Patrine Joseph: Naturally Proud
Liberated by her new-found appreciation of her hair and ready to conquer as a graduate of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Patrine Joseph was ready to take on the work world.
She did not expect that she would be called into her supervisor's office and asked, "What are you going to do about your hair?".
At first, Joseph admits she was shocked. She thought maybe the afro was too big, so she did a pineapple. But even that was a problem with her new job. She remembers calling her mother and crying on the bus ride home. How does she tame her hair? Why is the way her hair grows from her scalp a problem?
Looking for answers, she had her brother look over her contract to see that she was not breaking any company rules. She was not.
Needing an outlet and a way to change how women thought of their roots, Joseph started Coir (Ki-yah) Living, as a platform aimed at promoting self-love, care and acceptance.
She admits she did not always appreciate the coils of her hair. She was introduced to a relaxer at the age of four. For her, it seemed like the norm. As a child, she was 'tender headed' and cried when it was time to comb her hair.
As she moved into high school, her hair started to break, but she clung to her processed tresses. Her cultural awakening would come later. It was at the UWI, where Joseph studied Entertainment Cultural Enterprise Management, that she started to really pay attention to her culture.
"I did not just have lecturers that taught, I had lecturers that lived their truth," she told Flair.
Joseph shared that she started to feel a bit hypocritical. She was gaining a passion for self, but did not even know what her natural hair looked like. Always processed or in extensions, she needed to find out who she was. Empowered, she did the big chop and returned to her roots.
"I find it a bit hypocritical when persons are stuck in weaves and criticise natural hair and then say that people who bleach have no self-love. If you do not love the hair growing on your head, how can you have any self-love?" she said.
Proud of the beautiful person that she saw looking back at her in the mirror, she wanted women, especially black women, to know that they are beautiful, too. Now at the two-year mark, the Coir Living Conference is a manifestation of this. There women have the ability to share their views as well as to be educated about their roots. This is just the beginning for Joseph. She plans to do much more to educate black women.
When she is not doing her nine-to-five or empowering her fellow 'sistas', Joseph says she is travelling and talking.
"I love to talk. I am not a partier because I am a Christian, but I am a social butterfly," she admitted.
Patrine Joseph at a glance
Five-year goal: Head a black movement or company.
Five things she thinks people must know about her: She's a Christian, with a pro-black attitude, a coir head gyal, pescatarian and [very] family-oriented. For Patrine, her family includes her friends. For her good friends are like family.
Her advice to women: "That true beauty is not what society tells you is your most beautiful self but rather the foundation of who you are as a whole person, who you are as your natural self. Once we accept who we are as black women and all that it encompasses, nothing can stop us from changing the tide and winning this identity war perpetrated on us by our oppressors both historically and presently."