Living Naturally: Porsha Eden

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Today’s Living Naturally featuree is such an inspiration. Her words are so moving and her spirit is most certainly contagious. Identifying as a lesbian women, we’d like to share her light with the TGC family. Find out what Porsha had to say during her interview with Goddess Isis:

How long have you been wearing your hair in it’s natural state? I have been wearing my hair naturally since 1988, when I came heavenly out of my momma’s amazing black woman womb, and I have been natural ever since. My mom intentionally chose not to put any chemicals in my hair throughout my childhood because she had a traumatic experience with a perm when she was 5 years old, in which her hair fell out which resulted in a burned scalp. Because of this, she never spoke about or even presented the option of getting a perm. As a young black girl, my options were braids, afro puffs, and, occasionally, a hot comb for special occasions. Since a perm was never in my psyche or household, I never viewed it as something I ever wanted, and I continuously wore my hair natural. However, I will say with so many virtual spaces that affirm black women’s identities around natural hair and particularly natural hair care maintenance, I’m more cognizant and well-informed around excellent natural hair care and coil retention. For example, when I was younger, I consistently straightened my hair with a hot comb, and when I wet my hair it would be straight and not my actual ‘natural little black girl’ curly texture. It wasn’t until my sophomore year at Wellesley College in which I switched hair dressers and went to this fabulous hair salon in which their entire ambiance and focus was around “healthy hair care,” meaning doing everything in their power to make your hair healthy with superb techniques. Therefore, my hair became a healthier natural texture (reverting back to my ‘little black girl’ natural hair texture). My hair stylist used a Paul Mitchell flat iron that has specific electrolytes that balances out your hair pH and has little to zero heat damage effects. So, I get my hair straightened, but when I wet my hair there is no heat damage and my coils happily spring back! There are also other techniques that proceed the straightening process that ensures no heat damage. I only go to this salon for hair straightening and trims to this day.

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Why do you choose to wear your hair in it’s natural state? On a basic level, I choose to wear my hair natural because that’s all I know, seeing that as I mentioned before my mom did not provide any other options but natural. On a personal and identity level, I do think it aligns with my inner core in terms of being a black woman who feels that your aesthetic is an extension of your inner core, soul, beliefs, emotions and perspective. Therefore, I strongly identify and view my natural hair as an imperative extension of my inner self in that my natural hair styles change and contort in heavenly ways that take me aback at times. Most importantly, I strongly believe that my crown is adorned in poetry and celestial words and amazing vocabulary (love vocab!). So when I look at my afro, who has her own personality based on the day and depending on her conversing with my soul and aligning herself with its hue, I feel joyous because I don’t have to express myself solely through my verbal words and clothes, but rather my crown regally speaks and that sets my soul ablaze. In addition, as a black woman, I value what natural hair does for one’s self esteem and identity, in that it affirms your cultural self in that you look and say, “why yes, I am lovely, I am amazing, I am stellar, and there is absolutely no one in the entire universe with a grade of hair this fly and who can be apart of black female spaces who identity and bond with each other over stellar coils.” That is power. The fact that our hair transcends boundaries and borders between women through opening up channels to dialogue which then can lead to friendships, partnerships, acquaintanceship, and etc.

What does being natural mean to you? Wearing my hair natural for me means being wholeheartedly comfortable in my own skin and feeling as if I can truly express myself through my hair. Honestly, our hair texture is one that is a canvas in which we can do so much. I truly believe that God knew we as Black women would have such complex, and deep majestic purple histories and narratives that he said “Why yes, I will give you a celestial crown in which you can express yourself when the world wants to silence you. It will be yours but you must create powerful art with it. It is sacred. It is holy. It is you.”

How does your naturalness affect your lifestyle? Funny enough, naturalness doesn’t affect my lifestyle. Well now that I think about it, I do love organic hair products and candles and certain foods, but I largely eat anything and everything I want. Love me some fried chicken with hot sauce! So yea…

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We are obsessed with your knack for home decor, does the decor around your house affect your spirit? I strongly believe that your home should be your sanctuary seeing that navigating and moving in the outside world is enough. I also believe, similarly to your hair and aesthetic, your space should be an extension of yourself and inner being. Therefore, I too am obsessed with my room and this stems largely from my passion for interior decorating. I didn’t realize this until late last year that when I attended Wellesley College, I always put a lot of time and energy into my space and focused on lighting and having an airy energy, as in less is more. Now, I largely feel that my room mirrors my inner self and I make it a point to aim for airy as well, but in a different way, not so much with less is more, but now so with lighting fixtures, candles, floral arrangements and black woman art/photography on my walls. My next venture is to section off a portion of my wall and create vertical fern green and white lines and once these lines are painted/filled in with green, I will then in a calligraphy or cursive format fill it with my favorite Audre Lorde quotes! I’m excited! I love Audre Lorde! She must be everywhere in my life.

