Ladies Elite celebrates diversity with Hair Affair event

Junior+social+work+major+Chimere+Williams+disscusses+make-up+application+at+Monday+nights+Hair+Affair+that+took+place+in+The+Whitewater+Cafe.+The+program+was+presented+by+Ladies+Elite.+Photo+by+Paul+Heckert++%7C+The+Appalachian

Paul Heckert

Junior social work major Chimere Williams disscusses make-up application at Monday night’s Hair Affair that took place in The Whitewater Cafe. The program was presented by Ladies Elite. Photo by Paul Heckert | The Appalachian

Kelsey Hamm

Appalachian State University’s Ladies Elite club engaged students Tuesday night at White Water Cafe with the Hair Affair, an event held to celebrate diverse hair.

The program showcased the differences in ethnic hair types and discussed various hairstyles such as weaves, clip-ins, braids and hair relaxing, all of which are common among women in the African-American community, said Adana-Christine Campbell, Ladies Elite president and a senior molecular biology major.

Junior biology major Angie Vasquez-Espinal discusses make-up application at Monday night's Hair Affair that took place in The Whitewater Cafe. The program was presented by Ladies Elite. Photo by Paul Heckert  | The Appalachian
Junior biology major Angie Vasquez-Espinal discusses make-up application at Monday night’s Hair Affair that took place in The Whitewater Cafe. The program was presented by Ladies Elite. Photo by Paul Heckert | The Appalachian

“We didn’t want this event to just be an information session about hair,” Campbell said. “We wanted it to be a celebration of hair, to empower and embrace African-American women on this campus.”

In addition to presentations by different members of the Ladies Elite, the program consisted of an intermission with performances by a capella group Ear Candy and the Cultural Angels dance group.

Sophomore sociology and anthropology major Bria Ikard presented a session on Caucasian hair care, and demonstrated the ease of using hair chalk, a cheap way for women to temporarily color their locks.

“At the end of the day, everyone has hair,” Ikard said. “But what we can do or can’t do with it, how we should treat it and how we shouldn’t treat it and what we should do to help it – that can all be very different.”

Junior global studies major and Ladies Elite vice president Carlotta Hill said the main difference between African-American hair and Caucasian hair is the texture and type. African-American hair usually coils tighter than Caucasian hair does, she said.

Campbell said that the media can often portray natural African-American hair as not beautiful. Often, women of color wear elaborate weaves or extensions from different countries to cover up the look of their natural hair.

“Last week I wore my natural hair and I challenged a lot of women for Black History month to wear their natural hair for at least a week,” Campbell said.

“It was a struggle for me, for someone who has covered up their real hair so constantly. I still cover my hair, because I don’t feel so comfortable with it naturally.”

Hill said she agreed, and spoke about how self-expression through fashion has helped the Ladies Elite and members of the African-American community combat negative stereotypes.

“Hair is an extension of you, and [identity] is something that is important to the black community because we have struggled with it for so long,” Hill said. “[Hair] expresses who we are and what we go through.”

Despite the media’s tendency to portray African-American hair as relaxed or straightened by chemical means, sophomore sociology major Skylar Clark said that many students choose from a variety of options with their hair.

“A lot of African-American women are going natural now,” Clark said. “A lot of girls wear their hair short or curly, they wear braids, or they wear different styles.”

Campbell said she believes that celebrating the diversity of hair is a good way for African-American women to embrace their culture, history and selves.

*CORRECTION: The photo caption originally labeled the person in the photo as junior social work major Chimere Williams. The caption as of now has been corrected. The Appalachian apologizes for the error.

Story by Kelsey Hamm, Intern A&E Reporter
Photo by Paul Heckert, Photo Editor