A woman's relationship with her hair starts at a young age. The way you feel about it, from the texture to the style to how it measures up to your idea of beauty, is important in developing self-confidence.
For women of color, their hair is something that's been policed by the mainstream realms of beauty for ages. What hairstyles are appropriate to wear to work? Are American black women allowed to wear braids, twists, or dreadlocks and serve in the army? Can South African girls wear natural hair to school? Why are there complaints about Olympian Gabby Douglas' hair? Why is going to the airport a horror? Why are all of these white women adapting black hairstyles and claiming them to be their own?
That's why Olubunkola Ojeifo created HairOnPurpose, a New York City based non-profit organization with the goal of empowering girls to love their hair and teaching them how to take care of it properly. Currently, Ojeifo is raising funds to host HairOnPurpose's first conference in November where for one day girls ages 10 to 18 will be invited to listen to speakers and participate in hair styling and coaching sessions all about embracing their hair.
"I wanted to ignite a passion so deep in young girls full of self-love, self-identity, and worth!" she said. "They deserve a safe space where they can disconnect from the world and social media and plug into moments to embrace being themselves fully. One thing that I have learned is that our beautiful girls are inundated with images of what the standard of beauty is and what exactly 'good hair' looks like. Through the conference, my goal is to challenge their current perspective of beauty and hair and empower them to walk away loving every single part of themselves, flaws and all."
Ojeifo spent much of her childhood and teen years trying to contort her hair to fit the styles and trends worn by her predominately white classmates. She said this not only "diminished her identity," but also left her hair improperly cared for. It wasn't until she got to Howard University that she came to fully accept her hair no matter what style she wore it in.
"Whether I wanted to be natural, get a relaxer or texturizer, braids, or wear a weave. It was my decision to make and my only focus was making sure that I protected my hair in the process,"Ojeifo said. "That's what I want for all young girls and women. I want them to feel empowered to style their hair as they desire, but to protect themselves and their real hair in the process."
Tahirah Hairston is a style writer from Detroit who likes Susan Miller, Rihanna's friend's Instagram accounts, ramen and ugly-but cute shoes.