Where is your favorite place to purchase pieces for your home? I actually just purchased a bronze full body mirror online at Target, seeing that I did not want spend a lot of money on it. I also just purchased a rug online from Urban Outfitters. My bedding and picture frames are also from Urban Outfitters. My artwork, mainly the one with the dark chocolate woman in stilettos is offline from McFreshCreates. McFreshCreates is an amazing artist that has stellar art pieces on black woman. Also, I get pieces from my local thrift store, seeing that you can get more for your money and quality things too, from thrift stores/shopping. Oh, and last but not least my babies–my favorite item–my fern green curtains are from Overstock.

We are firm believers that you become your surroundings [even just the things you keep put up on your walls]. What influences the things you decide to put in your home? Hmm…I largely think I’m finally the woman that I want to be and have been striving to be over the past few years. She always lived in me, in my head, and my external aesthetic is finally matching my internal core and then my space is finally matching both my internal and external self. I also largely believe I am inadvertently practicing for my larger dream, that being living in a multi-level brownstone with my ‘homiebooloverfriend’ and having amazing bookcases, stainless steel kitchen, black women plastered on exposed brick and framed, and music throughout the house–Jill, Erykah, Miles, Gospel, Stevie–all that good stuff.

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They say a picture is worth a thousand words. You’re spirit leaps through your Instagram photos! If people could describe you in three words of less, what would they be? Why those words? Queer. Ambitious. Love. I chose those three words because they are me in a concise summation. Queer, because my sexuality is largely a part of how I process, understand, conceptualize and navigate myself as a Black woman in society at-large. Embedded in the term ‘queer’ for me is Black woman, however queer is a powerful all encompassing term that allows me to have my multiple identities intersect. Interestingly enough, I can never think of my identity as a Black woman outside of my sexuality as a woman who loves women. I chose ambitious because my larger dream and purpose is to become a certified nurse midwife and obtain my masters in nursing in order to become a socially and culturally-competent healthcare provider for women of color, largely African-American women. I also view nursing-midwifery as a social justice tool in which I can use my hands to assist in bringing in life and to carry out my passion, to combat the health disparity that largely affects us, that being high infant mortality rates. African-American women are twice as likely to lose their babies within the first of their lives in comparison to White women, this rate also is worse in comparison to the infant mortality rates in other countries. Therefore, everyday I am working toward this goal and I intentionally chose an all women’s college and intentionally chose to train as a doula and intentionally chose to work at a non-profit organization ran by nurse-midwives to put me in alliance with my larger goal. Last but certainly not least, I chose ‘love.’ I am largely connected to God and if anything, not previous lovers, family members or friends, are not the highest examples of love, but only God. God’s love toward me and over my life is everlasting, omnipotent and amazingly breathe-taking. God has given me/saved my life twice in two near-death situations. Furthermore, I aim to be a woman of upstanding faith with an unshakable spirit of love. My motto: In the face of blatant rejection, hurt, heartache, loss, trauma, disrespect, and anything and everything difficult, you present a spirit of love and you drown people who are deserving and undeserving with your love. God will handle the rest for you. That is how you win!

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We took a look at your music library photo and we have very similar interests in artists. Kudos to our ears! If you could only play one album or artist for the rest of your life, what/who would you choose? Jill Scott’s debut and first album ‘Who Is Jill Scott?’ I would choose this album because as a young girl I was always in love with love. I didn’t fully understand what love was then, but Jill always conceptualized and expressed my innermost feelings. Also, Jill is a poet which she brilliantly shows through her tracks. I value and write poetry as well. Therefore, I respect and admire her poetic, yet modest genius that she brings largely in this album. Most importantly, my sexuality, largely as queer and loving women is deeply connected to this album. My love for another Black woman and our relationship largely orbits this album and her later albums as well. Therefore, Jill speaks to all crevices of my soul and all facets of my identity. Furthermore, Jill has enabled me to heal through loving, losing love, and rebuilding love. That’s why she’s essential.

