By Jessica Charles ’17 and Briana Casimir ’17
To provide black girls with an outlet for empowerment and pride, Ms. Valeria Howell has created the Natural Hair Club that meets every Friday in room 431. However, the club is open to anyone who is interested.
Within the past few years, Ms. Howell noticed more and more black girls beginning to wear their natural hair, which is what sparked the idea to create this club.
“I thought that it was time that we acknowledge this empowering decision by creating a forum,” said Ms. Howell, “For sharing experiences with each other and with anyone else who is interested in learning about natural black hair care, styling, and social implications.”
Students in this club hold open discussions, where a variety of topics are discussed. Often, the students converse about different hair products and which ones work best for them. Students also give presentations where they share information about hair care with each other, ranging from how to do certain hairstyles to advice on maintaining healthy hair. This club provides an educational outlet for anyone who wants to learn about the aspects of natural hair.
Club member Briana Clinton ’17 said, “During the next meeting, I’ll be giving a presentation about how to do Bantu knots and techniques that can be used to improve the results you get when you take them out.”
This club helps create a positive and diverse atmosphere, where students of different backgrounds have the opportunity to learn about the culture surrounding natural hair, a topic rarely spoken of.
Not only does the Natural Hair Club educate students, but it also helps them break away from the stigma attached to having natural hair. Living in a society where Eurocentric hair is considered “good hair,” people with unprocessed hair are often shamed, leading many to chemically alter their hair in an attempt to fit in.
Zaria Vazquez ’17, for example, was constantly teased by her classmates throughout elementary school due to her natural hair. These events prompted her to start getting her hair straightened every month, starting at the age of 11.
“Kids always picked on me because of my hair and would always ask why my hair looked the way it did,” she said. “I eventually got fed up with it and asked my mom to start straightening my hair so they’d leave me alone.”
Many members of the Natural Hair Club agree that being a part of the club will help bring them closer to being confident about their hair. They are also coming to the realization that, despite society trying to teach us that there is only one type of beauty, natural hair is also “good hair.”
Vazquez said, “I know this club will help boost my confidence because there are many people here that I share similar stories with and that shows me that I’m not alone.”
Clinton added, “This club is great because it emphasizes a different type of beauty that doesn’t get much attention.”