Sun | Jul 15, 2018

Embracing Your Roots with Ardenne High

Published:Monday | June 18, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Most of us are guilty of judging and embracing the negatives instead of focusing on nurturing and empowering the positives. According to society, 'good hair' means curls and waves and 'bad hair' is equivalent to looking like a slave. At the turn of the century, many are trying to redefine this norm and find out who they truly are and love themselves in their purest form. Embracing Your Roots Club at Ardenne High School is a natural-hair club, which focuses on reversing the eurocentric curse, empowering young women, building confidence, acknowledging their worth, and improving the relationship the girls have with themselves.

The club unofficially started four years ago, with girls who were enthused about learning how to take care of their natural hair and break away from the imposed beauty norms forced on them from an early age. These discussions sparked the idea of creating a natural hair club, which was formalised in October 2017, under the name "Embracing Your Roots".

The club now has over 200 young girls with new recruits joining on a biweekly basis. "It has grown so much that we have even asked for a new location. There are always girls who are interested in transitioning," said executive club member Kali Lyle.

"We teach the girls how to love themselves, their hair, and appreciate the texture that is growing from their scalp. Our core mission is to show these girls how to love the girl within," explained club coordinator Stacyan Rowe.

"They are so accustomed to the eurocentric hair and think that they need to have straight hair to look good. We just came to say hey, that is not the case, and we are showing them how to embrace their roots," said the passionate Nedricka Mullings.

The club also aims to spark the entrepreneurial spirit within the girls. They are taught how to create their own products from ingredients that can be found in their backyard. "Girls are taught DIYs on how to make their different products, how to make their leave in conditioners, deep conditioners, protein treatments, and flaxseed gels," said Lyle.

"Our most memorable experience, so far, involved the creation of the flaxseed gel. A lot of persons were nervous at the time because they did not know how to make it," Lyle explained. The flaxseed gel was a big hit which truly launched the club as a haircare DIY mecca among the students. "It is way more beneficial than going to a store and purchasing a ready-made product that you don't know where the ingredients are coming from," said Devorie Smith, teacher and assistant coordinator of the Embracing Your Roots Club.

A typical day for the club starts with an icebreaker which comes in the form of a hair jeopardy. "We then have discussions on misconceptions with taking care of natural hair, horror stories where we discover the things that we did wrong and why it happened. These discussions are usually very animated and educational for the girls. They see and learn how to do things differently with their hair," said Rowe.

The launching pad for the club also included showing the girls that they have control over their hair which allowed them to feel empowered. "We want this movement to spread to other schools and we plan on starting this club at the university level when we leave Ardenne," said Mullings, who observed the extensive use of extensions and braids while visiting the campuses. The club also plans to launch its own natural-hair show which will feature different natural hairstyles and products. "This will showcase how being natural can be versatile and there are many ways to wear your hair," said Rowe.

The club's motto 'Embrace what grows from your scalp. Our Revolution will not be texturized', is passionately upheld by every individual within the club.

latara.boodie@gleanerjm.com