It was a discussion about beauty, pride and self-hate all narrowed down to one simple word – hair. Epicurean Fashion Experience and Naeemah Brewster, a natural hair specialist and founder of Benevolent Creations led a small group of approximately 30 students gathered in Perry Paige Tuesday evening in a dialogue titled “Hair & Now.”
The dialogue addressed the various ways that black women wear their hair and the reasons behind it. Brewster led the discussion by addressing questions to a small panel that included two professional hair stylists and a FAMU graduate. Then, she allowed audience members a minute to speak.
Some things she touched on were why black women relax their hair. Brewster asked, ” Why do we (black women) choose to relax our hair in the first place?” and “Would we have ever relaxed our hair if we didn’t see how European women’s hair was”?
Her opening statements were just the beginning of a discussion that would include the experiences of many who attended.
“I’ve worn my hair natural; I’ve worn it straight and I love them both,” said Misha Granado, a participating panelists.
Granado, who is a community psychology graduate student, said many errors come from judging a woman based on the way she wears her hair.
“You can’t judge a woman based on her hair. Black women are so much more than that,” Granado said.
Brewster was interested in knowing how much influence men have on the way women wear their hair.
Brewster’s question struck a chord with Tiffany Joyner, 19, a second-year pharmacy student from Miami. Joyner, who wears her hair in striking red twists, said the way men treat her now is unlike when she had long black hair.
“Men look at you differently and they treat you differently when your hair is natural because they assume you’re this ‘independent’ type woman that has so much to say,” Joyner said.
Bouce Strouble, 20, a senior African American studies student from Pasadena, California, was confused as to why blacks have a problem with their natural appearances.
“We pinch our noses, we bleach our skin, and our women perm their hair,” he said.
Perhaps what sparked the most comments were students’ reactions to how various schools at FAMU discourage black women from wearing natural hairstyles.
Alysia Barber, 22, a senior nursing student from Miami said, “We are not allowed to have locs, twists, or braids. And if we do, we have to wear a wig.”
Keenan Austin, 20, a fourth year business student from Atlanta could relate.”SBI doesn’t mandate that you can’t wear natural hair styles, but they advise that our hair remain professional, presentable and less offensive.”
Tiffany Pitts can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org