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‘Curly, Kinky, and Beautiful’ event champions natural beauty on campus

As part of Black History Month, Fresno State senior Nelissa Harris paid tribute to what she says is a natural hair trend amongst African American women, and organized a Thursday evening event to empower this natural journey.

“Believe it or not, it was controversial issue when a lot of young African American women decided to stop using relaxers and chemically treating their hair,” Harris said. “This event is really a great opportunity to unify and support those who are in transition.”

When Harris decided to go natural, she was her worst critic.

“I was very, very critical of myself looking in the mirror, because I was used to looking one way,” Harris said. “I felt like I was losing my confidence.”

Harris looked for answers for why she felt that way and decided to join the local Natural Hair Society.

“We talked about hair products and how everyone was doing with their transition, and I became very proud of myself and my hair again,” Harris said.

Harris said that it does not matter how your hair looks and encouraged everyone to love and accept themselves and hair the way it is.

“For every woman who decides that they don’t want to process their hair to fulfill the status quote, you don’t have to live up to Hollywood’s standards of beauty.”

There were a variety of speakers sharing information about hair products and tips including Fresno State communication professor Dr. Marnel Niles Goins.

Niles explained that it is not just about having natural hair, but healthy hair. She created a Facebook page called Natural Hair that has 14,000 followers from around the United States. The purpose is to provide hair tips and empowering messages to each other on the website.

“Embrace your hair. There is nothing unprofessional about it,” Niles said. “You can even use baking products to treat your hair, just not flour. Stick to organic products like coconut oil and shea butter, ” Niles said.

Certified cosmetologist Kellie McElroy explained that the same products that work for someone might not work for everyone, but that the most recommended product is aloe vera gel.

“I always like giving the example of comparing hair with grass,” McElroy said. “When you are walking on the street and you see dry grass you think that is how your hair is naturally but no that is not your texture. Same as you hydrate your grass, you need to hydrate your hair. Wash it,” McElroy said.