Tell us your name and where you are from?
My name is Fatima Osman. I’m from a lot of places, really. My parents are born and raised in Sudan, like their parents. I myself was born in Saudi Arabia. When I was five years old we moved to Sweden as my dad got the opportunity to do research. Also, my brother and I were more or less guaranteed a better life.
Fatima's Mother, Father and Brother
I was raised in Stockholm, but for the past three years I’ve been living in South Africa, Spain, and a city called Lund the south of Sweden. So I never know how to answer the question of where I come from. I’m actually convinced that the less we talk about national-identities and the more we talk about global citizens the better, especially for people like me who have several homes.
How long have you been natural?
I’ve been going back and forth for years between my natural hair and my hair straightener. But I would say that I’ve pretty much been natural for the past two years. The more I think about it, the more I live it, the more sense it makes.
What do you do? Is there a resistance or compatibility with your hair in your field of work?
I’m a recent graduate of a political science bachelor’s degree. I’m taking a gap year now before I continue to complete my full degree, but I’m quite engaged in the contemporary political debate in Sweden. In this debate, there has been an increased focus on anti-racism and feminism.
The way I place myself in society, and my relationship to my hair in a wider global structure has a lot to do with my interest in politics. One of my biggest desires is to continuously challenge how I look at structures of domination; classicism, racism and sexism. Hair has to do with all of these! I don’t think I can look at my place as a black woman in a white society today without taking all of these hierarchies into account.
A huge part of all of this, for women; black women particularly, is identity-politics and how hair intersects in these structures. I am constantly reading and trying to write about these issues- at the same time as the politics of hair angers me it fuels me to take part of an intervention and create new ways of thinking. Foremost, what I would like to contribute to in this subject is dismantling traditional beauty ideals.
Describe your hair.
My hair is shoulder length. It is more really really fuzzy, and if I don’t brush the curls away (which I almost always do) it can be quite curly. Depending on which products I use and whether I chose to brush my hair, it can look so different.
The beginning of this year I decided to dye it a lot lighter, and this is something that I’m struggling with to justify morally lately. I’m quite sure that there is a socialized voice inside most of our heads that tell us that light, and straight hair is the norm and that such an appearance is more equivalent with success. I want to break the reproduction of these ideas and that’s why I feel ambivalent about my hair color…
What is your hair regimen?
I use a water-based Sunsilk cream almost daily. I know (at least in Sweden) they say Sunsilk is a crappy brand but it works for my hair.
When I wash my hair I use something called hair mayonnaise that is kind of like a leave-in conditioner. I mix it with regular olive oil that I buy in the grocery store and then I just wash it out after a while. Beyond this I just kind of let my hair live… I try to leave it out a lot and avoid using too many products because I believe that too many products can destroy my hairs natural dynamics and way of keeping itself alive.
What are the three biggest factors you attribute to your length?
First of all, I don’t cut my hair. Living in Sweden, there is almost no way of finding a hairdresser that has a clue about hair that isn’t Scandinavian. I was at a lecture yesterday at the Afro-Swedish Academy about hair, and one of the girls said the funniest thing. She said pop culture feeds us so much information about being white and white hair that we could probably handle white hair as if it were our profession even if we don’t have it. Meanwhile our hair is just alien to people that don’t have it.
What is your usual go to style?
I usually dry my hair, comb it upside down and part it in the middle. I kind of have bangs and they go flying everywhere and revolt the mid-parting but I like it that they do their own thing.
What is your nighttime routine?
I always sleep in two French braids! I put some olive oil in my hair first and then braid it. Same routine my mom taught me when I was a child.
Your top three favorite products and why?
My Sunsilk water-based cream, because it always works and it smells so good. Hair mayonnaise (mixed with olive oil), because I have a dry scalp and it re-moisturizes my hair. I also love Moroccan Argan Oil, and I’m not sure if that one is a PR trick but it really makes my hair feel strong.
Your best hair advice?
Hair is so intimate, it grows from our scalp and it lives on our heads. Let your hair breath; see what it can do on its own. I believe that the cosmetics industry convinces us that we need a lot of things to keep our hair and skin in balance that we in fact don’t need. Some things we do need of course, but try seeing how your hair lives on its own and then after that if it needs to be supplemented.
Ultimate hair crush
I wouldn’t have said this a month ago, but now it’s a girl I saw on UBB some weeks ago called Coralie Kory. I’ve never seen anything like her hair and the autumn-red color is just amazing. I love following her instagram account now!
