used honey to lock my hair. Sticky job! When we moved back to SA I got the school I attended to allow black girls to wear dreadlocks because mines were neat and tidy.
  7. Are you a stylist or a DIY natural had to be DIY out of necessity. There were no dread stylists when I started out. I am still DIY today because I find that stylists don't understand my hair. I tend to have a very dry scalp and fine hair with a very very I mean hey tight curl. Look at the San people - that is my hair. Petroleum based products are a strict No No and I never ever pull on my hair. A comb is death to me. 
  8. What is your favourite hairstyle I would love to have Shantel,'s hair but God knows best ,lol. I love my dreads. I can dance in the rain and swim. I also like playing with scarves.

9) What does your hair mean to you? To be honest, I don't think a lot about my hair. When I was growing up my hair was the worst type of hair a black girl could be cursed with. My dreads were about avoiding the torture of hair salons and shame. This coping mechanism meant that I ignored the hair space. The first time I went to a hair salon was after 18 years when I went to shave my head. It's funny I know, but I have so many political battles to choose from, that the hair thing, I just let it be. I've always been mildly amused when employees and general public start having a go at the politics of black hair. I suppose it doesn't bother me because I work in the creative industry so my look barely gets a glance.

10) Will you ever change it? If so to what? I'm lazy. I simply couldn't be bothered with chasing my hair around my scalp lol. I would also rather spend the time making love or reading a book or having a nice meal and wine with people I love. But at the core of it, it's just sheer laziness! 

11) Historically womens hair has been fraught with a mass of complex social and cultural expectations. Mainstream ideas of beauty do still influence perceptions and actions of women. What do you think is the narrative of South African beauty? 
Let me put it this way: when a black Miss SA rocks natural hair, then we can start talking. Having said that, though, we have come a long way in the last 2 decades. We have a wider range of products that caters for different hair types. The opening up of our borders has brought both great talent in the form of hair stylists and product. Schools workplaces and general public life and institutions have become more open to allowing us access with our hair. Can you imagine being seen to by a female black medical doctor who has long thick dreadlocks and a nose piercing and a tattoo? I know a gynaecologist who looks like that! I think the world has become more open to free expression of one's identity although I worry about increasing conservative shifts taking place in the world. I still think that SA is streets ahead in terms of progressive public life.

12) You are a public figure and being in the public and the media and your public may have different ideas as to what public figures should look like. Do you think this is the case? What has your experience been with being in the public eye? How do you square the expectations of others with your own?
I think it depends on the kind of audience you have and the type of public space you work in. Let me explain: the mainstream beauty industry, shows like Top Billing and the jobs with big product sponsorships tend to be more Eurocentric and limited in terms of the types of personalities that they choose to represent them. A product like Dark and Lovely still insists that for Dark to be Lovely her hair must be straight. The modelling industry and Hollywood standard for black female beauty is on the paler part of the brown spectrum, with straight hair. The booty is hyper sexualised but Beyoncé Nicky Minaj the list goes on, are still yellow and straight haired. The hyper visibility of women such as Lupita,  Alek Wek Grace Jones and Whoopi Goldberg distracts us into thinking that it is easy to break out when you are different to the standard requirement. If that was the case we would be able to lose count of the number of big media names who 'rock natural'. Even in South Africa. Try it...

Now, my experience with my public life is different because my scene is where the nerds and artists and academics play. The art and literature world is, by necessity, about free expression and questioning the status quo in terms of representation and narrative. In fact, isn't that what most of this is about? So, fortuitously my look has enhanced my image of being a creative black and proud female thinker.

13) You have a beautiful daughter. Do you influence her perception of her hair? What do you tell her? How does she feel about her hair? 
Hahaha, everyone thinks their child is beautiful but I like the way you think! Thank you. I hope I positively  influence her perception of herself though I don't put pressure on her to wear her hair as a political symbol. I think at age 11, that's too much to impose on a child. In fact I think it's counterproductive and double standard to impose your taste and politics on another woman by attacking her way of expressing who she is. I call that, sister bitchery.  My daughter will grapple with the expression of herself and femininity as all women do. Right now she wants bright red streaks and whatever that's in today. I let her play around during school holidays but I concede to relaxing her hair because of the whole school vibe. She doesn't want dreadlocks. I would like to believe that, in seeing how I express myself through the physical image that I project to the world, she will be encouraged to do the same. 

14) Where can we find you on the web? 

@karabokgoleng on Twitter, Google is a lifesaver because I'm not good at websites although I always threaten to start a blog.
You can email me for bookings to speak and MC at your functions

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