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Goddess Isis identifies herself as a bisexual woman. Some say identifying as a bisexual woman is easier than identifying as a lesbian. I believe it all depends on the person and their choices for identifying with the sexuality of their choice. What are your views on this? So, there is a posting in my Instagram that pictures the essay by Cheryl Clarke, entitled ‘Lesbianism: An Act of Resistance’ in which she states, ‘Bisexual is a safer label than lesbian, for it posits the possibility of a relationship with a man, regardless of how infrequent or nonexistent the female’s bisexual’s relationships with men might be.’ My caption that accompanies this picture is: ‘Well Ms. Clarke, I actually agree with this more and more these days.’ That sentiment was coming from a space of me better understanding my own sexuality in that I once used the term ‘queer’ largely because I didn’t like the term ‘bisexual’ because I feel like in the LGBTQ community ‘bisexual’ is stigmatized and women who solely love women reject or shun it and the term ‘lesbian’ seemed to pigeon hole into me into only loving/liking women, so I defaulted to ‘queer.’ This post resulted in me critically examining my own term usage/label identification with the term queer because honestly I was using ‘queer’ in replacement of ‘bisexual.’ However, Clarke’s statement ‘posits the possibility of a relationship with a man, regardless of how infrequent or nonexistent’ struck a cord with me, seeing that bisexual for me was ‘safe,’ in that I wasn’t’ ruling out men (seeing that I had previous male relationships). However, in truly evaluating my sexuality trajectory and my conceptualization around my past experiences, and mainly my present self in how I function (largely drawn and only wanting to be with women) in actuality aligns more so with ‘lesbian.’ So I can only speak for me, in that yes at one point the term ‘bisexual’ was easier than identifying as ‘lesbian.’ However, now I reject comfort and go with what’s real.

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Do you have any words or encouragement or advice for others who are just now growing comfortable with identifying themselves as a part of the LGBT community? Audre Lorde states “Your silence will not protect you.” For me, I loved a Black woman before I was actually with her for my entire undergraduate years. It wasn’t until I graduated did I enable freedom around my sexuality as I was living in repression largely due to fear. However, once I broke through this silence first with her, I was on a brilliant path toward true self-liberation. It was not an easy feat, seeing that my mother was largely homophobic and I lived at home. Therefore, she rejected my love for another Black woman, but then came around to loving her completely, which was an entire process but was brilliant to see my mother love her. Then once I moved out of my mother’s house and into a queer friendly neighborhood, this was magic for me. I also look back and realize that my relationship placed me in queer spaces with other Black women who loved Black women. So I wasn’t an anomaly. I was normal and their faces, love, and relationships affirmed me even when I didn’t wear my sexuality as Zadie Smith states, “with an older woman’s ease” but at that time more so as “an awkward purse, never knowing how to hold it, where to hang it, or when to just put it down.” However, over a time period, I started loving her whole and open and publicly and not caring about others’ opinions because I glowed and loved unlike ever before. That’s when I became truly happy. So I say that all to say, know that it gets better, never beat yourself up for not being hetero-normative, reject all and everything that tells you that you are not right or sinning or your love is sub-par, embrace a label without self-pressure, kick and shun ignorance in the face with not putting yourself on a timeline and allowing yourself to come into your sexuality with ease and due time. Also, it’s key to come to terms with your sexuality by yourself, but having a partner that aids you and is supportive of this process is imperative, because that is what immensely helped me transition my quiet sexuality into one that is now the loud one today.

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Is there anything else you’d like to share with TGC Readers? Always love yourself whole before you love another. Know how to tend to your own garden by watering your orchids whole with the utmost and most brilliant celestial water. This happens through self-care, self-work, self-esteem, self-actualization, self-value and self-value which leads to assertiveness, confidence and having the ability to vocalize your needs and reject those who do not uplift you–be it partners, friends, family members, anyone or anything. You also learn how to value peace and quiet. Striving to sit and cultivate inner peace is huge, in that you can center yourself and can gauge when someone/anything is offsetting/offputting your peace, which is an indicator that it may not be best for you. Furthermore, when another comes into your life they will be mere visitors and illuminators of your garden, not the keepers. You are your keeper and universe. Never let someone rob you of your light and brilliant self because they cannot love you or in the way you want them to. Never second guess your brilliance even if someone rejects it or drops your purple heart whole. Love yourself first and always.

Dxmn! Powerful, right?! Porsha left our mouths wide open with her words. We hope she had the same effect on you. We’ve been following Porsha on Instagram for a while now and every day she posts something that leaves our minds wide open. Porsha wanted to share her favorite Tumblr accounts: Noldarling, Afrafemme, Blackamericanprincess, Foodmusiclife, Thatkindofwoman, Homemayde, Luvyourmane, and Afro-dykey. As well as her favorite websites: ThoughtCatalog.com, Feministmidwife.com, ICTCMidwives.org, Radicaldoula.com, Weddingchicks.com, Case Of The Tiny Closet, and Saturday.com[To Porsha] You’re such an inspiration. As we said earlier, your spirit leaps through your photos and your positive energy and love for life is so contagious and we’re so glad to have graced your presence. We know your words will touch so many as they have touched us. Thank you for living naturally, thank you for living in your own divine beings, and thank you for speaking with us! Peace and love. -TGC

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