What is the strangest comment, request or hair story?
Last summer I was out dancing with some friends. When the night was over we decided to go for a swim and I was feeling a bit cold and tired so I kept them company but I didn’t jump in the water. This guy that tagged along goes “Aahh. I understand. It’s the weave isn’t it?”.
I was really disturbed by his comment because he assumed to know so much about me just based on the color of my skin. He was shocked to find out that it was, in fact, my own hair.
How would you describe your personal fashion style?
Colors. The other day in Sweden we had a public demonstration against the rise of the nationalist party after the elections. Everyone was encouraged to wear black to mark the day as a grievance day after the disappointing results. This demonstration was really important to me but I had a very trivial problem, and that was that I could barely find any black clothes in my closet.
I love caftans, wide pants, and two-pieces. I have an endless passion for vintage and in fact, I almost never buy new things from chain-brands. This is partly due to my political ideology and also that I love finding diamonds in the rough when I thrift shop.
I’m not a big fan of dressing down, so usually you would see me the same way at my university lecture or at a party. Thinking in lines of “where am I going and how am I expected to dress” really kills my creativity.
What advice would you give to people who might be afraid to show their true fashion sense or natural hair for fear of being judged by others?
The only person you will have to live with the rest of your life is you. Knowing yourself and your true colors is so important. Adapting to norm, what people expect of you and seeing your selves through the eyes of others slowly but surely makes you unaware of who you are. Also, I try to tell myself that anyone who would judge me because of how I look isn’t someone I’m interested in knowing. You are the only one who has the right to define yourself, and you have the full right to your body and appearance.
What would you say to others who judge individuals negatively for their personal fashion style?
Physical appearances are the first impression we get, it’s unavoidable. But rarely do they matter after that. Imagine all the times someone has surprised you and you have been wrong about them because you were too quick to judge. Almost all of those in my life who are most important to me look nothing like my self in terms of style. Why would I expect them to?
Favorite stores and places to shop for vintage or thrift
In Sweden there is Humana that I love! There are a lot of aid organizations that have second-hand clothing like the Red Cross association also that I really love.
Most embarrassing moment
Haha, things happen everyday! I couldn’t tell you the truly most embarrassing one because I can’t recall.
But I’ll tell you a recent one… I tend to think I have a really good memory of people’s faces. The other day I went up to this guy at a bar me and my friends really like to hang out at and said “Hey, I really, really, recognize you – do we know each other? ”. He laughed told me that I had already said that to him a while ago at the same bar.
What is your favorite life lesson
Never, ever, lie. This one never grows old. In the end no matter how much you’ve messed up or what a shitty and horrible thing you’ve done – lying will just make it worse. Every time.
Current music playlist and favorite book
I’m reading an amazing book by Bell Hooks right now called “Out Law Culture – Resisting representations”. Its about rethinking cultural institutions that sustain racism, sexism and other systems of political oppression. I am completely sold on Bell Hooks.
Also I grew up with hip hop & remain a loyal hip hop nerd. Lately I’ve been listening to a collective of producers called Soulection from California they have amazing tunes on soundcloud!
Favorite restaurant and dish you would not want to live without
Lasagna! I’m a vegetarian and you can mix it up in so many different ways and basically add any ingredients you want. My favorite restaurant in Sweden would be a Japanese one called Blue Light Yokohoma. I’m a part-time veggie because I cheat and eat fish sometimes & I dream to travel to Tokyo some day and eat sushi until I can’t walk anymore.
Do you have a workout/exercise routine? If so, what is your routine?
I run. A lot. I run outside, it’s my meditation. I have been a smoker before, but I think I have something genetic about my stamina – it recovers quite easily. So I’ve been able to take up running quite easily as well. I love it, I am addicted.
Do you have a blog/website?
Yes! It’s coming soon. I’m not allowed to reveal the name yet (we are a group of people working on a really cool thing). But check my instagram @fatimaossman out for updates!
This is an amazing community! I love UBB!
What makes you an Urban Bush Babe?
I think what really makes sense about the name “Urban Bush Babe” is that we live in a modern world where complying to the beauty ideals are so easy – we have the technology and cosmetics to do it. It doesn’t have to be expensive either. But we (and I) am Urban Bush Babes because we are re-defining what beauty is. Bush Babes are beautiful! I am a Bush Babe and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.