In recognition of Black History Month, Baruch College hosted its first annual “Me, My Hair, & I” event on Feb. 14 to discuss the history, myths, expectations and trends surrounding black hair. The event featured a panel of YouTubers and natural hair enthusiasts who shared their own journey from having straight hair to letting their hair go natural.
“It’s really important that we feel comfortable in our skin tone as well as our hair,” said Myra Lamonier, a student at Baruch College and host of the event.
“The media is telling us to look a certain way,” she added, as she discussed society’s ongoing struggle of adapting to and accepting social conventions of beauty standards.
The main reason why people do not go natural, Tammy Williams, a panelist at the event, shared, is because “they are afraid of how they are going to be perceived and accepted by their close ones, particularly family members.”
Williams also added, “Some people have the perception that depending on the job that you have, you can’t be natural because it will limit your ability to move up the career ladder.”
Williams is a self-made entrepreneur and the owner of Imena Inc., a hair and beauty company based in Harlem. She pursued a master’s degree at Hunter College, where she created a documentary exploring the lives of three different black women. She aimed to show the similarities in experiences and thought patterns that all women, regardless of where they grew up, typically face when planning to go natural.
“What I love about going natural is the diversity,” said Williams, after explaining the challenges that she went through during her own transition. She emphasized that the real transition is learning to be emotionally prepared.
“It’s not the hair, it’s the mind. Educate yourself and put yourself in situations where you are around people who are like-minded," said Williams. "Eventually you should be able to get to a point where wearing your hair straight or natural should be a style choice.”
Keyana Aird, another panelist, talked about some of the reactions she got from going natural—when she stopped using chemicals in her hair to alter its natural curl pattern—and why she ultimately decided to keep it.
“I was getting backlash from my family and friends because they were not used to seeing me that way, and I had to catch myself.”
At first, she questioned her decision to be different, but later realized that she liked the style and it made her feel good.
“If you got something that you love and that you want to do to your hair, don’t be afraid to try it because your biggest critics are going to be the people who want to try it,” said Aird.
“At the end of the day, your hair is your hair and you should just embrace it and embellish in who you are as a person.”
De’Ja Robinson was asked to speak about her perception of natural hair growing up in Texas, where it was uncommon for women to embrace their curls. She explained it was one of the toughest decisions of her life.
“Being natural is not easy, but it is journey, and I love it because at the end of the day, this is me. My hair is who I am. Everybody knows me for my hair,” she said.
The panel closed with each panelist showcasing some styles to try out this year as well as their know-hows on overcoming difficult transitions. Each attendee was given a goody bag with sample hair care products to try at home.